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The truth about A-levels

It’s that time of year again. The sun shimmers, and exams are over! School is over… and teachers are ramming the prospect of A-levels down your throat.
They sell it to you, with mind numbing PowerPoints, depicting images of the happy A-level students, poising with pen at hand. It is said that ‘a picture says a thousand words’… if this one could speak, it would be screaming ‘Run a mile! Your teacher’s a liar’.
Showered with educational propaganda, highlighting the joys of free time, wearing your own clothes… sure it’s a little harder; but you can cut to the front of the lunch cues.
Stop!

If you are confused as I was about deciding whether to go to college or stay on at school , here is the TRUTH about A-levels. Teachers will want you to take A-levels, but not because they care! They want the school to appear to have a good reputation. The lured me to do A-levels, like a siren would a sailor, they irrevocably snatched me away in the euphoria of my GSCE exam results.
Though I do enjoy my A-levels, there are some thing I would have liked to have been informed of before my choice.
1. Difficulty.
In all honesty, this was addressed. They said it was a great leap from GCSE, but they didn’t show to what extent. At GCSE’s, you could get by with little revision, and blind memorising of facts. Now you actually have to think! (Oh the humanity!) You have to analyse, and argue, instead of memorising information.
However, this brings a great positive. A-levels are more geared to learning because it’s interesting, instead of just learning it because you have an exam at the end of the year… but teachers will be teachers, and they still slap you with the ‘you have an exam in one month’ stick.
2 Workload.
WARNING TO SLACKERS: YOU WILL DIE! Well, I hope not literally although the workload of A-levels may be a significant cause of death in teens.  Of course, it depends which A-levels you took. I took 4 (Biology, English, Philosophy and ethics, psychology) most of which are essay based. If you don’t complete homework, and aren’t prepared to work hard, pretty much 6 days a week, then A-levels (especially essay based) may be reconsidered. I receive homework, pretty much every lesson, and was always playing catch-up. However, I believe that teachers at times set too much work, thinking that our lives revolve around work.
Cut us some slack! Don’t set pointless work, just to set work, and if you do set work, please mark it! The frustrated hours I spent doing essay questions, similar to the one I did last week thinking ‘there goes a minute of my life… and another… and another’
3. A-levels taken
You will have an option of how many A-levels to take. 3, or 4. This is a double edged sword for me. Taking 4 A-levels was extremely stressful, but it is necessary if you are unsure what career to take. I was torn between Vet nurse, and journalism (Yeah very different… I’m indecisive) so I took a range of subjects including biology… Now I hate the subject! All I dreamed about in lesson was the work I could be getting done if I didn’t take an extra subject. Biology is extremely difficult, and from what I hear, all the science subjects are similarly difficult. I received an ‘E’ in the January exam, by far my lowest. Biology (OCR) is extremely specific, and if you take this, ensure you know the terminology.
                Although half way through the year I regretted taking 4 subjects, it is now worth it. I can drop it in year 13, now fully aware of what I want to become. If I had only taken 3, I am sure one of them would have been Biology, and then I would have failed my A-levels.
So, my suggestion, if you take A-levels, take 4; suffer for a year, then reap the benefits in year 13

4. Taster days

Taster days are lies! The lessons will not be fun, where you make things out of play-dough, and learn about the mysteries of life. Often, they consist of note taking, highlighting, and terrifying group work and presentations.
The most interesting subject I have taken is psychology (AQA). Of course, the lesson depends on the teacher. But my experience has shown them to be filled with memory experiments, and case studies about abnormality. However, as aforementioned this is a science based subject, so is still hard work. The homework mainly consisting of writing essays; however, this was the greatest risk I had ever taken.

Most importantly, try to think for yourself. A-levels are excellent, dependant on which A-levels you take… choose wisely, and research them well. Calling certain subjects ‘difficult’ is an understatement. Don’t be fooled by the sweet calling of the PowerPoint yielding teachers, they aren’t giving you the whole truth!

For any advice, or ideas for more blogs about teen worries, school, A-levels, or whatever springs to mind, leave a comment and I’ll write back.

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