|For those of you who have now completed your first year of A-Level study and just received your AS-Level results, you may have many questions. This section should provide answers tot he most common questions.
Understanding your results slip
Unlike GCSEs, your school should have issued you with a results slip which has a UMS score for every module and qualification cashed in. This will have a breakdown similar to the following for each subject you have taken:
You will have a UMS score for the whole qualification, either out of 200 or 300 at AS-Level, and then a score for each module. These will be accompanied with a grade. If you are unsure how close to a grade boundary you are, the UMS boundaries will always remain the same. For example, for a qualification out of 200, 160 (80%) will always give you an A. Visit our UMS guide for more information if you don't fully understand.
It is important that you keep this results slip safe. If you have misplaced it, simply ask your Examinations Officer to print you another copy.
Will I receive certificates for my AS-Levels?
If your AS-Levels have been cashed in, then you will receive a certificate. If you are not sure whether your subject has been cashed in, you will not see an overall score for the qualification if it is yet to be cashed in. Your institution should receive these certificates by the end of October and will distribute them to you. Unless you are changing college or sixth form, you shouldn't need your AS-Level certificates immediately. When you do receive them, keep them in a safe place with your GCSE certificates. It is likely that universities or employers will want to see photocopies of these certificates.
How will my AS-Level results contribute to A-Levels?
If you are to continue with your subject to gain an A-Level, then your AS-Level results will still contribute towards your final grade. The A2 modules are not weighted heavier than the AS modules, so any UMS mark gained at AS-Level is identical to one achieved in an A2 module. For this reason, you don't need to achieve an A grade at AS-Level to receive an A grade for the whole A-Level. You could achieve 299/300 UMS (A) at AS-Level and then only need 181/300 UMS (C) from your A2 modules to receive an A grade.
Should I retake AS modules to maximise my UMS?
Many people would argue that AS modules are easier. For this reason, many choose to retake some AS modules to maximise their UMS scores, reducing the pressure when taking their A2 modules. If you look at the module breakdown for each subject, it is often the case that one module is lower than the rest, and this would be a good module to retake. Choosing to retake a module is a very personal choice. Don't be afraid to retake a module where you scored well, but still felt you could've done better, as any extra UMS at AS-Level can provide security for a poor performance in an A2 exam.
Do remember that you can only retake modules in January or June. It is highly likely that you will also have A2 modules in these exam periods, so take into consideration the extra work you will have to put in for your retake. It is advised that you put the same amount of revision in for your retakes and new modules to get the best results. Many students believe that they will automatically achieve a better result as they have studied some A2 content and are taking the exam again. For subjects like English Literature or History, where the content can be completely different, you will simply waste your time and money if you don't revise. Treat the retake as if you were sitting the exam for the first time.
Speak to your Examinations Officer for the price of retaking a module, and when you need to have made your decision by.
For more information, please see the Retaking A-Level Modules section below.
I didn't achieve an A at AS-Level, can I still reach an A* at A-Level?
Yes. Contrary to what a lot of teachers believe, you do not need an A at AS-Level to get an A* at A-Level, nor do you need an A in every module. Other than making it easier to reach the A grade at A-Level, any high scoring modules at AS-Level will not contribute towards the A*.
How do I achieve an A* at A-Level?
To achieve an A* at A-Level, you must have enough UMS over your AS and A2 modules to warrant an A grade (80%), and then 90% from your A2 modules. This differs slightly for Mathematics and Further Mathematics.
Here are a few examples which may help you to understand:
- You have achieved 150/200 UMS (B) at AS-Level and have a B. You need 170/200 UMS (A) at A2 to have 320/400 UMS in total, and an A grade. But, this is still not enough for an A* as you have not achieved 90%. If you score 180/200 UMS at A2, you will receive an A*.
- You have achieved 200/200 UMS (A) at AS-Level and have an A. You need 120/200 UMS (C) at A2 to have 320/400 UMS in total, and an A grade. But, this is still not enough for an A* as you have not achieved 90%. If you score 180/200 UMS at A2, you will receive an A*.
As you can see, both candidates still need 180/200 UMS in their A2 modules to achieve an A*, despite the second student doing much better in their AS-Level.
There are a few circumstances where people who are not retaking AS modules cannot achieve an A at A-Level, but can achieve an A*:
- You have achieved 130/200 UMS (C) at AS-Level and have an A. You need 190/200 UMS (A) at A2 to have 320/400 UMS in total, and an A grade. This is enough to achieve an A* as you have achieved 90%. However, if you score below 190/200 UMS (A) at A2, and get 185/200 UMS (A), you will not have enough UMS to reach 320/400 UMS in total. You will have a B grade.
Of course, there are circumstances where the A* at A-Level is no longer possible, unless retakes of AS modules are done to improve the score:
- You have achieved 110/200 UMS (D) at AS-Level and have a D. You need 210/200 UMS at A2 to have 320/400 UMS in total, which of course is not possible.
As a result, retaking modules at AS-Level usually will not increase your chances of getting an A*. While some teachers may be under the impression that you must get 90% or above in each module, this is not correct. Even with your A2 modules, you only need 90% overall, meaning either 180/200 UMS or 270/300 UMS depending on the qualification. 80/100 and 100/100 in your A2 modules would still satisfy that condition.
Should I drop a subject I did at AS-Level?
The entry requirements for the majority of university courses will require you to have three A-Levels when applying to their courses. For this reason, it is unwise to do less than three subjects to A2, and it is likely that your institution would prevent you from doing so. However, many students choose to go from doing four subjects at AS-Level to only three subjects at A-Level. Some institutions will require you to do a complementary option instead of completing a full A-Level, and this could be anything from the EPQ to a GCSE in a language. Speak to your Head of Further Education (or equivalent) to find out your institution's policies when dropping a subject.
If you apply through UCAS whilst doing more than three subjects, universities are able to make an offer based on all of your subjects. For example, a friend doing three A-Levels may receive an offer of BBB, whereas you could receive an offer of BBBC for exactly the same course. Whether this benefits you really depends on the individual and it is a decision which must be considered carefully.
Many students will feel that doing four A-Levels will simply reduce their attainment in their stronger subjects and so, where they take four AS-Levels, choose to drop one of their AS-Level subjects when moving into their A2 year. If this applies to you but you are struggling to decide which subject to drop, some suggestions are included for the next question.
However, some will feel they can cope with more A-Levels and may have a keen interest in all of their subjects. When universities make offers, there are some circumstances where the offer will be slightly lower to those taking more A-Levels, but this is not always the case. Similarly, when A2 results are released a year later, there will inevitably be students who miss their offers. A number of large institutions have shown that students missing their firm or insurance offers were more likely to still be accepted if they were taking more than three A-Levels.
I have decided to drop a subject, but how should I choose which?
When choosing which subject to drop, the easiest way is often to look at your results. If there is one subject where your grade is significantly lower than the rest and which could require numerous retakes to bring it up to a grade which you feel is acceptable, it is probably wise to drop this subject. However, you don't have to underachieve in a subject to warrant dropping it. If you have been struggling with the content throughout AS-Levels and feel that the A2 content may be beyond your ability then it is perfectly reasonable to drop the subject. The reason for dropping a subject could be as simple as no longer liking the content!
Your Head of Further Education (or equivalent) should be available to discuss any subjects to be dropped and it is likely you will be asked to explain your reasons. If you are truly passionate about a subject and know you could've done better, don't immediately be swayed by advice to drop the subject if you feel that retakes and hard work will allow you to reach your goal. It is very easy to drop a subject, yet if you do change your mind one or two weeks into the term, it is likely to be very difficult to catch up with the content.
Before you drop any subjects, do some research into the university courses you wish to apply to. You may find that dropping a specific subject will narrow your choices or mean you will no longer be considered by the admissions team. If you are unsure about your subject combinations, most university admissions teams will be happy to answer your query by either email or telephone.
I am doing Maths and Further Maths; can I still drop a subject?
If you are doing Further Maths and intend to drop one of your other subjects, it should be noted that some universities/courses will consider an A-Level subject set of Maths, Further Maths and one other to be too narrow. It is best to do some research before making this choice.
Should I take up an additional AS-Level?
There are often a group of students who feel they didn't choose the best subjects at AS-Level to apply to their chosen universities/courses. Sometimes, taking an additional AS-Level could be a good option to boost your chances of receiving an offer when applying through UCAS. This AS-Level could be almost anything offered by your institution, depending completely on your individual circumstances. If you are considering taking a new AS-Level you should discuss this with your Head of Further Education (or equivalent) to check whether they can timetable additional lessons for you for this subject. In many cases the number of teaching hours may be less, so you should carefully consider whether it is worth the time and effort outside class. Research your university options and contact the admissions teams before committing to an extra AS-Level, asking whether it will benefit your application.
Many institutions may acknowledge that an extra AS-Level will benefit your application, and the same applies to the EPQ. However, they may not always make an offer based on this AS-Level. In this circumstance, you must continue with the subject unless you have spoken directly with UCAS and your university choices.
You may find yourself in the position where an extra AS-Level isn't enough. For example, a student who didn't take Chemistry to AS-Level but wants to study Medicine will need the full A-Level. In this circumstance, it is best to speak to your institution and discuss whether it is possible to do the whole A-Level in a year. This is likely to involve a lot of learning outside of a classroom environment, which may be a big commitment on top of A2 modules for other subjects. It is likely that you will then take the AS modules in January and the A2 modules in June.
Will universities see my AS-Level results?
The majority of institutions will have 'cashed in' your AS-Level qualifications, as the government has now made this a necessary requirement for them to receive funding. For this reason, you must declare your AS-Level results on your UCAS form. You will be able to indicate if you are retaking modules to boost your AS-Level grade, but they will still see the original result.
I did a full A-Level this year, will universities include it in my offer?
Unfortunately, it really depends on the institution. Say you have achieved an A in Chemistry this year and you are applying to a course which requires AAB with an A in Chemistry. Some examples of offers that you could receive are as follows:
- AAB, not mentioning the achieved grade in Chemistry whatsoever.
- AAB, excluding Chemistry.
- AAAB, including Chemistry.
- AABB, including Chemistry.
- AB, and proof of your A in Chemistry.
The best thing that you can do is to contact the relevant universities and their admissions teams and explain your situation.
How should I choose universities now I have my AS-Level results?
At this stage, you should already have some ideas on which courses you want to apply for, but now you have received your AS-Level results you can begin to look more seriously at universities. From your AS-Level results, you can begin to get an idea of what you may achieve at A-Level. If you get BBB at AS-Level and are retaking some modules, don't assume these will definitely go up to AAA. Similarly, don't assume you will achieve exactly the same at A-Level, as the content does get harder. It is best to discuss with your teachers what they feel you can achieve, building yourself a set of predicted grades. Make sure that you tell your teachers if you are retaking modules, as otherwise they could be some of the last ones to know! They should be able to offer advice as to whether they think that you can improve your grade.
Once you have a rough idea of predicted grades, take a look at the stated entry requirements of a variety of universities, bearing in mind that some competitive institutions are often looking for higher predictions than their published standard offer for many of their courses. A good balance could be to have two 'higher risk' universities, two 'medium risk' universities and one 'low risk' university. Use your grades to determine what 'risk level' each university holds, and try and encompass a band of offers when choosing your five universities.
Results day is only the first step towards your university applications. Check out our Applications to Higher Education guides for more information and if you have any remaining queries you can ask for advice on these in our Applications and UCAS forum. Please try and wait for the results day activity peak to clear before posting any UCAS queries, as you are likely to find that when results are released and for the few days immediately following the forum will be populated with A-Level students and their queries.
I'd like to do Medicine at university. Is there anything else I should know?
We have a dedicated "Medicine AS Results Advice" thread which has more information.