Michael Awdry
Head of Sixth Form, Beechwood Sacred Heart

What happens if a student isn’t accepted onto their preferred university or college course? How many should they apply for? Students apply for five courses – if they receive no offers then they can apply for additional courses through UCAS extra, open from the end of February to July. If they are unsuccessful on results day, they go into Clearing, which means that they can apply to any courses listed as having vacancies on the UCAS website.

When do retakes occur? Would you have to defer for a year? If you need to retake a unit then you would have to wait until the following summer, reapplying through UCAS for the following year. Universities will only defer your place if you have been successful in obtaining the grades required, but they are not obliged to do so. They may agree to if the reason for deferring is a good one, such as gaining relevant experience.

What range of higher education courses have your students gone on to study? Here at Beechwood we pride ourselves in looking after the needs of the individual, giving bespoke advice and assistance on a one-to-one basis. As a result our pupils go on to follow a diverse range of courses. These include everything from Philosophy & Sociology to Management Studies and Media Arts, Architecture to Biochemistry and English Literature to Chemistry.

How far in advance should students start to prepare for their A Level exams outside the classroom? The simple answer is immediately! A levels are unlike anything you will have encountered at GCSE. In addition to lessons each school day, you will be expected to spend at least a further five hours a week on each subject, working on tasks set and on increasing your knowledge by reading and research. Extended knowledge and genuine curiosity about your subjects is what universities will be looking for in applications and interviews, as well as being the way to unlock the top grades in examinations.

Do you have any tips for successful revision? Revision starts as soon as you begin your course. Get into a habit of writing up, filing your notes and thinking over what you have learnt each day. This will save you time in the long run. When revising, give yourself rest breaks of 5 minutes in every 30 minutes. We remember best what we started with in any session, so by giving yourself two starting points in an hour you will remember much more.

Beechwood Sacred Heart is an independent school for boys and girls aged 3-18 in Tunbridge Wells.

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