Journey to Higher Education

Year 9

Choosing your Options

You may already have selected your options in year 8, but if your school asks you to choose in year 9 there are some points to consider:

  • Which subjects do your school make compulsory?
  • How many subjects, in addition to your compulsory subjects, are you allowed to choose?
  • What do you enjoy?
  • What are you good at?
  • Do you have a plan for when you finish school?

Your parents and teachers will be able to give you some great advice, but it is your decision to make so make sure it is one you are happy with. Picking a range of options at GCSE can mean you have more choice once you leave school.

Think about your future

You may not have thought about your future options yet, and that's ok, however it can be really useful to start thinking about these options early. It may help guide your GCSE option choices. Try to investigate the different career options available to you with the subjects you most enjoy.

Year 10

Working towards GCSEs

The start of your GCSE studies might seem daunting, as you see a change in subject complexity and assessment methods, however getting into good study habits can really help in the long run. It is also important to balance your GCSE studies with activities you enjoy as having a good work-life balance is a skill that will serve you well throughout your life. Check back soon to see our study skills page.

The Importance of Extra-Curricular Activity

When applying to post-GCSE options and higher education, recruiters like to see a well-rounded applicant who has transferrable skills and interests outside of their academic studies. Not only are extra-curricular activities a great CV builder, they are also a fantastic way to meet new friends, strengthen existing friendships, and shake off the stress of school! Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

Year 11

Year 11 is a busy year, so it is important to plan ahead and make the most of your time. Here are some points to consider.

Post GCSE Options

Early in year 11 you will begin to consider what you would like to do once you have finished your GCSEs/equivalent courses.

What to Study?

Consider what you would like to study once you have finished your GCSEs and what kind of courses you might like to study, i.e. A-levels, BTECs or an apprenticeship. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • What do you enjoy studying currently?
  • What are you good at? 
  • Do you have a particular career in mind? Does it require any specific qualifications? 
  • How do you learn best? How do you like your work to be assessed? 

Sixth Form/College Open Events

Further education providers tend to hold their open events during the Autumn Term (usually between October and November). These events give you a chance to look around the facilities each institution has on offer and to speak to current students and staff. It can help to write down any questions you may have beforehand, to ensure you donít forget anything you want to ask.


Check the entry requirements for the course(s) you would like to study and consider whether you are likely to meet these with your current predicted grades. Each institution may have a different application process i.e. some may expect an application through UCAS progress or an online application through their own website, or a paper application form.

You may be required to attend an interview. Check back soon to see our interview advice page.

Exam Time

Throughout year 11 you will be working towards your final GCSE (or equivalent) examinations so here are some things to consider.

Revision Plan

You will need to organise your revision to ensure you are able to cover each topic in enough detail. Consider which subjects you feel need the most work, prioritise these to begin with but ensure you donít miss out your other subjects.


Exams can be stressful, however it is important to look after yourself during this time to ensure that you are able to perform to the best of your ability. Ensure you are eating well, getting regular exercise and enough sleep. Remember that if you need someone to talk to there is always ample support available so try talking to friends, family and subject teachers.


Make sure you know when your school is open to collect your exam results before you leave school for the summer, and if you canít collect your results in person, be sure to make arrangements to have these sent to you. Once you have collected your results you will need to enrol with your chosen sixth form or college, who will send you details of how to do this.

If your results havenít gone the way you expected them to your school staff will be on hand to assist you. Itís a good idea to have a back-up plan of what you want to do if you donít get the results to be accepted onto your first option. This will make results day less stressful and ensure that you still progress to something useful and relevant to you.