GCE Advanced Level
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The A Level (Advanced Level) is a subject-based qualification conferred as part of the
Normally, students take between 3 and 5 A Levels in their first year of sixth form, and most cut back to 3 in their second year. This is because university offers are normally based on 3 A Levels. Unlike other level 3 qualifications such as the
A Levels are generally worked towards over two years. Between 2015 and 2018 (first assessment Summer 2017), new style linear A Levels were introduced in England as part of the government's educational reforms (initially across 13 subjects), replacing older modular courses where exams could be taken at several points during the course. Instead, reformed A Levels are taken at the end of the course as a set of terminal exams, and are no longer separated into units. There is less emphasis on coursework, and students must resit all exams if they wish to resit the qualification. Additionally, the AS Level is now a separate qualification and is not required for an A Level award, although it still encompasses the first year of the full A Level content. Controversially, various A Level courses have been abolished from 2017 as part of these reforms, including Archaeology, Creative Writing, Critical Thinking and General Studies among several others.
In legacy modular courses (last assessment Summer 2019), A Levels are split into two parts, with students within their first year of study pursuing an Advanced Subsidiary qualification, commonly referred to as an AS or AS Level, which can either serve as an independent qualification or contribute 50% of the marks towards a full A Level award. The second part is known as an A2 or A2 Level, which is generally more in-depth and academically rigorous than the AS. The AS and A2 marks are combined for a full A Level award. The A2 Level is not a qualification on its own, and must be accompanied with an AS Level in the same subject for certification. Due to the fact that AS Levels are considered less academically rigorous, the A* grade is reserved for those taking the subject to A2 standard, so only A2 units contribute to this grade. Additionally, students who are displeased with results from their AS units have the ability to resit. However, this has been widely criticised as nurturing a 'resit culture' and causing perceived 'grade inflation'.
A number of countries use A Levels as a school-leaving qualification. The A Levels taken by students in some countries often differ significantly from the A Levels taken in the United Kingdom.[
The British variant of A/AS levels are also taken in many
Between 2015 and 2018 (first assessment Summer 2017), A Levels in England are being reformed, transitioning from a modular to linear structure (initially across 13 subjects). This means all A Level exams must be sat in one sitting as a set of terminal exams (3 exams for the majority of subjects), and there is less emphasis on coursework. An example of this can be seen in
The AS Level is now a separate qualification and is not required for an A Level award, although still encompasses the first year of the full A Level content. However, unlike AS Levels in the old modular courses, they are now worth only 40% as many UCAS points as a full A Level (from 50% in the modular courses), likely due to the fact that content from the second year of A Level is considered more academically challenging than that of the first year.
As these reforms are taking place in stages, many students will be taking a combination of modular and linear courses, with AS Levels still being part of an A Level in older modular courses.
These reforms look to combat grade inflation, where the proportion of students achieving the highest grades increases year upon year, causing the value of those grades to be eroded. The modular system has also been criticised for nurturing a 'resit culture', while new linear courses give no opportunity to resit individual units.
Controversially, various A Level courses have been abolished from 2017 as part of these reforms. These include Archaeology, Anthropology, Creative Writing, Critical Thinking, General Studies and Home Economics among others.
Due to opposition to these reforms in other parts of the UK, Wales and Northern Ireland have maintained the modular structure to their qualifications.
The British A-level qualifications such as GCE A-level and International A-level are widely accepted in Hong Kong as an alternative to the
A-levels are offered in
The Advance level of Cameroon is based on the
The GCE Advanced Level qualification is offered by the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC). Before, this qualification was jointly offered by Cambridge International Examinations and the Council in Zimbabwe.