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 Post subject: Number of A Levels
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:23 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:54 am
Posts: 1006
At dd's school, students generally do 4 A levels. Bearing in mind that universities only want 3 grades, is there any real benefit in doing 4? I know it means a wider range of study but dd would really rather do 3.

What do other schools do?


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 Post subject: Re: Number of A Levels
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:42 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:05 pm
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Location: Reading
DDs school offer the choice of either doing 3 or 4. They can choose to drop one at the end of year 12 (and can do an AS in it too). They can then do an EPQ if they wish. I have no idea what ratio start with 3 to 4 but DD thinks most are starting with 4.


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 Post subject: Re: Number of A Levels
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:44 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:54 am
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I'm confused about the AS - I've heard that they do still exist but only for some subjects, and have also heard that they don't exist at all any more! And even if you sit them, they don't count towards university application, is that right?


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 Post subject: Re: Number of A Levels
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:58 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
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AS levels used to be part of the final grade for A level; this is now ended with the new linear specifications.

AS levels still exist but they are stand alone qualifications; the marks are not carried forward to the A level. If taken the grade MUST be quoted on a UCAS applications.


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 Post subject: Re: Number of A Levels
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:21 pm 
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At my dh's comprehensive (and those of several other friends' children) they still do 4 and still do AS levels. Some of the reasoning I think is that quite a number of children then drop to 2 A levels in year 13 but still have the points from their AS levels when they apply to univerisities. I think it can be a short sighted approach because they have to put their AS levels on their applications and 4 is a lot to do well in. One of my friend's daughter is really struggling already with 4 (year 12) but they won't let her drop one (the school, not the parents) - her average GCSE grade was just less than a 5 and I think it's crazy to push her to do 4 personally.
At my dc's school they advise 3 (unless doing Further Maths). If students want to do 4 then they can discuss it with someone (head of 6th form?) but I think they have to have a very good reason to do so.


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 Post subject: Re: Number of A Levels
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:21 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:50 pm
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The norm at my son's school is 3. You need higher entry requirements to do 4. There are two classes of Further Maths students as well as some boys doing 4 without further maths, but the norm is 3. Many of the boys with the points to study 4 still chose to do 3. I think it is the same at my daughters' school as well although I haven't been through the process yet.


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 Post subject: Re: Number of A Levels
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:01 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:44 am
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Location: Reading
DD’s school do 3 - only option for a 4th is further maths on top of Maths A. For those that want more variety they also offer IB.
Unis only look at the best 3 and make no allowance for the extra work taken on to do 4.
We were at an open day yesterday that still had an AS requirement if the full A wasn’t being done but they acknowledged that this basically meant you had to do the A now since AS were dying out.
My friend has a son at a popular local comp and she was told by school that AS didn’t exist any more- they make the kids start 4 and drop one if necessary. Her boy was not a 4 A level candidate and it seemed really unfair to force him to study extra for a full term till he could drop one.
IMHO 3 is plenty and it was part of the decision to change school for 6th form for DD. She would have done 4 if she had stayed where she was and still wistfully comments on missing Physics sometimes (even though she knows she doesn’t need it)


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 Post subject: Re: Number of A Levels
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:24 am 
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Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 12:04 pm
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Reading Mum wrote:
My friend has a son at a popular local comp and she was told by school that AS didn’t exist any more- they make the kids start 4 and drop one if necessary. Her boy was not a 4 A level candidate and it seemed really unfair to force him to study extra for a full term till he could drop one.


The thinking behind having a 4th A level might be that some students might still hesitate between courses at university and it is better for them to keep their options open for a little more time.
The problem when students are not allowed to study 4 A levels at the beginning of year 12 is when students choose badly their 3 options and are really weak in one subject … but they cannot drop it. :( They often do no put in the work required to catch up.

I have currently a similar problem with a student at university who is definitely not at the right place in the level of French corresponding to his past studies in this language. And he has started the year by already not doing his homework! :shock:


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 Post subject: Re: Number of A Levels
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:33 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:54 am
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Interesting, thank you. I do wonder about the workload with 4. My oldest dd is in Year 13 and doing 3 As (plus a BTEC). She's finding her subjects very intense and a lot of work. Even without the BTEC I don't think she would have coped with 4.


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 Post subject: Re: Number of A Levels
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:52 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
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This is why I really don't agree with the move back to linear. It was much better for students when subject were modular and it made workloads more manageable.


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