Important notice: The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is expected to continue having a significant impact on the education system, and the country, for months to come. Therefore, exams have been cancelled to give pupils, parents, and teachers certainty, and enable schools and colleges to focus on supporting vulnerable children and the children of key workers. Find out more about exam cancellations by visiting the Government website or talking to your school or college.
A-levels are level 3 qualifications, which is the next level of public qualifications after GCSE, and the level of qualifications before university or other forms of higher education. In general, they are completed over two years between the ages of 16 and 18.
How are they different from GCSEs?
A-levels are more difficult than GCSEs. They require you to spend more hours outside of lesson time on:
- Catching up on classwork
- Completing homework
- Reading around your subjects
- Creating revision resources for exams
You will also have less time with your teachers in class. At GCSE you are in lessons throughout the school day. But at A-level you have “free periods”, where you are given the freedom to be in charge of your own learning. Another big difference is that you will only have three, or possibly four, subjects (five in exceptional circumstances).
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Which A-levels are available?
There is a very wide range of subjects available to A-level students. Most schools and colleges offer the usual subjects, but it may be difficult to find places that offer more unusual subjects. Some common A-levels subjects are:
- English literature
A full comprehensive list of A-level subject can be found here on the AQA website.
What are the requirements?
Most schools and colleges need you to have 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, or equivalent, including maths and English. Also, you will usually need to have a grade B/5 in the A-level subjects that you wish to study. If you do not have these level 2 qualifications, you can complete them at a Further Education College.
What can A-levels lead onto?
A-levels are good way to get into university. However this is definitely not your only option after you finish your A-levels. They can take you on to an apprenticeship, internship, or even a full-time job. There are many options, which you can find more information about on the higher education page.
Choosing your A-Levels
Choosing your A-levels can be challenging. This video from Which looks at how other young people have approached the problem.