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Top tips for being successful at Sixth Form

Being a Sixth Former is an exciting time. There are lots of opportunities and you can truly carve out your own academic and social niche. So, how do those who go on to be most successful cope with the many changes?
Choose subjects you are passionate about but fit with your future goals

Students approaching Sixth Form often struggle to choose which subjects to study. In order to cope with the increase in workload from GCSE, motivation needs to be high. Ensure you choose subjects that genuinely interest and excite you. Wider reading is fundamental to gain a breadth as well of depth of knowledge. It is also important to be mindful of future goals. If you want to study Medicine? Chemistry is a prerequisite. A future engineer? Further Maths is not essential but the vast majority of those at university will have studied it. It pays to think ahead and discuss matters with the Careers Department. 

If you're not sure what subjects you might need for your chosen university course watch our helpful video.

Be organised

You will now have more tasks and deadlines and your teachers will expect you to manage your own time. Being organised is critical. Start as you mean to go on. Get into some good study habits at the beginning of Sixth Form, as these will help you get the best possible grades. Get into a routine that incorporates plenty of study time, use a diary, with due dates and a system for categorising priorities and use ‘To Do’ lists to help maximise your productivity. One of the best things you can do when you start A-levels is to revise as you go along, as this will reduce your revision workload nearer to exams time by ensuring that you learn it properly first time round. 

Become an independent learner

A fundamental difference between Sixth Form and GCSE academic expectations is the amount of independent study needed in order to be successful. Some of this independent work will be structured through homework but you must also ensure you are completing your own independent work.  This may be wider reading, consolidating materials, making revision notes, conducting deeper research or practising exam questions. Completing only set tasks might meet requirements but it is this ongoing consolidation and revision, especially in the areas you find most difficult, that will pay off in the long run. Use your study periods wisely and think about the best working environment for you.

Think about the future

Leaving school can seem a little daunting but start thinking about the future as soon as possible. For competitive courses it can be really important to build work experience during Lower Sixth. Are there clubs and activities you can join? Would Duke of Edinburgh or Ten Tors support your application. What skills would it be helpful to develop outside of the classroom. Your UCAS personal statement needs to be as strong as possible. 

Build a good relationship with your teachers and tutors

Communicating with staff is absolutely essential. Both pastoral and academic staff are there to help and its the students that are most pro-active in seeking advice and help who make the most progress. Ask for recommendations to extend your personal study, tell them if you are finding things challenging and ask what you can do to work around this.

Think carefully about outside of school commitments

Sixth Form will offer a huge range of extra-curricular opportunities which provide great experience and can be helpful to your future aspirations but choose carefully. Commit strongly to those you do choose and enjoy them but don't take on too much. It is when outside school commitments become onerous that problems can occur. 


Sleep underpins all that we do. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Use ‘night mode’ on your mobile phone to reduce blue light, then avoid all devices an hour before sleep. 

Enjoy it!

Sixth Form will go incredibly quickly. In years to come you will look back at this incredible point of your life, at the large number of close friends and the amazing opportunities you took up. Make the most of every moment.