Youth from Clacton speaks out on the Transition between GCSE and A-Level by Olivia Harmer

In the recent weeks and months, thousands of students have begun the process of A-Levels, joining colleges, making new friends and paving the way for their future.

But how does this transition affect new students? Is it too much? And do students receive enough information about further education to make rational decisions that will affect their future?

Without a doubt, the transition between Highschool and College has the potential to be nerve-wracking and a cause of stress for young people. College study demands a greater level of engagement than GCSEs, with an average of 15-20 hours of out-of-school revision time each week expected. Alongside this: the pressure of the suddenly not so distant future. University applications due in a year's time, weekend jobs to save up some extra money or scouring the internet for job opportunities and work experience. Very quickly the exciting prospect of new friends and new experiences can make it extremely difficult to balance deadlines and revision.

An interview with Abi Cordrey, 17, who studies History, Politics and Law, exposed the harsh reality of the transition between GCSE and A-Level, and the resilience needed to stay focused. Whilst overall, Abi voiced that she felt relatively well-informed about Further Education options, she also expressed that it felt as though she had “no clue about the workload and what effect it would have.”  She describes the process as being an enormous step up from GCSE, which she already found “daunting.”

It is common knowledge that throughout both GCSEs and A-Levels, stress can become an issue for students, often negatively impacting their mental health. This stress can build up over time, leaving little room for relaxation and rest, which, ironically, is essential for productive learning. Managing the stressful transition between GCSE and A-Level is difficult, although it can be achieved.

According to the NHS website, it is important to take an active approach to coping with your stress, acknowledging the issue. Exercise is recommended as well as avoiding unhealthy habits, such as drinking alcohol or consuming recreational drugs. 

Many colleges also offer their students an expansive support network for them to turn to if they are experiencing intense or stressful emotions towards this period of transition.


Ultimately, it is crucial that any young student, whether they be taking their A-Levels or GCSES, reach out to those around them if they need it. Support should always be available through college support networks, via online websites such as Kooth and by talking to friends and family that you trust.