Keeping On Course With ‘A’ Level CourseworkMonday, September 7th, 2009
The transitional step for the pupil doing GCSE coursework to the student embarking on ‘A’ level coursework has to be fluid to maximise success in coursework and examinations. This fluidity is about the student emerging from the more limited challenges of G.C.S.E and vaulting forth, in understanding, application and rigour, onto the higher expectations of the ‘A’ level. After all, the student doing ‘A’ level work is progressing towards a degree and the ‘A’ level is a preparation for that.
‘A’ level coursework can be very demanding. The student, fresh from GCSE coursework, has to adapt very quickly to the increased demands that the higher level of learning offers. Of course, a high achieving GCSE student will be able to adapt much more easily than one who only just made the required grades, but they are designed to sort the wheat from the chaff so one would expect that as a sifting exercise, the ‘A’ level should be effective.
By the time the student finishes their GCSE they (having passed, of course!) should be competent writers, able to complete extended work, producing essays that have a clear, coherent introduction, main discussion and conclusion. GCSEs should enable them to work to an essay outline, formulate essay plans and understand how to generate appropriate, effective essay structure. The G.C.S.E should lay down the foundations for competence in the basics of essay writing but on top of that, start to develop the critical, analytical and discursive elements that will go into having an essay content that delivers what it aims to.
GCSE Success Only A Small Indicator Of ‘A’ level Success
The first year of an ‘A’ level is going to feel overwhelming for new ‘A’ level students as the step up from GCSE is so pronounced. The expectation is that the student will develop a more in-depth method of study that will build on the foundational skills learned at GCSE. The Literature student may well have breezed through their Shakespeare, having few problems with their Romeo and Juliet coursework and coasting through their Macbeth essays without so much as spilled bloodshed, but an ‘A’ level in Literature will feel altogether a more challenging proposition. As so will Geography expect more from the student’s global warming essay than was expected at the lower level of learning and understanding. All subjects will feel like their chosen course is a different proposition altogether.
Although ‘A’ levels are a two year venture, the student cannot afford to fall behind during the first year. The volume of work, with numerous essays and other preparatory work to complement the coursework, means that if the student does not hit the ground running, with serious dedication and commitment to their studies, they can find themselves barely treading water and it is no wonder that many erstwhile students found themselves giving up their studies before the end of their first year.
‘A’ level work is about acquiring greater knowledge. The background reading that has to be done needs to become second nature to the serious student in order to propel them onto degree level. If the student learns to apply themselves to their ‘A’ level coursework, doing the degree will be that much easier.