One Year A levels- retakes and first time
“With the support of my teachers and classmates the intensive A level course has been a great opportunity to have another shot at applying for Medicine and succeeding.”
Vinny Soundararajan, now studying Medicine at the University of East Anglia
One popularly held misconception that Rochester Independent College debunks with complete and cheerful confidence is that “A levels have to be two year courses.” As RIC students show with year after year of fantastic results, A levels can be done successfully in just a single year of study. Students take one year A level courses for a variety of reasons. The most common are under-achievement in the lower sixth, AS year at another school; a need to retake A levels, perhaps adding one or two new subjects and returning to education after a break and needing to gain qualifications rapidly. Students also transfer to one year fast track A levels after a low score at IB. One year A level courses often open new educational doors for students and lead to places at first choice universities. Mature students and non Science graduates sometimes take one year A level courses at RIC if they need key subjects for their chosen university course such as A level Chemistry for Medicine and Vet Science.
2016 1 Year A level Success
Ella Halpern-Matthews switched to RIC after the first year of the IB Diploma at a local grammar school. Finding A levels a better route for her, Ella completed three subjects intensively in only one year, making her grades of AAA in History, English Literature and Film Studies even more impressive. Ella has a place to study History at SOAS, University of London, the world’s leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Another high flying one year A level success is Henry Barten from Cranbrook School. Henry joined the College with CDDD at AS, switched all of his subjects and took three one year A levels in Psychology, Sociology and Film Studies. His grades of AAB have won him a Psychology place at KCL. Toby Vautier from Bryanston School in Somerset improved his CDD to ABB. Particularly noteworthy is that while Toby retook his Economics taking it from a C to an A he opted to take two new subjects from scratch in one year, English Literature and Film Studies. His parents said: “We are relieved and grateful in equal measure. It has helped his confidence greatly. He is really buzzed about Loughborough which is also positive.” Another boarding student retake success is Freddie Fone from Tonbridge School who improved his grades from BEE to ABB and now has a place to study Marketing and Management at Newcastle University. Freddie retook his Fine Art A level and again took two new subjects from scratch, Film Studies and Graphic Design.
One of RIC’s star performers in 2014 was Arielle de Lacy whose results of A*A*A (English Literature, History of Art and Philosophy)were achieved after only 9 months of study. Irina Bravo from Barcelona was similarly successful on her one year A level programme, achieving grades of A*A*AB in Spanish, Photography, Film Studies and Drama respectively.
Groups in all subjects on one year courses tend to be dynamic and exciting with lots of interaction between students and teachers. Those aiming for places on highly competitive courses such as Law, Medicine, English, and Veterinary Science will find themselves in groups of similarly dedicated students keen to make rapid progress. The pace is swift and focused on the demands of the examinations. Classroom teaching is supplemented in all subjects by a structured revision programme and weekly testing.
Paul Dutton, RIC’s Head of Physics has this advice for students thinking about a one year A level course:
“How can students achieve A level success in one year? You have to bring something to the party: Commitment. In return we offer courses with the flab removed. At RIC we have the expertise to put together a course which distills A levels down to the essentials and ensures that everything you learn is completely relevant to your syllabus. Our programme of regular testing under exam conditions ensures you know exactly how you are performing on a weekly basis. Our generous allocation of lesson time ensures that the one year course is not rushed but paced. One year A levels, either from scratch or from a background which is not working at present, are often seen as daunting. With proper planning and management they are achievable.”
Tuition methods at RIC are aimed at helping each student to understand and realise their own potential. Small classes, with a maximum of eight in a group, and the easy accessibility of staff ensure that students receive a great deal of individual help and attention. Regular tests under examination conditions are designed to help those who suffer from ‘examination nerves’ and prepare them for public examinations.
Typical of RIC one year A level students is James Baker from King’s Canterbury who joined with two A levels- a C in Geography, a D in English- and a D in As Economics. After a one year course at RIC James celebrated ABB at A level in three brand new subjects (Media, World Development and Sociology)- all taken in a year from scratch. James received offers from Bristol, Cardiff and Oxford Brookes but opted to take up a place studying Sociology at his first choice- Exeter University to study Sociology. Off to train as a vet is another former King’s School Canterbury student Elizabeth Royce who after a one year intensive A level course in Chemistry will study at Bristol University.
Adam Dooley joined RIC last September from Sutton Valence. His story is typical in demonstrating that subject choice is often crucial in determining success. He left SVS with EUU at A level in Business Studies, ICT and Sports Science. He took three fresh subjects at RIC (Media, Film and Graphic Design), all in one year, and ended up with BCC at A level and a place at Leeds Metropolitan University to study Sports Marketing.
“Last year my results were CCB and I only got my insurance offer at uni which was Manchester Met. I actually went for one week but felt disappointed because I knew I could have done better and my results didn’t reflect my capabilities. My parents spoke to family friends and RIC was mentioned. I left Manchester Met and had an interview at Rochester where I was reassured and encouraged to aim higher. It has helped to raise my ambition and realise my potential – my previous school told me I would never get into a Russell Group university. It has also helped me become more confident. It is relaxed and welcoming in the boarding house. The quality of teaching is noticeably better than at previous schools with small class sizes and plenty of discussion. The teachers have made me truly interested in my subjects and see their relevance in the world. I’ve got five offers from Exeter, Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Newcastle.”
A level one year A level boarding student 2012-13
Intensive one year A level courses for day and boarding students at Rochester Independent College in Kent
One year A level student Joe McManners joined Rochester Independent College as a boarder having already achieved 10 A*s at GCSE and 3 A*s at A level in Maths, English Literature and History at Tonbridge School. Changing direction, he is now taking one year A level courses in Chemistry and Biology and he has a few tips as to what has worked well for him in the past.
Joe says: “I tend work in silence when I’m rote learning, but if I find myself lagging, I’ll get out a bit of ‘Pendulum’ on my iPod and have a 5 minute burst to shake off the cobwebs. It’s really is effective and stops me drinking too much coffee! Sometimes, I’ll stand up and walk around the room incanting chemical equations to myself, so after 20 minutes or so I’ve learnt a whole portion of material.
A really good way to bring less engaging material to life is to work with a friend and run through the book together, asking each other quick-fire questions back and forth like a game of ping-pong. This way, by the time you come to sit down to the work, you are already familiar with the material – the neurological pathways have already been illuminated. It can be high-energy and is much easier than struggling away by yourself.
To keep on track I always write a timetable so I’ve defined my goal parameters for that evening’s work. To prevent distractions, when I’m ‘on’, the phone is ‘off’; Facebook updates, emails and texts I catch-up with during teabreaks. Whenever there’s something I don’t understand I get out my post-it notes and flag up the problem. I then go and see my teachers after lessons who are all very happy discuss things.”
Joe McManners starts Medicine at Oxford University in September 2016.
Watch the video below to learn about one year A Level courses at Rochester Independent College
The advantage of 1 year A level courses for overseas students is that they can move quickly into Higher Education, specialising in a way that is more difficult in many international systems or with the IB Diploma. The range of university options for students with A levels is much wider than those following foundation courses and many of our students proceed directly to top universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Warwick and Imperial after only one year of study at Rochester. RIC’s two top performing students in 2013 Kla Karava and Puthipong Worasaran both netted 4 A* grades in one year of study and have places at Trinity College, Cambridge for Natural Sciences where generations of princes, spies, poets, prime ministers have studied
The advantage of one year A level courses for UK students transferring directly into our year 13 is that it allows them to play catch up, revise the AS comprehensively alongside the A2 and still complete their A levels within the standard two year period and aim for a good university.
Class sizes are extremely small, usually numbering around 6 motivated and hard working students. This means that every student has access to individual attention. Problems can be quickly diagnosed and tackled. Progress is rapid. This is due to a combination of intensive teaching and examination practice and high levels of motivation on the part of the student.
One year A level student profiles
Tim Hoffman “I come from a background studying IB at an international school in Istanbul. I lived there with my family and completed the programme but was very disappointed with my results.
RIC was recommended to me by friends whose daughter had had the same experience but came to Rochester. She switched to A levels and did really well.
It seems to me that the main difference between A levels and IB is that A levels allow me to focus on the subjects I am interested in. Also, it is essential to be well rounded academically achieve a high score at IB, I’m mainly interested in the sciences so it was harder for me.
I’ve had a good boarding experience at RIC, especially considering that this is my first time living away from the family. I can’t go home at weekends but I feel safe and looked after. The food is great too. I play football in a league and we are currently second in the division! I think that RIC has been a great transition for university.
I wish now that I had taken A levels in the first place as I always knew that I wanted to study Bioscience at university. I am now taking A levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths at RIC and I feel really prepared, I’ve had lots of support. I have a number of offers but am hoping to get AAB to go Bath.
When I finish my exams I’m really looking forward to four weeks kite surfing in Turkey!”
Tim achieved the grades for his first choice and is now studying Biochemistry at University of Bath
Another fast track success story is Alex Wellbelove who left the Judd School after year 9 when he was home educated until returning to full time education for accelerated one year courses at RIC. Alex leaves the college with AAA for his first choice course, Psychology at the University of Sussex. Alex’s one year A level subjects were English Literature, Maths and Physics.
Recent one year A level success stories include two students from Germany. Ines Stelk is now at UCL studying Psychology and Cara Lai at Leicester University studying English Literature. Both girls secured Grade A passes in one year from scratch in subjects ranging from Psychology to History of Art, Government and Politics English Literature and Media Studies.
Rochester Independent College student Josh Adcock notched up an impressive four grade As in Government and Politics, Film Studies, English Literature and History of Art a year early, all achieved in just 1 year’s study from scratch! On the back of these results Josh secured a coveted place to study English at Bristol University which he started in September 2010. Josh says: “The college isn’t like a traditional private school. The teachers give you plenty of guidance, but they expect you to take responsibility which makes it more like being at university.”
Studying alongside Cara, Ines and Josh in 2008-9 were two Oxford University entry success stories. Tanatorn Khotavivattana and Phakpoom Anpanitcharoen won matching places to study Chemistry after a one year A level programme at Rochester. Tanatorn will be at Merton College, Phakpoom just across the street at St John’s!
Liz Fitzwalter formerly of King’s School, Rochester graduated from UEA with a 2.1 degree in English Literature, not perhaps the best grounding for a potential vet! She completed A level Chemistry in a year from scratch at RIC having not studied the subject since GCSE five years earlier and secured not only a Grade A but an impressive 550/600. Liz won a place to study Vet Science as a mature student at Bristol University.
Harry Japp joined RIC from the Perse School, Cambridge for a one year intensive A level course in Music Technology and Music. He secured an A and a B and a place at Leeds College of Music.
Top performer in 2010 was Kenny Siriwatwetchakul, 19 who has notched up an astonishing FIVE A STAR grades in only one year of study. Kenny’s results saw him awarded the new grade in Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths and Statistics. He starts his course in Natural Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge in October. Kenny came to Rochester from Bangkok in Thailand to study his A levels at RIC. He is joined at Cambridge by fellow 2010 Rochester Thai scholars Jirawat Tangpanitanon and Thanapat Worasaran. Nat Dilokthanakul will study Physics at UCL and Pisak Chermpray Mechanical Engineering at Imperial.
In order to realise his ambition of becoming a doctor Michael Swindon took one year A level Chemistry from scratch while studying the remainder of his A levels at the Sir Joseph Williamson’s Maths School in Rochester. It is sometimes possible to combine studying one A level at RIC while staying at local school sixth forms for the remainder. Michael is now studying Medicine at Southampton University.
Ben Turner was disillusioned with life at Simon Langton Grammar School and left after AS levels to get a job. While working he became increasingly interested in the workings of society and decided to study this at university. He came to Rochester to take one year courses in Sociology and Film and complete his History. Ben says: I’m a pretty independent person and found school a bit frustrating at the end. At Rochester you get treated much more as an adult and the teachers are more approachable. I’ve been able to work to find things that interest me about my subjects more than having to learn what I was told. I now have a place to read History and Sociology at Leeds and I am really looking forward to it.”
“Since starting at the College I have totally changed, it has been a complete reversal of character. I have grown up a lot. The personal coaching, small classes and being on first name terms puts everything on a more personal level. There is mutual respect between teachers and students – I really want to do well for both myself and my teachers. They tell me that there is nothing to stop me getting A grades – this kind of positive feedback helps me believe in both myself and my abilities.”
Richard Day, joined RIC from Simon Langton School, Canterbury