As mentors, we often hear the same message echoing throughout Year 13… “I wish I had worked harder in Year 12,” or “I can’t apply for the course I want because my predicted grades are rubbish,” despite admitting that they did not work hard enough for their mocks. The pattern repeats itself year on year so I decided to try and break this cycle. I asked current Year 13 students: if they could go back in time a year, what would they do differently? Knowing what they now know, what advice would they give to their Year 12 selves? And, for the ones who had a successful Year 12, how did they do it?

As we look to recruiting our next group of Year 12 students and our current year group mature, here are some of their pearls of wisdom to help you to have a successful Year 12.

Use your frees to start working earlier. At the end of this year, the stuff you’ve learnt needs to be solid because it gets harder in year 13 and there really isn’t time to recap 1st year content.

Get your work done as soon as you get it, otherwise it piles up fast.

Workloads become much easier to manage if you look after yourself first.

If you’re taking any essay based subject, especially those you have to do a coursework for, do an EPQ it’s a good way to improve your writing and useful for learning skills needed for coursework e.g. referencing. I’ve increased my grades by a whole grade after completing my EPQ just because I can articulate my arguments better. Although be aware, it’s a lot of work completing an EPQ and try and get it done sooner rather than later (especially the candidate log).

It’s OK to struggle, A Levels are not supposed to be easy and there is nothing wrong with struggling at the start so long as you do the appropriate work and get the appropriate help when things get too much. Talk to people about what’s bothering you and at the same time listen to those who need your help. Sometimes just getting things out helps a lot.

Pre-read. No matter what subject or topic it is, pre-read it, and it will make the whole topic easier, as you will be able to understand it so much better and quicker.

Don’t be afraid to double up if you need to. There is absolutely no shame in doubling up, and it will definitely help you improve.

Don’t be discouraged at first if your grades are completely different to GCSE grades. Eventually it will click.

Past-paper questions!!

Keep notes tidy and organised so when you come to revise you don’t need to rewrite half a book of work!

Use the silent study areas as much as you can do, don’t risk losing them.

Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can start today.

I’d say that you don’t have to stick to a certain type of revision, instead try lots of different things out so you know what the best revision methods are for you in year 13. Organisation is great but it’s more important to keep things varied than to worry about sticking to the same thing!

It ALL matters.

Don’t put off work till the last minute, do it when you get it so you can do it the best you can – predicted UCAS grades are decided on early in the year in year 13 and they’re based on your marks and effort in year 12. Be organised through year 12 and you’ll have an easier time revising in year 13!!


Article compiled by Jess Mares, Year 13 Mentor.