As a parent do you wish that there were meaningful A-level success tips that you could pass on to your child? Like many parents, you may notice that the transition from GCSEs to A-levels can be a challenging time for your child due to a number of reasons. They may have to travel to a sixth form college on their own and navigate the local public transportation system during the morning rush hour. They have a get used to a schedule where they are not micromanaged by their teachers like they were in their GCSE courses. And they have to adapt to a new learning environment where the teacher teaches the concepts in a discussion-based format and they consolidate their learning by completing packs of past paper questions as part of their homework set.
A lot of students struggle to transition to A-levels from their GCSEs during the first term of their A-level courses. The primary reason for this is that they don’t know how to handle the workload associated with being an A-level student. They are expected to learn how to handle the workload as they are learning how to navigate the local public transportation system, learning how to manage their time, learning how to study effectively and learning the course material!
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Graeme Matthews shares the six strategies that you need to know so that you can be successful in your A-level studies. Get organised. Learn note-taking strategies. Learn how to manage your workload. Learn how to study for EOU tests. Learn how to study for final exams. Learn how to improve your mindset.
As a parent, you realise that there is a lot of pressure on your child to be successful in their A-levels. After all, their place on their university course depends on the grades that they get on their A-level exams. Learning how to manage their workload is something that all sixth form students need to master if they are going to be successful in their A-levels.
This blog post contains five A-level success tips to help your child manage their workload. If you want to help them learn how to manage A-levels and how to manage their workload then keep on reading!
A-Level Success Tips: Is Your Child In A Reactive or Proactive State?
When discussing how to handle their workload with your child the first step you need to take is to determine whether your child is in a reactive or a proactive state. If your child is in a reactive state then they will be experiencing negative stress which is unhealthy for them. They will feel overwhelmed with the amount of work they have to accomplish in their A-level courses. They will feel that they don’t have enough time to complete their homework sets. And they will feel that they don’t have time to prepare for their EOU tests.
If your child is in a proactive state then they will be feeling positive stress which is healthy for them. They will still have the same deadlines as the child who is in a reactive state but they will feel as if they can handle the workload of the A-level courses. They will feel that although they are working hard at their studies that they have enough time to complete their homework sets. And although it’s normal to feel nervous about taking exams they will feel that they are prepared for their EOU tests.
As a parent, in order to complete the first step, you need to determine whether your child is in the reactive or proactive state and explain to them that it is possible to move from the reactive to the proactive state. This can be accomplished by planning out their time more effectively.
Help your child manage their workload by completing this A-level success tip:
- Explaining to them the difference between a reactive and proactive state.
- Explain the difference between negative stress (unhealthy) and positive stress (healthy).
- Determine whether they are in a reactive or a proactive state.
Long Term Planning
The second step you need to take with your child is to help them plan their time more effectively. This can be accomplished by helping them with their long term planning. To start with they will need a paper planner or a calendar which they can purchase either online or from their local stationery store. Or they can print one off from the internet.
It doesn’t matter what type of planner they have or where they obtain the planner as long as they have the ability to plan three or four months into the future. The reason why they need to plan three or four months into the future is that this is the typical length of a term. School terms normally last between 12 weeks (3 months) or 16 weeks (4 months).
The first task that they are going to accomplish is to write down all of the events that they know are going to occur during the term. For example, they would record vacation days and the beginning and end of the half-term vacation. And they would record any days of school that they are missing due to school-sanctioned events. These may include medicine academy events, engineering field trips or university open days.
A quick win at this point in order to foster a positive relationship with your child’s tutor is to let them know in advance when they are planning on being absent from school. This can easily be achieved by making a note on the planner on the seventh day prior to the event happening that your child will email their tutor and let them know that they plan on being absent on that day. Teachers also plan their school term and they really appreciate knowing in advance if a student is planning on being absent so they can move EOU tests or practicals.
Help your child manage their workload:
- Help them obtain a planner either from the internet or their local stationery store.
- Help them record any vacation days and the start and end of the half-term vacation.
- Help them write in their planner the dates of any events that they plan on attending during the term.
- Help them make a note on their planner to email their teacher seven days in advance to let them know in advance of their absence from class.
Medium Term Planning
The third step you need to take with your child is the medium-term planning. This involves planning out each month of the three or four-month long term plan in as much detail as possible. Have your child ask their teacher when the due dates are for the assessments in their course. This includes items such as EOU tests, practicals, quizzes and homework sets. Most teachers plan either a half-term or a term in advance so they will probably be able to tell your child when these events are occurring each month.
If they can’t tell your child the exact dates these events are occurring then have your child ask them the frequency at which they are occurring each month. For example, they may tell your child that since the class is covering a topic once every three weeks then they can expect an EOU test once every four weeks. Or that the practicals occur once every three weeks.
The idea is that your child obtains as much information as possible about the assessments occurring in their courses and writes these dates into their planners. This way they are not worried when the teacher announces these events. Rather they were expecting them to occur and they had planned ahead in their planners to be ready for these events.
Help your child manage their workload:
- Have them ask their teacher for the due dates of any recurring events such as EOU tests, practicals, quizzes and homework sets.
- Have your child write these events into their planner for each month of the term.
A-Level Success Tips: The Three Day Rule
The fourth step you need to take with your child is to help them implement the three-day rule. The three-day rule is what allows your child to transition from the reactive state to the proactive state. Although this is a simple rule to follow it is one of the important steps out of the five steps mentioned in this blog post. It is one of the A-level success tips that you definitely want to explain to your child.
Let’s assume that your child is given homework by their teacher which is due on Friday. Your child would immediately write the due date of their assignment into their planner. They then count back three days from the due date and make a note that they will start their homework set on Tuesday.
As soon as they receive the homework from their teacher they read through the questions on the homework and make sure that they understand the questions. They also make sure that they understand the concept being tested in the homework. If they are unclear about anything in the homework they ask their teacher for clarification and help to understand the concept before they leave college for the day.
On Tuesday (3 days out) they complete their master set of notes for the topic. To help your child create a master set of notes read the blog post How To Take Notes At A-Level To Earn An A*. On Wednesday (2 days out) they complete their homework assignment. On Thursday (1 day out) they review their homework assignment to make sure that they have answered all of the questions correctly, place it into their day folder and put the folder into their book bag.
By implementing this rule your child is not working into the early hours of the morning the day before the assignment is due. They are not feeling as if they don’t have enough time to complete the assignment and understand the concepts on the homework set. They are not feeling negative stress! Rather they are completing each step of the three-day plan in a timely manner each day.
The three-day rule is a suggested amount of time that your child should be spending on their assignments. It is a flexible rule and can be adapted as your child works through their course work. For example, if they find that they need four days in order to complete their A-level chemistry homework the next time they are given homework in their A-level chemistry class they budget four days to complete the homework set rather than three days. And they update their planner accordingly.
Help your child manage their workload:
- Help them understand the three-day rule.
- Help them understand that the three-day rule is flexible.
Short Term Planning
The fifth step you need to take with your child is short term planning. This involves implementing the three-day rule in all of their courses and for all of their assignments. If they implement the three-day rule for all of their courses they will have a detailed plan for what they need to accomplish each day. Each of the A-level success tips mentioned in this blog post is important in their own right but your child needs to especially implement this one in order to be successful.
If they know about the assignment from their long term and medium-term planning they can easily implement the three-day rule for each assignment by counting backwards from the due date three days and completing their notes on day one, the assignment on day two and checking their work on day three.
If they don’t know the due date of the assignment from long term and medium-term planning but rather are given the assignment in class then the rule still applies. As soon as they are given the assignment they make a note of the due date in their planner and count back three days to start the process of the three-day rule.
Since they have completed this process for all of their coursework they will have populated each day of their planner with specific tasks that they need to complete for each of their courses. For example, they may have to read a given number of pages of their textbook for their A-level history class, complete a past paper for their A-level physics class and revise for an upcoming EOU test for their A-level chemistry class. To help your child create a revision plan for their EOU exams read the blog post A-Level Chemistry Revision: 5 Study Skills Used By A* Students.
Help your child manage their workload:
- Help them implement the three-day rule for all of the assignments in all of their courses and write down what they need to complete each day in their planner.
- Help them stick to the plan and complete each of the tasks they need to complete each day on their planner.
What Happens If Your Child Is Overwhelmed With Work?
If your child is in a reactive state and is overwhelmed with work you can help them transition to a proactive state. You need to talk to your child and explain that it is possible to move to a proactive state in two easy steps. First, they need to put in some extra work and effort in order to get caught up with their course work. Second, they need to spend about an hour and complete their planning for the course and implement the three-day rule.
Hopefully, you have found the A-level success tips mentioned in this blog post to be beneficial and will explain them to your child. The workload at A-levels can be daunting for your child as they transition from GCSE to A-level. However, with careful planning of their time and sticking to a schedule they can have a successful A-level experience.