Advanced level qualifications (known as A levels) are subject-based qualifications that can lead to university, further study, training, or work. You can normally study three or more A levels over two years. They’re usually assessed by a series of examinations.
What grades do I need to take A levels?
- At least five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4/A* to C
- At least grade 6 in the specific subject(s) you want to study
Who are they for?
- If you’re thinking about going to university, most higher education courses require specific A levels or combinations of A levels (or alternative level 3 qualifications).
- If you’re not sure what career or job you want to do, studying a selection of A levels can be a good way of keeping your options open.
Choosing your courses
This is a major step and one which deserves time and attention. The general advice is to choose subjects which you find interesting – when you go from ten subjects to three, four (or exceptionally five) and spend five lessons and four to five hours homework each week on a course it really helps to want to do it. Secondly play to your strengths, universities will offer places on the basis of grades so look at how you have done so far, use teachers’ advice and look at what the courses involve. Thirdly be aware of any requirements of the courses or careers you may be interested in. At the very least, research entry requirements – websites are good for this – and let us know on your application form so we can include it in your interview. The fourth subject is an opportunity to broaden your education. This might mean keeping on a real passion in Art or Music but more often it is a chance to develop a relevant skill such as Maths or a language to support your university application and future career.
Preparing for your courses
You will be given guidance on this as time goes on but in general you should research carefully your choices and probably review them as you find out more from mock results etc. You should keep up to date with contemporary issues in subjects you are considering studying, this will help you test and challenge your interest and deepen your understanding. Once you have made your decisions, engage with our bridging work for each subject. This can be found in the Transition to Sixth Form section of our website. If you want to build additional skills and extend your knowledge, visit the Enrichment+ section of our website. The very best preparation for the A-level study is establishing good study habits and routines throughout your GCSE study.
The AS & A-Level System
A Levels are now linear; this means that the final exams at the end of the two years of study will include topics you study throughout the course. This means it is very important to work hard from the start. The decision over the final three A levels you take in Year 13 is very important. If you were just to take three from the start we would have to be very confident that they were the best three for you. For this reason our students usually choose four subjects in the first year and in most subjects will complete the AS course. Studying four subjects in Year 12 is also evidence to universities that you can manage a broader workload. You will then take three or four subjects up to full A Level in the second year. You may also study a further AS-Level subject in Year 13 if you want to or if the universities you are applying to recommend it. The Year 12 results in all subjects will indicate which courses students should continue and will strongly influence UCAS predictions for university applications.