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Is uni harder than A-Levels?
If you struggled throughout A-Levels, the lead-up before you start uni can be nerve-wracking.
If you’re interested in going to university, or you’ve already got the grades, it’s natural that you might be wondering whether uni is harder than A-Levels.
The answer to this question is largely subjective. How difficult you find university in comparison to A-Levels will depend on you, the university you attend, and the course that you take, as not all university courses are equal in terms of workload or difficulty.
There’s no question that the university experience is designed to challenge students academically. You will not only have to learn how to manage your time and balance a range of different modules on your course, but you’ll also have less support in terms of contact time (‘the time you spend learning in contact with teaching-associated staff’). As such, no one should go to university thinking it’s going to be a walk in the park.
That said, there are a range of reasons why many students might find studying at university easier, not harder, than A-Levels.
These reasons include, but are not limited to:
- You can focus on what you’re passionate about
- There’s more time to study at university
- Many subjects get reading weeks
- University allows you to hone your skills and knowledge on fewer topics
1. You can focus on what you’re passionate about.
The primary reason to go to university is to further your education in a subject you’re eager to learn more about.
At sixth form, you’re required to take a minimum of 3 A-Levels to get into a university, although you can take a maximum of five, meaning that it can quickly feel like you’re stretching yourself too thin.
Multiple subjects, as well as your intense timetable, make A-Levels particularly hard, in turn compounding the sense of impending doom surrounding A-Level results day.
Although your course at uni will largely determine the types of assessments you do as well as the workload, you get to focus on what you’re really passionate about.
So, regardless of whether you do a single honours, joint honours, or combined honours degree during your time there, many students find studying at university more rewarding due to being able to delve into a particular subject they want to pursue to help them land their chosen career.
2. There’s more time to study at university.
Another reason why many people find university easier than A-Levels is that there’s more time to study at university.
In sixth form or college, you’ll typically be balancing a range of different lessons and subjects on a daily basis, and your contact hours are generally higher than that of a university student.
Of course, the number of contact hours you have in university differs depending on your course. That said, on average, ‘most university students now spend less than 11 hours a week in lectures’, emphasising how much time there is for independent study to complete your various assessments.
While some might argue that this lack of support makes university harder than A-Levels, your timetable is significantly less crowded than it is during A-Levels.
This means you’ll have plenty of time to immerse yourself in a subject you truly love, and you’ll still have your lecturers, personal tutor, and peers to lean on despite the larger expectation of independent study.
That said, this is why it’s incredibly important to choose a subject that you’ll continually find interesting and rewarding for the three years of your undergraduate degree.
3. Many subjects get reading weeks.
Another reason why many people find university easier than A-Levels is that many subjects get reading weeks.
As the name suggests, a reading week is typically situated in the middle of a semester and is when students are given the opportunity to engage in relevant reading for their various modules.
Although this might sound similar to half term, reading weeks are a dedicated time for your studies that are designed to be peaceful and allow students to focus without the busyness associated with your typical school or college holidays.
While it is up to you to manage how you spend your time at university, most students use this time to work hard and get a head start on the assessments and reading that they need to do.
This can give you some respite to further your knowledge and prepare for the rest of the semester.
4. University allows you to hone your skills and knowledge on fewer topics.
One of the hardest parts of A-Levels is revising for up to five different subjects, and managing numerous exams on top of that.
At university, while you might decide to take a joint or combined university course, you’re still studying fewer topics in more depth than you would be in multiple subjects at A-Level.
If you’re studying an English Literature degree, for instance, your exams and coursework will be focused on one subject and will demand the development of your written and verbal communication skills.
Everything you’re learning is contributing to your success at that particular topic. As such, when you’re revising for a particular exam or module, you’re technically improving your skills for your other modules, helping students to better manage exam stress.
This applies to many joint honours and combined courses, as these courses will complement each other and are often interrelated in a fundamental way.
As such, this opportunity to delve deeper into fewer topics is why many students find university easier than A-Levels.
Hopefully this article has given you a wider understanding of whether university is harder than A-Levels.
Written by Jemima for Host.
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