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A-Levels 101 – An A level guide


Following on from last weeks article, here is our A Level guide, all you needed to know, but were afraid to ask!

What are A-Levels?

A-levels, formally known as GCE Advanced Level, are qualifications offered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They represent the highest qualifications normally offered in Secondary Education.

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 A-levels. We try to extend education to as many individuals as possible. Students are usually aged 16-18, but many of our students are older and there is no age limit for sitting A-Levels.

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. A2’s 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.

How many 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.

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 300 points from 3 A-Levels.

How many points are A-Levels worth?

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


UCAS Points














AS levels independently are worth half of a full A-Level. For example, an A grade at AS is 60 UCAS


Are your a-levels the same as those taken in schools?

Yes, our 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.

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.

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.

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 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.


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Important notice: A-Levels are currently being overhauled and developed but the Dept. of Education, so the information in this article will be subject to change. The information presented is correct at time of publication. Please call us for the latest information.