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Don't have A levels? Alternative Routes into University FAQ watch

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    Thank you for this great post!

    I'm looking into taking an A-Level that I'm missing (you've actually helped me on another thread ) and just trying to understand the system here (I'm not from the UK so still wrapping my head around all this!)

    Access to HE is meant for people without A-Levels. But why would those people not just do the required A-Levels instead of the Access course? What does the Access give you that the A-Levels won't?

    I only need to do one A-Level (Biology) in order to be able to apply to the course I want, and it seems to be the most doable option but I feel like I'm missing something here... As a mature student (29yo) would an Access course be preferable to doing that one Biology A-Level?



    (Original post by Snufkin)
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    :work: Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma :work:
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    Access to HE Diplomas (also known as Access courses) are designed to prepare people without traditional qualifications for university. Access courses are the best established and most common route into university for mature students and students without A levels. Each year more than 20,000 people apply to university after doing an Access course. There is a large community of Access students in the Mature Students forum.
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    (Original post by Daphna.S)
    Thank you for this great post!

    I'm looking into taking an A-Level that I'm missing (you've actually helped me on another thread ) and just trying to understand the system here (I'm not from the UK so still wrapping my head around all this!)

    Access to HE is meant for people without A-Levels. But why would those people not just do the required A-Levels instead of the Access course? What does the Access give you that the A-Levels won't?

    I only need to do one A-Level (Biology) in order to be able to apply to the course I want, and it seems to be the most doable option but I feel like I'm missing something here... As a mature student (29yo) would an Access course be preferable to doing that one Biology A-Level?
    It really comes down to personal preference. Many people do Access courses because they only last a year, and they're often more affordable because you can get a loan to pay for them if you're over 19. Arguably Access courses offer better preparation for university because you do so many essays and get used to researching and forming your own arguments.

    I suggest you phone the admissions tutor for the course you want to do and ask them what they think about A levels vs Access. If they have no preference, do whichever one you're most comfortable with.
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    Thanks! Makes perfect sense. Already contacted them, they said there's no preference. Still need to reconsider my options but I'll get there!


    (Original post by Snufkin)
    It really comes down to personal preference. Many people do Access courses because they only last a year, and they're often more affordable because you can get a loan to pay for them if you're over 24. Arguably Access courses offer preparation for university because you do so many essays and get used to researching and formulating your own arguments.

    I suggest you phone the admissions tutor for the course you want to do and ask them what they think about A levels vs Access. If they have no preference, do whichever one you're most comfortable with.
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    I've completed my access course with great grades and have been accepted onto my first choice of uni for September, but reading the OP and some of the subsequent comments panics even me!

    Panic doesn't help most people.

    I'll share a bit about me so people can grasp what's possible with the right advice.

    I started my access course (access to nursing and allied health professions) as a single parent to a 5mo. I needed 30 credits at distinction, 15 at merit and 15 level 2 credits to get into my first choice uni. I achieved 36 at distinction, 9 at merit and passed my level 2 units.

    I know about a dozen people who've attempted access course...the pointers I'll give below are based mainly on my experience but I know most of those people would agree with me.

    - If you already have full time commitments (children/work/etc) then distance learning around them is very practical but you really must be prepared to put the time in. You can't leave your assignments to the last minute if you want a decent mark. Your social life will suffer. So will your sleep.

    - Be aware of what exactly is expected of you. "I didn't know" isn't going to help once you've missed a deadline. If you suspect you don't have everything you need from your tutor, chase them.

    - Micromanage yourself. If you're not organised by nature then you really do need to put more effort in.

    - Colleges have good and not-so-good tutors, just as any profession varies. Don't dwell on the injustice of getting a tutor who doesn't give a damn...you don't have the time to wait for them to develop a work ethic. If you're not getting what you need, escalate it as high as it has to go until you do.

    - If you need merits and distinctions, you absolutely must do your own research beyond what information you're given and you need to be able to write about this in a way that shows you have a good understanding.

    - If you're not given it upfront, ask for copies of the criteria you need to be working towards for each assignment. This will be split into pass/merit/distinction levels. Do this before you start writing. It'll help you stay on-point and structure your assignments.

    - Getting decent grades on an Access course requires a lot of determination. Getting lazy for a few weeks will really hurt your chances. If you've got holidays booked, ask for assignments that start during that time beforehand so you can get a head start and be on track when you get back.
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    (Original post by Jolleigh)
    I've completed my access course with great grades and have been accepted onto my first choice of uni for September, but reading the OP and some of the subsequent comments panics even me!

    Panic doesn't help most people.

    I'll share a bit about me so people can grasp what's possible with the right advice.

    I started my access course (access to nursing and allied health professions) as a single parent to a 5mo. I needed 30 credits at distinction, 15 at merit and 15 level 2 credits to get into my first choice uni. I achieved 36 at distinction, 9 at merit and passed my level 2 units.

    I know about a dozen people who've attempted access course...the pointers I'll give below are based mainly on my experience but I know most of those people would agree with me.

    - If you already have full time commitments (children/work/etc) then distance learning around them is very practical but you really must be prepared to put the time in. You can't leave your assignments to the last minute if you want a decent mark. Your social life will suffer. So will your sleep.

    - Be aware of what exactly is expected of you. "I didn't know" isn't going to help once you've missed a deadline. If you suspect you don't have everything you need from your tutor, chase them.

    - Micromanage yourself. If you're not organised by nature then you really do need to put more effort in.

    - Colleges have good and not-so-good tutors, just as any profession varies. Don't dwell on the injustice of getting a tutor who doesn't give a damn...you don't have the time to wait for them to develop a work ethic. If you're not getting what you need, escalate it as high as it has to go until you do.

    - If you need merits and distinctions, you absolutely must do your own research beyond what information you're given and you need to be able to write about this in a way that shows you have a good understanding.

    - If you're not given it upfront, ask for copies of the criteria you need to be working towards for each assignment. This will be split into pass/merit/distinction levels. Do this before you start writing. It'll help you stay on-point and structure your assignments.

    - Getting decent grades on an Access course requires a lot of determination. Getting lazy for a few weeks will really hurt your chances. If you've got holidays booked, ask for assignments that start during that time beforehand so you can get a head start and be on track when you get back.
    You've hit the nail on the head their.
    I'm a single mum to three. 6,5 and 2 and you've definitely got to let your life suffer to enable to get through it.
    I wish I had of read this last year when I started my access thanks for sharing


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    Hey, I've recently been accepted onto the course at The Manchester college, but I'll be doing the distance learner version of te course and I was just wondering if anybody had any feedback, how the course is set out, how its taught (like by email or something?) and is anybody starting the course in September 2016?
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    (Original post by PrincessPlop)
    Hey, I've recently been accepted onto the course at The Manchester college, but I'll be doing the distance learner version of te course and I was just wondering if anybody had any feedback, how the course is set out, how its taught (like by email or something?) and is anybody starting the course in September 2016?
    I did an access course at The Manchester College by distance learning. The way the course is structured will depend on which one you're doing though...which one is it?

    The course materials are available on an online system called Moodle and you submit it through Turnitin. See my post above from a few days ago for a bit of advice. With it being the same college it's likely to be particularly relevant to you.
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    I'll be doing the Nursing and Allied Health Professions course.
    How easy did you find it learning from the materials given? Do you have any interaction with tutors other than via moodle? And did you find it easy to get in contact with tutors if you needed to?
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    (Original post by PrincessPlop)
    I'll be doing the Nursing and Allied Health Professions course.
    How easy did you find it learning from the materials given? Do you have any interaction with tutors other than via moodle? And did you find it easy to get in contact with tutors if you needed to?
    I can tell you quite a bit in that case as I understand it though, there was a change in the distance learning manager right at the back end of my course (around October time) and he had plans to improve a few things. He received all of my feedback so hopefully the course won't now have so many issues.

    You'll study one subject at a time, biology, health studies and psychology. There will be a different tutor for each and your primary form of communication will be email. Each subject has 5 modules. 4 will be coursework and the last is an exam. Each module is 2 weeks long and you direct your own study over that 2 weeks. Some tutors mark work within a week after submission. Others were more lax. There were communication issues but I believe the tutor I had the worst issues with has now left the college. Each tutor had a different idea of what Harvard referencing is and my first assignment for each of them was marked down because I didn't know their preferred method until after I'd received negative feedback. All of their methods differed from the college's guide. There was an issue where my tutor had taken annual leave for the full 2 weeks of an assignment. She hadn't warned her students or given them an alternative contact. The person her out of office message told us to contact was also on annual leave. So was the person who that person's out of office said to contact. When I finally managed to talk to someone who wasn't on AL, all they could say is I'd have to wait until my tutor was back...which was after my submission was due.

    Materials wise, the biology materials had the odd small inaccuracy but were otherwise excellent. The psychology materials were good but getting higher marks very much required going the extra mile myself. The health studies materials were really poor. There was a huge amount of it, not all of it even relevant and some topics were missing entirely and got sent to us late after students realised there was stuff missing. What was there was unnecessarily long winded (using a 2 hour film where a bullet point would do for example.)

    All this said, it's an extremely interesting course and the tutor who took over right at the back end of it after a tutor left was absolutely superb. It was very much worth the frustration. Just keep on top of things and don't for one second worry about being a pain in the backside if something is going wrong and you feel like you're complaining every few days. I chatted to a few students before each exam and I wasn't the only one who felt like they were having to do this. You won't be either.

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    Hi I was wondering what is the exams like? I have 3 exams soon which is about contract, law, tort and sources of law. Will I be able to take any notes in? And how are the questions structured?
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    (Original post by Jiraya Sama)
    Then the equivalency of these grades to A level will probably be A*AA?.
    I know this thread is quite old but just stumbled across it, loved reading about your story! hows university going for you? I have just completed my Access Course: Humanities, and received 45 out of 45 Distinctions at level 3, the new point scoring system on UCAS will be introduced for students applying to 2016/2017, and 30Distinctions and 15merits is equivalent to AAB at Alevel, it is impossible to get the equivalency to an A* in Alevel.
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    Hi All I am a very mature student 45 years young, I am looking to do a SWAP access to teaching course to get the qualifications I need to go and do a degree to become a primary teacher. The bit I am not sure about is the pre-entry test to just get on the access to teaching course. Does any one have any examples of the sort of questions asked for this test?
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    does anyone know how long it usually takes for the access results from apt ed to trickle through to ucas?
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    Hey everyone!
    I have just finished a pre-access course studying maths, english and socialogy. I recieve my gcse results August 25th.

    I am hoping to go to university September 2017 to study social work. But first I must complete an access course. I have been excepted on to two courses at my local college (access to social work) and ( access to social science and humanities, history) but I am undecided which course to study.

    Can anyone give me any advice which one to except!
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    I'm gonna do an Access course in Engineering or Science because the level of Maths is good enough in them according to the Leeds University Admissions department. That was for a Electronic and Renewable Energy Systems course I enquired about. I definitely want to do something with Renewable Energy - does anyone know whether all of the reputable Uni's offering such a course all require Maths?

    Also, what are the odds of Tuition Fees going down closer to 3000 again by 2019/20?
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    I think all universities would require some level 3 maths for this course, as will involve a lot of engineering and physics. You wouldn't be able to keep up without a foundation of maths to draw on.

    The chances of tuition fees falling to £3000 in the next 3 or 4 years are pretty close to zero, I should think. There's no chance without a change of government, and even then, I wouldn't count on it happening soon.
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    Yeah I was expecting the long haul to be honest. I'd have to save up a good £35000 to do a three year course somewhere and live there also. Depending on what jobs go like in the next few years that is possible. I've always been really interested in how humanity affects the earth and climate change, fossil fuel consumption at the rate we do it is laughable these days and civilisations of the future will acknowledge that (if we survive). I'd love to be a piece of the change towards a potential Type 1 sustainable global civilisation...Renewable Energy is a huge part of that transition from what I've researched.
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    (Original post by Day3091)
    Yeah I was expecting the long haul to be honest. I'd have to save up a good £35000 to do a three year course somewhere and live there also. Depending on what jobs go like in the next few years that is possible. I've always been really interested in how humanity affects the earth and climate change, fossil fuel consumption at the rate we do it is laughable these days and civilisations of the future will acknowledge that (if we survive). I'd love to be a piece of the change towards a potential Type 1 sustainable global civilisation...Renewable Energy is a huge part of that transition from what I've researched.
    Bit confused, why can't you take out a tuition fee loan?
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    Oh, well i've already got 4 years of student finance and they wouldn't let me get any more...1 year of a course I didn't want to continue and then 3 years of a course which I dropped out of in my second year on a resit...pretty headless right? I regret it but I didn't really know what I wanted to study properly until now. I was simply immature and too in love with the student lifestyle to stop at the time
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    (Original post by Day3091)
    Oh, well i've already got 4 years of student finance and they wouldn't let me get any more...1 year of a course I didn't want to continue and then 3 years of a course which I dropped out of in my second year on a resit...pretty headless right? I regret it but I didn't really know what I wanted to study properly until now. I was simply immature and too in love with the student lifestyle to stop at the time
    I see. I'm not sure how the new rules will affect you, but people who already have a degree will be able to get tuition fee loans for a part-time STEM degree from next year. It may be that because you don't have a degree these new rules won't apply to you, you will have to wait and see.

    Would you consider studying in Europe? You wouldn't need to save half as much money.
 
 
 
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