After getting your GCSE results, the next thing for you to think about, if you decide to further your education, will be sixth form or college. Sixth form seems very exciting at the start, it’s a new environment, regardless of you moving to another school or staying in your current one. The one thing I remember about my run-up to starting sixth form was getting super excited about not having to wear a uniform anymore, having free periods and doing subjects I actually enjoy. I start Year 13 on Monday, which is my last year of sixth form, and I’ve definitely learned a lot from my first year. Here are some essential tips I think you should know.
Tip #1: Be super prepared with stationary
In secondary school, we’re so used to getting materials from the school like our exercise books. Having that mindset, on my first day of Year 12, I obviously didn’t get the memo and didn’t bring a single exercise book with me. I had my journal with me and few plain pieces of paper just in case, but I felt like an idiot when everyone in my English Literature class pulled out a notebook and I was there with an A4 piece of paper. Bring notebooks with you just in case. Some classes may provide you with one, but it’s still good to carry at least one with you.
Tip #2: Be on top of your game from the start
Sixth form is on another level to secondary school. You spend about five years in secondary school, but with sixth form you really only have about a year and a half then you’re done with A-Levels or with the International Baccalaureate. I remember thinking in the first few weeks of Year 12, “How the hell am I going to learn all of the syllabus for my subjects in less than two years?”. Due to the fact that we spend less than two years in sixth form, things tend to be taught at a fast pace, which can be quite hard to grasp, so you will need to be on top of your game at all times. Sixth form is about making memories, meeting new people but at the end of the day, the reason we’re there is to study and pass our exams. There’s no point going into sixth form and playing about because you’re simply wasting your own time.
Tip #3: Use your free periods wisely
Having free periods is honestly amazing, it gives you time to recuperate or simply just chill and do whatever you want. However, your free periods aren’t always for relaxing. Some schools call it ‘independent study’ or just ‘free periods’, regardless of whatever they call it, free periods can also be used for you to do work. It’s very unlikely that there will ever be a time that you don’t have any work, so instead of watching Netflix or messing around with friends, spend the time wisely. It definitely will make a difference. I only started cherishing my free periods about three months from the end of Year 12 due to the workload that was given to me. I’m not saying don’t chill and hang around with friends, but your free periods are a tool that can really help you in your studies if you use them well.
Tip #4: Choose your A-Level or IB subjects wisely
By the time you start sixth form, you would’ve already chosen the subjects you’ll be studying for the next year and a half. Most schools will allow you to change your course in the first few weeks if you’re not enjoying it or you’re finding it hard, but even though you’re allowed to change your subjects, try not to be that person three or four months into the course that decides to move. In that time span, a lot of content has been taught and learnt already and depending on how your teacher teaches, most of the time it’ll be hard to get really detailed notes. Choose your subjects wisely and research them beforehand.
Tip #5: Don’t be afraid to ask for directions if you get lost.
I’m not sure why people don’t ask for directions because I’m 99.9% sure that someone will be willing to help you. My school has the weirdest layout ever and there are so many shortcuts and connections between the buildings so it’s pretty confusing. Asking for help is honestly nothing to be ashamed of, and there will probably be people in place to help you get around. If you’re really shy and you don’t want to ask someone for directions, perhaps find someone who’s in most of your classes and walk with them. You don’t want to be late to any classes at all especially in the first week, if you can help it.
These are just a few tips that will help you in your first year of sixth form. You’ll definitely learn a whole lot more along the way. Remember to enjoy your time in sixth form, make some memories and friends, but also do well in your subjects. Time will go fast, so be on top on your game.