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A-level problems: the ups and downs of Year 12

Our student blogger Millie picks out the highs and lows of her first year of sixth form...

Eleanor Foulds
by Eleanor Foulds
Last Updated:
06 Sep 2023

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Having recently finished my first year doing A-levels, I feel it’s only right to prepare others for what they are about to face.

At my sixth form, we don’t have to wear a uniform, which in theory seemed like the best thing ever… it wasn’t. I spent many mornings succumbing (big word, thanks A-level English) to social pressure and trying on several different outfits to look acceptable, before throwing on leggings and the t-shirt I had worn a few days before (shock horror). There seemed to be some sort of secret competition that went on in sixth form between the girls as to who was dressed the best, but this luckily disappeared as more people (including myself) started worrying about their lack of revision, and the amount of time left as the exam period got closer.

Procrastination and sleepless nights

A few months after starting sixth form, I realised that I was great at procrastination and found myself doing literally anything to avoid the pile of work sat next to me. My personal favourite was social media, and I cannot even begin to imagine how many times I refreshed Twitter and Instagram in order to not have to start my work. Another plus was that if I used my laptop to do this, and my parents came in, I could just switch the tab and pretend to be doing work; I’m sure (or hope!!) that everyone has done this at one point, and if you haven’t then just humour me.

If you're going into sixth form, then prepare yourself to lose sleep. Instead of sleeping at night I found myself staying up to revise, as I was an incredibly unorganised person. This wasn't the best idea I’ve had, considering the next day I was so tired I couldn’t concentrate in lessons, and would then have to go over it again that night – it was a never-ending cycle. I don’t think I’ve ever slept so much in one summer holiday, but I – and all other sixth formers – deserve it, and if anyone tells you that you don’t, simply throw your results at them, turn over and snuggle down deeper into your bed (that’ll tell ‘em).

The upside

Millie Graham student blogger

It may seem that I'm making sixth form out to be an awful experience, but it really isn’t all bad. I’ve made many more friends than in Year 11, and this has made me a much more confident person. Also, the teachers in my sixth form were amazing and very helpful, and if I had a worry I could just send them an email or go and see them. The teachers are also much more friendly and supportive than they were in Year 11, and I feel that having supportive teachers plays a big part in how committed and motivated people are when it comes to their exams.

Also, I have recently found that opening your results on results day and being proud of what you’ve achieved is one of the greatest feelings in the world, because you know that all your blood, sweat and tears (literally, all three) have paid off, and you can finally relax (at least until you have to go back and do it all again). If you don’t get the grades you want, though, don’t worry – grades aren’t everything and you can still achieve amazing things.

The benefits of being organised

My biggest piece of advice to all new sixth formers is to be organised. You can decrease all problems by at least 60% if you’re organised... but if you’re reading this and you know that you’re the least organised person ever then don’t worry (you aren’t the only one)!! And worrying isn’t going to help – just prepare yourself to lose sleep, your social life and your sanity (this is a joke, kind of). Being unorganised isn’t the end of the world and it doesn’t mean you’ll fail all your exams, but some organisation will certainly make things easier on you (I know, I speak from experience).

Don’t go into sixth form thinking that it’s all bad and there’s no point in being there, because it’s not true. Yes, it’s a lot of hard work, and yes, you’ll sometimes feel like giving up, but you’ll also meet lots of new people, and experience lots of new things. Sixth form can be an amazing time; it just depends on what you make of it.


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