School Curricula Guides

A Level

The GCE Advanced Level, or A Level, is a secondary school leaving qualification in the United Kingdom and an international school qualification worldwide. It is widely accepted by universities around the world.
A Level
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
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To its advocates the A' Level is the gold standard for post-16 education. To its detractors, it demands too much focus, too early.

There is no doubt as a qualification it delivers the goods when it comes to university entrance. The exam is widely accepted and widely respected at tertiary institutions around the world.

Students normally sit three A' Levels, but some sit four, and others as few as two. This would still deliver the points required for some UK universities - and pretty much every UAE institution which often accept lower level GCSEs and AS Levels.

A Level students tend to choose subjects of a similar type, usually split between humanities (English, History, Economics...) or sciences (Maths, Physics, Chemistry...). Languages tend to sit fairly easily within both camps.

Largely as a result of this specialisation, over the last five years the International Baccalaureate has begun to nip at the A' Levels heels. You can read more of IB versus A level in articles across the site, but the key to which one to choose lies with the student: Does he or she want to specialise, or does he/she enjoy and perform equally well at science, art, languages, and social science? 

IB students take six subjects, three at higher level and three at standard level. These subjects are studied for two years and are examined at the end of that two year period.


What's new

New AS and A levels have been taught from September 2015. The first results for the new AS levels came in 2016, and for the A levels will come this year (2017). Further subjects will be introduced over the following two years.

The new A' and AS levels move the qualifications closer in many ways to the original A' Level examination, and is part of a process to allow greater differentiation between the most able students.

The main features of the new qualifications are:

  1. Assessment is mainly by exam, with other types of assessment used only where they are needed to test essential skills.

  2. AS and A levels will be assessed at the end of the course. AS assessments will typically take place after 1 year’s study and A levels after 2. The courses will no longer be divided into modules and there will be no exams in January.

  3. AS and A levels will be "decoupled" – this means that AS results will no longer count towards an A level, in the way they do now. Under the old system AS Levels were studied in Year 12 with exams taken in May-June. They were worth 50% of your overall A Level qualification.

  4. NOTE: This is NOT the case for the international A' Level where the AS Level will continue to count towards the A' Level.

  5. In many countries, including the UK, both UK and International A Levels are offered - although more rarely within the same school. Those with higher numbers of students from the UK tend to offer the UK A' Level. Those whose demographic is more international tend to offer International A' Levels.

  6. AS levels can be designed by exam boards to be taught alongside the first year of UK A levels - meaning AS Levels can be gained during the course of studying the A Level exam. An AS Level is an examination in its own right, and therefore still has value of its own.



Timetable for the new A' Levels

New AS and A level to be taught from: First AS results will be issued in: First A level results will be issued in: Subjects
September 2015 Summer 2016 Summer 2017 art and design
computer science
English language
English language and literature
English literature
September 2016 Summer 2017 Summer 2018 ancient languages (classical Greek, Latin)
drama and theatre
modern foreign languages (French, German, Spanish)
physical education
religious studies
September 2017 Summer 2018 Summer 2019 accounting
ancient history
classical civilisation
design and technology
environmental science
film studies
further mathematics
government and politics
history of art
media studies
music technology



38 UK Schools offering A Level

School name Community Region
Ardingly College West Sussex South East England
Bedales Petersfield South East England
Bede's Senior School East Sussex South East England
Benenden School Kent South East England
Brighton College Brighton South East England
Cheltenham Ladies College Cheltenham South West England
Cranleigh School Surrey South East England
Downe House Newbury South East England
Dulwich College (UK) Surrey Greater London
Eton College Eton South East England
Frensham Heights Farnham South East England
Gordonstoun Elgin Scotland
Harrow School Harrow on the Hill Greater London
Hurtwood House Dorking South East England
King's College School Westminster Greater London
King's School Canterbury Canterbury South East England
Lancing College Lancing South East England
Malvern College Malvern West Midlands
Marlborough College Marlborough South West England
Millfield (Senior School) Somerset South West England
North London Collegiate School Edgeware Greater London
Oakham School Rutland East of England
Roedean School Brighton South East England
Rossall School Lancashire North West England
Rugby School Warwickshire West Midlands
Sedbergh School Cumbria North West England
Shrewsbury School Cheltenham South West England
St Paul's Barnes Greater London
Taunton School Somerset South West England
The Hammond School Chester North West England
Tonbridge School Tonbridge South East England
Tring Park School for the Performing Arts Tring East of England
Warwick School Warwick West Midlands
Wellington College Crowthorne South East England
Westminster School Westminster Greater London
Winchester College Winchester South East England
Wycliffe Senior School Gloucestershire South West England
Wycombe Abbey High Wycombe South East England

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