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Studying for A-Level qualifications is an important foundation for progressing into work or higher education. Most employers require A-Level study from their employees and for those who are looking to go on to undergraduate study at university will most definitely need good grades at A-Level to secure their place at the academic institution of their choice.
Teaching for A-Levels is a step up from previous learning experiences for school leavers and requires a different mindset and different set of skills in order to be successful. With a greater degree of self-directed study, it’s important that students are supported to grow their study skills as well as their subject-specific knowledge.
Choosing subjects and learning them well
One of the key benefits to the system of A- and AS-Levels is the ability of students to pick and choose a broader range of subjects and expand their knowledge. However, courses often overlap and fit together in interesting ways and studying complimentary courses can often enhance a student’s learning across the syllabi.
Some colleges now offer the opportunity to do a two-year AS-Level programme that allows students to sit all of their exams at the end of the second year rather than half one year and half the next. This can give an excellent opportunity to learn the subject more fully and make links between related subject matter before attempting exams and can give a greater chance of success at the end of the course.
Developing study skills
Particularly for those looking to go on to higher education, A- and AS-Levels are a vital transition point between the directive, taught methods of GCSE and the much more self-sufficient ways of learning students will find at university. Using formats more familiar in higher education such as small class discussions, group work and wider reading, students on A- and AS-Level courses are preparing themselves for further study. YouTube channels are also emerging as a popular form of research.
As in lower levels of education it’s important to focus on non-exam focused teaching, at A- and AS-level it’s vital that learning how to learn differently is a key part of the support offered to students. However they choose to go forward after sitting their exams, this approach will stand them in good stead for higher study or learning at work.
One of the areas often neglected in the education of student’s post-GCSE is the development of wider interests and broader life skills. Some of the most important learning that students will do in the two years after GCSE will be picking up the skills that will equip them for fulfilling and independent lives.
Taking on some kind of voluntary service is an element that top sixth form colleges are building into their programmes for A- and AS-Level students. Offering something to the community whilst ensuring students can learn something that could never be imparted in a classroom setting not only sets them up for life; it also makes them an attractive prospect for higher education institutions and employers they will be seeking beyond their exams. Bringing their unique youthful perspective and enthusiasm to community projects make them great for voluntary work and creates a mutually rewarding relationship.
Approaching A- and AS-Levels should always be a matter of balance. While getting subject-specific knowledge will always be vital for passing exams, there is also the need for students to develop in the round in order to be successful once their exams are passed and they move on to the next phase of their lives.
Ensuring students are equipped with study skills that will help them in university or in work-based placements sets them up to continue learning beyond the immediate exam period while seeking activities outside their studies gives them chance to develop into more well-rounded people as a result of their experience.
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