Everyone in the Sixth Form knows that good grades are important, but it is just as important to enjoy challenge, to nurture intellectual curiosity and to grow in independence.

How are A-levels different from GCSEs and IGCSEs?

When reflecting on their transition between Year 11 and Year 12, many Sixth Formers will talk about the ‘leap’ between GCSEs and A-levels. So, what does this mean? When moving from GCSEs to A-levels there are several things that you should bear in mind.

Conceptual Challenge

There is no question that A-levels are challenging. Typically, most specifications take as a starting point the expectation that the content is known and understood. A-levels assess the analysis, application and evaluation of content – whether that’s applying a theory in Physics to a new context or synthesising complex ideas across a Shakespeare play in English.

Pace of Work

The pace of learning increases in the Sixth Form – content that may have taken a week to cover in Year 11 may only take one lesson in Year 12. This quick pace means that students have to be organised, consolidate their work regularly (as well as ensure they catch up on any missed work).


In Year 12, you have 11 lessons per fortnight for each subject. In Year 13, you have 12 lessons per fortnight in each subject.


A-levels promote a depth of knowledge that takes you far beyond the content of GCSE.

More Independent Work

Through Years 10 and 11 you will have been expected to do regular consolidation and research away from the classroom (as well as homework). Throughout the Sixth Form you will be expected to undertake substantial work outside of the classroom. GCSE is often highly structured with very specific requirements for homework, whereas at A-level there is an expectation that you will take the initiative and go beyond the set reading to read around and consolidate your understanding.

Smaller Classes

In most cases, classes at A-level are smaller than those at GCSE which means that you may have more opportunities to contribute to class discussion.

Teaching and Learning Styles

Students will be taught by subject specialists who love teaching Sixth Formers and take the opportunity to share their passion for their area of expertise. Many Forest Sixth Formers remark that they enjoy the relationships with teachers that they have at A-level as they take increased responsibility for their learning. Teachers are always willing to help students outside of lesson time either in department clinics or through sessions organised when specific needs arise.

How many A-levels can you take at Forest?

All students at Forest take three A-levels. You will do four subjects if you choose to study Further Mathematics. Most students will leave with three full A-levels and an EPQ. There is not a single university whose entry requirements couldn’t be met by students following the Forest Sixth Form curriculum. When we worked with universities in developing our curriculum, they were very clear: they believe students are far better served by taking thee A-levels, an EPQ and doing the other things built into the Forest Diploma than taking an additional A-level.