Learn the ins and outs of A-levels, including how they are graded, how they are chosen, and how they can impact your degree options.

What exactly are these “”?

An “advanced level,” sometimes known as a “A-level,” is a qualification that may be earned in a variety of fields by high school graduates (typically between the ages of 16 and 18), and it is graded from A* to E.

The AS year, often known as year 12, and the A2 year are the two years during which students study for their A-levels (Year 13).

In most cases, students:

Learn the material for four courses during their AS year, then drop the subject(s) in which they already have an AS level.
Carry on with the remaining three subjects during their A2 year to get complete A-levels in these topics.

Because the A-levels and AS-levels have been “decoupled” in recent years, the majority of your total A-level mark is now determined by the tests you take at the end of your second year. This means that your AS-level grades no longer affect your overall A-level grade.

In the past, the marks that you received for a subject during your AS year may be “banked” and carried over to contribute to your grade for the subject when you were taking it for your A-level. Those individuals who dislike taking tests will be disappointed to learn that this is no longer the case.

Having said that, there are still courses like art and design that use coursework as a primary form of evaluation. These will never account for more than twenty percent of your total grade, regardless of the topic, and in most cases they will account for far less.

Investigate whether or not your school or college offers AS-level qualifications by contacting them.


What should I

Study for my A-levels

Study for my A-levels


At the A-level level, students can choose to study one of about 80 different courses. However, the choices open to you will be determined by the courses and programmes that are made accessible to you at the university or college that you attend.

A level courses typically cover topics such as:

variants on ones you’ve studied previously, such as choosing between English literature, English language, or English literature and language’; or subjects you’ve never had the opportunity to study before, such as law, philosophy, psychology, and so on.

So how do you choose what things to study at the advanced level? Here are some things to keep in mind:

You may have more university options if you take particular A-levels.

Because facilitating subjects are subjects that are frequently requested in universities’ entry criteria, regardless of the programme you’re applying to, taking them is an excellent decision if you want to keep your degree possibilities open.

Biology, chemistry, English, geography, history, mathematics, both modern and classical languages, and physics are the subjects that make up the curriculum.

A-levels are a significant step up in difficulty from GCSEs.

When you move up from GCSE to A-level, you should be prepared for a significant increase in the difficulty of the material (or any other advanced level qualification for that matter).

In addition to this, the way in which you are instructed and the things that are required of you will be different.

There are several undergraduate programmes that need a particular set of A-levels.

If you have a specific degree in mind, this is an extremely significant consideration. If you don’t already have certain A-levels under your belt, you won’t be able to submit an application for certain degree programmes (and scored the right grades in them too, of course).

Have a concentration in mind for your degree? Look into taking a few classes at a few different universities to ensure that you meet all of the entry requirements for the programme you want to attend in your chosen field.

There are a few courses and universities that have a list of disciplines that they do not accept.

Some institutions and classes will consider particular A-levels to be a less adequate preparation for university study than others. They may even go so far as to include them on subject lists that are designated as “non-preferred.”

If your anticipated grades don’t quite make the cut, a university may nevertheless consider you for admission on the basis of other aspects of your application, such as your personal statement or your portfolio, even if you don’t quite reach the minimum set of standards that must be satisfied to be admitted.

There are a lot of universities that aren’t choosy about your A-levels.

There are a great number of majors that do not typically have key subject prerequisites and will look at a diverse array of options for students’ previous level of education.

The fields of accountancy, business studies, law, politics, psychology, and social work are all included in this category.

How not to make the wrong

Alternately, the following are some common errors that students make when selecting subjects for A-levels:

Do not imitate your peers: do not enrol in a topic simply so that you can be in a class with your peers, and do not reject a subject solely on the basis of what others believe about it.
Don’t simply take it for a teacher; we all have that one instructor who we adore, regardless of whether or not we were very adept in their field of study. Be careful not to let your admiration for them cloud your judgement and compel you to take their topic simply because.
Don’t close your eyes to the vastness of the world; instead, investigate the advanced placement courses provided by the other colleges and sixth forms in the region. Leaving your comfort zone may seem daunting at the time, but in two years, you may be making the much larger journey to university. This can be wonderful practise for the inevitable adjustments that life delivers.

What other options are there outside the A-levels?

There are a variety of alternatives to A-levels for students applying to universities at the age of 18, despite the fact that taking these exams is the most popular choice.



Studying for a BTEC, which stands for British Technical Education Certificate, can be done in either a school or a college. BTEC awards can be studied at multiple levels, including GCSE and degree levels, despite the fact that they are most often known as an alternative to A-levels.

You are required to finish a number of units for each BTEC, some of which are mandatory while others are electives. These units can be evaluated based on written assignments or hands-on activities.

BTECs may be suitable for individuals who do not do well under test settings since they can ease pressure by spreading work out over a longer period of time. They are also well-suited to teaching disciplines that have a more applied focus, such as child care or building construction.

Having said that, due to the fact that BTECs concentrate on one particular topic and teach specific abilities, you won’t really be able to deviate too much from this field in the years to come.

Because of the practical aspect of these courses, students may not always have the opportunity to hone more academic abilities, such as essay writing, in the same manner. As a result, since you want to maximise the benefits of both types of education for yourself, you should think about combining BTECs and A-levels.

International Baccalaureate

International Baccalaureate



This is a qualification that is recognised all over the world and is approved by universities in the UK. You will select three primary subjects (those that are at a higher level) in addition to three subsidiary subjects (those that are at a standard level), as well as supplementary aspects such as the Theory of Knowledge essay.

The coursework you turn in and how well you do on the examinations together make up your grade.

Because it covers a wider range of topics than A-levels do, the International Baccalaureate is an excellent option not only for students who want to be well-rounded but also for those who are thinking about continuing their education in another country.

Due to its comprehensive nature, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program is an excellent preparation for university-level study; for instance, by the time you finish the Extended Essay component, you will have have prepared a research report that is 4,000 words long.

You should ensure that you are up to the task of the IB because it can be difficult. In comparison to students taking

A-levels or BTECs

A-levels or BTECs

, students will have less free periods but greater contact time with their tutors.

After I finish my A-levels, what options do I have?

Send in your applications to various universities. I really hope that you have made intelligent decisions on your A-levels and have kept your degree options open. Always make sure to examine the entry requirements of an institution to ensure that your A-levels satisfy the standards. You will often receive an offer from a university based on the grades you received on your three A-levels; these may be in a variety of areas.
Studying for a foundation degree, Higher National Diploma, or Higher National Certificate will allow you to keep your career possibilities open. These programmes are much quicker, lasting only one or two years, and can be “topped up” to a full degree at a later time if the student so desires.
Consider enrolling in a higher or degree apprenticeship programme if you are interested in earning a degree but cannot afford the associated costs. This combines academic training at a university with practical experience gained while working at a company.
Begin working immediately for a company that pays you. You might look for work that provides or helps pay for further training, which will provide you the opportunity to advance more quickly within the company.

If paying for college is a worry of yours, you may find out about additional financing opportunities or use our student budget calculator to figure out how much money you will need each month to cover your living expenses.