Year 12 students explain in their own words what they enjoy about their favourite A Level subject
Art has been my absolute favourite subject in A Levels. It has allowed me to explore my own mind and my artistic abilities, with a balance of guidance and independent work, and has pushed me to develop my skills and look at art in new ways. During Art A Level we have been taught new techniques, with frequent workshops showing us how to use a specific medium, 2D or 3D, which has helped push me outside of my artistic comfort zone many times – and our art department has many resources and materials, so I never feel like my art is limited. The Art department’s workshops and facilities have been a massive help in broadening my art experience and have helped me to cultivate my skills. These can include photography workshops along with experimenting with different mediums including oil painting, using ink, promarkers, etching and more. A Level Art involves a more thorough and experimental approach to work compared to GCSE as you look into different styles of art along with different artist research.
The Art department provides continual support and guidance for each student in order to ease the transition of GCSE to A Level, allowing each student to feel confident with each task at hand. Talking to the teachers about your work is encouraged and enables students to receive advice in order to improve, which has been a massive help in refining my work to a higher standard. Being able to explain, and perhaps critique your own work shows the extent of the research and knowledge you have about your piece, revealing your thought process. The art classroom is a protected environment, enabling me to express my ideas by consulting with my peers and teachers and constantly experimenting until I reach a final piece that I am happy with. I’ve also loved the art trips to galleries and exhibtions.
A fear I had going into this course was about the amount of work, but this is easily manageable, as long as you keep on top of it. Taking art alongside two non-creative subjects has been really refreshing and I enjoy my daily art lessons as they give me a break from textbook work.
As someone who thoroughly enjoyed GCSE Biology, taking it as an A Level was an easy choice. The course builds on content from GCSE, going into much more depth as it contextualises these facts into real life scenarios, such as the forensics topic where you learn about how time of death can be established.
As well as encouraging a deeper understanding of key biological processes and concepts, I found the A Level course to be much more hands on and independent, with various practicals you do yourself, such as heart dissections and titrations. The course also offers more freedom regarding your studies, as you are encouraged to do further reading into areas of your own interest which not only enhances understanding of the subject but also allows you to develop key skills required for higher education such as citing research.
As well as this, the course offers freedom in terms of independent learning as at the end of Year 12 you will be invited to deliver a presentation on a topic of your choice to the class. Not only did this enhance my own understanding of other areas of biology through the research I conducted, but I also learnt about more obscure parts of biology such as its use in biological warfare and in performance-enhancing drugs – two topics which members of my class chose for their presentations. Therefore, I can say, with confidence that if you liked GCSE Biology, you will love the A Level course!
Business is a great subject to study as you get to have a new perspective on the world that you might not necessarily have known before. You get to study a range of topics and engage with the real world, learning about today’s businesses. The A Level can essentially be split into two parts, the first covering marketing, finance, human resources and operations. You will learn how these all help a business stay competitive and profitable. The second half is essentially about how changing external influences such as technology, competition and the world economy affect the different decisions businesses make both at home and abroad. You will learn how to analyse real life business case studies such as why Zara became a multinational success at a time when other retailers such as American Apparel were closing down. You will understand how critical business decisions affect everyone: customers and businesses. At the end of the two year course, you will take three two-hour exams. Paper 3 will focus on a particular industry in depth; last year it was The Entertainment Industry. The subject also combines academic skills with skills for the world of work such as presentation and public speaking skills which are highly valued at university and in the working world. The exams are short questions and essays linked to a case study.
There are lots of extra-curricular opportunities for Business Studies including Young Enterprise Company competition, KS3 and KS4 Enterprise Club, Marlborough Enterprise Club and a trip to Prague.
You don’t need to have studied business before – you just need an interest in real life business structure – you will focus on specific markets and companies and the way the world trades. People often think this is easier than A Level Economics – but this is not the case! Business Studies and Economics A Levels complement each other – but look at issues in a different way.
Taking A Level Chemistry has transformed chemistry into my favourite subject and persuaded me to apply for chemistry at university. The concepts from GCSE are explored in a much greater depth, allowing for a deeper and more sophisticated understanding. The course is quite challenging, as there is a lot of content and some of it can be difficult to grasp at first. However, the interesting topics more than make up for this. I particularly struggled with organic chemistry in previous years but the patterns and logic behind it have made it much more enjoyable. The skills that I have developed the most during A Level course are my analytical skills. The main new thing we have been introduced to are in-depth uncertainty calculations.
There are also a number of required practicals to complete, which are done in class and then the experiment is written up formally for homework. Completing this is vital for the subject as practical questions are an intrinsic part of the exams and you will receive a final pass or fail for your practical skills. Some of the practicals that we do at A Level have similar features to ones we have done previously at GCSE. Other exam questions range from one-mark multiple choice to long-answer questions, all of which are consistently covered in lessons, which allows everyone to become prepared for exams. I have also found that going to Chemistry Clinic to get extra help from teachers and doing lots of practice questions really helps.
By choosing Chemistry A Level, you will be exposed to many leadership opportunities. For example, even from Year 12 you are encouraged to run a Science Club for younger years, in which you choose the practical and organise the club yourself. Then later in Year 13, there are greater roles to take on, like being a Chemistry Prefect or a helper in the Chemistry Clinic to help Year 12 students.
Chemistry complements other subjects, like any other science and maths. A Level Chemistry is definitely a worthwhile subject because of the opportunities it will give you post-A Level, the interesting content of the course, and the problem solving abilities it helps you to develop. As long as you put the effort in, chemistry is an extremely enjoyable subject and a great choice for A Level.
I enjoy Classical Civilisation A Level because it enables me to gain knowledge of ancient societies, both real and mythical. I find it fascinating to learn about the lifestyles, politics and religious beliefs these societies. I also find that I am able to appreciate the aspects of the modern world which have resulted from the legacy of ancient Greece and Rome, a legacy of which I would have been unaware had I not chosen to study the subject. I find it very interesting to learn about the cast of characters from the myths of the ancient world, such as Odysseus, Penelope, Aeneas, Dido and Oedipus. Additionally, I find analysing the religious beliefs of the ancient Greeks and Romans fascinating as it helps me to better understand how humankind views the world.
Classical civilisation involves reading exciting pieces of ancient literature, for example plays by Euripides, Aristophanes and Sophocles and the epics of Homer and Virgil. The subject predominantly requires students to write essays about these works of literature and the culture of the societies in which the authors lived. Independent research is encouraged, which helps me to enhance my understanding and prepares me well for university. Studying classical civilisation has given me the opportunity to become a subject prefect in Year 13. I find this role very rewarding as it involves helping younger students with their understanding of the subject and enables me to pass on to them the interesting things that I have learned.
The thing I love most about computer science is programming – being able to create programs that can do anything from solve simple math problems to create entire environments and games is always fascinating. I would say that the practical side is the most fun, but I can’t underestimate the theory and the teaching quality provided by our teachers. Partly why I love computer science is because the teachers make it engaging to learn.
The theory can range from the processor to the operating system to the ethics of throwing away computers. Some parts will be easy, especially if you already have a background with computers – for instance if you build computers you would already know the components – but even if you don’t I wouldn’t be discouraged as the step from GCSE to A Level isn’t as large as you think. You also have your programming project which takes you on a journey to making your first complex program with all sorts of interesting algorithms you can explore.
The beautiful thing about computer science is that it isn’t just confined to lessons or Computer Science Club. There are plenty of things you can look up and explore related to computer science. One thing in particular you may have already taken part in is Cyberstart’s Cyberdiscovery challenge which is all about tackling cybersecurity problems (I promise it’s a lot more interesting than I’m making it sound!). But for those who prefer the more mathematical aspect of computer science, you have Project Euler, a great website that lets you tackle all sorts of problems that can only be solved with programming and computing skills.
Drama A level is an exciting course and I am always eager to get to the next lesson. It is a fantastic way of exploring performance texts through practical, technical and directorial methods. During the course you will learn about the history of theatre and how to utilise different practitioner’s styles, Brecht being a favourite of mine, to develop a scripted and devised performance with didactic messages and explore texts practically for a written exam.
Personally, I enjoy the subject because you can explore a wider variety of drama techniques and it is much more independent, and the creative freedom you are given makes it so much more fulfilling as a performer and director. I am often inspired by the how firmly our class is committed to what we are exploring, be it from the screams of Artaud to the stylised movement of Lecoq. The course enables us to be collaborative as well as an individual in class. One of my favourite things is that I am not judged by any of my artistic choices; everyone is so respectful and the teachers really care about our education. I am pleased to say that I have developed great confidence throughout my studies.
There are also leadership opportunities like being a Drama Prefect, and getting involved in school musicals such as The Wizard of Oz, Beauty and the Beast and most recently, Rock of Ages. Even in COVID times, we had different opportunities, such as the Year 13 radio play of A Christmas Carol.
Economics is a fascinating subject with something for everyone. In order to do well in Economics A Level, the number one factor is your intellectual curiosity. Economics happens all around us every day, such as when buying a sandwich at a supermarket – that’s economics! So reading not only books to do with the subject but also keeping up with the daily news is extremely helpful because economics is all around us every day and you need to use all this knowledge in your essays and in the exams. Also, if you enjoy graphs and using data for whatever reason – you`re going to love A Level Economics. This is because we use graphs to represent key concepts like indirect tax and how it impacts the market. It also massively helps if you know how to write essays and know your way around basic maths – but if you don’t, don’t worry. If you need help, the teachers are always there to help especially when it comes to writing an essay. The exams are a mixture of short maths questions, questions using case studies and essays. Overall, whether you like looking at finance, money, politics, maths, graphs, or current events, economics has something for you.
It is also a course offering a lot of extra-curricular activities, such as Young Enterprise Company competition, KS3 and KS4 Enterprise Club, Marlborough Enterprise Club and a trip to Prague.
A Level Economics focuses on the big picture of the world’s finances in a lot of detail and all the economic influences such as inflation that affect countries. You focus on specific countries and also global economies. Business, on the other hand, focuses on specific markets and companies and also the way the world trades. While Business and Economics A Levels complement each other, I wouldn’t’ recommend doing all new A Level subjects – ensure you study one A Level that is familiar.
English Literature is my favourite subject, so it was the perfect and easiest choice I made concerning my A Levels. I love to read and empathise with different characters, so studying English literature has been fun and interesting.
The course involves reading a range of prescribed texts, which are discussed in class and in written essays, and there is also unseen analysis within the poetry exam. The final part is coursework where you are given freedom to choose two texts to compare. This is great, because it allows you to make your own choices about what you’re interested in and is valuable preparation for university.
A Level English Literature is always exciting; there are multiple texts studied from the 17th century to the contemporary period and across different forms, such as poetry, prose and drama. I have enjoyed aspects of it which I didn’t before, like poetry, which I now look forward to analysing. Despite having to tackle complex themes in each component in the course from racism to gender, the discussions that are held about such topics are eye-opening. Both inside and outside of school, my mindset regarding English has grown, due to the extensive content, so much so that I am pursuing it at university.
There are also a great range of leadership opportunities available in English including being an English prefect, as well as a host of extracurricular activities: book club, writing club, debate club, the school’s magazine ‘The Chronicle’, national writing competitions and currently a National Theatre script writing competition for Years 10 and 12.
The extended project qualification (EPQ) is a unique choice to study at sixth form. Unlike other subjects, it is entirely coursework based and involves independent learning and research. You can choose to either write an extended essay of 5000 words or produce an artefact on a topic or question of your choice, so it is excellent preparation for university. It also improves study skills, such as time management, planning, research and essay writing.
The thing I enjoy the most about the EPQ is the complete independence it allows; taking on a research project on any topic of your choice is a format of learning which is different from any other subjects I take. Students may not have had or still have much time to do research on topics they are passionate about; therefore, it is really a privilege to be able to do that and be recognised for it by universities. It also shows that you are an independent thinker, hard worker and most importantly a student who is exploring knowledge beyond their A Level subjects. A common misconception is that the product can only be an essay; in reality, there is so much variation, with final outcomes ranging from a dance performance, to an art piece, to a documentary.
One of the most compelling qualities of the qualification which drew me in was the lack of revision involved; since it is an ongoing project rather than an exam-based qualification, taking an EPQ allows you more time to dedicate to revising other A Level subjects, as well as providing much-appreciated variation in your learning, due to the diametrically different format that the EPQ takes, a characteristic I found incredibly refreshing. The unique style of the EPQ in its ability to completely mould the project to individual interests and strengths is, in my opinion, the best thing about the course.
Studying French at A Level has been unlike studying any other subject. Intertwined with the usual academic work, such as doing essays and memorising various pieces of information, are deeper studies into what makes French society tick. You will have the chance to study a book and a film which, from time to time, makes doing schoolwork feel more like relaxation as opposed to a chore. My current class had the opportunity to study the film ‘Intouchables’, a heart-warming comedic story about two unlikely friends from opposite corners of society who ultimately end up saving each other’s lives. Simply being able to experience the sheer quality of acting and filmmaking has made this part of the course a joy to study.
All this, while simultaneously picking up the real-world ability to communicate with people from a multitude of countries from around the world. Even my ability to articulate myself in English has improved due to the increased understanding of language I have gained from studying it so closely. In addition to this, a major benefit of taking French is the small class size. This means more focused lessons to help you improve, rather than general lessons trying to cater for larger numbers of students. It has also meant more opportunities for leadership roles within the school, including working to mentor younger students or becoming a prefect, which are skills looked upon very fondly by universities and employers alike, as well as being genuinely useful in life, just like the subject itself.
I have always enjoyed maths, so choosing Maths and Further Maths A Levels was an obvious choice for me. The course is interesting, exciting and the teachers here support you to develop great understanding. We are given access to technology and encouraged to use software such as Desmos or Geogebra to explore new ideas in mathematics. During the course we have explored new methods of proof and areas of mathematics such as complex numbers and matrices, which add a whole new dimension to what we would otherwise study.
Importantly, we are supported and prepared for study beyond A Level. Further maths classes are taught both single and further maths by the same teachers and are kept in the same groups, which allows us to work through the courses as a close group and discuss any problems we have together.
I have really enjoyed making use of the extra-curricular opportunities. I have been given a PHD student as a mentor from the UKMT to help me to prepare for tackling more challenging problems beyond that of the course. I have also been able to take part in maths competitions such as the Olympiads and am currently preparing to take part in the first round of selection for the UK maths team for international competitions.
Many further maths students want to study maths or engineering at university and our teachers really ensure we are prepared for admission to the top institutions by being regularly stretched and challenged in class with STEP and MAT questions.
A Level Geography allows you to extend your knowledge of the world and involves you in real-life examples of both physical and human geography. Each lesson is interactive, visual and engaging, with the freedom to discover more about the topics studied. There is also an element of independent fieldwork and research required in Year 13 for the desired topic you choose, which allows you to have a personal freedom within this course. We had a four-day residential trip to Flatford Mills; through this I was able to develop my data collection skills but it was also a really enjoyable experience as you have free time with your peers.
The course consists of essay writing, which links really well with students who also choose to take essay-based A Levels. We complete regular exam practice to underpin application of our knowledge. There is also a significant aspects of maths involved, developing skills in dealing with large data sets. Personally, I take maths and economics as well as geography and have found significant similarities, overlap and connections between the three subjects. The human content of the A Level regularly overlaps with the A Level Economics specification, which has allowed me to have a greater understanding in both of these subjects.
Geography also provides many enrichment activities such as lectures in other schools and universities. These extra-curricular activities have been really interesting but also extremely useful to develop my learning throughout the course. The subject itself is interactive and allows you many opportunities to learn visually through case studies, documentaries, lectures and fieldwork activities. The A Level course really deepened my interest in geography and has encouraged me to further my learning of this subject at university.
Here at Chis and Sid, German is an integral part of our education. At A Level, we begin to delve into more advanced German and we study various aspects of German life and culture as well as German history, a film and a theatrical production. Albeit a challenging subject, it offers a great chance to improve your cultural understanding when learning about the reunification of Germany, the Berlin Wall and overall German culture. There is also the exiting opportunity for trips and potential exchanges.
Studying German A Level at Chis and Sid involves essay, exam and speaking-based assessment. During Year 12, textbook topics are covered including school life in Germany and the environment. A German film is also chosen and an essay will be written about it in the final exams. In Year 13, other textbook topics are covered such as reunification and immigration, but a German play is also studied. The final speaking exam contains a very creative presentation aspect, as within it you can select anything related to Germany as your chosen topic.
German A Level allows you to take on many leadership roles within the sixth form. Not only is there the opportunity to become a German Prefect, but there are also ample chances to tutor other year groups. This clinic is a vital resource of help for the lower school studying German, so it is great to become a part of something so important. Participation develops your own understanding of the language too, as you are constantly practising the skills needed for your final exam.
I thoroughly enjoyed studying history throughout my time in the lower years and saw A Level History as a chance to further my learning. I encourage everyone with an open mind and a good ability to present their views both verbally and through writing to study this subject as in my experience it has been very helpful for my other subjects (particularly refining my essay writing skills).
Many people who study history here go on to study undergraduate history, law or politics at university; however, history is a great subject for any course as it demonstrates great independent and group research skills. History A Level at Chis and Sid is extremely versatile, approaching the content in various ways – through presentations, group work and debates, allowing us to hear the ideas of others and strengthen our communication skills.
During sixth form, we study both the English Revolution from 1625-60 and the Russian Revolution from 1855-1964, as well as a German coursework project which strengthens our independent research skills – vital for post-18 life. The history teachers here are always willing to help and challenge us, constantly questioning our arguments and testing our knowledge of the period. The atmosphere in class is always supportive and welcoming, so it is easy to get involved with group discussions. Whilst studying the English Revolution in year 12, I found a passion for the early modern period which I look forward to studying more throughout year 13 and into university, where I hope to study history at Durham University.
Latin is a unique and exciting choice for A Level due its multi-faceted nature, which allows you to study the language, literature and culture of the ancient world. I find it has improved my grammar and vocabulary, which has helped me with essay writing for my other A Level subjects as well, and the smaller classes allow for more focused teaching and more rapid progress.
The course is split equally between language and literature. Our work consists of both translation and grammar exercises as well as analysis and essays on our set texts (both prose and verse), which vary in subject matter from exciting tales of political turmoil to comedies about gods, magic and love. Within these, we can expand our knowledge of the culture of the ancient Roman world whilst also developing our translation skills, which is enjoyable and rewarding and can set you apart when applying for university places and beyond. Latin A Level students also have the opportunity to teach and assist younger students as well as running activities and presentations at open days.
It is for all these reasons that I have enjoyed my Latin studies in sixth form and am hoping to continue this subject at university. I would thoroughly recommend taking Latin A Level at Chis and Sid. If you enjoy English, history or learning a language, then taking Latin will allow you to combine all of these areas into one subject. Hopefully, you will choose to take Latin next year and learn more about this amazing subject!
Mathematics is my most interesting subject at A Level. The course introduces you to a whole host of new challenges and areas of mathematics previously unexplored. Fortunately the teachers within the department are on hand to make these challenges enjoyable. The teachers offer lots of additional support both within and outside of lessons. We are also given access to Integral Maths, an online platform which provides walkthroughs, notes, examples, exercises and more. We also are loaned a textbook which is an invaluable resource for finding suitably challenging materials for revision. The student shared drive also contains a lot of extra materials such as power point lessons for us to review and exam papers. If we are still struggling there is a drop-in maths clinic available each week where we can work through any problems with teachers.
I have always enjoyed my mathematics here at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School and A Level has only strengthened my love for the subject. The course explores both applied and pure mathematics. Studying mechanics has helped me to improve my Physics A Level too as there is overlap between the two subjects; this means that I can improve my grade in both subjects as any revision for one complements the other.
The best bit about studying maths here is the number of extra-curricular opportunities available to us. Every year students take part in the UKMT senior maths challenge. For students that want to go a bit further there is the Olympiad for Girls, which I took part in, and other competitions such as the British Olympiads. We are also given the opportunity to be mentored for these competitions and supported with preparation for studying at the top universities.
I love music because of the confidence it gives me. The knowledge studying the subject provides you with gives you valuable self-confidence and allows you to see yourself as a deserving member of the wider, global music community. The subject itself is the perfect balance of practical solo and group performance work, theoretical analysis and essay work. It will provide you with a well-crafted understanding of an array of different genres and styles of music ranging from J.S Bach choral pieces to Kate Bush and her unique electronic sound. You also have the opportunity to study this music practically – trying your hand at different instruments and techniques. This, in itself, could help you discover brand new, interesting music and perhaps inspire you to research into a particular musical area and even specialise in it in later life. The teachers really encourage individuals to share their personal musical interests and specialities with others through giving them opportunities to set up and conduct their own ensemble or produce their own music. This is a great way for students to develop leadership as well as teamwork skills, both desirable qualities in the working world. Music opens up endless avenues for you as a student. It is such a well-respected academic subject but also develops the creativity and imagination universities and employers seek. The music department is such a friendly community to be a part of, where you are surrounded with like-minded, passionate people and can truly express yourself.
Music Technology is a complex yet very interesting course. We learn to experiment with recording equipment and software, tech-based compositions and the science behind Music Technology. I love Music Tech because of the variety in the course. I enjoy being able to record in a studio and learn from the very beginning how music production works, and why the songs I listen to sound the way they do. I also love that it is both a collaborative and individual course. There are also many opportunities to be creative. Being able to record with other talented musicians and producers to create our own adaptations of a popular song is incredibly fun and interesting. I have also enjoyed being able to take a brief and put my own spin on it to create an entirely new piece of music. It is such an amazing and rare course that the school offers and although it can be challenging and hard work, it’s absolutely worth it.
I love studying PE because it enables me to learn more about individual sports and ways to improve my sports performance. It also allows me to gain knowledge about other sports that I was not familiar with previously. Furthermore, PE complements many subjects such as biology, psychology and physics. This helps to enhance understanding of certain topics in PE and is likely to help increase performance in the theory section.
Studying PE involves answering short and long answer questions in exam papers as well as a 20 mark essay. This variation in exam questions allows all students with different strengths to have the opportunity to succeed. There is a practical element to the course where individuals continue their training outside of school, where video evidence will be filmed and submitted for marking. Finally, there is a section of coursework, which involves an interview structure where all knowledge of the theory and an individual’s chosen sport can be shown to gain crucial marks.
Studying PE is great for people who want a career in the world of sport. A strong A Level grade in PE can open up wide opportunities of degree courses in both apprenticeships and university. These include courses like Match Analysis, Nutrition, Journalism, Sports Development, Physiotherapy and many more, as well as the obvious pure Sports Science degrees. All of these courses lead into expansive and progressive careers, all while being submerged in the world of sport.
Physics gives you the opportunity to explore the phenomena around you and to look at theories that explain what is observed. It is a very inspiring subject that both explains concepts you’ve never considered and introduces you to new and exciting ideas. For me, lessons have never been boring – whether I’m sat at my desk learning or on my feet preparing practicals – because I’m constantly absorbing new information that genuinely fascinates me. Besides enjoying myself and being invested in each lesson, physics also develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are valuable in areas beyond physics. Something that surprised me when continuing on with physics is how much more mathematical it becomes. Despite this, the maths is used in a way that doesn’t disadvantage non-mathematicians and so the subject is accessible to everyone.
I think something quite prevalent that needs to be addressed is the disparity between the number of female students opting to study physics compared to our male counterparts. It has personally never affected me too much to the point where I became less confident in the class environment; however, throughout my education (GCSE onwards where we are able to choose subjects), I definitely felt more comfortable in my place within the class whenever I was sat next to a female student. The school and my teachers have never made it difficult for me to choose physics. In fact, I feel as though I’ve been encouraged to pursue this science. The (incorrect) presumption that physics was a more “masculine” science was never put forward to students at this school and everyone is given the same opportunity to take the science without traditional gender stereotypes.
Politics is an amazing subject for keen debaters and anyone who wants to understand how the political world works today and how it has evolved over the years. Since beginning my study of A Level Politics, I have found myself captivated by current political events and now believe I have an in-depth understanding of how the UK government in particular operates, allowing me to develop educated views on current affairs. However, the course does not solely focus on UK politics; in my opinion the most interesting aspects of the course are those looking at political ideologies and global politics, in particular changes to the relations between states in the post-Cold War era.
The greatest part of politics lessons is the discussions with fellow peers, debating with people who have an array of views and feeling free to deliver your own insight into a current issue. Throughout my politics course, I have regularly been encouraged to undertake independent research activities, develop my own persuasive arguments in essay form and further my reading of political texts. Beyond the classroom, I extended my learning by helping to organise a mock election in the run-up to the 2019 General Election. I have also attended protests for both Black Lives Matter and climate change activism, as well as joining newly founded school equality groups thanks to the access to like-minded individuals with which the course has provided me.
After my A Level exams, I will be studying philosophy and politics in order to develop my knowledge even further as I have found my two-year course deeply interesting; however, I am aware that there is always so much more to learn and believe my university course can provide me with an opportunity to continue to delve even further into the workings of global politics, taking in more varied philosophies and cultures along the way.
I have been studying product design since I joined Chis and Sid and hope to continue studying it at university. The lessons involve working in teams, sharing ideas and using feedback to develop our designs. It is creative and flexible and teaches skills in a variety of areas. Lessons are highly practical yet also include some research, which aids your coursework and examination.
Your overall grade is made up of 50% NEA (non-exam assessment/coursework) and 50% exam. The coursework is where you create your own brief and follow the design process to make a product suited to a client. You complete research to get an understanding of the challenge set, generate design ideas and begin practical work, using workshop tools and CAD/CAM and work with a variety of materials to model and develop a final product. The exams are theory based and cover numerous topics such as material properties, manufacturing processes, sustainability and factors impacting design. This knowledge is valuable for both the NEA and exam assessments.
I have participated in several extra-curricular activities. At Christmas, we made and sold decorations to raise money to support the manufacture of our final products. As part of Remembrance Day, we made acrylic poppies and placed them around the school. There is a Design Awards Evening, where students showcase their work and receive awards for outstanding work and commitment. There is also the opportunity to become a Product Design Prefect in Year 13, which requires you to help at open days and mentor younger students.
I enjoy Psychology A Level because when it comes down to it, it’s fun to learn. Psychology is the scientific study of human nature so the content is genuinely interesting and relevant, as you encounter psychological explanations linking to your own personal experiences. My favourite topics include psychopathology, the study of mental disorders, and social influence, where you learn about social behaviours such as obedience, conformity, and how to influence a minority. Psychology provides answers to questions you may have always wondered – as well as fuelling so many more! If you’ve ever considered why the Nazis obeyed Hitler during the Holocaust, psychology is the subject for you!
Psychology assessments involve a variation of question types, ranging from multiple choice to 16-mark essays. During your course you also carry out a piece of research of your choice, a project I found particularly fun as you could involve all your friends and family.
The various opportunities to get involved in extra-curricular activities include careers talks, lectures by famous psychologists and PsychExtra. In PsychExtra, wider reading, films, TV and podcasts are suggested, informing your learning as well sparking your intellectual curiosity in new ideas. There are even suggestions of places you could go to visit! Being taught by teachers who genuinely care and provide the highest standard of education massively contributes to my attitude towards the subject – they’re always willing to help with anything and everything.
Psychology is definitely my favourite subject and one which I have chosen to continue at university; it can enable multiple career pathways, including clinical, forensic, child and sports psychology. Wherever your interests lie, I am confident that psychology will be an engaging subject that you will thoroughly enjoy.
RS A Level is definitely the most interesting yet challenging A Level that I take. Having little knowledge of the course prior to Year 12, I took the course because the topic headings immediately appealed to me; euthanasia, life after death and conscience looked so exciting from the start and have continued to be so. I also really liked that the course is made up of three components: Philosophy, Ethics and Development in Christian Thought, as each looks at different aspects of RS and helped me to establish which I liked best so that I could subsequently choose a university degree.
Something I wish I had known before studying the course is just how different it is to the GCSE course that I studied in Years 10 and 11. The A Level requires much more focus on providing strong, supported arguments, rather than simply reciting what others have said, and has given me an entire new way of thinking that has aided my other subjects too. Prior to taking RS A Level, I never saw myself as a good essay writer, yet advice from both teachers has exceeded my expectation of what I thought I was able to produce and has allowed me to expand my range of knowledge.
Taking this course is challenging – the content undoubtedly requires a lot of work and thought. However, the workload feels much less if you enjoy what you are doing.