Students call for A-level change

Demands for an end to resit culture

The current A-level structure is in immediate need of change, according to the results of a survey carried out by The Student Room.

The research found 83% of respondents believe all current A-level examinations should be reviewed by 2018. Students do not believe existing proposals set out by OFQUAL give all the answers.

Evolution, not revolution, is called for. Most people (59%) agree with the core format of the A-level exam, and 79% of students disagree with the idea of returning to a two-year linear course with exams at the end of year two.

But there was criticism for the 'resit culture' engendered by the current A-level system and the lack of input for universities in the current qualification.

The overall A-level grade is currently weighted equally, with 50% coming from AS and 50% from A2. This means that students can resit AS modules during their second year in order to get a higher grade overall.

At the moment it is possible to achieve AAA at A-level overall with only Cs and Bs at in the A2 modules if a candidate focuses on resitting the 'easy' AS ones.

Students commenting on this resit system said this was unfair, particularly because more affluent students are more easily able to afford the high costs of resitting exams.

It was also suggested that there should be an option to resit, but it should be limited to only one resit per subject and this should have to be declared on the UCAS form regardless of the candidate’s school or nationality.

One student commented: "People should not have the opportunity to resit their AS level exams, as many do not take them seriously knowing they can resit and still finish with a good grade at A2."

In looking at A-level reform, 77% of those surveyed said universities should be at the centre of the process and be able to engage with exam boards to determine what should be taught and assessed in each subject.

Different methods of assessment were also called for, with 76% agreeing that a minimum of 60% external assessment (rather than coursework that is assessed internally) is the correct proportion for most subjects.