A Guide to Year 12


And so the looming anxiety of exams re-emerges with a vengeance. For those doing GCSEs, trust me on this – A Levels are not easier ‘because you’re only doing four subjects’. Four subjects, with just as much work as the sixteen or so I was taking last year. More ‘free time’ – actually, that goes to study periods. But I’ve learnt a few news skills over this past year alone:

Card games – at the beginning of Year 12, without what you consider to be ‘too much work’, you spend your free lessons playing cards. You’ll learn new games such as ‘speed’ and the old classic ‘go fish’ with re-appear. Learn these games early on – procrastination is hard to maintain when just about everyone is stressed in February

Take subjects you enjoy – I learnt (only through my partial failure at Science and Maths at GCSE) that I only really remember something if I enjoy it, my case in point being, I could tell you all about Mao Zedong’s reign of China or how Saunders Lewis’ ‘Blodeuwedd’ is still important today or how Sheila Birling could have been a Suffragette in ‘An Inspector Calls’ but ask me how carbon aging works or how to figure out Sin, Cos or Tan and you’ll earn a blank expression from me.

Contrary to popular belief, just because you don’t study the sciences, you’re not any less intelligent – I (somehow, by some miracle) made it into the Governments ‘Seren Network’ scheme, helping those who got certain grades at GCSEs earn a place at the highest-ranking universities. Funnily enough, despite you studying three Sciences and Further Maths, and myself studying English, History and Welsh, we’re both here. For different reasons. You can’t let someone assume that they’re better than you because of the subjects you excel at. Being able to explain human anatomy to impresses me – in the same way that my knowledge of American’s judicial system of the 1950s should impress you. You can still be of the same intelligence as someone and not study the same subjects because who knows, maybe the way you worried about your Maths exam was the same way they worried about their English exam.

Make an effort to speak up for yourself – I have a fear of speaking to people I don’t know, as if I somehow have to prepare what I say first, so that I don’t feel half as nervous stating things I’ve practiced. I continuously have this fear I may say something I’ll regret, so I tend to not say anything at all. Yet recently, I had the best week. Because I spoke to strangers without too much fear. I went to an event with my school (a Universities fair) and spoke to a representative of Cardiff University – alone -– and had an amazing conversation about the course I’m practically obsessed with by this point. The next day, another representative from Cardiff University came to my school to speak with us – on the very subject I’d love to study. And for once, I got the courage to stand up and introduce myself. And boy, did it pay off! I got some incredible advice, some sweet compliments on my current efforts to get to my end goal and a promise that I’d make a good impression that they would remember me. So, sometimes guys, talking to strangers actually works in your favour. It’s hard, I know trust me but try it,

because maybe it might help you.

I should probably go – I have A Levels to pass (hopefully, at least). Just one last thing: if you’re stressed that’s a good thing. Stupid, right? Nope – because stressing this much means that you actually care about doing well. Just know that you should never let anyone put too much pressure on you (and do NOT put too much on yourself), and just know that if you did the best you could and still end up disappointed, there’s nothing more you could have done, and it doesn’t make your grades any worse than anyone else’s. They did the best they could have done, too – you’re just better at some things than others, not everyone can be incredible at everything. Oh there’s the eighth (ninth?) point: you learn at A Level that literally no one is perfect – they’re all worried about the same things you’re worried about.

By Tirion Davies