What is A-level?
A-levels are the traditional qualifications that are offered by schools and colleges for students aged between 16 and 19.
Short for Advanced Level, A-levels come after GCSEs. There are more than 40 different A-level subjects on offer – some will be subjects that you studied at GCSE and others may be new.
Where can I study A-level subjects?
A-levels are highly valued by employers and universities so they can open up lots of doors to further study and careers.
You can study A-levels at school, sixth form or college. You don’t need to stay at the school where you did your GCSEs.
Most people study A-levels full-time but you can also study them part-time at some colleges.
What is the difference between an AS and A2?
AS levels are basically half an A-level – they give a broad understanding of a subject but not in as much detail.
Until recently, they counted towards a full A-level. So you’d get the AS level at the end of Year 12 and the A2 (the full A-level) at the end of Year 13.
But this has now changed.
From 2015 (2016/2017 for some subjects), AS levels are standalone courses, taken alongside – rather than as part of – A-levels.
This means that they won’t form part of an overall A-level grade. So you’ll only take your AS exams at the end of your first year and you’ll need to take all the exams for your A-levels at the end of the two-year course.
Which careers require A-levels?
Some careers require you to have a degree, and you need to have certain A-levels to get a place on that degree.
Which? has put together a handy guide showing what A-levels you need for the degree you want to study. Some common ones are:
- Veterinary science – biology and one or two subjects from chemistry, maths or physics.
- Medicine – chemistry, biology and either maths or physics.
- English – English literature.
- Computer science – maths.
- Dentistry – chemistry, biology and either maths or physics.
If you have a certain degree or career in mind, it’s really important that you have a look at the entry requirements to those courses when choosing your A-level subjects so you don’t find yourself in a dilemma when applying.
If you have no idea what you want to do next, then you’re better off choosing a more general subject – read the next section to find out why.