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What are A levels?

 

The GCE Advanced levels are a British curriculum designed and subject-based qualification. They are offered at most British curriculum secondary schools and provide students with internationally recognized certifications, allowing the opportunity to continue their tertiary education worldwide. 

 

How can we help?

 

The extensive detail and understanding required to succeed with A levels can seem intimidating but with the help of our experienced tutors we can ensure you proceed with confidence. Whether you need help understanding international tax laws for economics or wave-particle duality in physics, we are here to help.

Please read our Frequently Asked Questions Section below and feel free to contact us if you have any further queries.  

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Frequently Asked Questions

When do I start my A levels?

Traditionally you begin your A level courses after completion of your GCSEs, or equivalent, at the end of year 11. This would mean you begin your A level qualifications at approximately 16 years of age and complete them within two years. 

 

It is important to note however that there is no age limit when considering A Levels, at Feynman Education we have supported many mature students who have decided to either revisit subjects or obtain the qualification for the first time. Conversely, there is no minimum age to begin your A levels however we would advise against starting them before the completion of your 11th year (10thgrade) due to the demanding workload and challenging academic reqirements. 

How many subjects do you take at A level?

Students are generally advised to choose 3 subjects to continue to A level. Globally, universities will only require the completion of 3 A levels however under certain circumstances, students opt to take a 4th subject to help strengthen their knowledge and subsequent university application. A student should only ever consider taking 4 A levels if they are confident they have considered the additional workload and pressure that accompanies this choice. 

 

If you decide to commit to a 4th A level subject in your first year you can discontinue that subject at any time and continue with your other 3 A Levels with no interruption. 

 

If you have applied to university using your grades from all 4 of your A levels then under most circumstances, with the possible exception of certain Oxbridge colleges, your university placement will be offered with the understanding that you will only continue with 3 subjects, giving you the option to drop the 4th subject with no repercussions. 

 

Usually subjects such as general studies can be taken as an additional 4th subject but are not considered when applying to university. 

Am I at a disadvantage for choosing 3 A levels?

In short, absolutely not. Under most circumstances we would recommend focusing your full attention to three subjects. Pace yourself with these, work hard and score as highly as possible - don't jeopardize your success by spreading yourself too thinly across 4 or more subjects. 

Are there any compulsory subjects?

There are no compulsory subjects required at A level and hence they allow students to really specialize and focus on their passions and interests. At Feynman Education we advise choosing your subjects to complement one another and allow you to demonstrate a variety of skills. 

What grades do I need to study A levels?

Each school or college will have its own specific set of requirements for students to go on to study A levels. These will also not necessarily be one blanket grade that applies to all subjects, for example often the requirement to study mathematics is higher than the requirement to pursue a humanity. 

 

Generally, there is an expectation that students will have achieved either a B grade or level 6/7 in the subjects they are looking to take for their A levels by the end of Year 11, at GCSE or equivalent. 

 

There may also be further requirements you need to consider when selecting your options. For example, when considering physics there will most likely be a minimum mathematics grade you will need to have achieved, the same could be said for an English Language score when considering History etc. In these cases, please feel free to contact our consultants who can advise you further. 

How are A levels examined?

The A level exams are to be sat at the end of the two year course. Exams are carefully formulated to assess your full understanding of the entire A level course and hence each subject is usually examined across two or three papers.

A levels are moderated externally requiring all students to complete a number of examinations that are scheduled by the exam boards for specific times and dates. The examination period is May to June. 

There is no option for your exams to be rescheduled to another day. If they are missed for any reason the student will need to apply to sit them during another examination period, usually November or the following January. 

All A level results are released late in August after they have been marked and verified externally by the appropriate exam board. Certain A level subjects will have a coursework or practical requirement which will be completed, assessed and submitted in the months prior to the summer examination period. These often contribute to a small proportion of your overall grade, usually no more than 20%. 

Who is most suited to taking A levels?

A levels provide the student with an in-depth understanding of a variety of topics within the subjects they choose. They are a perfect qualification for students to undertake if they have a clear path and excel academically in particular areas. Each subject is studied thoroughly and will allow the student to progress with extensive understanding. Furthermore, many subjects are designed to help enhance a student’s problem solving, critical thinking and analytical skills as well as expose them to the applications of each subject in a formal capacity.

What is the A level grading system?

A levels are graded via an A* to F grading system where anything above a D grade is considered as a Pass.