What are AS and A-Levels?

AS and A-Levels are the traditional qualifications offered by schools and colleges for 16-19 year-olds. They’re highly valued by universities and employers and focus on academic subjects, although some are work-related.

Deciding which subjects to take

Most pupils take four subjects in Year 12. After AS level exams they drop one subject and continue the other three through Year 13 to complete A levels.

The subjects your child studies for A/AS level can help shape their future, so their choices are important. They don’t necessarily have to choose between maths/sciences or English/humanities – it’s fine to mix them. However, if they’re already focused on a particular career, this is a chance to start to specialise.

What matters most is choosing subjects your child will really enjoy. A/AS level involves much more in-depth study than GCSE, and to do well your child will need to do extra reading and become absorbed in their subjects. You can help them to work out which subjects they have a ‘feel’ or passion for – if you know their interests and their strengths.

How are A-Levels taught and assessed?


New AS and A-levels started to be taught in schools in England from September 2015. The first results for the new AS levels were in 2016, and for the A-levels in 2017. Further subjects have been introduced over the next two years.

• All new AS and A-Levels will be assessed at the same standard as they are currently

• All new AS and A-Levels will be fully linear

• AS levels will be stand-alone qualifications

• The content of the AS level can be a subset of the A-Level content to allow coteach ability, but marks achieved in the AS will not count towards the A-Level.

AS/A levels are graded A-E. From 2017, A* grades will also be awarded. As well as a grade, your child’s results slip will also show a score on the ‘uniform mark scale’ (UMS). This is a mark out of 300 at AS and out of 600 at A-Level. If your child is not happy with the score, they can’t resit a unit – though this may mean delaying going to university or college.

How will A-Levels help your child in the future?

A-Level results, or their equivalent, are the gateway to most university and college courses. If your child applies to university in Year 13, they’ll usually be given a ‘conditional offer‘. This is an offer of a place as long as they achieve certain A-Level grades.

The most common A-Level subjects are

Pure Maths, Further Maths, Statistics, Mechanics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Economics, Business, Accountancy, ICT, History, Geography, etc.

The students select a combination of 3 or 4 subjects depending on the pathway they are going to select for their degree studies at the University.

How does UPwards Tuition help their A-Level students?

At UPwards tuition, we set high expectations for our A-Level students. Students sometimes find it quite difficult making the transition from assisted learner to independent learner.

We help our A-Level students realise that they have control over their own learning and teach them strategies which include time management, research skills, how to access online study tools and resources that aid in their learning.

Students are taught using a variety of strategies including mind mapping, videos and animations that bring abstract science concepts to life, and perhaps most importantly, frequent exam practice.

We know all too well that much of the poor performance students experience in exams is largely linked to failure to practise exam questions outside of the classroom and prior to exams. Exam language can seem like a completely foreign concept to many students and the way we overcome that hurdle is to allow them to access free resources that help them to get practise with exam questions.

We are not a magic solution for your child’s success but we certainly join hands with you and your child in helping them achieve the best possible outcome.

UPwards Tuition is here to help your child secure those grades!

Contact us today: +44 7950 815993

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