Are A Levels hard? Managing the difference between GCSE and A Level
Study Tips·3 min read·16/02/22

Are A Levels hard? Managing the difference between GCSE and A Level

How hard are A Levels? If you’re worried about the GCSE to A Level transition don’t panic, Scoodle’s got some advice just for you.

Firstly, congratulations on completing your GCSEs! Although you're moving on to the next stage, that's a massive accomplishment and you should revel in your success.

Understandably, it can be quite daunting looking to the next academic year but it's also very exciting that you get to build on the foundations you’ve set at GCSE.

Many students find A Level a challenge compared to GCSE. It’s a well known fact and if this sounds like you, you’re not alone.

The main difference between GCSE and A Level will be the quantity of work, the difficulty of the content and the fact that you'll have to do a sizeable portion of learning independently.But as mentioned, you’ve laid the groundwork at GCSE so follow the four below tips the help bridge the gap to A Levels.


When you begin your A Levels you’ll be expected to take full responsibility for your learning.

That means consistently turning up on time, engaging fully in lessons, contributing your thoughts and ideas and participating in debates wholeheartedly.

If you’re wondering ‘Are A Levels hard?’, although you’ll be studying fewer subjects at this stage, each one will require a far greater depth of understanding, so yes, they can be tricky. You’ll be covering more content than you’re used to from GCSE and your classes might move at a slightly faster pace. To mitigate this you might want to get a study planner or homework diary and use this to organise your school day, noting down any important deadlines.

Utilise free periods

At A Level you’ll have the opportunity to benefit from free periods.

This time is indispensable and you should do your utmost to utilise it rather than becoming distracted in the common room. Try to use free periods for completing homework, doing extra reading, checking in with teachers or even having an online tutoring session.

On that note, don’t think you’re alone. Lean on your teachers, tutors and peers for support when you’re struggling. Educators know that it will take time for you to adapt and are there to help you to manage the GCSE to A Level transition. Having said this, try to take comfort in the fact that you’ve made it this far already. You’re a bit older and wiser now and have far more knowledge than you did at the start of your GCSEs.

Actively engage in learning

Make sure you have a solid foundation to work on from your GCSEs.

This means being extremely familiar with any key GCSE topics, concepts and terminology. What’s more, a big aspect of A Level learning is critical analysis. This means you’ll be expected to engage with a range of viewpoints on your given subjects.

Understanding the perspectives of academics from different schools of thought as well as the ideas of your classmates is a vital component of the GCSE to A Level transition and will be paramount to your success. Aim to question everything- if you haven’t already, ask questions on our free Q&A feature and get a response from a tutor in minutes- then weigh up the pros and cons of different lines of argument and decide for yourself which hold the most weight. Try to notice where an area of discussion is lacking key relevant considerations and use this to formulate your own opinions based on evidence, logic and reason.

Be independent

Another significant difference between GCSE and A-Level is the expectation of self-directed learning and extra reading outside of class.

This is to set you up for the type of learning you’ll encounter in higher education. Don’t panic, you certainly won’t have to teach yourself the whole course, but it will be to your advantage if you carry out independent research.

Perhaps select one or two books that seem relevant or ask teachers and school librarians for advice on great resources to draw from. Additionally, Scoodle’s learning hub is brimming with information and advice from our excellent teachers and tutors who would love to help you. There’s no need to go overboard, just a little something to impress examiners and demonstrate you’ve supplemented your classwork.

Are A Levels hard? Put simply yes, but qualifications worth having don’t come easy!

Trust the process and look at how far you’ve come already. You successfully made it through your GCSEs and there’s no reason why you can’t do the same at A Level. Remember, you picked this subject for a reason. Maybe learning this subject will get you a step closer to your dream job or perhaps you find it fascinating and want to absorb as much knowledge as possible. Either way, remind yourself regularly what you are working towards.

If you do find the difference between GCSE and A Level difficult, please don’t suffer in silence!

Browse our helpful tutors or check out our How to pass A Levels post today:)

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