After having completed Grade 11 with the IGCSE exams, many students take AS and A-level qualifications in Years 12 and 13.
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.
AS levels can be taken as a stand-alone qualification, or as the first part of an A level course. AS levels are completed at the end of Year 12. A2 exams and coursework are added on to an AS level at the end of Year 13, bringing it up to A level standard.
The student can continue with subjects taken in Years 10 and 11 and/or take new ones.
Most students studying for A-levels take four AS levels in their first year. This means they can keep their options open about which subjects to study as a full A level. AS levels involve 180 guided learning hours. They are equivalent to just under half an A-level and generally take a year to complete.
A-levels involve 360 guided learning hours and generally take two years to complete if studied full-time alongside other courses. Guided learning hours are the number of hours of supervised or directed study time the student needs to do their A/AS level qualification.
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 IGCSE, 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've a 'feel' or passion for - you know their interests and their strengths.
Cambridge International AS and A Level develop learners’ knowledge, understanding and skills in:
- In-depth subject content;
- Independent thinking;
- Applying knowledge and understanding to new as well as familiar situations;
- Handling and evaluating different types of information source;
- Thinking logically and presenting ordered and coherent arguments;
- Making judgements, recommendations and decisions;
- Presenting reasoned explanations, understanding implications and communicating them logically and clearly;
- Working and communicating in English.
Learners use Cambridge International AS and A Levels to gain places at leading universities worldwide including the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Singapore, Egypt, Jordan, South Africa, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.
The Lisbon Convention (an international agreement signed by 50 countries and international organisations, including the European Union, USA, Australia, Canada, Israel and New Zealand) facilitates the recognition of foreign studies among the signatory countries.
Unless a substantial difference is observed, a qualification issued by one of the signatory parties is recognised by the others. In terms of access to higher education studies, the Lisbon Convention guarantees that holders of an upper secondary school or high school qualification that grants access to tertiary education in their home countries will also meet the general requirements to apply for higher education in the rest of the signatory countries, meaning, in countries where Grade 12 is the final year of secondary education the AS level will be accepted as a University entry.
Research has been carried out to explore whether Cambridge International AS and A Levels predict readiness for and continued academic success at US universities. Findings from a number of research studies suggest that the Cambridge programme compares favourably with other programmes, including the International Baccalaureate (IB).
Jessy Sevi George Head of KS5