The AEA in Critical Thinking is based on the same content as the A-level, as is outlined by the QCA guidelines for the AEA. It is administered by OCR, with entry code 9913. It was introduced with the introduction of the full A-level in Critical Thinking in 2005. The AEA consists of a single three-hour paper, divided into three sections, A, B, and C. The latter two sections require the use of the two reading booklets provided in the examination. Section A is composed of multiple choice questions, B of short response questions, and C of a piece of extended writing.
It is of a much higher level compared to A-level, and may even contain misleading sources that are to be identified. Section A's multiple choice has 5 options per question, compared to the A-level's 4 options, making a random guess less likely to be correct. The AEA is actually open to any GCE A-level student, not just those with Critical Thinking at A-level or even AS; as Roy van den Brink-Budgen, author of several Critical Thinking books, has said  "the AEA has always occupied a difficult position".
As with almost all other AEAs, the last examination for this qualification will be in June 2009, after which it will be withdrawn.