Advanced Levels (A Levels) are the traditional acadmic qualification available, and with 45 subjects to choose from you can study them as part of a Diploma or alongside other qualifications, such as an extended project or NVQs. See below for these additional qualifications.
A Levels are made up of AS (advanced subsidiary) and A2 units. An AS Level is half the size of a full A Level - so you'll undertake 3 modules to gain an AS Level and 6 modules to gain an A Level. In Year 12/Lower Sixth you’ll generally take four A Levels and sit AS exams in the third term of the year. You can then either drop the subject and gain the AS Level or continue the subject onto A Level by studying the A2 units. It is common to drop one subject after Year 12. You may also have to undertake coursework depending on the course you choose to study.
Subject availability depend on your college and timetable, however you will be able to choose from a range which will include the sciences, arts, languages, humanities and social sciences.
A Levels focus on traditional/academic study skills and are the most common qualification for those looking to attend university. However, they are also highly valued by employers so offer you the flexibility of looking for a job after you complete your courses if this is your plan.
You can obtain a grade between A-E at AS Level and A*-E at A Level, and your results come out in the second Thursday of August (August 14th) ready for clearing and university.
If you and your teachers aren’t happy with your results you can request your papers from the exam body, or check the marking or ask the marking to be added up again. If you are still unhappy and think the awarding body hasn’t followed the correct procedures in marking you can appeal to the awarding body. If this doesn’t work you can take your appeal to Ofqual or the Independent Examinations Appeals Board.
It is possible to re-sit each AS and A2 units the following summer, and if you decide to re-sit a unit, the awarding body will automatically use the highest mark from all your attempts to count towards the final grade.
After A Levels you can undertake a higher apprenticeship, find a job or go to university.
If you are unsure of what subjects to take, and are looking to attend university and you will want to choose courses that will help you in your endeavour. The Russell Group, a group of 24 leading universities, regularly produces a leaflet, Informed Choices, which helps you understand what is needed to attend one of their universities. Many popular degrees, such as Accountancy, Anthropology, Archaeology, Business Studies, History of Art, Law, Management, Media Studies, Philosophy, Politics, Religious Studies and Sociology, are typically open to students without any specific subject background, however to increase your chances the Russell Group propose that you study ‘facilitating subjects.’ These subjects are: Maths and Further Maths, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, English Literature, History, Geography and Languages (Classical and Modern). They also explain A-Levels and GCSE requirements for specific degrees, such as Medicine, Engineering, Architecture etc.