AS-levels and A-levels

AS-levels and A-levels can be your route to university, or a professional qualification that opens the door to a huge range of careers.

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Sixth form - choose your own subjects, choose your own clothes and you get to keep your phone out.

What do AS- and A-levels mean?

AS stands for ‘Advanced Subsidiary’ and A for ‘Advanced’ level qualifications and are the traditional post-GCSE qualification. They are classed as a level 3 qualification, and usually take two years to complete full-time.

How do they work?

A-levels are made up of the AS-level and the A2. Each part makes up 50% of the overall A-level grade. The AS-level can be a qualification in its own right, or the first half of the full A-level. In year one you will do AS-levels, and then you can opt to do the A2 in your second year, giving you the full A-level.

Can I take them?

Providing you have five GCSEs at grade C or above you can, but there may be exceptions if you don’t have those grades. This is the case for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you live in Scotland you can take Highers.

Where can I take them?

Some schools offer education for Years 12 and 13, when you typically study for A-levels, or you can go to a sixth form college or a further education (FE) college. One of the nice things about taking your A-levels is that you can choose where you want to study, so you can find somewhere different from your school if you want to meet new people or experience a new environment.

Will I have to pay to study AS- and A-levels?

Not if you do them straight after leaving school or if you’re 19-25 years old, study full-time, and don’t already have a level 3 qualification.

What kind of subjects can I do?

You can do things like English, Maths, Politics, Biology – subjects which are considered academic – but there are an increasing number of ‘applied’ courses which have a more practical focus, such as ICT, Leisure and Recreation or Engineering.

Are they difficult?

AS- and A-levels can be challenging, but also interesting when you’re studying subjects that you really enjoy. You can choose three or four subjects that you’re passionate about, and drop all the ones you don’t like so much.

Where will they take me?

A-levels are the main gateway to university, so if you’re thinking of going to uni they’re vital. They are also an indicator, on their own, to employers that you’re prepared to work hard and have a high level of capability.

Next Steps

  • Looking for a mentor to help boost your knowledge and skills? Find a youth zone close to you.
  • Reveal your skills with Define Me and find the right words to tell employers.
  • Download Motimator - an app that helps you get the career you want - by giving you a gentle kick up the ass each day when motivation is running low.
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Updated on 29-Sep-2015