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Are A Levels the same as GCSEs?

Soon you’ll be thinking about which A levels you’re going to be taking, and you’ll no doubt have heard all sort of rumours about how they’re a huge step up from GCSEs which “are so easy” in comparison. But with the help of our bloggers, we’re going to dig out the truth…

Third year Marine Zoology student Hannah: “A levels are incredibly different from GCSEs. They’re more like what you would encounter at uni in that there is a lot more work that you have to do by yourself without the help of your teachers. There’s also much more content at A level. But they dogive you an opportunity to study what you really want to and not what you have to.



Second year Combined Honours student Cat: “The big jump aside, I much preferred A Levels to GCSEs for the most part. There’s more content, it’s harder, you feel you have more responsibility than in GCSEs – but I loved that! Especially in my more creative subjects I felt like I had so much more freedom in things like coursework and could therefore tailor it to my tastes exactly.


So it’s fair to say that A levels may be harder than GCSEs, but that doesn’t mean they’re unachievable!

It’s also worth thinking about the following:


From GCSEs to A levels, you’ll have fewer subjects to study, so although each one may be harder, you’ll have more time to commit to each and get your head around the topics. On the flip side, you’ll have more lessons for each subject, so you’ve got to make sure you’ve got a genuine interest in your choices or motivation to concentrate will be out the window!


Something many students find is that A levels are a lot more than just memorising the material you’re given – you’re expected to take the initiative to do wider reading to ensure you’re understanding rather than just learning. And in a more open and comfortable environment with generally smaller class sizes, you’re likely to have greater interaction with your classmates and teacher each lesson.


Being trusted to be proactive and use the time off between lessons is another added benefit of A levels. But remember, you’re given that time because you need it, not because you’ve got an important Netflix session planned.

Some of you may find the transition from GCSEs to A levels a natural step up, others may struggle. But don’t worry, maybe you just need to put a bit of extra time in, or worst case scenario you’ve not picked your strongest subjects, there’s no need to worry as they can always be changed.

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