Getting Ready for Uni: Switching from A Levels to a Degree

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The Switch 

Going from a sixth form or college setting to a huge University campus can naturally, feel daunting. But, it is a still change all students go through and something yourself, your housemates and your course mates will all be going through at the same time. Once you have adjusted to a new way of learning it won’t be long before you are in the swing of independent learning and producing work at University level. 

To get you started I have written a few tips which should make the switch from A-Levels to a degree that bit easier. 

It’s time to be an adult!  


  • Don’t worry about the price of your books  

  • Cardiff University library is well stocked with the recommended reading of your course. They also have a number of books available on their e-library 

  • Situated on the Ground Floor of the SU is Blackwells. Who are stocked with course bundles and special deals. You can also sell your books back to them when you have finished. 

  • Check out your local charity shop - I bought all of mine in the Oxfam bookshop for a quid each!  

  • Look online for secondhand books. 

  • Don’t leave reading to the last minute –  

  • Stay on top of your recommend reading and avoid being sat in a lecture with no clue what your lecturer is talking about!  

  • You don’t need to read every word. Skim, make notes and highlight the important parts. 


  • Don’t get lost in the noise  

  •  Lecturers can talk pretty fast, usually they will upload the slides or their lecture notes onto Learning Central, have these up on your laptop or phone if you’re getting lost. 

  • Revisit your notes  

Condense your notes after lecturers
  •  It’s easy to write pages upon pages of notes then get overwhelmed by it all, so just take a few minutes after the lecture to condense them a bit and get rid of any you don’t need.  

  • Last but not least if you’re on a popular module, get to lectures 5 minutes early so you get a decent seat. 


  • Bring your lecture notes  

  • Most seminars will be a discussion of what you learnt in the lecture that week so having your notes will help you during discussions. 

  • Get chatting  

  •  It’s normal to be nervous, but seminars are usually very small groups and once you start participating you’ll realise everyone is in the same boat, get the discussion going and you’ll find doing your assignments so much easier  

Make use of the university 

  • Speak to your tutors  

  • Attending your tutors’ office hours or just having a quick chat with them after seminars will make all the difference if you need a bit of help  

  • Get to the library  

Chat to your personal tutor
  • You’ll find your subject library is a great place to study without the distractions of your housemates or your bed, the ASSL library is lovely at 4am as you can see here: 

Less contact hours 

  • It’s time to be an adult!  

  •  With no parents to hold you accountable it’s important you set aside time to study and do your assignments on time (when in doubt get your housemates to shout at you till you do your work) 

  • You have spare time for a reason - 

  • A big part of most courses is research/wider reading, use these bizarre new free hours in the day to get this done so you don’t have to sacrifice your nights  


  • Start it early!  

  •  Being faced with a word count of 3000 the night before a deadline is nothing short of a nightmare, try to do your assignments over a few  weeks so it’s not a rushed job.  

  • Format it correctly  

  •  At university the way you reference and format essays is very specific, check which style your school uses (Harvard, APA etc) and you’ll be able to find a guide online or on Learning C. 

April Armstrong-Taylor - Second Year English Literature Student  

@apriltaylorrrr on instagram