Study Leave


Hello all,

This year I will be sitting exams. First a set of ‘mocks’ and then my actual exams. I was wondering if i should take study leave for both however I don’t want to miss many parade nights as I feel this will limit my ability to progress through the corps. Taking study leave will cause me to miss out on activities as well.

If anyone can offer general advice. Do I need to take study leave at all? Will it benefit me? If so how much do I take off? As i am relatively new to the ATC I am still undergoing first class training. I don’t want to fall behind the other cadets. Hopefully someone can guide me in the right direction as I am torn between the two.



You’re the only person who’s in the best place to make that decision…

Consider what your performance is at school/college/university now, - current grade estimates etc - would time off really help improve your marks? Or could it lead to procrastination with other things?

If you are struggling with the subject, or a low-performer, then I suggest taking a month off leading up to the exam


Your future is more important than your hobby. With the move towards 100% exams, you only really get one hit at these things to get them right…

At the same time, will you genuinely be revising for those 2 evenings per week you have off to go to cadets? Or do you work better by giving yourself an outlet from the constant revision you’ll be bombarded with in the run up to the exams? Would you be better off giving yourself time off away from the books so you can enjoy a bit of normality?

It’s a very, very personal thing - and over the years I’ve seen many, many people tackle this with different results.


I needed the release cadets gave me in order to recharge and revise better again. But others would be destroyed by going to cadets. Ultimately it is down to your personal learning style and also (dare I say it) your parents’ views as if they don’t support you attending cadets during exam season it’s only going to add stress


Many moons ago, when I was a Cadet, I went to the Squadron on Parade Nights as it was my night off from study and revision. Weekend activities were dependent on exam timetable and what it was, a day at the gliding school (yes I’m old enough to have gone gliding!) was ok as long as I spent the Sunday studying, a full weekend on the range wasn’t as no time to revise and sleeping in a shared room was never going to result in sleep ha ha

Now, as an OC, I see Cadets tackle this dilemma is very different ways. I’ve seen some take study leave and then get good results but equally some take study leave and do no-where near the predicted grades. Some attend the Squadron and still do really well in results and again, some attend the Squadron and flunk all the exams. Some use the parade nights as their reward for studying, a release from the stress of exams and a night to be normal again. I have had parents come in and state that Cadet X will not be attending for the next three months to concentrate on exams as he will be studying every day with no time off…seriously?!

If I was going to give some advice, have a study / revision plan and stick to it. Look at what your Squadron will be doing over that period, can you attend one night instead of two on some weeks? If you go to the Squadron, that is your relax and recharge night, the next night it’s back to the books.

There isn’t a right or wrong answer and only you (and your parents) can make the decision.


If you can stick to a revision timetable, make one and include cadets. I say this because you really do need downtime away from revision. I tell all of my cadets this, and their parents. If you don’t take the downtime, you will do yourself more harm than good. If you parade twice a week, I would consider cutting down to once a week and spending the other evening socialising with other friends, so you still get out of the house. I would also perhaps avoid any weekend camps during that period as that will take up a large chunk of revision time, unless the camp has an activity that is particularly important for your progression. Exams are important, but so is your own mental health. Overworking yourself is just as bad as underworking.

As a cadet, I never missed a parade night during study leave, and it worked well for me. You may want to consider missing a parade night if you have an exam the next day - a good night’s sleep is important.



Realistically I can understand not attending the night before an exam, as you really want to just be chilling out. But you’re either well-prepared for exams or you’re not, in which case an extra couple of hours a week isn’t going to make a difference.

As above though, ultimately a lot of this is going to come down to the parents.


Different strokes for different folks.

When I was a cadet I didn’t take any time for studying, as I had a broad social life and was out most nights, so missing ‘cadets’ wouldn’t have made any difference in terms of a release from the grind of revision. However in my day it was exams like they have just moved back to, BUT the job market and benefits systems was geared to school leavers so further education wasn’t really needed and certainly not compulsory as it is now.

Take the time you feel you need. You’re 15 or 16 so need to start taking some responsibility for yourself and making decisions that suit you best. If you feel you need all the period of the exams take it, if it’s the night before take it or you feel you don’t need to, don’t. But it’s for you to decide and prioritise. People at schools, on here, and at the squadron will advise, but none of them are you.

Ultimately what you do in the ATC really has limited benefit to your future and while some of the other things you do in the Corps may (I say may) help you, it is insignificant compared to results of GCSEs, as these will provide you the means to access courses at 6th Form and FE Colleges and when all said and done a pay packet. Many A Level courses require a minimum B (or whatever the number equivalent is now) in a GCSE at that subject or linked subjects. Bearing in mind if it is a popular subject / course and there are limited places you need the higher grades. Whether this means more revision or concerted effort in school, only you know. Speaking as a parent who has had 3 kids go through this, we let them make the decisions when it came to outside activities and revision.

I found this year interesting as it was I think the first year proper of the new style GCSEs and I was surprised that more cadets didn’t do study leave. The irony is one cadet didn’t take any time off at all and got 2 9s, 3 8s, 3 7s 2 5s these were the best set of results on the squadron. Oddly they only needed a 4 in maths and English and a good pass in art to get onto the course they wanted to do and are doing. Another who started their study leave in April got a 2 7s and all the other subjects lower grades. So was the time off really an advantage?


Go for a compromise, maybe reduce your time to one night a week and think carefully about what weekend activities you do.

At the end of the day, your future is more important than your Squadron life. You can’t make a career out of the ATC unless you’re rich to start with :-).

Good luck with the exams.


I really appreciate everyone’s help. Unfortunately its not my decision to make therefore I will have to take study leave no matter what. Thanks for the support.


Why is it not your decision?


I’d guess his parents have said so?


Parents and schools.
All the secondaries we draw from are running revision classes this and every school holiday bar Christmas and Summer and on Saturday mornings. This seems to have happened more in the last couple of years since the return to the rigourous old style final exam, as opposed to the floppy GCSEs our kids did, which even to this day baffle me as to what exactly they were being examined on.

I’ve all but given up trying to persuade cadets and parents about study leave as I’m not a fan of getting wet legs.