A-levels are an essential part of the British education system and serve as a critical milestone in a student’s academic journey. They are a series of standardised tests that assess a student’s academic performance in a specific subject area, usually taken post-GCSE by students aged 16-19. A Levels are generally considered the most direct route into university with many higher education courses requesting relevant A Level qualifications as part of their entry requirements. If you’re looking to discover more about what A-Levels are, how they work, and why they are so important the following article, written in collaboration with a private college in London, can help you find the answers.
So, What are A-Levels?
Advanced Level qualifications or A Levels, are academic qualifications taken by students in the UK. To qualify for A Level courses students will first need to obtain at least 5 GCSE’s at grade 4-9 or above. In some instances, specific GCSE qualifications must be obtained before commencing a related A Level course, for example, language or science courses. They are usually taken over a two-year period, and involve studying a variety of subjects at an advanced level, with an emphasis on independent study. Good A Level results reflect high academic achievement and will help demonstrate a student’s ability to prospective employers or universities.
How do A-Levels work?
Students typically apply for A Level courses in Year 11, the final year of their GCSE’s. They will generally select 3-4 subjects and will spend two years studying these subjects in depth. It is recommended that students choose A Level courses which align with their existing strengths and support their future academic goals. If a student has a particular university course in mind, choosing a subject that will enable them to meet the entry requirements is essential. If they are unsure about their plans for the future, then it is advisable to apply for courses that they find engaging and have previously shown academic ability, as this will help them achieve higher results.
The assessment for A-Levels is typically split into two parts. The first is a written exam, which will test the student’s knowledge and comprehension of the subject. The second part is coursework, assessing the student’s ability to research the topic independently, evaluate subject-related theories and apply their own knowledge to create hypotheses and reach a conclusion. Each subject they choose is broken down into modules, with each module requiring both coursework and an exam. The overall grade for each subject will be based on the student’s performance in both the exams and the coursework and is reached by determining the average score of all the work they have submitted.
Why are A-Levels so important?
A Levels are highly valued by universities as they demonstrate a high level of academic ability and are a key factor in determining a student’s eligibility for admission to higher education institutions. A Levels are also important because they can open up a range of different career paths, depending on the subjects that a student chooses to study. Selecting the right A Level subjects is therefore very important. Students should choose subjects that they enjoy and are good at, whilst also considering which will be most instrumental in their future career goals. For example, if a student wants to study medicine at university, they will need to choose science subjects such as biology, chemistry, and physics. If they are interested in a career in journalism, English courses and Media Studies may give them the greatest chance for success. It is important that students spend time researching their course and think about their long term goals to help them make the right decision.
In addition to choosing the right subjects, students will also need to secure good grades in their A Levels. Most universities will require students to achieve specific grades in particular subjects, depending on the course they are applying for, typically grade C or above. As securing a place at university can be very competitive, good grades in relevant subjects are essential in making a candidate more desirable.