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UK's A/AS/GCSE system watch

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    Hi there,

    My brother is applying to a Grammar school ( Urmston Grammar School) and I have to fill a table of desired AS level choices. Could you please explain what do these mean? Will they become A level at the end of year 13 or what ? He must choose them by knowing what he would like to do in the future e.g. if he wants to be a dentist, he needs to pick Biology and Chemistry now right?
    Oh and do students, when they begin to study for their GCSEs, choose their desired subjects? Or are they studying all of them at an even level and the differentiation applies only before the 12th form?


    Help appreciated
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    I'm slightly confused by what you are asking specifically but:

    GCSEs are sat in years 10 and 11, (14-16 years old) and normally you do 8-11 subjects, with a core set and then some optional subjects. These are usually chosen in year 9, although with the scrapping of sats some schools are now starting GCSEs a lot earlier so they may be chosen as early as year 8. Typically the core options are single/double/triple science, maths, english literature, english language and then many schools often have other core subjects.

    Then once you get to year 11 you will apply for 6th form. You choose 4 subjects which will be your ASes, it's a good idea to choose these having in mind what you'd like to do afterwards but if you don't know then choosing what you enjoy most and are good at is the best way to go. If he knows what he wants to do then research what subjects are wanted by most unis to do that. Universities do have preferences over some subjects which is something to be cautious of. At the end of year 12 (or lower sixth) you will drop one of your subjects, leaving you with an AS in that subject. You carry on the other 3 throughout year 13 and at the end will have three A2s. Your A2 results are what universities use when you apply to them.
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    AS-levels are the first half of your A-level - they also count as standalone qualifications (unless you take it it the 2nd year, the A2, and complete it, when both years are consolodated into the A-level qualification). What you choose (in exceptional cases 5 subjects, most of the time 4) will determine what you can take at university, although you're not limited to two years. If you chose the wrong things you could take a fresh load of AS' in the 2nd year and carry on into a 3rd. It does demand that you make your decisions really quickly, but there are ways to keep your choices open (e.g. the combination of Chemistry, Maths, a language and English Literature will keep your options open for Chemistry, Medicine, English, the language, Law etc etc). Also, you don't have to drop one of your subjects in the second year, but many people do because universities tend to only ask for 3 A2 grades in their offers (no wasted effort).

    For GCSEs, you're usually made to do some subjects (usually Maths, English, Science and RE, but some schools may force PE and a language), and have about 3-4 choices. So, you usually have about 10 GCSE subjects on the go, so choices don't really matter too much here (although if there's something you enjoy like History, you should probably take it at GCSE first).

    Try and find out what you enjoy most and would like to study at uni before you decide your AS choices, or else take a pretty open combination as I suggested to widen your options. Don't worry about GCSEs (but do try to do well, honestly).
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    Ahh thank you a million ^^ it really explains the situation he's in
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    Oh and when applying to a university after the 13th form, they look at the grades they require or even in what subject was it achieved?

    I think you mentioned it before, but I'd like to be certain
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    (Original post by oZu)
    Oh and when applying to a university after the 13th form, they look at the grades they require or even in what subject was it achieved?

    I think you mentioned it before, but I'd like to be certain
    They look at both normally. A lot of courses specify wanting certain subjects and also have perfered subjects. Say you want to do medicine then a lot of universities would insist on you having Chemistry and would prefer you to have maths. Also there is a black list of softer subjects used by a few of the top league universities as the subjects are often seen as being weaker. For university questions to do with replying you may be best of looking in http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=6
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    (Original post by letsdothetimewarpagain)
    They look at both normally. A lot of courses specify wanting certain subjects and also have perfered subjects. Say you want to do medicine then a lot of universities would insist on you having Chemistry and would prefer you to have maths. Also there is a black list of softer subjects used by a few of the top league universities as the subjects are often seen as being weaker. For university questions to do with replying you may be best of looking in http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=6
    Hi again,

    I have one more thing to ask: after the 13th year everyone takes the exams, e.g Chemistry A level exam. So if I manage to get an A in it, then my final mark as an A level in Chemistry would be A?
    And the other part of it: can I attain that A in Chemistry A level if I do not take the exams at the end of the year - just an assessment of my last year's performance? Would it still count as an A in A level Chemistry when applying to the university afterwards?

    By the way, I am not a local - difficult to compare the educational systems. :p:

    Cheers, thank you for the answer :top:
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    (Original post by oZu)
    Hi again,

    I have one more thing to ask: after the 13th year everyone takes the exams, e.g Chemistry A level exam. So if I manage to get an A in it, then my final mark as an A level in Chemistry would be A?
    And the other part of it: can I attain that A in Chemistry A level if I do not take the exams at the end of the year - just an assessment of my last year's performance? Would it still count as an A in A level Chemistry when applying to the university afterwards?

    By the way, I am not a local - difficult to compare the educational systems. :p:

    Cheers, thank you for the answer :top:
    It's fine, the English system is a bit of a beast for outsiders :p:

    For A level for subjects without coursework you do one or two exams for each unit and you can sit them in January or June. Each unit is worth 100 UMS with 80/100 being an A. So for each unit you get the UMS then at the end of the course all the UMS is added together to give you a mark out of 400. 320 is an A, so you could get 90 in one module, 70 in another and 80 in the two others and get an A overall.

    I hope that makes sense :o:
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    wow , now it really does Oh and by the way is there an A*? Must be around or above 360 I guess..
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    (Original post by oZu)
    wow , now it really does Oh and by the way is there an A*? Must be around or above 360 I guess..
    Yep, that's where it gets more complicated, see http://www.edexcel.com/notices/Pages/a-star-grade.aspx
 
 
 
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Updated: February 18, 2010
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