What do the changes in A level qualifications mean for me?
The Government has announced a series of changes to the structure and content of A level courses from September 2015. The key change will result in all A levels eventually being assessed at the end of the two year course. Under the current system AS Levels can be taken as standalone qualifications, meaning that they are generally taken as the first part of an A Level course. AS levels are completed at the end of Year 12 (first year of Sixth Form). A2 exams and coursework are then added to an AS level at the end of Year 13 (second year of Sixth Form), bringing it up to A level standard.
From September 2015, the way A levels are made up is changing. A levels, in certain subjects will take two years to complete but will no longer be split into AS and A2 level. The following subjects will be the first to undergo changes in their course structure and content and will be assessed under the NEW SYSTEM:
English Language and Literature
Art and Design
How will the changes affect my study?
If you select a subject from the list above, you will sit all exams in that discipline at the end of Year 13. If you take an AS-Level in that subject as a standalone qualification, you will take your exams at the end of Year 12.
If you choose a subject that is not identified in the list above, you will be assessed under the old system whereby you will take an external examination at the end of Year 12. These marks will then be added to the marks you obtain from sitting your A2 examination in Year 13. Therefore your final A level grade will be made up of the marks you obtained in both your Year 12 and 13 examinations.
When will the changes be introduced in other subject areas?
From September 2016, the following subjects will be assessed under the NEW SYSTEM: drama and theatre, geography, modern foreign languages, music, physical education and religious studies.
Finally the following subjects will revert to this system from September 2017 onwards: design and technology, further mathematics, information and communications technology, mathematics, media studies and music technology.
How many subjects should I choose?
Students who obtain 5 A*-C GCSE grades and secure at least a grade C or above in mathematics and English should choose 4 subjects to study and this could be a combination of subjects under the new and old system.
Students who obtain 5 A*-C GCSE grades and have not yet secured a grade C in either mathematics or English but have the capacity to do so, should choose 3 subjects to study at A level and will also have the opportunity to secure a grade C or above in English or mathematics by the end of Year 12.
NB – students taking vocational courses (Level 2 BTEC or NCFE courses) in year 11 should note that each subject will only be worth 1 GCSE equivalent within the overall admissions tariff of 5 A*- C including maths and English