My A-Level Experience – What I Learned

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog posts since I started, you’ll know that I am currently studying at the University of Leicester. Before that however, like most students planning to study in the U.K do, I completed a 2 year A-Level programme.

And since I grew up on the island of Grand Turk, and the only school offering A-Levels was the British West Indies Collegiate on the island of Providenciales, I had to pack up at the age of 16 and leave the comfort of my parents home for what I later learned would be the worst two years of my entire life.

See to understand the location that I’m talking about!

So in this post, I’m going to give you guys just a quick overview about the highs and lows of my experience with A- Level. Also, stay tuned for future posts where I’ll give those of you making the transition from high school to college or A-Level specifically a few tips!

  • Well for starters, A-Level was HARD (harder than first year of university level hard). And even though I expected it to be harder than high school, nothing could have prepared me for just how difficult it would’ve been. Especially since I felt like I could conquer anything after graduating Valedictorian of my high school.
  • Since I did my A-Level programme outside of the U.K, I ended up taking the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), which is in my opinion, the hardest of them all.
  • A-Level itself being hard seemed to just not be enough for me, because in addition to the programme itself being difficult, I chose 3 very difficult subjects – Biology, Chemistry, and MATH. (Imagine, math. I was asking for death wasn’t I?)
  • Another disadvantage for me was the fact that I did CSEC exams (Caribbean based) at high school level instead of IGCSE. (They’re both equivalent, but the way topics are taught differs.)
  • I didn’t particularly enjoy the way some of the teachers taught. (My Math teacher however, was phenomenal!)
  • I had to depend on my extended family members for almost everything, which was very difficult because it made me feel like I was inconveniencing them all the time. (for example, grocery store trips, rides to and from school, parents evenings etc.) N.B. Where I’m from there aren’t any bus systems, or taxis. 


I know all of this sounds really bad, but there were some positives that came with moving to do my A-Levels.

  • Not many students attended the school, so each of my classes had around 5-8 people in them.
  • We were assigned personal tutors for help with the UCAS application process and personal statements.
  • There was a vast number of opportunities available that I didn’t have access to in Grand Turk, ex. sporting activities and social clubs.
  • Lastly and probably most importantly, it prepared me for moving to England for university. (Even though I didn’t realize it then.)


So… even though A-Level did make my life a living hell…

And even though looking back at it I wish I just went to TCICC (Turks and Caicos Islands Community College) where I could’ve stayed in the comfort of my home.

What I learned from the experience was far more important and is useful to me now. I learned within those two years how to be strong and independent. I matured from the little girl who depended on her parents for everything, to a beautiful young woman who could do it all by herself. And lastly, I learned how to identify the good in every difficult situation.

The moral of this post today is that sometimes… even though we’re put through very difficult situations, often times the outcome is greater than we could’ve ever imagined… and it comes just when we need it.

peace & positivity

tally x



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