GCSE grades

The 7 traits of an A*student - it's not all about natural ability

What makes the difference when it comes to getting A*? 

Friday saw the publication of a hotly anticipated research project, 3 years in the making, which set out to distil which factors can be isolated from the way that the best independent schools teach that contribute to an able child attaining the best possible grades, i.e. an A or A*.  What makes the difference?

It’s fair to say that the project seems to have taken the ‘highly able’ as the starting point, but it is evident that there is a great deal that needs to come together to take even the able to the pinnacle of the A*.

The aim of the research was to plough the findings back into state school practices. The lead state school was Christ the King Sixth Form College and some of the partner schools involved included Eton College, St Paul’s Boys’ School and North London Collegiate School.

The whole report makes very interesting reading – plenty to consolidate what one might look for when hunting for a school to support an academic child – but here we’ve summarised what we thought was of most immediate use for parents – which is, what is it that will particularly help your bright child get an A* - these are things that of course are going to be assisted by the right school, but many of them are more an attitude to studying or way of working that the determined and resourceful at any school could aim for? Here they are. 

The 7 approaches to learning and character traits that help students achieve their A*/A potential

  1. An exceptionally strong work ethic coupled with a commitment to developing a sound understanding of taught and independently learnt subject knowledge
  2. Investing the time to ‘keep up’ and achieve clarity of understanding of lessons taught in class
  3. Determination to succeed when faced with learning challenges
  4. Willingness to take risks, despite fear of failure. Willingness to learn from mistakes.
  5. High intrinsic motivation: engage all of the time, whatever the task and enjoy learning for its own sake.
  6. Intellectual curiosity: keenness to know irrespective of whether the exam requires it, proactively asking questions, willingness to apply knowledge flexibly
  7. Taking ownership of learning, developing independent study habits and admitting confusions, misunderstandings.

Extracted from “What Makes the Difference” © 2016 Christ the King Sixth Form College

To join in the conversation on the educational hot topics of the day do join us @schoolhuntersuk, we'd love to see you there.