Changing schools at the end of AS

People change schools in the middle of A-levels for a variety of reasons. They may have had to move into a new area with their family or moved away from their family for whatever reason, they may dislike their current school and feel that their education would benefit from being at a different sixth form or they may have decided that they would like to study a slightly different combination of subjects, which is unavailable to them at their previous sixth form.

Whatever the reason, changing schools is possible, and can be a great decision for some, but it really isn't a decision to take lightly. Nevertheless all those from this forum who have done so agree that changing schools has been a great decision for them.

Changing Sixth Forms

Initially you should get in touch with the school/college you wish to transfer to and ask them the best way to make an application to them. Some may wish you to use the same forms as people making an application to lower sixth and some may want you to follow a slightly different procedure.

Although the school/college you wish to move to should check whether you can transfer credit, it would be best to also check this for yourself. The JQA have published a document called 'Arrangements for candidates transferring between specifications or Awarding Bodies midway through GCE or Applied GCE courses' which contains a list of all the exam boards and syllabuses you can acceptably transfer between. If this highlights any possible problems it is important that you raise your concerns with the school/ college you wish to transfer to.

If you are offered a place to study at the school/college you wish to change to and it seems possible to transfer syllabuses successfully, tell your current school that you need AS accreditation for any subjects which you will have to change boards for and it would also be polite to tell them you're leaving too.

Changing exam boards

If you change college/sixth form you will probably have to transfer between exam boards or different syllabuses on the same exam board, as if the exam-boards don't match at the different sixth forms, you will need to change exam-board for those subjects. All this means is that your module points from the certified AS are transferred over to the new exam board, which will not change your total UMS points from the AS in any way whatsoever. For example, you may have done AQA AS Maths, and transferred to Edexcel A2 Maths, but the final A-level you receive will be awarded by Edexcel. It's not a complicated as it sounds, and the new school will do most of it for you, although it may well be necessary to remind them to do so. The deadline for applications is normally toward the end of October.

Note that 'Transferring credit', 'Transferring between exam-boards', 'Transferring between awarding bodies' and 'Transferring between specifications' all mean the same thing really - that is, transferring from one exam-board to another so that you can continue with that subject for A2 at a new school/college.

To apply you will need to fill in a form for each subject, which includes your details and what modules and options, for example set texts in English Literature, you did at AS for that subject. This will be sent to the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), who decide whether or not you may transfer in accordance with their 'Transfer of credit' document which is available to read. If the document says 'transfers are accepted in principle' it is on the provision that when there is a choose of modules for one section of the A2 you will choose to do a module which does not repeat content from your AS year.

If you have done a module or option, which if you were to move courses you would repeat in the second year or if there is significant overlap in the syllabuses the transfer will be refused, but as you should have read the 'Transfer of Credit' document you should have known that this was coming.

It is a common misconception that you cannot do resits if you change exam boards, this is not true. You can do resits but it may marginally delay certification of A2 results (e.g. by a day) and your new sixth form may not be keen on you doing so.

You can resit A2 modules on your new syllabus. Your A-level results certificate will NOT show that a transfer has taken place, it will be as if you have done the whole A-level at your new school/college.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to read 'Arrangements for candidates transferring between specifications or Awarding Bodies midway through GCE or Applied GCE courses' available on the JCQ website, which explains the whole process really well. There is a link to find this document at the bottom of this page.


Your old sixth form will normally be asked for a reference, although this is not always the case, which your new sixth form will add and adapt as they see fit. It may also be possible to personally ask one specific teacher at your old sixth form to do a reference to send to the teacher at your new sixth-form, who will do your reference, if you have an appropriate method of getting in touch with them; this does cut out some of the bureaucracy and means that teachers you may not have been on the best of terms on will not have an input.

This all however can be time consuming, so it's best to get your application in well before the deadline.

It is unlikely that you will be discriminated in the application process for moving sixth forms, other things, such as grades and the reference, are much more important. It is probably best to explain why you moved in your personal statement and give a good reason, and perhaps also explain what you have learnt from this experience (if anything). Remember: You are not quiting you are doing something different, which is better for you.

When to move?

Not everyone will have the choice of when to move, but if you're changing syllabuses, it is best to change straight after the AS exams, as otherwise, you'll miss the first few weeks of a new A2 course.

Will I adapt?

Getting used to a new sixth-form is no problem for most people. You'll find that people do try hard to make friends with you. It is only a year, and you'll find that as long as you make an effort to talk to people and put yourself out there, they'll be very helpful and make friends with you.

It is important that you familiarize yourself with the differences between your old and new syllabuses, for example marking criteria and slight differences in content. Most teachers will be happy to help you with this. But note that the difference between the content and examination methods within syllabuses and the difficulty of syllabuses on different exam boards for the same subject can be vast. For example, AQA are far harder than Edexcel for GCE French and AQA GCE Mathematics is much easier than OCR.

Also See

Read "Arrangements for candidates transferring specifications or Awarding Bodies midway through GCE or Applied GCE courses" available [1]

Why not discuss moving schools in the "Changing schools at the end of AS" thread?

Read the 'Starting Sixth Form' article for help making the move too.[[Category:Further Education]