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To generate a better understanding of students’ experiences of studying A-levels, 136 A-level students in England were asked to provide three words or phrases to describe their experience of sixth form, and their reasons for choosing these terms, via an online survey. Data were analysed using content analysis and reflexive thematic analysis. The analyses highlight that, although studying A-levels is challenging and can be stressful and overwhelming, it can also help to prepare students for higher education and adulthood more broadly by presenting them with unique opportunities to exercise autonomy, study subjects of genuine interest to them and cultivate more meaningful relationships with their peers and teachers. Implications for educational practices aimed at promoting positive learning experiences and supporting basic psychological needs are discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Further and Higher Education

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