A-Levels 101 – An A-Level Guide for Students


Navigating A-Levels can be a tricky time for students, so we’ve put together an in-depth A-Levels guide to answer common questions and help you prepare yourself.

What are A-Levels?

A-Levels, formally known as GCE Advanced Level, are educational qualifications offered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They represent the highest qualifications normally offered in Secondary Education and cover a wide range of subjects

Who sits A-Levels?

A-Levels are normally sat after you have obtained (i)GCSE qualifications, though Oxford College doesn’t require you to have obtained GCSEs. We try to extend education to as many individuals as possible.

Is there an age limit for A-Levels?

There is no age limit for sitting A-Levels in the UK. Students are usually aged 16-18, but many of our students are older. You can choose to complete A-Levels at any time in your life if you missed out while you were at school or college and want to gain valuable skills and knowledge later on.

There is actually no minimum age for taking A-Levels either, some particularly gifted students have taken A-Level courses earlier in secondary school or even younger than that. Many colleges and sixth forms will require you to have completed your GCSEs before starting A-Levels, but if you’re doing A-Levels independently there is no limit on age.

How do they work?

The overall A-level consists of 2 qualifications. These are the AS and the A2 portions. The AS portion consists of 50% of the overall qualification and is a stand-alone award. The A2 portion consists of the remaining 50% of the qualification and is a more challenging level of learning. A2s can only be sat if the AS portion has been completed. Once both are completed, the overall A-Level award is awarded.

How long are A-Levels?

A-levels are 2 years in total, one for AS, one for A2. Advanced students, or students who are in a hurry, may elect to enrol on our Fast Track A-Levels. These are designed to be completed in one year. Fast Track A-Levels are eligible for UCAS points for entry into university and your grade determines how many points you earn.

How many A-Levels should I take?

Most students start by taking 4 AS levels, dropping one to finish with 3 A-Levels. At Oxford College, we recommend that you take 3 A-Levels. Most Universities will ask for a set number of UCAS points from a certain number of courses. It’s a good idea to check how many UCAS points you need if you have an idea of the universities you want to apply to when starting your A-Levels.

A-Levels 101 Guide for Students

What are UCAS points?

UCAS points are what most universities use to determine entry onto their courses. Most of the time, you will be expected to match a required number of points from a set number of courses. For example, you might be expected to have a minimum of 112 points from 3 A-Levels.

Many qualifications have a UCAS Tariff value, meaning a number of points, which varies depending on the qualification size and the grade you achieve.

How many UCAS points are A-Levels worth?

This depends on your grades. The table below explains how many points each grade is eligible for.

GradeUCAS Points


AS levels independently are worth half of a full A-Level. For example, an A grade at AS is 24 UCAS points.

Are Oxford College A-Levels the same as those taken in schools?

Yes, Oxford College A-Levels are the same qualification as those taken in schools. The A-levels are awarded by national bodies such as Edexcel, AQA or OCR and as such are the same as those awarded to all state and private schools.

We offer A-Level courses in a variety of different subjects, check out some of the options below:

We offer a wide variety of AS and A-Level courses that students can complete online through distance learning in their own time.

Are distance learning A-Levels considered less important or valuable, when compared to standard A-levels?

No, the qualification is identical to those achieved in standard education. In fact, some universities consider distance learning courses more highly, as it shows you are a determined individual. Completing A-Levels in your own time through distance learning requires discipline and motivation which are important skills when taking a university degree course.

Where do A-Levels take me?

A-Levels are independent qualifications and are used by employers to determine your level of education and suitability for the role. They are also used to apply to University, which we’ll cover in a future Guide.

When starting your A-Level courses, it’s a good idea to think about what you might want to do as a job after completing them. This way you can choose subjects that are relevant to your future career goals to give you a better chance of landing the job you want.

What A-levels are right for me?

This is a very personal question. You need to work out what you aim to achieve with your a-levels. If you want to apply to university, you should investigate what courses are required for the subjects you want to study. Next, you might want to see how the course is marked – some courses are partially marked by coursework. Some students find coursework more suitable to their working style, while others prefer to be marked purely by examination.

Did you like this article? Please share the article and feel free to discuss in the comments section. If you’d like more information about the A-Level courses we offer at Oxford College, contact us today or check out our detailed course lists.