A levels in the UK

What are A levels?

A levels are also known as the Advanced Level General Certificate of Education. They have been the primary qualifications of further education in the UK for over half a century. They serve as a distinguishing factor for universities choosing students and are widely recognised across the world.

Most students will study A levels for two consecutive years. In some subjects there is the possibility of taking AS examinations in the first year but these no longer contribute to the final A levels. The important examinations are those that take place at the end of the second year. At Ashbourne, students have a variety of options: they can choose to do their A levels in a single academic year, or in an 18-month course, or they can choose to go to Ashbourne to re-sit A levels studied previously at another school. However, most of the students at Ashbourne maintain the traditional two-year course.


Why A levels?

The study of A Levels is entirely different to the study of GCSEs, to which many students will have previously been accustomed. A levels focus on a more concentrated study of fewer subjects (usually 3 or 4) as opposed to the broader, more basic GCSE curriculum. Therefore, the A level appeals to students who already know the areas in which they are most interested. Some schools choose to teach the International Baccalaureate (IB) instead of, or alongside, A levels but Ashbourne does not offer the IB. There are many benefits to both A levels and the IB: A levels give students greater choice and opportunity for in-depth study, whilst the IB allows students to pursue a broader, less specialised curriculum.

Students at Ashbourne are generally passionately engaged with the subjects that they study at A level. Ashbourne offers a wider range of A levels than most schools, giving students the chance to pursue their own individual interests. The teaching adopts a seminar-based approach, with small classes and excellent results, providing the perfect springboard for university.