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A-levels are highly study

Short for Advanced Level, A-levels come after GCSEs. They usually focus on academic subjects, compared to vocational qualifications like BTECs and NVQs, which are more practical. There are more than 40 different A-level subjects on offer – some will be subjects that you studied at GCSE and others may be new. a level school


How do A-levels work?


Students choose which A-level subjects they want to study when they are doing their GCSEs, and admission is usually dependent on your GCSE grades.


You generally need at least five GCSEs at grades 4-9 / A*-C to be able to take A-level subjects. Sometimes you also need a 5 / B or above at GCSE in the subject you want to take at A-level. But this varies depending on the school or college you’re going to so make sure you check this.


You usually study three or more A-levels over two years and they are assessed by a series of exams. You may also study AS-levels or vocational qualifications at the same time.


Where can I study A-level subjects?

You can study A-levels at school, sixth form or college. You don’t need to stay at the school where you did your GCSEs. For more information have a look at our advice about options after GCSEs.


Most people study A-levels full-time but you can also study them part-time at some colleges.


What is the difference between an AS and A2?

AS levels are basically half an A-level – they give a broad understanding of a subject but not in as much detail.


Until recently, they counted towards a full A-level. So you’d get the AS level at the end of Year 12 and the A2 (the full A-level) at the end of Year 13.


But this has now changed.


From 2015 (2016/2017 for some subjects), AS levels are standalone courses, taken alongside – rather than as part of – A-levels.


This means that they won’t form part of an overall A-level grade. So you’ll only take your AS exams at the end of your first year and you’ll need to take all the exams for your A-levels at the end of the two-year course.


What does linear and modular course mean?

The new A-level will be linear, rather than modular. What does this mean? Well, you’ll take all the exams at the end of the two-year course rather than being assessed after each module.


There may be a bit of coursework but the majority of assessment will be through the exams at the very end of your course. If the idea of exams makes you nervous, we've got you covered! Read our A-level revision guide to ace the exams.


Are A-levels right for me?

If you enjoy academic learning and want to study a broad range of subjects, they could be the perfect option for you.


If you're sure that you want to go to university then they are worth considering. They are valued by universities, and also employers. Some universities require A-levels for certain courses and they won’t accept vocational qualifications.


They are good if you don’t know what you want to study at university, or haven’t pinned down your ideal career yet, because they keep a lot of options open.

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