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Will my sixth form allow me to take AS levels from September? Watch

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    With the A level reform, AS levels aren't being offered "under normal circumstances" at my sixth form. I really want to take them, as I want them as a solid indicator for my academic ability when it comes to applying to university. I want to apply to Cambridge, as I am predicted 10A*s at GCSE. Also, Cambridge offers the course that I really want to do (Natural Sciences). I know that you won't really be disadvantaged without AS levels (as some schools do not offer them now), but I really want to take them anyway (I am 100% sure I can put the effort and hard work into it, so I can achieve A grades). The point I'm trying to make is that I know fully of the implications of taking AS with the A level reform.

    So my question is, what could I say that would convince them to let me take AS levels? Is there any real reason why they wouldn't let me, besides them not believing that I can achieve 'good' grades? If I go to them with, say, 10 A*s at GCSE, and say that I really want to take AS, do you think they would allow me? What reasons would they have against that, really?

    Edit: In case it was ambiguous, I am in year 11, starting year 12 in September.
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    There is no harm in asking. You will still probably sit exams during your first year of 6th form as the courses are still split into two years. There is no real advantage in AS levels for oxford cambridge because you will have to sit their exams anyway. Don't waste your time, it's seriously not worth it.
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    Are you taking further maths? Assuming you are, you'd better hope you do full a-level maths in year 12 and then full further in year 13. If you are doing it in that (the superior) order then sitting AS exams wouldn't be a good idea as it would distract you from the exams that actually count for one of your most essential A*s. Ignore what I said if you aren't taking further maths :P.
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    (Original post by black1blade)
    Are you taking further maths? Assuming you are, you'd better hope you do full a-level maths in year 12 and then full further in year 13. If you are doing it in that (the superior) order then sitting AS exams wouldn't be a good idea as it would distract you from the exams that actually count for one of your most essential A*s. Ignore what I said if you aren't taking further maths :P.
    Yeah, as a matter of fact I'm taking Maths, Further maths, Physics and Chemistry - with Maths being fully taken at the end of year 12, and further maths being taken in year 13. So I guess I would just be able to take only 2 AS levels, considering I would have the full A level for maths anyway (AS in physics and chemistry). Sure, it would be a lot riskier, but I'd still be willing to put in the extra work and concentration I guess.
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    (Original post by Scriptzer)
    Yeah, as a matter of fact I'm taking Maths, Further maths, Physics and Chemistry - with Maths being fully taken at the end of year 12, and further maths being taken in year 13. So I guess I would just be able to take only 2 AS levels, considering I would have the full A level for maths anyway (AS in physics and chemistry). Sure, it would be a lot riskier, but I'd still be willing to put in the extra work and concentration I guess.
    Don't do it, no uni requires AS's these days, and why do more work than one full A-level in year 12 anyhow. A-levels are the hardest thing you will do, but the AS's these days are just not required.
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    I guess doing 2 AS levels with A level maths wouldn't be wildly more difficult (although more difficult than if the courses weren't linear, as I would be doing AS AND A2). Correct me if I'm mistaken though.
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    (Original post by DreamlinerFinder)
    Don't do it, no uni requires AS's these days, and why do more work than one full A-level in year 12 anyhow. A-levels are the hardest thing you will do, but the AS's these days are just not required.
    I understand they don't require AS at all, but as I hopefully explained I want to take them regardless in order to give a much better indication of my academic ability. Considering that Cambridge "strongly encourage potential applicants to take AS Level examinations in at least three, and preferably four, subjects, whether reformed or not, at the end of Year 12.".

    https://www.ucas.com/sites/default/f...-statement.pdf

    And of course I haven't really experience A level at all yet, so don't want to sound naive, but I'd be willing to work really hard. I'm also pretty academic in my point of view, at least at GCSE level.
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    The only people who can answer this are the administration of your 6th form - some may continue offering the qualification generally, while others may only have it in specific circumstances or not at all. It's likely it will be an option but again, it will vary from school to school so you'll need to ask them directly. It seems the latter case is what your school has taken, and so it's probably that they will offer AS levels for borderline candidates or those they feel won't pass the full A-level - unlikely to be relevant for you.

    Not having AS levels will make no difference for a Cambridge application - that's why they have the NatSci Admissions Assessment now (well part of the reason). Conversely, taking the AS levels and doing badly just because you were having an off day is more likely to have a negative impact, as opposed to having no real impact if you have taken them. I would recommend just sticking to your schools planned process and focusing on doing as well as you can on the Maths A-level exams and NSAA
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    (Original post by artful_lounger)
    The only people who can answer this are the administration of your 6th form - some may continue offering the qualification generally, while others may only have it in specific circumstances or not at all. It's likely it will be an option but again, it will vary from school to school so you'll need to ask them directly. It seems the latter case is what your school has taken, and so it's probably that they will offer AS levels for borderline candidates or those they feel won't pass the full A-level - unlikely to be relevant for you.

    Not having AS levels will make no difference for a Cambridge application - that's why they have the NatSci Admissions Assessment now (well part of the reason). Conversely, taking the AS levels and doing badly just because you were having an off day is more likely to have a negative impact, as opposed to having no real impact if you have taken them. I would recommend just sticking to your schools planned process and focusing on doing as well as you can on the Maths A-level exams and NSAA
    I appreciate that, but surely it's logical/better to take them IF you are academically strong enough to do it, considering Cambridge's view on the matter - "We strongly encourage potential applicants to take AS Level examinations in at least three, and preferably four, subjects, whether reformed or not, at the end of Year 12" (It won't let me post the link to their statement for some reason).

    They say it will "provide us with a strong measure of applicants’ recent academic progress, will assist us and the students in judging whether an application to Cambridge is likely to be competitive", which makes sense to me from my POV.
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    (Original post by Scriptzer)
    Yeah, as a matter of fact I'm taking Maths, Further maths, Physics and Chemistry - with Maths being fully taken at the end of year 12, and further maths being taken in year 13. So I guess I would just be able to take only 2 AS levels, considering I would have the full A level for maths anyway (AS in physics and chemistry). Sure, it would be a lot riskier, but I'd still be willing to put in the extra work and concentration I guess.
    Yeah just focus on your maths to guarantee getting an A*. I did do my as science exams this year but that was alongside old spec A2 maths (c3,4 m1). Do you know if you'll be doing old spec maths, new spec further or new spec both?
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    Actually I will say that having AS exams this year in physics and chemistry did force me to tighten up my knowledge in those subjects so if you really want to do them then your school should let you.
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    (Original post by black1blade)
    Yeah just focus on your maths to guarantee getting an A*. I did do my as science exams this year but that was alongside old spec A2 maths (c3,4 m1). Do you know if you'll be doing old spec maths, new spec further or new spec both?
    I'm doing new spec Edexcel maths and further maths.

    Also, is the AS content still the same content taught in linear courses? So are you still taught AS in year 12 of linear (being the same content as old AS), and then A2 being taught in year 13? Or does AS even exist in the linear courses...?
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    (Original post by Scriptzer)
    I'm doing new spec Edexcel maths and further maths.

    Also, is the AS content still the same content taught in linear courses? So are you still taught AS in year 12 of linear (being the same content as old AS), and then A2 being taught in year 13? Or does AS even exist in the linear courses...?
    It depends on your school but I would imagine they stick to the year 1 and year 2 content. If they aren't doing AS exams, they'll have internal exams at the end of year 12 that will be old as past papers or a mix of some past paper questions on year 1 topics.
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    (Original post by black1blade)
    It depends on your school but I would imagine they stick to the year 1 and year 2 content. If they aren't doing AS exams, they'll have internal exams at the end of year 12 that will be old as past papers or a mix of some past paper questions on year 1 topics.
    Hmm, I guess it would make sense to still teach AS in the first year, that way they could use AS past papers as mocks. If a school did it that way though (which I suspect mine does), I don't see what the major difference would be if it was an actual AS paper (as in the qualification being taken) or a mock (apart from of course, the AS level being an actual qualification), and therefore what the problem would be with letting candidates sit AS at the end of year 12. Of course I don't want to sound naive though so do correct me if I'm wrong.
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    (Original post by Scriptzer)
    Hmm, I guess it would make sense to still teach AS in the first year, that way they could use AS past papers as mocks. If a school did it that way though (which I suspect mine does), I don't see what the major difference would be if it was an actual AS paper (as in the qualification being taken) or a mock (apart from of course, the AS level being an actual qualification), and therefore what the problem would be with letting candidates sit AS at the end of year 12. Of course I don't want to sound naive though so do correct me if I'm wrong.
    It costs them a lot of money to apply for as exams so they don't want anyone who's not dropping the subject after a year to do them basically.
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    (Original post by black1blade)
    It costs them a lot of money to apply for as exams so they don't want anyone who's not dropping the subject after a year to do them basically.
    Ah that makes sense.
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    (Original post by Scriptzer)
    I appreciate that, but surely it's logical/better to take them IF you are academically strong enough to do it, considering Cambridge's view on the matter - "We strongly encourage potential applicants to take AS Level examinations in at least three, and preferably four, subjects, whether reformed or not, at the end of Year 12" (It won't let me post the link to their statement for some reason).

    They say it will "provide us with a strong measure of applicants’ recent academic progress, will assist us and the students in judging whether an application to Cambridge is likely to be competitive", which makes sense to me from my POV.
    I imagine you can't link it because it doesn't exist (at least, in a current format published for the upcoming application cycle).

    http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.a...e-requirements

    This indicates no such preference, and specifically states "If you're taking linear qualifications, your teachers will provide us with information about your performance through their UCAS reference". The only reference to your comment I can find is in nearly 4 year old news articles based on a memo sent by a History academic at a single college. Your 6th form administrative staff will be aware if Cambridge has sent any further information about application guidance, and take that into account. If any colleges have any specific requirements of preferences they will no doubt publish them well in advance on their websites.

    There is nothing on the website of the university as a whole that indicates any need or benefit in taking the AS exams separately to the full A-level exams. Not to mention, most other qualifications are linear and have been for a long time, and they necessarily do not have any marks or grades when applying and solely rely on the school reference, e.g. IB, most regional European leaving diplomas, etc, etc.

    You can do as you like but regardless of what you think, there is no "logic" in taking the exams early, and it is in fact illogical to do so based on spurious outdated information. The evidence at present suggests it is unnecessary at best, and logically a poor performance in these results would greatly harm your application. Comparable applications from excellent students not sitting A-levels will not have any such marks and are satisfactorily assessed by the admissions staff using the NSAA, teachers reference, and interview performance.
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    I will say I am glad my school made me do AS levels because I think that I did pretty well (80% in physics and 90 in chemistry hopefully) however yeah if my school didn't force me to then there's no point.
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    (Original post by artful_lounger)
    I imagine you can't link it because it doesn't exist (at least, in a current format published for the upcoming application cycle).

    http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.a...e-requirements

    This indicates no such preference, and specifically states "If you're taking linear qualifications, your teachers will provide us with information about your performance through their UCAS reference". The only reference to your comment I can find is in nearly 4 year old news articles based on a memo sent by a History academic at a single college. Your 6th form administrative staff will be aware if Cambridge has sent any further information about application guidance, and take that into account. If any colleges have any specific requirements of preferences they will no doubt publish them well in advance on their websites.
    The statement made by Cambridge I was referring to is on the UCAS website, what I meant was TSR won't let me post a link (as I'm a new user) until they approve it or something like that. Although they clearly don't have a preference, which I agree with, it's clear that they "strongly encourage potential applicants" to do AS levels at the end of year 12. Not that I'm entirely basing my actions on a statement made by Cambridge, but they are supported by Cambridge, if you see what I mean. I'll copy and paste a part of it here:

    "For the 2015-17 cohort of students starting their sixth form studies in an environment where there is likely to be a mixture of reformed and unreformed A Levels, we will continue to use UMS in those subjects that retain it. We strongly encourage potential applicants to take AS Level examinations in at least three, and preferably four, subjects, whether reformed or not, at the end of Year 12. This will provide us with a strong measure of applicants’ recent academic progress, will assist us and the students in judging whether an application to Cambridge is likely to be competitive, and will provide reassurance that grade predictions are not relied upon too heavily in a new system."

    www (dot) ucas (dot) com/sites/default/files/university-of-cambridge-qual-reform-statement.pdf
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    The original Cambridge advice is here - http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.a...eges_wales.pdf. Yes, it is from 2014, but it is intended to apply up to the end of the 2017 exams. From next year, I will need to look more closely at the current advice.

    I think it is a good idea to still take AS exams. It is the best way to get an independent progress check. For people who are not doing well, it is a good indication to bail out now (or get your act together), while still having some sort of qualification, even if not a great one. For students who continue, then yes, AS exams count for nothing, but the progress check is invaluable in my opinion.

    Schools ,may not want to do this because of the cost. It would cost a lot for a school to enter large numbers of students, but if they are not doing it as standard and you still want to, you could offer to pay yourself. I'm not sure what the cost is, but it's not a fortune.
 
 
 
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