If you take the International A' Level, offered by Edexcel and Cambridge, then the recent changes made to A' Level exams will not apply, and the most significant value of the AS Level lies in the fact that it will count towards your overall A level grade.
If however you are taking UK A' Levels, in a subject that is under the new A-level reforms, your AS-levels no longer have any impact on your final A-level grade. Instead, this final grade is decided by exams taken at the end of Year 13 only.
These changes are part of a general drive to make A' Levels more rigorous. In this regard, January re-sits of A' Level or AS Level exams will no longer take place - a drive to get rid of a "resit culture" and allow greater differentiation for those achieving the highest results.
Why AS Levels still matter
If you are sitting the new UK AS and A' Level examinations, the obvious question is why take AS Levels at all.
There are a number of reasons why they are still a good idea.
Firstly, if you are planning to go to a UAE university, you may not even need the harder A' Levels - GCSEs and AS Levels may suffice.
Even if you are attending, or wish to attend a UK university, AS grades will need to go on UCAS university applications – and these may influence a university’s decision to offer you a place or not. For the most popular courses, and the most sought after universities, any point of difference matters.
Good AS Level passes can be seen as aptitude and a hunger for a subject, and will be the most recent exam-based evidence a university admissions tutor will have to go on.
AS Level results are also likely to shape your predicted A-level grades, used by universities to determine whether to make you a conditional offer.
Which A' and AS Levels are you taking?
Not all UK A' Levels have switched over yet. Reforms are being rolled out slowly across subjects. While you may be taking some subjects which have switched to the new structure, you might be taking subjects which haven't yet, too. Our A' Level guide has details on which subject switch, and when.
Note: Some schools may opt eventually to not offer AS Levels, arguing it will free up more time to invest in the A Level. This has become an area of debate in the United Kingdom.
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