17 August 2017

11 Things to Expect in Year 11 + FREE Year 11 Calendar

Hey everyone!  Back to school season is nearly here, and to 'celebrate' I thought I would share some wisdom! I just finished year 11 and there are certain things you don't really anticipate, and sometimes you just have no idea what to expect at all.  In short, this will be the hardest you've worked in all your life so far. So, you're gonna need some help!!!

1) More independant work

The biggest change in year 11 is the shift in who decides what work you do. It changes from your teachers drilling what they want you to do into you, to you deciding what work you do and when you do it. You've got to be aware of this from day one and start implementing it immediately if you want to be even slightly successful in your exams. I don't mean you have to revise all night from the off, but taking responsibility of your actions in class and at home will set you off right for the rest of the year, because you will have to come up with a timetable and stick to it ( see how here and here).  Embracing this shift is going to be your key to good results, because YOU become the one telling yourself what to do rather than everyone else, which gets it done.

2) Chaos in classrooms

As well as the fact that you are stressed out with the amount of work, your teachers are stressed and your classmates are stressed. Contrast to your probable expectation, this often doesn't lead to harder work and silence in classrooms; often it leads to chaos.  Everyone responds differently to the pressure of year 11, and some people respond throwing pens at teachers, doing pranks, and basically pissing everyone else off. The people who aren't putting the work in at home often feel an underlying stress, so they lash out in classrooms with teachers who give that extra bit of leeway or show any lack of control.  During this chaos, you have to put your head down and DO YOUR WORK.  You've got to accept that you have to respect your teachers this year because they are your lifeline. Everything you learn in class is going to come up in the test, and although it might seem like ages away and you have time to catch up, you don't have many lessons left and odds are those lessons are going to be filled with something different every time. Basically, if you miss something, you've missed it for definite and there's no going back in class.  It is your responsibility to not get caught up in what everyone else is doing and focus.

3) Increase in Assemblies

You will find that your teachers are trying really hard to boost morale and keep you motivated for this year. While this constant pushing can be irritating, boring and sometimes a little scary, you've got to remember that they're trying their best. It is important to listen in these assemblies as often you are being given important information that may seem irrelevant to you now but will prove very useful in a few months. Revision technique, information about sixth forms and exam details are all very important to you and you should definitely look out for them.

4) You get less delegated homework

This slightly coincides with the first point, but as the year goes on the teachers stop giving you homework. In the first few weeks there will likely be a surge of homework tasks to carry out as they want controlled assessment stuff done and they want to break you in to the pressure of year 11 like a pair of shoes. However, after this there will be almost no homework at all as the responsibility is given to you. The fact that there's no homework does not mean you shouldn't be doing homework. You set your own work, and you make sure you do it. Keep a planner and record given homework, and your own homework

5) You will need to drop your activities and clubs in the new year (Jan/Feb)

While it is important to have a good range of activities to put on your sixth form applications and to talk about in sixth form interviews, you need to drop them in January or February mid year 11. This is when it starts getting tough as you may have mocks going on or mocks about to happen. You need to start focusing solely on those exams as these are good practise for when the real thing comes around, which will happen sooner than you think. If you don't drop theclubs, you'll soon find them getting in the way of the work you should be doing. 

6) More responsibility in school activities

Although you're gonna drop these early in the year, when you do take part in things like school shows, concerts, competitions etc, you will be given more responsibility and leadership tasks. While it's important to do this as it looks good on sixth form applications etc, you don't want it to take priority over revision. I was the lead in my school play throughout my first set of mock exams and I just about managed to balance it, but it is hard to do this and you need to make sure that you are prepared to work, a lot!

7) Unreliable teachers

When you have a teacher who has a sudden illness midway through your exam year, it can be really stressful. I didn't have an english teacher for the majority of year 11, which meant we had a different supply teacher every lesson for one of the most important subjects. Those doing media in my year also didn't have a teacher.  Being prepared for such an event is important as it means it doesn't have to be the end of the world. You need to attend any after school classes that you are offered and perhaps look into investing in a tutor. You can also do some research into the exam: how many papers, the mark schemes, types of questions or look at YouTubers (see my post on good revision youtubers here!). Do the work for yourself without relying on the supply teachers, who often don't have the right qualifications or the right experience.

8) Increase in workload

This is kind of an obvious one, but you're going to do more work during the school day as teachers won't let you just do nothing anymore. Your school day is going to be longer, not only due to after school classes, but to revision at home. Accepting that you're going to be tired a lot is a really good thing to start straight away haha! Don't cram into your nights though, I always stopped around half eight with many breaks in between. But yes, there will be more work!

9) Mocks. Lots of mocks.

Although mocks are not as important as your final GCSE exams, it is important to work hard for them. The results you get from your mocks are not important in the sense of getting anywhere in life, but they should be important to you as they show you exactly where you're going wrong and where you need to improve to get a better grade. Mocks are extremely useful as you experience what its like being in your exam hall and having multiple exams on the same day. Don't let those grades get you down if they're not what you want, in my year 10 mocks I got a 5 in english language, in my november mocks I got an 8 and in my march mocks I got a 9 (I shall update you on what I got at GCSE next week!!!).  Make sure you revise for them to get a taste of what you like and how much is best for you.

10) Friendship groups may shift

The pressure of revision and exams definitely changes perspective between friends. Your friendship group may change during this year as some simply can't tolerate others anymore while they muddle through. Try and avoid drama if you can to avoid distraction. It's really important to surround yourself with the best people so you can support each other through this really really really tough year.

11) The realisation that everything you do is the LAST TIME

I very often felt many surges of sentimentality over little things like buying something from the canteen or  walking into certain classrooms. With events such as school shows or special days you realise that its the last time and so you're left feeling sad in regular intervals throughout year 11!! On the flip side, you get many opportunities open to you that you didn't before and many events that you have looked forward to for many years, that finally come around, like leavers day, prom and leading events like competitions you may have at your school. Its a weird year, with so many feelings floating around. That last day is going to be one of the weirdest you ever experience because you have so many emotions!!!!

For me, year 11 was tough, but a good year. There's a lot of character building as you learn to stand on your own two feet and expose yourself to how much work you are really capable to do. I learned a lot about myself, as I hope you will do too. 

Opt in for FREE year 11 calendar

Good luck guys!!

// Jeani


  1. Friend groups switching makes me think about how much life really can change. This is a great post idea.


  2. I couldn't agree anymore, especially the part about unreliable teachers and heavy workload🙃 I think grade 11 really pushes you to be more self reliant, focused and hardworking because teachers just don't have the time to focus on individual student struggles with all the exam stress and what not.


  3. Really great tips!


  4. Really thought-provoking post- thank you!



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Thank you // Jeani