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The review must be at least 50 characters long. Email Address:. The General Certificate of Education Advanced Level generally termed the GCE Advanced Level or more commonly the A-level , is an academic qualification offered by educational institutions in England , Wales and Northern Ireland to students completing secondary or pre-university education. The qualification is also offered in Scotland as an alternative school-leaving qualification, and, with varying content and style, throughout the Commonwealth and on most Caribbean islands. A-levels require studying an offered A-level subject over a two-year period and sitting for an examination at the end of each year AS and A2, respectively , proctored by an official assessment body.
Most students study three or four A-level subjects simultaneously during Year 12 and Year 13 ages 16—18 , either in a secondary education institution or in a Sixth Form College, as part of their further education. A-levels are recognised by many universities as the standard for assessing the suitability of applicants for admission in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and many such universities base their conditional admissions offers on a student's predicted A-level grades.
Between and , the main qualification for school leavers was the Higher School Certificate. This qualification required students to study a range of subjects. By , because it had become apparent that some students were failing the qualification because of weakness in a single area, the decision was taken to develop examinations that assessed students in single subjects. Thus was born the A Level Advanced Level examinations, which could be taken on a subject-by-subject basis, according to the strengths and interests of the student.
Letters were therefore introduced to award specific grades of pass to students. The grades were norm-referenced and awarded as follows:. Candidates whose marks fell between the 10th and 30th percentiles were awarded an Ordinary Level pass which indicated a performance equivalent to at least a grade C at GCE Ordinary Level. The validity of this system was questioned in the s because, rather than reflecting a standard, it was simply maintaining a specific proportion of candidates at each grade. In , a new system that fixed specific criteria for grades B and E, and then divided out the other grades according to fixed percentages, was introduced.
Rather than awarding an Ordinary Level for the lowest pass, a new "N" for Nearly passed was introduced.
Criticisms of A level grading continued, and when Curriculum was introduced, the decision was made to have specific criteria for each grade, and the 'N' grade was abolished. In , a UK parliamentary enquiry heard that the A level grading at that time was neither norm-referenced nor criterion referenced , but rather shared elements of the two and so should be thought of as 'a soft criterion referencing. The evolution of A level from a two-year linear course with an exam at the end, to a modular course took place gradually between the late 80s and Following the introduction of Curriculum in September with the first AS-level examinations held in January and A2 examinations the following year , an A-level now consists of four or six for natural sciences modules studied over two years.
Normally, two modules are assessed in the first year, and make up a stand-alone qualification called the "AS-level" or Advanced Subsidiary level, not to be confused with an older AS-level, the Advanced Supplementary level. Another two modules are assessed at the end of the second year, which make up the "A2".
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A2 modules do not form a qualification in their own right; the satisfactory completion of the AS and A2 modules in the same subject is required to constitute a complete A-level. Modules are assessed by exam papers marked by national organisations and internally assessed coursework. For example, the new GCE A-level in Applied Business combines the traditional theory-based subject 'Business Studies' which can be studied as an A-level itself and adds a more practical and hands-on approach to it.
In this case, for the mandatory modules in the AS year, the candidate is expected to create a simulated Marketing Proposal module 1 and Recruitment and motivational package module 2 as opposed to just studying the processes. This essentially asks the candidate to show a more thorough insight by actually applying the theory. Given that many universities have shown a dislike of vocational subjects as opposed to the traditional ones, their reaction to the new applied suite remains to be seen.
However, considering the subject is now much broader and more "student-friendly" it is hoped that universities will see that this subject is no less than the traditional Business Studies given that the traditional aspect of the subject is not fully lost.
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A wide variety of subjects are offered at A-level by the 5 exam boards. Although exam boards regularly alter their curricula, this table shows the majority of subjects which are consistently available for study. The number of A-level exams taken by students can vary.
Three is usually the minimum number of A-levels required for university entrance, with some universities specifying the need for a fourth AS subject. There is no limit on the number of A-levels one can study except in Singapore, where students are restricted to 12 "academic units" and private candidates are also limited in their number of subjects , and a number of students take five or more A-levels. It is permissible to take A-levels in languages one already speaks fluently, or courses with overlapping content, even if not always fully recognised by universities.
General Studies and Critical Thinking , which require a grasp of basic political ideas and current affairs in order to write essays rather than specific learning, sometimes augment a student's batch of qualifications. While many universities do not consider an A-level in General Studies to be a stand-alone subject and thus is not accepted as part of an offer , it may affect the offer which a student receives.
Unlike A-level General Studies, Critical Thinking, which aims to improve student's analytical skills, has generally received a more positive reception from universities. Unlike General Studies, it is often given a UCAS Tariff score, and some university admissions tutors see it as an advantage when applying for competitive courses. The A-level has been criticised for providing less breadth since many A-level students do not generally study more than three subjects in their final year. This is in part due to university entrance requirements, which, for degree programs such as medicine, may require three related A-level subjects, but non-traditional combinations are becoming more common "British Council Australia Education UK".
Thus, while the purpose of Curriculum was to encourage students to undertake contrasting subjects, to broaden their 'skill-base', there is a tendency to pursue similar disciplines. However, others disagree, arguing that the additional AS-level s studied would already have provided more breadth compared with the old system. This conclusion is based mainly on the percentage of pupils achieving the respective grades in respective exams.
A-level examinations are administered through a series of examination boards. Some of these boards also offer A-levels to international students, specifically Edexcel. In the UK it is customary for schools to register with multiple examination boards and to "mix and match" A-levels to get a combined curriculum that fits the school profile. A-levels are part of the Further Education process in the United Kingdom. A-levels can also be studied by students in Years 12 and 13 in a Sixth Form institution, as part of secondary school.
Related Secondary School AS-Level - Core 1 & 2 - Maths - Integration - Ages 16-18 - eBook
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