Life of an A Level Student

I may have had the last week off of school, but time off never really means a break from work. Being an A Level student means you never escape the deadlines.

I’ve mentioned on here before that I study English Literature, history and geography at the moment, and I’m planning on studying English Lit and history as a joint degree at university when I leave school. I won’t undermine other subjects saying they’re any less difficult (mainly because I know that isn’t really the case), but studying three humanities subjects can be unbelievably hard.

In an average week, I write anywhere between two and six essays, spending around 57 hours per week studying in and out of lessons (bear in mind a full-time job is only 40 hours per week), and still I struggle with my workload. Now, students’ experiences with higher education (in this case meaning anything past GCSEs and standard education) differs, because some people really just care less about their qualifications, but for those who do care, it’s a real slog.

At the beginning of the half term (which actually started a day and a half early for me, because school experienced a technical fault and lost all its electricity) I was faced with the prospect of two standard essays, research for a piece of coursework stretching 100 years, reading and analysing a twenty-page story, doing catch-up for the last few history lessons, a lot of reading, and revision. And that was actually a ‘light’ workload compared to normal, despite taking up hours and hours of my time.

I consider myself quite lucky this year, because I have study periods on a Monday morning – which means from 8:40am to 1:40pm I am in the study room, with a friend of mine, and it’s a time when I can really focus and get any work I haven’t done for the week already out of the way, before lessons start and I get any more. I also have study periods Wednesday afternoons (one hour), Thursday afternoons (one and a half hours) and two hours on a Friday morning. This amount of study time is actually very unusual for my sixth form, because most people have the hour on Wednesday and the two hours on Friday taken up by an enrichment activity – but this year, mine is twenty minutes twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is really beneficial for me.

Sometimes I think people who are out of education, and have been for a long time, really fail to understand what the average student life is like these days. I remember being in Year 11, and doing my GCSEs, and I was taking roughly 11 subjects at this point. I had 25 hours of lessons each week, which was 5 per day, and I didn’t get study leave. Not a day went by where I wouldn’t have a test or assessment for the entire year. Now, I have far less in the way of formal tests and assessments, but every essay I write is graded.

March is going to be a busy coursework month for me – my courses this year mean I have 5 pieces of coursework to complete. I’ve got two out of the way already, but now I have my first draft of my second history coursework due on the 9th, my final draft of my second English coursework due on the 15th, the final of the second history due on the 23rd, and somewhere in between I’m starting my geography coursework with my field trip. I’m so annoyed about the placement of this trip, because it’s a Friday-Sunday trip, so I’ll have a full twelve days without a free weekend.

If you’re a fellow student reading this, I’m sure you can relate. It’s actually difficult to have a social life unless you try really hard. If you’re someone older, perhaps a parent to someone going through school right now, please give them a break. They have it harder than you may think!

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