A levels are generally studied after the end of senior school, following GCSE’s, so most students taking A level courses are between 16 and 18 years of age. A huge range of subjects are on offer but will vary from school to school. Various exam boards are used by different schools and colleges so the course content will also vary. Look closely at the prospectus to see what each course entails. If you are interested in modern history, for example, make sure the course you are applying for is not Ancient or Tudor history. Many senior schools have a sixth form department or students can attend a sixth form college, or transfer to another school that has a sixth form. A Levels or equivalent (see below) are required for entry into university.
Recent changes to A levels
Until recently, AS-levels were studied in year 12. The results obtained in the exams at the end of year 12 were worth 50% of your overall A-level qualification with final exams taken in year 13.
If you started you -level course in September 2017 all your A-level exams will take place at the end of year 13 with no marks from AS-levels (if you take these) contributing to the overall final grade. There will also be less coursework and fewer practical assessments (in Wales, practicals will still count in biology, chemistry and physics A-level). This means that your overall A-level grades now depend solely on exams you take at the end of your second year. The new A-levels are referred to as linear A-levels. Grades will continue to be awarded on an A*-E scale.
What’s happening to AS-levels?
AS-levels will still exist, and you can continue to take a separate AS-level qualification at the end of Year 12 before dropping the subject or going on to take the full A-level in Year 13; but unlike before, your AS results won't count towards your A-level grade.
The policy your school or college adopts will determine what exams you sit and the qualifications you gain at the end of Year 12. Some might not enter any students for AS qualifications in order to free up more teaching time for A-levels, while others will continue to work in the same AS/A-level format.
Check with your tutor or head of sixth form to see what your options will be, as this will have an impact on how many A-level subjects you select ahead of starting your Year 12 studies.
Are there A-level changes in Wales and Northern Ireland?
Unlike in England, AS-levels for Welsh and Northern Irish students will continue to count towards overall A-level marks. In Wales, an AS will count for 40% of the marks, with A2s counting for the remaining 60%.
You can find out more about other qualifiations taken at post-16 below