The A Level Days Are Over!!

Hey! Here I am, re-emerging from the depths of exam woes to tell you that I am DONE with Sixth Form! I had my last exam yesterday morning. The relief hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but I thought I’d give you all a little update (*cough cough* RANT) about how I found this exam season.

This exam season has without doubt been the hardest exam season ever. Of course, I knew A Levels were going to be hard but these exams really did push me to breaking point. Unfortunately, I have had a lot of stuff going on in my personal life throughout exams, which has been inconvenient to say the least. It really has been a struggle just to motivate myself to study or even turn up to exams because to be honest they felt insignificant whilst it felt like my life was crumbling around me. I do feel like this has affected by exam performance (I mean, I turned up to history Tuesday morning after having a massive breakdown at 1am so y’know) and honestly, I am a bit disappointed with myself, because I’ve worked so hard over these past two years and I feel like I majorly underperformed in some exams, however I know that most of the things that have been going on are outside of my control so I shouldn’t be to hard on myself. Anyway, I thought I’d do a little breakdown of how each of my subjects went, if anyone is interested, probably more for self-reflection on results day so I can see if the exams went as badly as I thought!
Geography

Argh geography! I’ve probably ranted about geography on here before. It’s been the subject I’ve struggled the most with during A Levels I think. There’s just so much content??? Everyone says geography is just colouring in maps but in reality learning about the world involves aspects of several different subjects, like biology, politics, history, maths etc. You need so many skills to do geography and questions range from statistical tests to long essays to analysing English language in one paper (I’m looking at you, human geog paper…why did we have to analyse the negative tone of a blog post!??). I feel like I never really mastered exam technique for geography, some of the questions are so vague you have no idea what the examiner wants from you. 

Paper 1 (physical geography) was probably my best paper, although at the time I thought it went badly because I did 40 marks worth of questions in 15 minutes because I was running out of time. The following papers however, were much MUCH worse. Paper 2 (human geography) was just??? I can’t even explain. Was it even geography?? Edexcel what WERE you thinking?? Why are we analysing postage stamps and the case study of Hull (which wasn’t even on the spec)? Also (I could have a whole rant about this but I’ll spare you the misery) my college really messed up with exam invigilators. I mean, they only had enough for one per exam, which is against the rules anyway, so in my Paper 2 exams our invigilator had to make two phone calls IN THE EXAM HALL to ask for extra paper and because someone needed escorting to the toilet. I was so annoyed I couldn’t concentrate and shortly after that, I asked for extra paper and the invigilator gave me a paper someone had already written in for a different subject?! It was A Mess™. But at least everyone found it hard so it wasn’t entirely my fault that I felt like I did badly. Paper 3, on the otherhand, that was entirely my fault. I was so tired and not in the right mindset to be sitting an exam. This paper is synoptic so it aims to cover all of the compulsory units from the other two papers. The actual case study that the resource booklet focused on was decent and I knew some stuff about it, and the questions weren’t awful, but my exam technique just went out the window and I felt like everything I wrote was a load of waffle. Oh well. So, I don’t think I’ve done as well in geography as I was hoping, which is frustrating.
History

History has always been the subject that I just sort of seem to be able to do without spending hours and hours on it. I was a bit nervous about the exams because I hadn’t revised for them as much as geography (and look what use that was. Ha!) but thankfully Edexcel were kind to us and gave us three really nice papers!!!!!! In total, I wrote 8 essays – 3 on the transformation of Britain’s democracy in the 20th century, 2 on USA boom, bust and recovery 1920-1955 and 3 on the 16th-17th century witchcraze.

Most of the questions which came up I’d actually seen before (or seen a version of) in the example questions in text books and revision guides (because we don’t have past papers), so that was great! In the Britain paper, we had a source essay on Thatcher’s economic policy which was something I was really confident on so hopefully that went well. And in the USA paper, the source question was on the KKK and was almost identical to one I had written and sent to my teacher a few days before!! And one of the sources was exactly the same!! So luck was definitely on my side for that exam. The witchcraft exam surprisingly went well too, even though it was my least favourite topic and I barely had any sleep before hand. 
French

The first exam I did this year was my French speaking, over a month ago now! I can’t remember exactly how it went to be honest. It consisted of two parts – talking about 1 of 12 topics we studied over the past two years (I had the choice of family or diverse society so went with the latter) and then our individual research presentation, which I can’t really describe other than being a spoken version of coursework?? I had to do a lot of research for my chosen topic – the Calais jungle. Both elements of the exam are followed by a spontaneous discussion and in total it lasted around 20 minutes I think?? I feel like the research project definitely went better than the card on diverse society, I almost had too much to say about Calais and my teacher had to cut me off! But overall I think it was okay?? I managed to use complex phrases and idioms, but whether my grammar was accurate is another question!

My other two French exams I did this week – paper 1 on Monday and paper 2 today. Paper 1 was reading, writing, listening and translation and makes up 50% of my grade. It was my longest exam and definitely the most tiring – foreign languages take so much concentration and effort! After I came out, I realised I made a few stupid mistakes, which is inevitable I guess. I can’t really tell how well I’ve done though, because a lot of the questions seemed as if they were trying to catch me out, particularly multiple choice. It wasn’t the hardest paper I’ve done, but it wasn’t the easiest either. Who knows!

Paper 2 this morning was an essay on the book and film we study – Un Sac de Billes and La Haine. I did a mock for this two weeks ago, and it went really badly, mainly because I chose the wrong question (it appeared easier at first but turns out I had no ideas after I started writing it oops) so I was so stressed about this exam. However I think it went okay?? I mean, my film easy was definitely worse than my book essay, which is sort of normal for me anyway, but I do feel like I didn’t mess up the film essay as badly as in the mock, my ideas were just a bit wishy-washy. I tried really hard to use complex phrases and grammar and a variety of vocab, so hopefully that paid off! I kind of wish I could have kept that paper because I was so happy with my Un Sac de Billes essay (the book) lol.

Overall, I’m not really sure how French went. I really, really wanted to get an A in French because it is my favourite subject and I’m going to be carrying it on at uni. Also I’ve been getting A’s all year so I hope I haven’t let myself down at the last hurdle with a load of silly mistakes! I guess only time will tell, but I am slightly more hopeful about French than geography.

So, that’s how my exams went. I had 9 in total, and although that seems like not many compared to GCSEs, most of them were over 2 hours long so I was absolutely shattered after finishing each exam. I am proud that I scraped through exams, with everything else going on, and I’ll just have to see what happens on results day. I know my place at uni is secured, unless I fail everything, so that’s some comfort at least!

I would just like to say to anyone that has been taking exams these past few weeks – or is not quite finished yet – I am so proud of you and you should be too! 

That’s all from me for now, I’ve got to sort through all my A Level notes and mounds of text books and paper, although I don’t think I can bring myself to recycle to years of hard work, stress and tears just yet!

Hopefully I’ll be back again soon with some more exciting posts now it’s summer. 🙂

(Featured photo is of the yellow roses in my garden which have been bringing me happiness throughout exams – THEY’RE SO PRETTY)

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Study With Me: Easter Edition!!!

Hello! Although I – uncharacteristically – have lots of inspiration for blog  posts at the moment (namely philosophical musings about life inspired by public transport and weather and all sorts of other not-very-exciting-things-which-keep-leading-me-to-consider-deeper-meanings), I’ve decided to do another study with me, because I don’t have enough time to do any of these thoughts justice, but I still wanted to write a little update. Hope you enjoy 🙂

8:30 – Wake up (to the annoying sound of my alarm because otherwise I’d sleep until 10am lol). I had some breakfast, got ready and made my to-do list for the day.
Sticky note reading: USA flashcards and quizlet, geography coursework, la famille vocab and la famille speaking mock
I’m actually a day ahead with revision, because I did all of today’s scheduled revision yesterday, so I decided to do tomorrow’s today.

10:00-11:00 – History flashcards

I managed to get through half of the unit I’d planned to make flashcards on because it took a lot longer than expected, but that’s okay because I’ll finish them off tomorrow.

Flashcards
11:00-11:20 – History Quizlet

I typed up the key polices, dates and statistics from my history flashcards into Quizlet – which is quickly become one of my favourite revision resources. It basically allows you to create a virtual set of flashcards which you can complete various activities and games with to help you learn them, it’s particularly useful for language vocab but works for history too!

11:20-1:00 – Geography coursework

My coursework dealdine is in 8 days, so I’m trying to use any non-revision time to work on editing it. Somehow my word count keeps increasing even though I’m trying to make it shorter?? I’m already over the 4000 word limit so it’s going to take a lot of time to get it below that.

4:45-6:00 – French speaking practice

I had a bit of a break in revision for lunch then I had to go to town to do some shopping and visit the bank. When I got home I was so tired I had a nap (#studentstruggles). But! Once I started French revision I got a lot done. I went through all the vocab for “La Famille” unit on Quizlet, then read through all the key facts/statistics and responses to “unpredictable” questions for that unit. After that I did a mock exam using a speaking card like the one’s we are given in the first part of our exam. We get five minutes to prepare (hence my scruffy handwriting pictured below) then have to give our responses and answer a few unpredictable questions for a total of 6 minutes. I recorded myself speaking as well (although in hindsight this wasn’t a great idea – listening back to yourself trying to speak a foreign language is the worst thing ever).

French revision guide with annotations
6:45-8:15 – Geography coursework

After dinner I went back to my coursework and tried to make some progress. I did a bit of editing but mainly sorted out my bibliography and positioning of photos (because aesthetics are important clearly). In the end I was too tired and kept going round in circles so I gave up for revision for the day and did a bit of yoga to wind down.
Thank for reading and, as always, hope you are well! 🙂

//Revision/A Level tips!!//

I can’t believe it’s March already! That means I’ve been at college for 7 months and am well into my first year of A Levels. With exam season nearing ever closer, I started revising a few weeks ago and it’s been a bit of a learning curve to say the least, so I thought I’d share a few revision tips I’ve learnt over the past few weeks and just general tips for studying A Levels in general! Obviously if you’re not studying A Levels, you can still adapt these tips to help you and feel free to comment more advice below. 🙂

Make sure you have a good set of notes to revise from
This is something that ideally you should do as you go along, rather than in the last few months before exams. Always make sure your notes are up to scratch after each lesson and consult the course books to see if any extra detail can be added. I know some people like to do this by just rereading their notes after lesson and checking they’ve got all the information they need on that topic, and others who rewrite their notes to make sure they have a neat set of notes which are set out clearly and will make the revision process easier. I do the latter in a way – since September I have been rewriting my notes after each lesson onto little index cards which have turned out to be really useful to help with revision as all the information is laid in manageable, bite-sized chunks. But do whatever works for you, just make sure you have covered all the information required before the time revision starts so you’re not learning something for the first time just before your exams.

Make sure you know the course content

This sort of links in with the last point – in order to have good notes from which to revise, you need to make sure you’re keeping up with the required course content. You can do this by checking the text book after lesson to see if there’s anything you’ve missed or downloading the specification for your course from the exam board website which will tell you exactly what you are required to know as part of the course.

Also sometimes you won’t have time to cover all of the course content in lesson – I know sometimes we don’t have time to study a chapter or two (or three or four *cough cough GEOGRAPHY*) but make sure you don’t leave this until revision starts because it will just be added stress to try to learn something for the first time whilst revising everything else! A good way to avoid this is use half-terms to catch up on any chapters/topics you may have not had time to cover that term before you move on to the next unit and completely forget about all the stuff you missed out.

Revision timetables can be flexible

Whilst I’d definitely recommend making a revision timetable to help you structure and organise your revision and ensure you have adequate time to cover all the topics before exams arrive, your timetable doesn’t have to be set in stone. It can seem quite daunting to have a set list of things you need to do and sometimes I find it stresses me out because it can feel like revision is taking over my life and I constantly worry over the fact that I have to revise depositional landforms or the prohibition era today and I can’t relax until I’ve done it, which is quite frankly stress I don’t need! So I’ve discovered that not having a fixed timetable is more relaxing and productive.

When I’m making a timetable, I  will assign a subject for revision to particular days (e.g. Monday’s = geography, Tuesday’s = history) BUT I don’t force myself to stick to doing those things on those days. Sometimes I’ll get home after a long day at college on Monday and won’t feel like spending more time on geography after my 3.5 hrs of geography lessons,so I’ll do history or French instead. Or other times I’ll be really tired so take an evening off and reschedule that revision to later on in the week. Or I’ll do half of the planned revision and do the rest the next day/before college if I have some spare time. The only restrictions I would advise to place on your revision timetable even if you want to make it as flexible as possible, is to complete all the revision planned for that week before the start of the next week, because putting revision off until it piles up does not help and you’d just get so behind.

For some people, having a rigid timetable might work, but if you’re like me and having set times to certain things stresses you out more, then adopting a strategy like this might work!

This week I did my geography revision on Monday evening and Tuesday morning instead and will do the history revision later on in the week, probably Friday evening.

Take advantage of moments of motivationSomething a lot of people struggle with during the revision process is motivation. It can seem like revision is a never-ending process and after a while it can get repetitive and tedious, causing you to want to give up. That’s why it’s a good way to take advantage of moments of motivation – if you suddenly get an urge to go over standard deviation or the imperfect tense, there’s no point forcing yourself to revise the acceleration of globalisation just because it’s scheduled on your revision timetable. This links in again with the last point about flexible timetabling – at the end of the day you’re going to be most productive if you’re revising something that you want to revise and are feeling motivated to revise in that moment. That being said, don’t use this an excuse to put off topics that are harder/are less interested in – even if you have to make deal with yourself to revise a harder topic than an easier topic that you enjoy more. It’s all about finding a varied balance of revision to keep you engaged.

Revision is very much trial and error

At GCSE I found it was fairly easy to just revise each subject in the same way – by making mindmap, flashcards, rewriting notes etc – but since starting A Levels in September I’ve found it much harder to revise for them. For one thing, the subjects are much more diverse meaning certain revision methods work for some subjects or units and not others, which does mean you have to plan your revision more carefully to ensure you give yourself enough time to revise in he most effective way for each unit – saldy last minute cramming DOES NOT work with A Levels! Secondly, there is just so much content in A Levels that some revision techniques are just too time-consuming to be effective – it’s all about finding the balance between efficiency and effectiveness which might take a lot of trial and error.

For example I reluctantly came to the conclusion yesterday that my method of revising French had not been working for the past few weeks, but that’s okay because if you start revising a bit earlier than needed, you can evaluate your revision process as you go along and if you find, like me, that something isn’t working, you have enough time to fix it without losing valuable revision time.

So that’s a few tips that I’ve learnt from studying A Levels and attempting to figure out how the heck it’s possible to revise SO MUCH content for the exams in the summer, hopefully they’ll be useful to some of you and if you have anymore advice you’d like to share regarding revision, please feel free!

//GCSE Results Day Recap//

So as you can probably guess, I didn’t really sleep much last night and the ridiculous heat didn’t help either. BUT I managed to wake up in time – even before my alarm went off for once! I originally thought I was getting my results at 10am but the school changed it to 9:30am so I had to rush out, meet my friends then head over to school for the last time ever eek!

We didn’t have to listen to a massive speech from the principal this time like we did on results day last year – he just said a few words then let everyone go and collect our envelopes.

I literally almost got crushed going to get my results because our whole year group (around 250 people) were sat on the tiered seating in the school hall and EVERYONE tried to shove their way down the steps at once to get to the tables where out results were layed out. Once I’d picked up my results I found my friends and we went outside to open them.

I was extremely nervous about opening my results because I found physics and maths really tough so was expecting to be disappointed but the grades I got were better than I ever could have imagined. All of my friends did really well and passed everything they needed to and I am so proud of them!

What kind of annoyed me though was that as soon as I opened my results and had barely looked at them, let alone let it all sink in, the head of school came over to me saying that she’d been looking for me as I was on her ‘list of high flyers’ (because the teachers get to look at our grades before us she had obviously.already had time to compare everyone’s results) and she was making such a fuss getting the photographer from the local newspaper to take a picture of me and two other girls who got similar results and it was really stressing me out a) because I don’t like being pressured to do things b) because I didn’t even want my photo taken and c) because I hadn’t even had the chance to tell my friends what I’d got before I was whisked off to the photographer.

What’s worse was that I had to have my photo taken with a girl that I’ve never really liked – she is always so arrogant and literally thinks she’s the best at everything. She’s the type of person that is extremely smart and isn’t afraid to let everyone know it or use it to make other people feel bad and inadequate. I really, really can’t stand her. I already knew that I’d have to put up with her for the next two years of college in my a level French class because only around 5-10 people take French so I wouldn’t be able to avoid her. I thought today might have been a chance to kind of move on from secondary school and act more friendly towards each other so it would be less awkward at college but after we had had our photo taken, I turned to her and was about to congratulate her but she was giving me the most horrible glare ever (because obviously she wasn’t happy with the fact that other people had achieved as good results as her). I said to myself ‘so this is how it’s going to be then’ and I just walked off because now I know that we’re never going to be “friends”and she’ll never treat me as an equal and if there is one thing I’ve learnt from secondary school, it’s that you don’t waste time on people who clearly aren’t worth it.

Aside from that, I have had a lovely day celebrating with my friends. Our school hired an ice cream van so we all got free ice creams, chatted to teachers and friends for a bit, then headed to my friend’s house.​

Yum


My friends mum was so happy and excited that when we walked through the door she hugged us and kissed us all on the cheek lol 😂 We spent the rest of the day eating chips from the local fish and chip shop, chatting, playing pool, Irish snap and Monopoly, having pillow/beanbag fights and just generally being really hyper and weird.
I left my friend’s house at like 5pm and when I got back my mum wasn’t very happy because I’d spent all day out with my friends (even though she knew I was going to do that anyway) and the rest of my family just seem a bit miserable (I think my sister is annoyed because I got higher grades than her and udk what’s up with everyone else). But other than that I’ve had a great day.

I hope everyone else’s exam results were what you were hoping for and remember that all the thousands of facts and statistics and knowledge you gained whilst studying for these exams is worth so much more than just one letter. At the end of the day the aim of school is to leave with more knowledge than you’ve started and the knowledge and skills you take away from school is what’s important and what determines your success. 🙂

The featured image us of a street in Oxford and at the moment I am probably more proud of how that photo turned out than I am of my results. It still hasn’t sunk in and I’ve been in a constant state of shock all day!

//Exams need to change//

I’ve been thinking about this for a while but today’s exam confirmed it. I had my second biology exam today and although I thought the exam went quite well, guess what? Only 14 of the 53 topics on the specification actually came up in the exam. That’s just 26%. Not only did the exam board fail to test us on the majority of the course which I have spent three years learning, they decided it would be fun to ask us about ‘the 4 elements all proteins need/have’ and ‘why red seaweed grows at great depths’ which aren’t even included anywhere on the specification. And what about the other 74% of the course? Was it even worth me learning that in the first place?

This got me thinking about how exams are really quite unfair. I mean, it’s only natural for everyone to have their own strengths and weaknesses within subjects. I know exams can’t always play to everyone’s strengths but I just find it really unfair how the topics that actually come up in the exam are randomly selected as surely this gives students who’s strengths lie within these topics an unfair advantage. You could get a grade C in physics for example because the 26% of the specification that is actually in the exam happens to be the bit you struggle with most so then you and everyone else will forever be thinking you’re just average at physics when in reality you could have A* knowledge on the other 76% of the course that you weren’t tested on and that your grade wasn’t determined by and in actual fact the only things in physics you are not too great at are describing how double-glazed windows work (thanks for that OCR physics – in case you hadn’t noticed, I don’t want to be a window fitter when I’m older so how am I supposed to know that?).

Not only is the way exams don’t actually assess you’re whole knowledge of a subject unfair, there is also far too much content for you to  be able to actually leave school and remember a single thing about the advantages of using immobilised enzymes or what red shift even is. I don’t know about you, but I find that as soon as I’ve finished an exam, all of that knowledge is just forgotten because my brain knows it is taken up valuable, unnecessary space which I need to prepare for my next exam. So far I’ve done exams in RS (ethics and philosophy), maths, English literature and language, history, geography, French, chemistry, physics, biology and politics and to be honest I can barely remember anything I’ve spent the past three years learning (except French because my brain weirdly seems to translate everything I’m about to say into French before I actually speak). It seems like such a waste – and to be honest it is – but because we are forced to cram one 300 paged text books worth of information into our brains after the other, anything that’s not needed anymore has to go, no matter how much I want to be able to remember it.

In my opinion, exams and education in general would be so much more effective and useful if the course content was a lot smaller and all of it was actually included in the end-of-course exam. Otherwise what’s the point? Reducing the course content would give us more time to learn and understand the information we are expected to know so revising for exams won’t become so much of a test of how good your memory is but of how much you actually understand and are able to apply that subject knowledge. For me revision has just become a process of forcing myself to memorise facts but wouldn’t it be nice of instead of having to cram all these facts in without having time to properly understand them, we could just know those facts and concepts because we understand them fully and are able to apply them to everyday life around us? At least that way we are more likely to leave school actually knowing how catalysts affect the rate of reaction instead of just having a sheet of paper saying at one point in our lives we were able to recall this information under timed conditions only to have forgotten about it before we’d even left the exam hall. The whole aim of school is to educate us and provide us with the knowledge we need to pursue the careers that we want to but at the moment this is not the case as we are expected to learn so much that we never have time to fully understand everything and if we can’t understand stuff, then we won’t be able to put it into practice in real life which is a fundamental feature of effective learning. At the moment I’d be no more qualified to do job biology-related job with my *fingers crossed*GCSE biology than someone who has never studied biology in their life because I simply can’t recall anything I’ve learnt. The problem with having loads of course content is that the only way we can pass our exams is by cramming all these facts into our short-term memory as we don’t have the time to understand them in sufficient enough detail for them to be embedded into our long-term memory.

An alternative to reducing the course content and including it all in the exam (because we all know the government would never agree to this as it would make exams ‘easier’ – nah m8, it would just mean us students were able to leave school actually knowing stuff but you don’t seem to want us to become educated…(stop starting conspiracy theories about the PM, Em, and stop getting over-excited about the incoming double-bracket)) would be to divide each exam into sections. These sections would correspond to sections of the specification which would give he course more of a clear structure AND allow the exam board to offer a choice of sections/topics in the exam so everyone gets the chance to show off their true abilities to the examiners and answer topics that play to their strengths. This would make exams a lot more fair and useful in my opinion plus it wouldn’t be too hard for exam boards to actually implement this change (although I’d never have the courage to actually suggest this alternative exam system to exam boards or the government myself…well, maybe one day).

So, that’s why I think exams really do need to change. I know the government is just beginning the process of making exams ‘harder’ so I’m sure I’ll end up writing a much angrier rant than this in a years time when I will have experienced being the ‘guinea pig’ year for the new ‘tougher’ a-levels, but if anything, the fact that I am able to waste an hour of my valuable revision time writing this rant at the moment proves that exams are too hard and unfair as it is and that these new reforms are only likely to make everything much, much worse. All I can say is good luck to everyone sitting the new reformed GCSEs – I simply can’t imagine how the can make them ‘harder’ than they already are but everything is possible I guess…

 

 

//Exams, exams and more exams: the English school system//

image

I always find it really interesting learning about other countries education systems so I thought I’d attempt to explain the English education for my non-English followers and friends.

If you are English, please tell me if I have written something wrong because I know it does vary slightly regionally. Oh and by the way this is based on my experience of education so I have no idea if primary school has changed slightly because I went to primary school like 5 years ago.

Right, lets begin.

Primary school:
Year Reception – age 4-5.
Year 1 – age 5-6.
Year 2 – age 6-7.
Year 3 – age 7-8.
Year 4 – age 8-9.
Year 5 – age 9-10.
Year 6 – age 10-11.

In primary school the only exams we do are called SATS and we only take them in English (spelling and comprehension) and maths (although they may have introduced science ones now). You do SATS in summer every year from Year 2 onwards (I think) but only in Year 6 – the final year – do your SATS exam papers get sent off to be marked. SATS are graded from 1-5 with 5 being the highest result. Your SATS grades don’t really count towards anything other than determining which set you are placed into for maths and English in Secondary school.

Secondary school:
Year 7 – age 11-12.
Year 8 – age 12-13.
Year 9 – age 13-14.
Year 10 – age 14-15.
Year 11 – age 15-16.

Years 7 & 8 are basically just to get you used to secondary school life. You are taught a range of subjects and get no choice over what you study. In my school, the subjects I did in Years 7 and 8 were: English, maths, science, humanities (history, religious studies and geography combined), French, ICT, drama, art and music.

Now, this is where it can get a little confusing as it is up to the school to decide whether to start GCSEs (the main secondary school examinations) in Year 9 or Year 10. My school starts them in Year 9, so I’ll explain it this way.

At the end of Year 8, you get to pick 4 options for your GCSE subjects which (in my school) we start in Year 9. You get a choice because the only compulsory GCSEs you have to study are maths, English, religious studies and science. Therefore you don’t have to do art, drama, music, humanities or French anymore so you have a lot of free hours to fill.

So, for my GCSEs I chose to study Triple science (which is just an addition to the compulsory science), History, Geography and French.

I spent the whole of Year 9 and 10 learning the course content for my GCSE subjects then in March of Year 10 I took mock exams for all of my subjects to see if I was ready to take any of the real exams in the summer. I ended up doing my Geography and History exams at the end of Year 10 but for all of my other subjects, I carried them on to study them for another year.

This meant I went into Year 11 having finished Geography and History so was able to choose a new subject to study to fill the empty hours. All of my other GCSE subject exams are taken at the end of Year 11 (my final year of secondary school).

College/sixth form/apprenticeship:
As you leave secondary school at 16 years old, you have to go to either college, sixth form or do an apprenticeship as it is compulsory to stay in education until you’re 18.

College:
– A seperate establishment to secindary schools, you can study either a-levels there (the next level up from GCSEs, they are mainly in academic subjects and take two years. You can choose up to four a-levels and depending on subjects, you either take half of the exams at the end of each year, or all of the exams at the end of two years) or BTECs (which are assessed through coursework and practical work NOT exams and you can study a range of things from hairdressing to animical to engineering etc).

Sixth form:
– Sixth forms are attatched to secondary schools and are basically the same as colleges but you can usually only study a-levels there.

Apprenticeships:
– You can also do apprenticeships where you have a job placement and are taught the skills to do that job over a course of two/three years and are usually paid for your work.

University:
If you wish to you can continue your education and go to university although this is not compulsory. To go to university you need to have either done a-levels or a BTEC course to have the right qualifications to apply.

Typically you study either one subject or a combonation of two subjects for your degree and most courses last 3 years.

So, there we go. A not-so-short guide to the English education system. I hope you found this useful/interesting. Sorry if I just bored you all to death. I’m weird, ok? I find all this stuff fascinating.

Anyway, bye for now! 🙂