Approximately half of all sixteen years olds go on to take A (Advanced) levels. These are academic qualifications valued by both universities and employers.
A level qualifications in England (not in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland) have changed and now all A levels are two year linear qualifications with grades [A* - E] based on final exams taken at the end of the course. As well as being exams focused, they have less emphasis on coursework or practicals. Most students take 3 A level subjects.
Over 20% of schools are only offering the A level qualifications without the opportunity to take an AS level qualification in year 12. This is because if you carry on studying this subject into year 13 the AS level grade does not go towards your final A level grade.
Some schools are continuing to offer students the opportunity to take 4 AS level qualifications in year 12. This can enable you to gain an AS grade if you decide to drop it after year 12 exams. AS exams can also help you to see how you are doing in your subjects. However, many schools are dropping these as they say the revision and exams take up too much teaching time.
AS and A level grades both carry UCAS tariff points. Although AS levels only carry 40% of the points of an A level.
Find out more about A level changes here.
What A and AS levels you can choose will be determined by what is available in your school or college. If you want to do a specific higher education course in the future it is a good idea to check which A levels may be needed for that course.
Most young people take A level courses in school, at a 6th Form College or at a local further education (FE) college.
A and AS levels are one of the main routes into higher education, but they can also be useful if you want to go straight into a job or progress to an Advanced, Higher or Degree Apprenticeship.