Understanding A Levels

Changes to A Levels

The structure, content and means of assessment used at A Level is being reformed. Changes are being introduced gradually over a period of three years for different subjects. It is important that you read the information about the individual courses.

What can I choose to study?

In light of these changes, we have decided to offer students the opportunity to study three full A Levels from the outset (an option to study four is available. Please see Entry Criteria for information).

In adopting this model our aim is to ensure that subjects continue to offer academic challenge and rigour and are taught at the right pace and depth from the outset. An additional benefit is that students have real time to think, experiment, develop opinions and, occasionally, make mistakes without the immediate prospect of this being in an exam at the end of Year 12.

How do I choose?

There is lots to consider in making your choice:

  • What topic areas will I cover? Do these interest me?
  • Do I know what my exam(s) will involve? Is it one exam or three? Will I have to learn quotes? Will I need to learn case studies?
  • Am I likely to achieve the grades that I need for the subject?
  • Do I want to go to university and do I have a specific university in mind? Is there a particular course I’m interested in? What A Levels might I need for my degree choice?

Can I change to a different subject once the course starts?

Once you know your results in August and you sign up to your respective courses you are committed to these three (or in some cases four) subjects. From your first lesson in Year 12 you will begin to develop knowledge, understanding and insight into the topics being covered, as well as embarking upon wider, independent study. If you feel that you have made a wrong choice you must let the Head of Sixth Form know before the end of the second week. Changes beyond this point will not be possible.

What are Facilitating Subjects?

Many courses at university build on knowledge and skills that you gain at school and for this reason some university courses require you to have studied a particular subject or subjects. Facilitating subjects are those that are more frequently identified by universities as being required for entry than others. Facilitating subjects are:

  • Maths and Further Maths
  • English Literature
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Geography
  • History
  • Languages (Classical or Modern)

Our advice is to be clear about your potential destinations. This might lead to an opening or narrowing of subject choice, either of which can be beneficial.