A Level reform

Ofqual get the facts:


  1. 1.Introduction
  2. 2.What new AS and A levels will look like
  3. 3.Timetable

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1. Introduction

New AS and A levels will be taught in schools in England from September 2015. The first results for the new AS levels will be in 2016, and for the A levels in 2017. Further subjects will be introduced over the following two years.

2. What new AS and A levels will look like

The main features of the new qualifications are:

  1. Assessment will be mainly by exam, with other types of assessment used only where they are needed to test essential skills.
  2. AS and A levels will be assessed at the end of the course. AS assessments will typically take place after 1 year’s study and A levels after 2. The courses will no longer be divided into modules and there will be no exams in January.
  3. AS and A levels will be decoupled – this means that AS results will no longer count towards an A level, in the way they do now.
  4. AS levels can be designed by exam boards to be taught alongside the first year of A levels.
  5. The content for the new A levels has been reviewed and updated. Universities played a greater role in this for the new qualifications than they did previously.

3. Timetable

New AS and A level to be taught from: First AS results will be issued in: First A level results will be issued in: Subjects
September 2015 Summer 2016 Summer 2017 art and design
computer science
English language
English language and literature
English literature
September 2016 Summer 2017 Summer 2018 ancient languages (classical Greek, Latin)
drama and theatre
modern foreign languages (French, German, Spanish)
physical education
religious studies
September 2017 Summer 2018 Summer 2019 accounting
ancient history
classical civilisation
design and technology
environmental science
film studies
further mathematics
government and politics
history of art (A level only) [footnote 1]
mathematics [footnote 2]
media studies
modern foreign languages (Chinese, Italian, Russian)
music technology
September 2018 n/a [footnote 1] Summer 2020 ancient languages
modern foreign languages (Arabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Greek, Japanese, modern Hebrew, Panjabi, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Turkish, Urdu)

UK government AS & A Level changes

The UK government has made changes to UK AS & A Levels taught from 2015, moving them from a modular structure to a linear structure with exams at the end of the course. 

Are A levels linear?

A level are no longer modular and are now “linear”. This means in your second year of study you have to sit all your exams again as your AS results will not carry over



Facts about A levels: recent changes, subjects and grades, who they are for and what you can do afterwards.

Advanced level qualifications (known as A levels) are subject-based qualifications that can lead to university, further study, training, or work. You can normally study three or more A levels over two years. They’re usually assessed by a series of examinations. 

What grades do I need to take A levels?

You normally need:

  • at least five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4/A* to C
  • at least grade 6 in the specific subject(s) you want to study

However, the specific requirements needed to study A levels will vary across schools and colleges. It’s important to check what you will need with the school or college you are looking to study at.  

Who are they for?

  • If you’re thinking about going to university, most higher education courses require specific A levels or combinations of A levels (or alternative level 3 qualifications).
  • If you’re not sure what career or job you want to do, studying a selection of A levels can be a good way of keeping your options open.

Choosing A level subjects

The most important criteria for choosing A levels subjects are:

  1. Looking at what you are likely to enjoy and be good at. If you enjoy a subject or have an ability in it already, you are more likely to do well.
  2. Are there any particular subjects and/or grades you may need? If you have a particular career, job, or further study in mind, you may need to choose specific A levels in order to meet entry requirements.
  3. How open you want to keep your future study and career choices?

What you can do after A levels

Many people ask ‘What can I do with my A levels?’, here are some answers:

  • Here is a great place to start looking at all the options open to you.
  • Continue on to university – A levels are the most common qualifications studied to get into higher education.
  • Keep your options open if you’re unsure about what you want to do in the future.
  • Look for employment – they’re valued by employers because they show a good level of education.
  • Go on to vocational or work-based qualifications, such as a higher apprenticeship.