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    Hello all,

    I wanted to share my experience of trying to find ways to take A-Levels as an adult. There seems to be quite a big demand for this and a lot of confusion about the process and where to start, so I thought I'd try and help out.

    A bit of an introduction: I'm 29, live in London, and am about to begin studying for my maths A-Level via distance learning. I hope to take my exams (both AS and A2) in June 2016, meaning I will have completed the course within one academic year (which runs from around September to around May). I then plan to study for my Physics A-Level the same way, sitting all the exams in June 2017.

    Choosing a learning provider

    As an adult you're most likely to be studying for your A-Levels via a distance learning provider, as these organisations give complete flexibility to fit study around work/other commitments and there are virtually no colleges that run part-time or evening classes for adults to study A-Levels. The biggest challenge you face right away is finding a reputable provider - I spent ages trawling through Google trying to find out which organisations were dodgy and which provided a high standard of course materials and tutoring.

    Eventually I came across a page on the National Careers Service website (a government body) which gave advice on distance learning, listed some reputable distance learning providers, and linked to t
    he Open and Distance Learning Quality Council (ODLQC), an independent organisation that inspects these providers. They also link to the Association of British Correspondence Colleges (ABCC), a reputable organisation that also provides details of legit distance learning providers. Hallelujah!

    I next chose my colleges from the providers listed on the ODLQC and ABCC websites. I chose ICS for maths because, at the time of writing this, they were offering a price match guarantee on the course. I did a Google search to see if I could find the course cheaper elsewhere (with any provider) and found that Oxford Learning College offered it for £315, £25 cheaper than ICS. They approved the discount

    Finding a distance learning provider who offered A-Level physics was a bit more tricky as it doesn't seem that many places run the course, probably because the exams are mostly practical (more on that in a bit). Anyhow, I chose Open Study College.

    A note on entry requirements: these are somewhat flexible, at least with Open Study College, who stated that you must have a B in GCSE maths in order to enrol on their A-Level maths course. I have a C so contacted them and they said it'd be fine to enrol but that I should call them to go through some things first. As I got the course cheaper with ICS I didn't pursue it.

    How to sit your exams

    Having found my providers I set about researching where I would be able sit my exams once I'd finished the courses. If studying with a distance learning provider you will have to sit your exams at a college as an external candidate or at an exam centre. Unfortunately there are some hefty fees attached to both of these options!

    (A lot of people seem to get confused at this point about what distance learning provider fees actually provide; many think that they are literally buying their A-Level and that assessment will be run through the provider. To be clear: when you enrol with a distance learning provider to study A-Levels you are getting tutor support (via email and sometimes phone), course and study materials prepared in a way that's suited to flexible learning, and practice assessments with tutor feedback to prepare you for your exams. For someone like me this guidance and support is necessary as my skills are rusty, however if you feel confident in your ability to pass your A-Level without this support then it might be worth simply studying the syllabus of an exam board on your own via textbooks. The main exam boards are AQA, OCR and Edexcel - check which one runs your course then contact them to ask for a list of recommended books.)

    If applying as an external candidate to colleges you will sit your exams with the students who attend that college. AQA has a list of colleges that apparently accept external candidates on their website, but it's a bit hit and miss as some of them no longer do. If you're in London it seems that the fees charged by colleges are higher than the rest of the country. Sitting with an exam centre is a more attractive option in many ways as you'll be sitting your exams with other people in the same boat as you but the fees can be eye-watering, at least in London.

    I'm planning to sit my maths exams with a college in the midlands as my parents live there and the price I was quoted was pretty cheap, around £37.50 per paper (there are 6 papers). Finding a place to sit my physics A-Level has been a massive pain as the exams have practical elements that involve working with equipment etc. Not many colleges accept external candidates for physics for this reason so you're probably going to have to do the exams at an exam centre, although the costs are astronomical (it's pun time!): around £650 per practical unit (there are two of these on the AQA syllabus, which Open Study College follow) and £90 per written paper (there are four of these). I have resigned myself to the fact that I'm just going to have to pay these fees
    :rant:

    So that's pretty much everything I can think of, I really hope that someone out there finds this useful and that it saves a lot of time and stress. It's true that studying your A-Levels as an adult can be expensive, especially if you're studying physics or other subjects that involve practical elements, but where there's a will there's a way - don't give up
    If you have any questions or feel that I've got something please feel free to post - I want to make this thread as helpful as possible.

    Peace out.

    :bl:
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    Umh im 19 and going back to 11grd cos os physics. I dont mean to offend you or anything why didnt you go back to high school when u were 23- ?

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    (Original post by AsandaLFC)
    Umh im 19 and going back to 11grd cos os physics. I dont mean to offend you or anything why didnt you go back to high school when u were 23- ?

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    Your comment is a little offensive to be honest. Everyone's lives are different, I didn't have the opportunity to go back when I was 23. Even if I had I wouldn't necessarily have been interested in the route I want to take now.
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    (Original post by CosmicBee)
    Your comment is a little offensive to be honest. Everyone's lives are different, I didn't have the opportunity to go back when I was 23. Even if I had I wouldn't necessarily have been interested in the route I want to take now.
    Hey it was just a question like I said I don't mean to offend you. Im asking cos im scared that il also find myself in this situation when im your age. I just wanted to know what was on your mind when u were 19

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    Well, I was focused on studying humanities subjects when I was younger. I'd now like to switch to something more scientific. Hey it doesn't matter if you change your mind about what you want to study or what industry you want to work in by the time you're my age - lots of people make huge career and study changes at a much older age. Best of luck.
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    Okay now I understand. I try to convince my mom to go back to school. Shes 45. Best of luck too :yep:

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    She should totally go! I'm sorry if I came across as a little harsh in my response to your comment - I got the wrong end of the stick and thought you were being rude All the best in your studies :headbang:
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    Hi - I'm looking at doing this in Chemistry - any chance you could say which college in the Midlands?
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    So if anyone else is looking at doing A-level chemistry, the new syllabus out now with first a-level exams in 2017 doesn't have compulsory practicals. According to AQA:

    "
    Although there is no specific practical unit, practical skills will be tested throughout the three written exams at A-Level.
    The knowledge and experience of practical skills will be gained via the completion of 12 practical activities that the teacher will witness and verify. At the end of the course candidates will gain an A-Level grade and also a Practical Skills Verification. If you have not completed the exercises then you will not gain the verification."
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    I have to work soon so skimmed and favourited this thread.

    I just got told it's £2,040 to do a Maths A level (including A2) and some other A level (including A2) I haven't decided on (Biology or economics), all in one year at a pretty good college.

    £200 is the exam fee for each subject, the rest is the course fee. Yet we only get 8 hours of studying per subject a week. Pretty ridiculous. I'm hoping the majority of that fee is to do the coursework since I can't study at all in classrooms.

    What subjects are worth getting the college security and help with (that have practical elements) and what subjects are easily available to do independently that have no practical elements saving myself about £800?
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    (Original post by LeftWingMoron)
    I have to work soon so skimmed and favourited this thread.

    I just got told it's £2,040 to do a Maths A level (including A2) and some other A level (including A2) I haven't decided on (Biology or economics), all in one year at a pretty good college.

    £200 is the exam fee for each subject, the rest is the course fee. Yet we only get 8 hours of studying per subject a week. Pretty ridiculous. I'm hoping the majority of that fee is to do the coursework since I can't study at all in classrooms.

    What subjects are worth getting the college security and help with (that have practical elements) and what subjects are easily available to do independently that have no practical elements saving myself about £800?
    That seems pretty good if you're doing 2 or 3 A-levels for that price! There's an excellent college near me which charges £6,000 per A-level for fast track! With respect to the hours, whilst I'm getting mine free the college I'm at would charge £900 per A-level and we only get 5 hours per week taught per subject, so 8 hours is very good.

    If you're confident with maths and economics and they don't have assessed coursework aspects you could not do the college course. Biology I assume will have assessed practicals so you will need to be a student at the college.
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    (Original post by SuperCat007)
    That seems pretty good if you're doing 2 or 3 A-levels for that price! There's an excellent college near me which charges £6,000 per A-level for fast track! With respect to the hours, whilst I'm getting mine free the college I'm at would charge £900 per A-level and we only get 5 hours per week taught per subject, so 8 hours is very good.

    If you're confident with maths and economics and they don't have assessed coursework aspects you could not do the college course. Biology I assume will have assessed practicals so you will need to be a student at the college.
    I'm having a guidance session today with my college. I'm interested in whether or not you have to do both your AS and A2 level exams all in one summer, rather than doing the AS level exams in January and A2 level exams in the early summer. If it's the former then I would have to do Maths and a A level that has more assessed practicals because Maths is 100% based on individual examination and the stress would be too much.
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    (Original post by LeftWingMoron)
    I'm having a guidance session today with my college. I'm interested in whether or not you have to do both your AS and A2 level exams all in one summer, rather than doing the AS level exams in January and A2 level exams in the early summer. If it's the former then I would have to do Maths and a A level that has more assessed practicals because Maths is 100% based on individual examination and the stress would be too much.
    You do have to do it all in the summer, as January exams were abolished last year.
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    (Original post by CosmicBee)
    Hello all,

    I wanted to share my experience of trying to find ways to take A-Levels as an adult. There seems to be quite a big demand for this and a lot of confusion about the process and where to start, so I thought I'd try and help out.

    A bit of an introduction: I'm 29, live in London, and am about to begin studying for my maths A-Level via distance learning. I hope to take my exams (both AS and A2) in June 2016, meaning I will have completed the course within one academic year (which runs from around September to around May). I then plan to study for my Physics A-Level the same way, sitting all the exams in June 2017.

    Choosing a learning provider

    As an adult you're most likely to be studying for your A-Levels via a distance learning provider, as these organisations give complete flexibility to fit study around work/other commitments and there are virtually no colleges that run part-time or evening classes for adults to study A-Levels. The biggest challenge you face right away is finding a reputable provider - I spent ages trawling through Google trying to find out which organisations were dodgy and which provided a high standard of course materials and tutoring.

    Eventually I came across a page on the National Careers Service website (a government body) which gave advice on distance learning, listed some reputable distance learning providers, and linked to the Open and Distance Learning Quality Council (ODLQC), an independent organisation that inspects these providers. They also link to the Association of British Correspondence Colleges (ABCC), a reputable organisation that also provides details of legit distance learning providers. Hallelujah!

    I next chose my colleges from the providers listed on the ODLQC and ABCC websites. I chose ICS for maths because, at the time of writing this, they were offering a price match guarantee on the course. I did a Google search to see if I could find the course cheaper elsewhere (with any provider) and found that Oxford Learning College offered it for £315, £25 cheaper than ICS. They approved the discount

    Finding a distance learning provider who offered A-Level physics was a bit more tricky as it doesn't seem that many places run the course, probably because the exams are mostly practical (more on that in a bit). Anyhow, I chose Open Study College.

    A note on entry requirements: these are somewhat flexible, at least with Open Study College, who stated that you must have a B in GCSE maths in order to enrol on their A-Level maths course. I have a C so contacted them and they said it'd be fine to enrol but that I should call them to go through some things first. As I got the course cheaper with ICS I didn't pursue it.

    How to sit your exams

    Having found my providers I set about researching where I would be able sit my exams once I'd finished the courses. If studying with a distance learning provider you will have to sit your exams at a college as an external candidate or at an exam centre. Unfortunately there are some hefty fees attached to both of these options!

    (A lot of people seem to get confused at this point about what distance learning provider fees actually provide; many think that they are literally buying their A-Level and that assessment will be run through the provider. To be clear: when you enrol with a distance learning provider to study A-Levels you are getting tutor support (via email and sometimes phone), course and study materials prepared in a way that's suited to flexible learning, and practice assessments with tutor feedback to prepare you for your exams. For someone like me this guidance and support is necessary as my skills are rusty, however if you feel confident in your ability to pass your A-Level without this support then it might be worth simply studying the syllabus of an exam board on your own via textbooks. The main exam boards are AQA, OCR and Edexcel - check which one runs your course then contact them to ask for a list of recommended books.)

    If applying as an external candidate to colleges you will sit your exams with the students who attend that college. AQA has a list of colleges that apparently accept external candidates on their website, but it's a bit hit and miss as some of them no longer do. If you're in London it seems that the fees charged by colleges are higher than the rest of the country. Sitting with an exam centre is a more attractive option in many ways as you'll be sitting your exams with other people in the same boat as you but the fees can be eye-watering, at least in London.

    I'm planning to sit my maths exams with a college in the midlands as my parents live there and the price I was quoted was pretty cheap, around £37.50 per paper (there are 6 papers). Finding a place to sit my physics A-Level has been a massive pain as the exams have practical elements that involve working with equipment etc. Not many colleges accept external candidates for physics for this reason so you're probably going to have to do the exams at an exam centre, although the costs are astronomical (it's pun time!): around £650 per practical unit (there are two of these on the AQA syllabus, which Open Study College follow) and £90 per written paper (there are four of these). I have resigned myself to the fact that I'm just going to have to pay these fees :rant:

    So that's pretty much everything I can think of, I really hope that someone out there finds this useful and that it saves a lot of time and stress. It's true that studying your A-Levels as an adult can be expensive, especially if you're studying physics or other subjects that involve practical elements, but where there's a will there's a way - don't give up If you have any questions or feel that I've got something please feel free to post - I want to make this thread as helpful as possible.

    Peace out.

    :bl:
    Hello good afternoon

    This webpage could be of anyone interested in studying a-levels. The 24+ loan can cover the cost of multiple a-level studies find out more here:


    http://www.practitioners.slc.co.uk/m...tion_sheet.pdf
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    Hi there CosmicBee. I would just like to say thank you so much for sharing this information!! Its great to have some comprehensive advise on the subject.

    I have recently decided I want to redo my A levels and do a degree that I hope will get me a well paying job. I took A levels at college and passed with all B's in Economics, Business Studies and Music Technology however I really did not put that much effort in and instead spent most of my time socialising so I feel i did not use my full potential. I also missed out by not taking maths while I was there. I want better grades this time round and I am looking at studying A level Maths, Physics and Chemistry all in one year. I will be doing this around work however my work hours can be very flexible as I am currently working in my parents business so they will give me whatever time I need. There is so much information online it is hard to sift through it and pinpoint all the important bits we need to plan accordingly. I have just a few questions.

    There seems to be many threads online saying that the material these distance learning schools provide you with is in essence just regurgitated information that is available in the exam board textbooks, and that the tutor support is not always that useful and can take a while to come back to you. I work best with people when I'm able to talk to them face to face and talk through my problem and lack of understanding. Also the fact that you have to fork out all the extra cash to sit the exams on top of the price these distance learning providers charge you makes me question the value of doing it through them. Instead I am considering self teaching myself the course using materials from books and using the money I would pay for the course from these guys on tutors instead.

    I am wondering what advise you (or anybody else with experience doing A levels this way) has to share on this course of action, and if they can shine a light on some things I may not have considered. Due to my personality I do work a lot better when I have somebody who is able to explain things to me 1 on 1, I am just unsure these online tutors will be able to provide this.


    Edit: I would also like to add im 21, if that makes any difference.
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    I did 3 a levels this year complete self studying and booked the exams myself. The exams were £75 each.

    Personally I dont think you need anything extra from distance learning websites that you pay for. There is wealth of information in videos and websites for free. The difference might be in subjects with coursework which would benefit greatly from feedback.
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    (Original post by skeptical_john)
    I did 3 a levels this year complete self studying and booked the exams myself. The exams were £75 each.

    Personally I dont think you need anything extra from distance learning websites that you pay for. There is wealth of information in videos and websites for free. The difference might be in subjects with coursework which would benefit greatly from feedback.
    What subjects did you take? I think they would benefit greatly from feedback as well however these distance learning providers do not provide that on the practical assessments from what I understand, unless they organise time for you to practise in a lab somewhere and that is something I have overlooked?
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    (Original post by JoeMacD)
    Hi there CosmicBee. I would just like to say thank you so much for sharing this information!! Its great to have some comprehensive advise on the subject.

    I have recently decided I want to redo my A levels and do a degree that I hope will get me a well paying job. I took A levels at college and passed with all B's in Economics, Business Studies and Music Technology however I really did not put that much effort in and instead spent most of my time socialising so I feel i did not use my full potential. I also missed out by not taking maths while I was there. I want better grades this time round and I am looking at studying A level Maths, Physics and Chemistry all in one year. I will be doing this around work however my work hours can be very flexible as I am currently working in my parents business so they will give me whatever time I need. There is so much information online it is hard to sift through it and pinpoint all the important bits we need to plan accordingly. I have just a few questions.

    There seems to be many threads online saying that the material these distance learning schools provide you with is in essence just regurgitated information that is available in the exam board textbooks, and that the tutor support is not always that useful and can take a while to come back to you. I work best with people when I'm able to talk to them face to face and talk through my problem and lack of understanding. Also the fact that you have to fork out all the extra cash to sit the exams on top of the price these distance learning providers charge you makes me question the value of doing it through them. Instead I am considering self teaching myself the course using materials from books and using the money I would pay for the course from these guys on tutors instead.

    I am wondering what advise you (or anybody else with experience doing A levels this way) has to share on this course of action, and if they can shine a light on some things I may not have considered. Due to my personality I do work a lot better when I have somebody who is able to explain things to me 1 on 1, I am just unsure these online tutors will be able to provide this.


    Edit: I would also like to add im 21, if that makes any difference.
    I wouldn't bother with a distance learning provider. Do it yourself with books from the exam board. You also won't be as restricted about which board to choose. Though do remember that for both chemistry and physics you'll have to do 6 practical exams for each (12 in all) for which you'll have to find an exam centre which takes private candidates.

    Find an exam centre willing to take you before you decide upon an exam board, then find the endorsed books, then find a tutor to help you. This will work out cheaper than distance learning. Though it could still be very expensive.
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    (Original post by SuperCat007)
    I wouldn't bother with a distance learning provider. Do it yourself with books from the exam board. You also won't be as restricted about which board to choose. Though do remember that for both chemistry and physics you'll have to do 6 practical exams for each (12 in all) for which you'll have to find an exam centre which takes private candidates.

    Find an exam centre willing to take you before you decide upon an exam board, then find the endorsed books, then find a tutor to help you. This will work out cheaper than distance learning. Though it could still be very expensive.
    Please be aware that the Science A levels are changing this September and the practical assessment is changing. You will have to complete a number of set assessments rather than sit a practical exam. This will be more time-consuming. I don't know how this will work with exam centres, but it will certainly make taking science exams as a private candidate through colleges/schools near impossible to manage.
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    The OP is paying a lot for exam fees; £37.50 per paper is ridiculous. In total I paid £45 for my geography AS and A2 exams.
 
 
 
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