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    As someone who didn't do either GCSEs or A-Levels, I'm considering doing a few A-Levels, either at college or through self-study. I'm not wanting to do them for the purpose of a career, but purely because I feel like I need the knowledge (I never went to school). So, a few questions.

    Firstly, I've been advised that A-Levels themselves are only really a decent route into further education and a subsequent career, and that there are better alternatives for the actual knowledge gained. What are other people's takes on this? Is A-Level curricula as comprehensive as it gets, or could a lot more be learnt?

    Secondly, as per everyone else's own experience, would you say it'd be necessary for me to do the equivalent GCSEs before I do a particular A-Level, or can an A-Level be done pretty much independently of a GCSE by a reasonably-intelligent person?

    I'm currently so overwhelmed by the options available to me and in a bit of a pickle,so help would really be appreciated. Thanks!
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    (Original post by Hashim123)
    As someone who didn't do either GCSEs or A-Levels, I'm considering doing a few A-Levels, either at college or through self-study. I'm not wanting to do them for the purpose of a career, but purely because I feel like I need the knowledge (I never went to school). So, a few questions.

    Firstly, I've been advised that A-Levels themselves are only really a decent route into further education and a subsequent career, and that there are better alternatives for the actual knowledge gained. What are other people's takes on this? Is A-Level curricula as comprehensive as it gets, or could a lot more be learnt?

    Secondly, as per everyone else's own experience, would you say it'd be necessary for me to do the equivalent GCSEs before I do a particular A-Level, or can an A-Level be done pretty much independently of a GCSE by a reasonably-intelligent person?

    I'm currently so overwhelmed by the options available to me and in a bit of a pickle,so help would really be appreciated. Thanks!
    Well first can I just say, just by reading your post you sound like an extremely intelligent person and I would think you actually are an A level student just by reading that lol. Ok well first off, you would have to have at least 5 GCSEs to do A levels anyway, so you can't skip GCSEs and go straight to A levels (at least I've never heard of it). Most if not all A level courses require GCSEs, for example I think my A level English course (im in A2 now) required at least a B in either literature or language at GCSE. A maths A level course for example may ask for at least a B in maths at GCSE. And usually a college in general will overall ask for at least 5 GCSEs at grades A-C. I currently go to college and I think it's great. It is actually partially self study unlike a sixth form at a school, because im in lessons for only half the day most days, then I go home or to the library and self study.
    In regards to it providing knowledge, etc, that's actually a really good question. I definitely think overall doing A levels provides you with certain skills over everything, depending on the subject you do. For example doing a science helps you to think more logically and A levels in general train your mind to be more intelligent, even when you don't remember a single formula 10 years after doing your courses.

    I hope this helps
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    as someone who has graduated with a masters degree in pharmacy I will say that A levels were a pain in the backside vs uni (BCC vs a 2:1 that was 1% away from viva for first). I would say that it depends on what you want to do with your life. GCSEs are a definite in this country for any jobs. International Baccalaureate I would probably recommend instead of A levels as you cover a broader range of topics and is recognised here and abroad. also it is less of a pain than A levels in terms of difficulty I gather from friends (example I have is a set of twins, 1 did IB, the other did A level maths and further maths, economics and accounting). the one who did A levels did better than ther other twin in GCSEs but the twin who did IB did well in that (and graduated with a first in IT from Aston), whereas the twin who did A levels had to redo his A levels. Some Unis and employers also accept BTECs and NVQs but it depends on what job your after. If you do IB however, you would need to find out if you have to attend a special centre for it or if you can do it independently
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    (Original post by AlexMadeleine98)
    Well first can I just say, just by reading your post you sound like an extremely intelligent person and I would think you actually are an A level student just by reading that lol. Ok well first off, you would have to have at least 5 GCSEs to do A levels anyway, so you can't skip GCSEs and go straight to A levels (at least I've never heard of it). Most if not all A level courses require GCSEs, for example I think my A level English course (im in A2 now) required at least a B in either literature or language at GCSE. A maths A level course for example may ask for at least a B in maths at GCSE. And usually a college in general will overall ask for at least 5 GCSEs at grades A-C. I currently go to college and I think it's great. It is actually partially self study unlike a sixth form at a school, because im in lessons for only half the day most days, then I go home or to the library and self study.
    In regards to it providing knowledge, etc, that's actually a really good question. I definitely think overall doing A levels provides you with certain skills over everything, depending on the subject you do. For example doing a science helps you to think more logically and A levels in general train your mind to be more intelligent, even when you don't remember a single formula 10 years after doing your courses.

    I hope this helps
    It does, thanks for the help.

    (Original post by quasa)
    as someone who has graduated with a masters degree in pharmacy I will say that A levels were a pain in the backside vs uni (BCC vs a 2:1 that was 1% away from viva for first). I would say that it depends on what you want to do with your life. GCSEs are a definite in this country for any jobs. International Baccalaureate I would probably recommend instead of A levels as you cover a broader range of topics and is recognised here and abroad. also it is less of a pain than A levels in terms of difficulty I gather from friends (example I have is a set of twins, 1 did IB, the other did A level maths and further maths, economics and accounting). the one who did A levels did better than ther other twin in GCSEs but the twin who did IB did well in that (and graduated with a first in IT from Aston), whereas the twin who did A levels had to redo his A levels. Some Unis and employers also accept BTECs and NVQs but it depends on what job your after. If you do IB however, you would need to find out if you have to attend a special centre for it or if you can do it independently
    I've thought of the IB, but everything I've read indicates it's actually harder than A-Levels. That's not in itself off-putting for me though, and the breadth of the IB definitely appeals to me. Do you know whether it's possible to self-teach an IB and take the exams independently like you can with A-Level? I know some people have done that and taught themselves whole A-Levels in a year like that, wondering if that can be done with IB if I needed to, which I might.

    Anyone else got any thoughts?
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    (Original post by Hashim123)
    As someone who didn't do either GCSEs or A-Levels, I'm considering doing a few A-Levels, either at college or through self-study. I'm not wanting to do them for the purpose of a career, but purely because I feel like I need the knowledge (I never went to school). So, a few questions.

    Firstly, I've been advised that A-Levels themselves are only really a decent route into further education and a subsequent career, and that there are better alternatives for the actual knowledge gained. What are other people's takes on this? Is A-Level curricula as comprehensive as it gets, or could a lot more be learnt?

    Secondly, as per everyone else's own experience, would you say it'd be necessary for me to do the equivalent GCSEs before I do a particular A-Level, or can an A-Level be done pretty much independently of a GCSE by a reasonably-intelligent person?

    I'm currently so overwhelmed by the options available to me and in a bit of a pickle,so help would really be appreciated. Thanks!
    It's probably an idea to do at least five GCSEs including English, maths and three others, depending on what you want to do at university (double or triple science if you want to do a science subject). Even if you self-studied and sat A-levels as a private candidate, universities still want those basic GCSEs at grade C (higher for some places) or above for most courses.

    If you just want to get into higher education, an Access to HE diploma might be an idea. They're only a year long and are accepted by most universities although some London universities insist you get them from certain places, if I recall correctly. If you do end up doing that, make sure you check the requirements of the course you want to do at the university's website or on UCAS so you know what exactly they want.

    There are also some foundation year courses at universities themselves where you spend 'year zero' getting prepared for higher education and then progress onto the first year of the regular undergraduate course for which the foundation year prepares you.

    That's all I think. If it's not too personal, how come you never went to school?
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    (Original post by Hydeman)
    It's probably an idea to do at least five GCSEs including English, maths and three others, depending on what you want to do at university (double or triple science if you want to do a science subject). Even if you self-studied and sat A-levels as a private candidate, universities still want those basic GCSEs at grade C (higher for some places) or above for most courses.

    If you just want to get into higher education, an Access to HE diploma might be an idea. They're only a year long and are accepted by most universities although some London universities insist you get them from certain places, if I recall correctly. If you do end up doing that, make sure you check the requirements of the course you want to do at the university's website or on UCAS so you know what exactly they want.

    There are also some foundation year courses at universities themselves where you spend 'year zero' getting prepared for higher education and then progress onto the first year of the regular undergraduate course for which the foundation year prepares you.

    That's all I think. If it's not too personal, how come you never went to school?
    This is actually a shorter version of another thread that I posted because that one was (presumably) too long and not getting enough answers.

    Here's the original thread with all of the information included, see if it changes any of your thoughts:

    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show...549&p=59161301
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    (Original post by Hashim123)
    This is actually a shorter version of another thread that I posted because that one was (presumably) too long and not getting enough answers.

    Here's the original thread with all of the information included, see if it changes any of your thoughts:

    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show...549&p=59161301
    Oh, I see! You were homeschooled. I was under the impression that you'd never been educated at all. Nevermind, that clears it up.
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    (Original post by Hydeman)
    Oh, I see! You were homeschooled. I was under the impression that you'd never been educated at all. Nevermind, that clears it up.
    I was home-schooled in the sense I was told to sit down with some books, I didn't actually learn anything and didn't come out of it with anything. What it does mean is that anything I'm studying now is purely because I need the knowledge rather than a route into uni, hence anything specifically designed to prepare you for uni is pretty much out. Does that change your thoughts on any of these questions?

    Firstly, I've been advised that A-Levels themselves are only really a decent route into further education and a subsequent career, and that there are better alternatives for the actual knowledge gained. What are other people's takes on this? Is A-Level curricula as comprehensive as it gets, or could a lot more be learnt?

    Secondly, as per everyone else's own experience, would you say it'd be necessary for me to do the equivalent GCSEs before I do a particular A-Level, or can an A-Level be done pretty much independently of a GCSE by a reasonably-intelligent person?
    Does anyone know of any better alternatives to A-Level as far as the knowledge goes? I get the feeling A-Levels are the most comprehensive - and therefore, offer the highest standard of quality - than any other qualification or route to learning. Is this true?
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    (Original post by Hashim123)
    I was home-schooled in the sense I was told to sit down with some books, I didn't actually learn anything and didn't come out of it with anything. What it does mean is that anything I'm studying now is purely because I need the knowledge rather than a route into uni, hence anything specifically designed to prepare you for uni is pretty much out. Does that change your thoughts on any of these questions?



    Does anyone know of any better alternatives to A-Level as far as the knowledge goes?
    I did A-levels so I can only answer for them. They're pretty knowledge intensive but I have no reason to suppose that things like the IB are any less intensive. The advantage of the IB is that it's a broader qualification where you have to study a certain amount of English and maths, which doesn't need to be done at A-level.

    The knowledge is the same regardless of qualification to be honest so do what you're most comfortable with. Check your local college's website and see which qualifications they do and, if you're looking at A-levels, which exam boards they do for the subjects you're interested in. Then go to the exam board's website and look at the specifications that are to be taught from this year onward and see whether the content interests you.

    As far as changing my thoughts are concerned, if you're not looking to go to uni, then I'd say you shouldn't do any Access to HE diplomas like I suggested in my previous post as they're specifically designed to prepare you for university.

    Also, isn't that illegal in the UK? I know that homeschooling is allowed but I'm pretty sure your parents would still be expected to enter you for qualifications without which it's impossible to get a job or university place, namely GCSEs in English and maths.
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    (Original post by Hashim123)
    It does, thanks for the help.



    I've thought of the IB, but everything I've read indicates it's actually harder than A-Levels. That's not in itself off-putting for me though, and the breadth of the IB definitely appeals to me. Do you know whether it's possible to self-teach an IB and take the exams independently like you can with A-Level? I know some people have done that and taught themselves whole A-Levels in a year like that, wondering if that can be done with IB if I needed to, which I might.

    Anyone else got any thoughts?
    I'm afraid I have no idea if it is possible to self teach but it does take 2 years to learn the topics
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    (Original post by Hashim123)
    As someone who didn't do either GCSEs or A-Levels, I'm considering doing a few A-Levels, either at college or through self-study. I'm not wanting to do them for the purpose of a career, but purely because I feel like I need the knowledge (I never went to school). So, a few questions.

    Firstly, I've been advised that A-Levels themselves are only really a decent route into further education and a subsequent career, and that there are better alternatives for the actual knowledge gained. What are other people's takes on this? Is A-Level curricula as comprehensive as it gets, or could a lot more be learnt?

    Secondly, as per everyone else's own experience, would you say it'd be necessary for me to do the equivalent GCSEs before I do a particular A-Level, or can an A-Level be done pretty much independently of a GCSE by a reasonably-intelligent person?

    I'm currently so overwhelmed by the options available to me and in a bit of a pickle,so help would really be appreciated. Thanks!
    What about an Access course? They are designed for people with few formal qualifications.
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    (Original post by Hydeman)
    I did A-levels so I can only answer for them. They're pretty knowledge intensive but I have no reason to suppose that things like the IB are any less intensive. The advantage of the IB is that it's a broader qualification where you have to study a certain amount of English and maths, which doesn't need to be done at A-level.

    The knowledge is the same regardless of qualification to be honest so do what you're most comfortable with. Check your local college's website and see which qualifications they do and, if you're looking at A-levels, which exam boards they do for the subjects you're interested in. Then go to the exam board's website and look at the specifications that are to be taught from this year onward and see whether the content interests you.

    As far as changing my thoughts are concerned, if you're not looking to go to uni, then I'd say you shouldn't do any Access to HE diplomas like I suggested in my previous post as they're specifically designed to prepare you for university.
    I'm looking to go to uni, just not at this particular moment in time, and for a degree which doesn't require any qualifications I don't currently have. Access has always been out for that very reason, I've been looking mainly at A-Levels, the IB, and other possible alternatives.

    Good point about the college website and the specs themselves, will get round to doing that asap.

    What are your thoughts on needing the relevant GCSEs to study A-Levels? In your experience, are they necessary, or is the content at GCSE mostly independent to that studied at A-Level?

    (Original post by Hydeman)
    Also, isn't that illegal in the UK? I know that homeschooling is allowed but I'm pretty sure your parents would still be expected to enter you for qualifications without which it's impossible to get a job or university place, namely GCSEs in English and maths.
    Unfortunately not. When I did it, it required a trivial visit from, I think, the DofE, which were about as useful as Ofsted inspections are, but other than that the curriculum can be as unstructured as you'd like it to be, and there are no requirements to come out of it having done any qualifications. Yeah, it's pretty ****ed.

    (Original post by Muttley79)
    What about an Access course? They are designed for people with few formal qualifications.
    They are, but designed as a route into uni. As explained in the OP, I'm not really wanting to do these for the purposes of uni, just the knowledge.
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    (Original post by Hashim123)
    I'm looking to go to uni, just not at this particular moment in time, and for a degree which doesn't require any qualifications I don't currently have. Access has always been out for that very reason, I've been looking mainly at A-Levels, the IB, and other possible alternatives.

    Good point about the college website and the specs themselves, will get round to doing that asap.

    What are your thoughts on needing the relevant GCSEs to study A-Levels? In your experience, are they necessary, or is the content at GCSE mostly independent to that studied at A-Level?
    They're sort of necessary but they're not that hard. I coasted all the way through my GCSE years and came out with 8 A*s, 2 As and 1 C (plus another B in astronomy that I got in year 12). In fact, I recommend you do them just to give yourself some confidence because they really are very easy - flying through them would give you confidence in your academic abilities that you'll need if you do A-levels, which are much more difficult. I don't know whether that's changed with the new GCSEs though, which will be graded 1 - 9 instead of A* - G, where an 8 is the equivalent of an A* in the old system and the 9 is a new grade altogether, an A** of sorts.

    Some basic mathematical ability is necessary, which you'll get at GCSE, I think. So I would recommend doing those first, at least in English and maths because, even if you find that they don't help you, it's just another box that you check with employers and universities.

    Unfortunately not. When I did it, it required a trivial visit from, I think, the DofE, which were about as useful as Ofsted inspections are, but other than that the curriculum can be as unstructured as you'd like it to be, and there are no requirements to come out of it having done any qualifications. Yeah, it's pretty ****ed.
    That's a terrible system. :/ Hopefully it's been corrected since you did it. People get fined for taking their kids out of school to go on holiday these days so this sort of thing should absolutely be illegal.
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    (Original post by Hydeman)
    They're sort of necessary but they're not that hard. I coasted all the way through my GCSE years and came out with 8 A*s, 2 As and 1 C (plus another B in astronomy that I got in year 12). In fact, I recommend you do them just to give yourself some confidence because they really are very easy - flying through them would give you confidence in your academic abilities that you'll need if you do A-levels, which are much more difficult. I don't know whether that's changed with the new GCSEs though, which will be graded 1 - 9 instead of A* - G, where an 8 is the equivalent of an A* in the old system and the 9 is a new grade altogether, an A** of sorts.

    Some basic mathematical ability is necessary, which you'll get at GCSE, I think. So I would recommend doing those first, at least in English and maths because, even if you find that they don't help you, it's just another box that you check with employers and universities.
    Sorry, thought I'd already mentioned, if not here then in the other thread, but I'm not entirely without GCSEs - I did an English at college around the same time I was doing a BTEC, was predicted an A* for it, ended up getting a B cos I missed a lot of questions in the exam. I'm also doing Maths this year, intending to get an A* in it.

    I am seriously considering doing some GCSEs on top of those though, now. The problem for me is that I'm running out of time with each year that passes, if I do decide to do both GCSEs and A-Levels, I'll be taking out at least a year for GCSEs (maybe more depending on how many I do) and then another two on top for A-Levels, meaning I'll end up going uni at about 24. It's not catastrophic, but it's not ideal either, hence why I'm hoping to waste as little time as possible.

    That's a terrible system. :/ Hopefully it's been corrected since you did it. People get fined for taking their kids out of school to go on holiday these days so this sort of thing should absolutely be illegal.
    Agreed.

    Thanks a lot for the help, it's very much appreciated. Will rep as soon as I can.
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    (Original post by Hashim123)
    Sorry, thought I'd already mentioned, if not here then in the other thread, but I'm not entirely without GCSEs - I did an English at college around the same time I was doing a BTEC, was predicted an A* for it, ended up getting a B cos I missed a lot of questions in the exam. I'm also doing Maths this year, intending to get an A* in it.

    I am seriously considering doing some GCSEs on top of those though, now. The problem for me is that I'm running out of time with each year that passes, if I do decide to do both GCSEs and A-Levels, I'll be taking out at least a year for GCSEs (maybe more depending on how many I do) and then another two on top for A-Levels, meaning I'll end up going uni at about 24. It's not catastrophic, but it's not ideal either, hence why I'm hoping to waste as little time as possible.
    People go to uni at all sorts of ages so don't worry about that. Good luck with your exams.
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    (Original post by Hydeman)
    People go to uni at all sorts of ages so don't worry about that. Good luck with your exams.
    I just remembered the other reason I'm running out of time - after I turn 21 (June 2016), aren't A-Levels no longer free to do? If I spend this year doing GCSEs, I might end up paying for my A-Levels.
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    (Original post by Hashim123)
    I just remembered the other reason I'm running out of time - after I turn 21 (June 2016), aren't A-Levels no longer free to do? If I spend this year doing GCSEs, I might end up paying for my A-Levels.
    Hmm, I haven't heard of that. As a general rule, your first level 3 qualification (e.g. A-levels, IB, Access etc.) is paid for by the government. You should be fine since you haven't done any others in the past.

    I'm not sure about this though so you should check the UK Government's website (if you live in England). As far as I know, the only things which are ending in June 2016 are the current modular A-levels in most of the traditional subjects (sciences, most humanities). June 2016 will be the last sitting of those and there might be some legacy papers in June 2017 to provide the current year 13s an opportunity to resit but that's about it I think.
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    (Original post by Hydeman)
    Hmm, I haven't heard of that. As a general rule, your first level 3 qualification (e.g. A-levels, IB, Access etc.) is paid for by the government. You should be fine since you haven't done any others in the past.

    I'm not sure about this though so you should check the UK Government's website (if you live in England). As far as I know, the only things which are ending in June 2016 are the current modular A-levels in most of the traditional subjects (sciences, most humanities). June 2016 will be the last sitting of those and there might be some legacy papers in June 2017 to provide the current year 13s an opportunity to resit but that's about it I think.
    Yeah, I have, that would be the BTEC I did last year.

    What's the difference between modular A-Levels and - presumably - linear ones?
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    (Original post by Hashim123)
    Yeah, I have, that would be the BTEC I did last year.

    What's the difference between modular A-Levels and - presumably - linear ones?
    The outgoing ones are modular A-levels and the specification content is split up into units which are examined separately and can be resat. The new ones that're being rolled out from this year are linear. The main change is that the AS and A-level are totally decoupled so that the AS is a stand-alone qualification examined at the end of year 12 and, if you're doing the A-level, you won't be examined in several modules over two years but in a single exam at the end of the two years in year 13 (I might be wrong on whether it's a single exam but I'm definitely right about having only one shot at it at the end of two years).

    That's sad to hear, about the BTEC. :/ You might have to pay in that case. Generally speaking, though, the exams are quite cheap. It's the coursework moderation and practicals (in science) that are often very expensive. You should try some distance learning providers for A-levels like Pembroke College, who do most of it online and give you a personal tutor and everything and then let you sit the exams privately with them (the exam fees aren't included in the price). The big problem with this option is that it's quite expensive. For multiple A-levels it could easily cost thousands of pounds.
 
 
 

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