• A-Level Physical Education

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A-Level Physical Education

Background information about studying Physical Education

How will it differ from GCSE?

There are very few changes within the OCR course, but everything most certainly becomes more challenging. The tiered questions now triple themselves and are worth 10 marks in AS. The multiple choice in the exam is also non-existent.

It's important to note that there's a disappointing amount of actual practicals experienced during this course. Most Sixth Forms/Colleges will offer roughly 5 hours of lesson time a week, with one of them being a practical for a couple of months if lucky. This differs from GCSE, where the course could have been covered with just an hour a week for instance but there is now a much greater amount of theory involved.


Physical Education A-Level certainly stands out as a particularly challenging course, with some saying that it's more difficult than some of the sciences. The course content is undeniably overwhelming and complex, taking information from Biology, Physics, Sociology and Psychology, not to mention that the candidate is be expected to partake in their desired sport outside of school to a relatively high level. Being a well-rounded student is strongly recommended for this course.

At times, the course will certainly seem unfair, particularly with the exam boards' ruthless mark scheme approach.

Personal bit of advice: Do not think this is an "easy" subject by any means. It's extremely challenging and frustrating but ultimately interesting and enjoyable for someone who is passionate about sport.


The nature of the mark scheme means that the workload will be quite intense. The tiered questions are difficult to adjust to and will require practice and the depth of knowledge the course goes into for all units is astounding.

Required Individual Study

Recommended: 2-5 Extra hours a week until April.

How is it assessed?


For AQA & OCR there is one exam each year in June. This makes up 60% of your final grade.

The exam will be split into 3 sections in AS: Anatomy & Physiology, Skill Acquisition (Psychology), Sociology.

For OCR, you will have a tiered question for each of these sections, worth 10 marks and 20 marks at AS and A2 respectively.

The exam is split into 3 sections in AS: Anatomy and Physiology, Acquiring Movement Skills (Psychology) and Socio Cultural Studies (Sociology).


For AQA there is no longer a written coursework section like the training programme at GCSE.

For OCR, the coursework is divided into your practical and your talk, both of which will be recorded.

In AS, you will be assessed in 2 sports, unlike A2 where you'll be assessed in your better sport of the 2 done during AS.

The talk will compromise of an action plan and its elements that will need to be applied to video footage seen almost immediately before the talk. In AS, the talk will need to relate to the three separate units covered. During A2, the talk will need to cover all 6 units covered throughout the course; it's not uncommon for talks to last for up to an hour.


Practical Coursework at A level is taken much more seriously than at GCSE, much more video evidence is needed, and you really have to be strong in your sport for high marks (at least participating once a week outside of school/college) and at A2 it needs to be at a competitive level (AQA) however this can be 'got around' by using a mock competitive sitution if necessary.

For AQA the practical coursework is 40% of your final grade.

For AS you are assessed in 2 areas. These can be any mix of performing, officiating and coaching in almost any sport of your choice and they don't have to be the same. eg.. - Netball Performing & Badminton Officiating - Horse Riding Coaching & Football Performing - Tennis Officiating & Tennis Performing - Hockey Performing & Rugby Performing (Performing is the only discipline you can choose twice.)

For A2 you choose to focus on one area. This does not have to be one you did for A2. This year the coursework requires more detail into the analysis of your performance.

Field trips and excursions


Where can I go with a Physical Education A-Level

A versatile A-Level but not necessarily one required to do Sports Science in University, for example.

User Opinions

Username: ChoccyPhilly

What I like about studying this subject:

As someone who is heavily devoted to sport, I thought this was a good, fun A Level for me. The course content was interesting, albeit for some bits *cough* sociology *cough* but it was generally quite fascinating learning about the different types of motivation, how important team talks are and physical bits that I could relate to Biology.

What I dislike about studying this subject:

Its intensity seems unjustified. At times, I found myself demotivated due to the sheer amount of work that PE presented. The exam technique is horribly difficult and needs a ridiculous amount of work to adjust to. The lack of practicals was disappointing, as was the coursework which involved an extremely in depth talk in the first year which was then somehow 10 times more difficult in the second year. The quantity of information that the exam asks for is miniscule compared to the actual course content, which too, seemed unfair. Finally, the A Level doesn't even seem necessary. It doesn't seem to be respected as a "traditional" subject, despite being much harder at times and ended up dragging my other subjects down as a result. It's a lot of work for what it's worth.


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