Sixth form and UCAS in a nutshell….

Recently the year 11’s at our school have been choosing which A-levels they want to do and the school has put on a couple of events to help them decide. The first was a ‘Fresher’s Fair’. It took place one lunchtime and was an opportunity for them to ask A-level students questions about subjects without the teachers there, and -hopefully- get honest answers. This was aimed just at year 11’s from our school, as it took place at lunch time. The second was an open evening for anyone who might be interested in coming to the sixth form here. All the subjects jazzed up their rooms and brought out all the best tricks (only seen at open evening) to try and convince people that not only should they do that subject, but that they should do it at our sixth form! 

I helped out at both of these events, both times in Biology, and the question I got asked most was ‘What’s it like being in sixth form?’ This has to be one of the hardest question’s to answer, because sixth form is a different experience for everyone, so I thought if I just tell you a bit about what life as a sixth-former is like for me.

So my average day;

My alarm goes off at 6.45. I hit snooze, roll over and go back to sleep. At about 7.30 I drag myself out of bed, have breakfast, shower etc etc. Which lessons I have that day determines what I do next. If I have a lesson first I leave for school at about 8.25. If not, I start some work. Our school day is split in to 4 periods which are1hr15 long, with break after 2nd and lunch after 3rd. The school day finishes at 3.10 and I’ll between 1 and 4 lessons a day, but I try to work for the whole day. Because I live so close to school I can easily go home in my free periods, so during the day I’ll try to be doing homework or taking notes for all the time I would be if I was in a lesson.

On Tuesday our school runs ‘electives’ after college time. These are clubs or extra lessons to catch up on work you don’t understand or get a teacher’s opinion on coursework. You often think you don’t need to go to these until close to the exams, but trust me, you do! Near the beginning of the year not many people will go so you can get some pretty good tuition :) 

After school I head to the yard. It’s really good to have a hobby as it gives me a time to relax, take my time off school and socialise. A lot of people give up their hobbies during sixth form but I think it’s really important to have some sort of release. Even though I go to the yard most days I don’t think it takes up too much time because I do a lot of work in the rest of my time. I’m lucky because if I have a lot of work to do or an exam the next day, then Oscar’s owner will look after him for me. I also take Bramble with me which he enjoys, and it means mum is less stressed trying to walk him twice a day!

When I get home from the yard, at about 6, I don’t really do much for a while. I might tidy up, sort out my notes, write my blog. Just things that don’t really take up much brain power!

After our evening meal I’ll do some more work. My dad likes to sit in our dining room and read the paper, because it’s a big, light and airy room; so I often sit with him in the evenings and do homework or revise. He’s good because you can just talk at him, which helps it sink into your head. You don’t feel stupid because there’s someone there, but he doesn’t really listen :P

One bit of advice I will give you:

When you first go into sixth form, everything goes so fast. You get through hundreds of sheets of paper and countless biros. The teacher will just talk and talk – it will seem really fast at first- and you’ll have to take notes. What I found was that when I was taking notes everything seemed really easy and made loads of sense, but when I was asked a question or we did a mock paper, I found it hadn’t really sunk in. Everyone will tell you this and it might appear a bit pointless at first but READ THROUGH YOUR NOTES!!! Words cannot explain how important this is! Even if you just do it on a Friday night; read through them all and make sure you understand them. Take additional notes from the textbook. Then, anything you don’t understand you can ask them about in one of those glorious electives I was telling you about ;) 

Starting to see a trend here? You are responsible for your learning here. The teachers will teach but you can’t learn if you don’t want to. And if you have a problem they will help you, but you have to ask. 

Then there’s UCAS.

You’ll start looking at this after your exams in year 12. If you don’t want to go to uni, and you’ve gone through the school asking you ‘are you sure, are you sure’ repeatedly then you don’t have to worry about UCAS. But once you’ve decided you DO want to pursue high education then you will be living, breathing, dreaming UCAS. 

The bulk of it is a form, filling out your personal details, where you want to go, what courses you are applying for, what you are studying. You can apply for up to 5 courses, so it may be tricky narrowing down the hundred or so uni’s the offer, say, geography, and picking 5 you want to apply for. To do this, visit lots of open days and think about the course content. No two geography courses are exactly the same. Or, like me, you may have picked a less popular course and not so many universities will offer it. I want to study rural land management, and only two universities do this course. Luckily, they are both lovely. I’ve got my interview at Harper Adams tomorrow, so fingers crossed I get an offer from both!

Then comes your personal statement. This is like an A-level in itself. Never think you can just do one draft. It can’t really use cliches, it has to be individual and give the universities something to remember you by, but without being too crazy. This is where you put all the work experience you’ve done, and volunteering and what inspired you to apply for this course.

When you’ve got all of your offers you choose two to accept, one as your firm choice and one as your insurance. The offer for the firm choice is usually higher than for the insurance, you pick the one you want to go to most as firm, and a backup in case you don’t get the grades.

To sum up:

1) Read through your notes!

2) Revise, revise, revise!!

3) Grab UCAS by the reins and get stuck in!

Good luck at sixth form, you’ll love it.

Maddi x 

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