Results are out! Find what you need...fast. Get quick advice or join the chat
Hey! Sign in to get help with your study questionsNew here? Join for free to post

Why Advanced Highers are harder than A-levels

Announcements Posted on
Applying to Uni? Let Universities come to you. Click here to get your perfect place 20-10-2014
  • View Poll Results: What's harder?
    A-level (I expect this to win once the A-levelers vote in their swarms)
    32
    16.41%
    Advanced Higher
    163
    83.59%

    • 3 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    As mentioned above, a big hurdle in advanced highers is getting the support to sit them. At a school like mine back when I sat them, they were an optional extra that many departments chose not to teach, or at best ran a course if they had sufficient demand. Unlike A-Levels where anyone serious about university takes them, a student with good higher grades will usually not have anything riding on it- they'll be into university already in most cases. It really screws up the motivation if you know that not getting AAA (or not getting anything) means nothing to your future career plans.

    170,000 people sat highers last year, just 20,000 sat advanced highers. Not really surprising to find then that over 95% of Scottish School leavers stay in Scotland when they go to university, is it? I'm always slightly wary of the stat that 10% of people get AAA at A-Level. It's actually more accurate to say 10% of those who sat three or more A-Levels get AAA or better. Some sit four or five and get AAAB or whatever, some only sit two, some leave school before they get to A-Levels. As a percentage of the school going population, its only around 3% of those who start aged five who will end school with straight As having sat 3 A-Levels or more.
    • 4 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by pamelaa)
    My school did Access/Int 1/Int 2 instead of standard grade...
    Ah, my school was starting to do this too, I think the people in the year below had this option with subjects like Information Systems, Media Studies etc. Not sure what the situation is now, may ask my younger sister who's just sat her highers. I think they were trying to get rid of standard grades gradually but wanted to see if it worked first.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I have never done any English qualifications, so I'm probably not well placed to comment, but anyway

    I think the fact that A-levels are comprised of modules, and that it is possible to resit exam/modules/whatever (I'm not familiar with the system) suggests that Advanced Highers quite possibly are more difficult. Also, there are limited resources for Advanced Highers, whereas there are a plethora of A-level study materials available
    • 4 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by 0404343m)
    As mentioned above, a big hurdle in advanced highers is getting the support to sit them. At a school like mine back when I sat them, they were an optional extra that many departments chose not to teach, or at best ran a course if they had sufficient demand. Unlike A-Levels where anyone serious about university takes them, a student with good higher grades will usually not have anything riding on it- they'll be into university already in most cases. It really screws up the motivation if you know that not getting AAA (or not getting anything) means nothing to your future career plans.

    170,000 people sat highers last year, just 20,000 sat advanced highers. Not really surprising to find then that over 95% of Scottish School leavers stay in Scotland when they go to university, is it? I'm always slightly wary of the stat that 10% of people get AAA at A-Level. It's actually more accurate to say 10% of those who sat three or more A-Levels get AAA or better. Some sit four or five and get AAAB or whatever, some only sit two, some leave school before they get to A-Levels. As a percentage of the school going population, its only around 3% of those who start aged five who will end school with straight As having sat 3 A-Levels or more.
    Got it in one. I already had my unconditional offer for my first choice when I did my advanced highers. Also, not many people actually do 3 advanced highers as far as Im aware. I did Maths Biology and Chemistry but was the only one in my year who took 3. Most took at the most 2 and then either a higher and an int2 or a few int2s or whatever.

    I also didnt have much support and with the 3 subjects i was doing had 8 different teachers who werent really sure of what parts of the course they were teaching. I pretty much gave up on my advanced highers - well, I sorted out my science projects and tried to get my head around advanced maths, but ended up with CDD, which is pretty much equivalent as far as UCAS points are concerned to highers at level ABB
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    A levels get bloody resits
    • Thread Starter
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by munn)
    personally i think that's more to do with the fact that a lot of the people who are smart enough to get AAA at Adv Higher already have an unconditional to uni and decide yo what's the point.
    I know this was the case for myself and many others at school anyway, I was on course for AAA until i got an unconditional then pretty much stopped going to school. If I'd needed the grades I would have probably done it though, as would many of my friends
    I disagree. I got an unconditional in February for the uni I'm going to and still stuck in at school, many people got offers well before then, but there was minimal change in the attainment of the people in my classes from the start of the year when no-one had offers to the end of the year.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I went to a Scottish school that offers both highers/adv highers and A-levels. In terms of content and difficulty

    Standard grade = GCSE
    Higher = AS level
    Advanced higher/CSYS = A level

    The AS/A2 modular system does make it easier to get top grades just because you can repeat modules any number of times.
    • 2 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Having had a look at A level papers, and taken into account the fact you can resit modules, and the lack of support for Advanced Highers, I think someone would have to be crazy to say A levels were harder...
    • 3 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by JCM89)
    I went to a Scottish school that offers both highers/adv highers and A-levels. In terms of content and difficulty

    Standard grade = GCSE
    Higher = AS level
    Advanced higher/CSYS = A level

    The AS/A2 modular system does make it easier to get top grades just because you can repeat modules any number of times.
    Possibly true for some, but in maths, A level maths content is significantly less than AH.
    I think AH maths is approximately A level maths + AS fm.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by PeterR)
    I disagree. I got an unconditional in February for the uni I'm going to and still stuck in at school, many people got offers well before then, but there was minimal change in the attainment of the people in my classes from the start of the year when no-one had offers to the end of the year.
    This. I had an unconditional at the end of fifth year but wanted to do some advanced highers (maths, physics and chemistry). I got 3 As so if anything I improved from my performance in fifth year. AAABC at Higher and AAA at advanced higher.

    If anything, those who should have been motivated did worse than those who weren't.
    • 3 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by R. Murray)
    This. I had an unconditional at the end of fifth year but wanted to do some advanced highers (maths, physics and chemistry). I got 3 As so if anything I improved from my performance in fifth year. AAABC at Higher and AAA at advanced higher.

    If anything, those who should have been motivated did worse than those who weren't.
    I'm going back six years now, but at my school (and I don't know how it'd measure up to the schools you went to) it was completely the reverse. Advanced highers only ran in six subjects, and of the two I did, class sizes dropped from around a dozen to about 7 or 8 after the offers came back, and typically a few of us dropped the work level. I stopped going to English altogether, and basically the only reason I went to Chemistry was because it was a good laugh- the wannabe medics/dentists worked away, but for the other four that stuck it, it was a bit of a carry-on, and I gather this was typical of the rest of the classes for most years, certainly mines, my sisters and my friends. In the end, of the 13 that started AH Chem, 8 finished, 5 passed it and I got a C. Those of us who would never have to use it again quickly found the prospect of lab write ups and NAB revision at a weekend when there was a party or the pub was far from appealing.
    • 2 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by 0404343m)
    I'm going back six years now, but at my school (and I don't know how it'd measure up to the schools you went to) it was completely the reverse. Advanced highers only ran in six subjects, and of the two I did, class sizes dropped from around a dozen to about 7 or 8 after the offers came back, and typically a few of us dropped the work level. I stopped going to English altogether, and basically the only reason I went to Chemistry was because it was a good laugh- the wannabe medics/dentists worked away, but for the other four that stuck it, it was a bit of a carry-on, and I gather this was typical of the rest of the classes for most years, certainly mines, my sisters and my friends. In the end, of the 13 that started AH Chem, 8 finished, 5 passed it and I got a C. Those of us who would never have to use it again quickly found the prospect of lab write ups and NAB revision at a weekend when there was a party or the pub was far from appealing.
    As far as i'm aware, this is generally the case for most schools still.
    • Thread Starter
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by 0404343m)
    I'm going back six years now, but at my school (and I don't know how it'd measure up to the schools you went to) it was completely the reverse. Advanced highers only ran in six subjects, and of the two I did, class sizes dropped from around a dozen to about 7 or 8 after the offers came back, and typically a few of us dropped the work level. I stopped going to English altogether, and basically the only reason I went to Chemistry was because it was a good laugh- the wannabe medics/dentists worked away, but for the other four that stuck it, it was a bit of a carry-on, and I gather this was typical of the rest of the classes for most years, certainly mines, my sisters and my friends. In the end, of the 13 that started AH Chem, 8 finished, 5 passed it and I got a C. Those of us who would never have to use it again quickly found the prospect of lab write ups and NAB revision at a weekend when there was a party or the pub was far from appealing.
    Agree with Meteorshower, most schools only do six or seven advanced highers, if that. And half of the advanced highers like music, drama and modern studies are reserved for the teachers favourite pupils.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I think at my school there were offered:

    Maths - part of a higher class, received around 2 hours of poor quality teaching a week (guideline is supposedly 7 for adv. higher)
    English - 5 pupils AAAAB at higher English class got BCCCD at Advanced Higher, despite many working hard
    French - 3 pupils class got AAC (I think)
    Biology - full class size and teaching time, I think there were at least 4 A's
    Chemistry - Many members of class got A's at higher, at adv. higher top mark was a C and majority of class failed
    Music - 1 student, got a B
    Physics - I think people worked relatively hard, however despite this most dropped a grade from Higher
    History - class of 5, teacher was the rector and as a result had many responsibilities that often precluded him from being in class, class results were ABCCF

    As you can see, I really do not think that the level of teaching at Adv. higher is in any way comparable to A-Level or Higher. Out of my 3 subjects 2 were largely self-taught. Even in classes where teaching and effort was available, student still dropped grades from higher due to difficulty of course.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I know this is a bit late

    I think Adv. Highers are more difficult because they tend to mirror 1st year at Univeristy.

    I am currently sitting 2 Advanced Highers (French and German) and they are really difficult. I got AA at Higher for them but at present I am sitting on a BD . Teaching is definitly a big problem. I get just 4hours of French a week and just 3hours of German, which also means I get dumped with huge amounts of course work and folio work but one point my teachers make is "At UNI you're expected to work more independently and this is preparing you for that" etc :rolleyes: .

    It would be interesting if you could sit A-levels and Adv. Highers at the same time, like Adv. Higher French but A-level German and see what is easier. I know if I received a unconditional from Glasgow or Edinburgh, German would be out the window, but I would still try with French because I want a career based around it...so it would be beneficial .
    • 2 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Allan17)
    I know this is a bit late

    I think Adv. Highers are more difficult because they tend to mirror 1st year at Univeristy.

    I am currently sitting 2 Advanced Highers (French and German) and they are really difficult. I got AA at Higher for them but at present I am sitting on a BD . Teaching is definitly a big problem. I get just 4hours of French a week and just 3hours of German, which also means I get dumped with huge amounts of course work and folio work but one point my teachers make is "At UNI you're expected to work more independently and this is preparing you for that" etc :rolleyes: .

    It would be interesting if you could sit A-levels and Adv. Highers at the same time, like Adv. Higher French but A-level German and see what is easier. I know if I received a unconditional from Glasgow or Edinburgh, German would be out the window, but I would still try with French because I want a career based around it...so it would be beneficial .
    Advanced highers are meant to reflect the difficulty of first year of a Scottish uni, where degrees take 4 years. They take only 3 years in england so it doesn't for them. A levels are supposed to be indicative of first year of scottish uni too.

    But yeah AH's are generally harder :p:
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    A-Levels are equivalent to Scottish Highers (maybe slightly harder). There is no English equivalent to Advanced Higher.
    • 3 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by tb240904)
    A-Levels are equivalent to Scottish Highers (maybe slightly harder). There is no English equivalent to Advanced Higher.
    Pretty much disagree, and you just resurrected a thread which had a last post at the beginning of January...
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Slumpy)
    Pretty much disagree, and you just resurrected a thread which had a last post at the beginning of January...
    Sorry, saw this post in a google search result, didn't see the dates. And, according to my AH Computing teacher, GCSE = Intermediate 1 & 2 and A-Level = Higher. Advanced Higher is above all English secondary school qualifications and require far more effort and work. For my computing project, I had to write a 500 word project proposal, plus I will have to spend at least 30 hours programming, 10 hours testing my program and I'll have to write a report/evaluation which is about 1000 words long. That's more work than some universities require. The whole thing is only worth 80 marks with the exam+coursework out of 200.

    It also requires a lot of learning for not many marks. I had to learn hexadecimal and my teacher spent 2 hours teaching me it. I've looked through past papers sing 2005 and have found a single 1 mark question on it. Intermediate 2 Engineering gives 4 marks for hexadecimal and isn't even a computing subject.
    • 3 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by tb240904)
    Sorry, saw this post in a google search result, didn't see the dates. And, according to my AH Computing teacher, GCSE = Intermediate 1 & 2 and A-Level = Higher. Advanced Higher is above all English secondary school qualifications and require far more effort and work. For my computing project, I had to write a 500 word project proposal, plus I will have to spend at least 30 hours programming, 10 hours testing my program and I'll have to write a report/evaluation which is about 1000 words long. That's more work than some universities require. The whole thing is only worth 80 marks with the exam+coursework out of 200.

    It also requires a lot of learning for not many marks. I had to learn hexadecimal and my teacher spent 2 hours teaching me it. I've looked through past papers sing 2005 and have found a single 1 mark question on it. Intermediate 2 Engineering gives 4 marks for hexadecimal and isn't even a computing subject.
    Approximately, GCSE~SG, Higher~AS, AH~A level. Advanced highers are a bit harder than A levels, but the difference is not all that significant, I suspect it's exaggerated due to the generally less standard teaching of advanced highers across the country compared to a levels(or highers). I also find it difficult believe any university course worth more than a fraction of a year requires less than 40 hours and 1000 words, that sounds potentially less than a weeks work.

    In case this bit was a point about AHs, I have done them, I did 4, and I have a fair experience of people who've done A levels, and stand by what I said.

Reply

Submit reply

Register

Thanks for posting! You just need to create an account in order to submit the post
  1. this can't be left blank
    that username has been taken, please choose another Forgotten your password?
  2. this can't be left blank
    this email is already registered. Forgotten your password?
  3. this can't be left blank

    6 characters or longer with both numbers and letters is safer

  4. this can't be left empty
    your full birthday is required
  1. By joining you agree to our Ts and Cs, privacy policy and site rules

  2. Slide to join now Processing…

Updated: February 28, 2012
New on TSR

Personal statement help

Use our clever tool to create a PS you're proud of.

Article updates
Reputation gems:
You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.