So why change schools? Well I personally did because I wasn't happy at home, so I moved away from my mother. Many other people do it because they dislike their school, or they feel unhappy there. Some parents may force you to move, and some people also change just because they dislike their teachers. Whatever the reason, changing schools is possible, and can be a great decision for some. It was for me.
What to do first
Firstly, you must get in touch with the school or college you wish to transfer to. Do this as soon as possible because they need to check whether or not the exam boards will accommodate any transfers.
If they say they will accept you, tell your current school immediately that you need AS accreditation for any subjects which you will have to change boards for.
Changing exam boards
You must check if your new school/college is using the same exam-board as you did your AS-levels with. If they do, there's little more you have to do yourself - but you must check with your new school/college that they have transferred your UID number.
If the exam-boards don't match, you will need to change exam-board for those subjects. All this means is that your module points are transferred over to the new exam board, so it is as if you did your A-level with the new exam board the whole time. For example, you may essentially be doing e.g. AQA AS Maths + Edexcel A2 Maths, but your AS points need to be 'transferred' to your new exam-board, in this case Edexcel. There will be no 'loss' where points are transferred between equivalent modules (which may have different weightings) on different exam-boards. Transferring exam-board(s) is usually not a problem, but read on carefully as you need to check if there any specific details regarding transfers for your subject:
This form is vitally important for transfers -> http://www.jcq.org.uk/attachments/published/238/Transfer%20of%20AS%20credit%20_3_.pdf
You must look at this form and check if transfers are accepted between the exam-board you did your AS levels with and the exam-board your new school/college use. I can't stress how important it is to get this form filled in (it's at the back of the PDF document). This form tells the JCQ that you wish to transfer exam-boards for the purpose of continuing with that AS-level subject at a new centre. Colleges and schools can forget, so you need to get this form handed into them, detailing all results of previous modules. Don't be afraid to ask for this form or make sure that it has been processed.
However, if your subject lists on the form something like "Transfers are acceptable in principle" then this usually depends on the modules you have chosen, i.e. if there is option modules for Unit 2/Unit 3 etc. For example, trying to transfer from AQA Religious Studies to OCR Religious Studies required having done AS RS04 "An Introduction to Religion and Ethics"; I had taken AS RS06 "An Introduction to Religion and Science" (there were 6 option modules for AS AQA Religious Studies.) As this did not fit in with the 'Path' my new centre were taking with the OCR specification (the concept doesn't exist with AQA RS) I could not transfer - luckily I had another AS level that I could take to A2 level so it didn't end up being very inconvenient. Transfers that don't fit the criteria, or that are not allowed, will be declined You cannot turn up to a new college sixth-form/college and expect everything to just transfer smoothly - do your own research.
It is perhaps worth nothing that if you change to a college, which offers more subjects, and often a choice of modules, this may not be a problem - (I did OCR 16th century history last year but now have to do Edexcel Modern history as I did a Spain module for OCR AS that Edexcel do for 16th century A2). However my FE college was pretty big and everyone did the same modules so don't ever assume this.
Note that 'Transferring credit', 'Transferring between exam-boards', 'Transferring between awarding bodies' and 'Transferring between specifications' all mean the same thing - that is, transferring from one exam-board to another so that you can continute with that subject for A2 at a new school/college.
Resits when changing exam board
I noticed when I was filling my exam-board transfer form in that you can list resits. I never did any resits as I couldn't be bothered, but given that I always thought you couldn't do AS resists after transferring exam-boards this really is worth checking out, especially as it's actually listed on the form. It may, however, not be welcomed by your new centre. Perhaps you could resit at your old centre, but probably you wish to sever links with your old school/college so this may not be desirable!
Note that if you don't have to change exam-boards for subject(s) then you can resit modules as normal.
Dealing with a new exam board
While all exam-board specifications are officially "amongst equals", there are obvious similarities and disparities. You could end up doing different modules, doing an A2 written module where your previous school/college may have done the A2 coursework module etc. Adapting to new exam boards may end up being the hardest thing about changing schools (though you will know whether this will be the case by looking at past papers), but all it means is that you have to ask for some past papers so you know what you're going to have to do. Look at AQA/OCR past-papers on their websites, or buy Edexcel past papers from the Edexcel online shop.
There may some be extra marks for certain things (for example, on my new GCE French board WJEC the discursive essay in the exam has no marks for accuracy in the target language, whereas AQA put about half of the marks on accuracy). Or the proportion of short-answer questions to essay questions may be completely different - e.g. OCR Sociology has one A2 module where you answer ONE 60 mark essay question; all the AQA A2 modules are of the format 8 mark, 12 mark and 40 mark essay, there are no 60 mark essays. Basically: look at past-papers for the A2 modules you will do on the new exam-board.
A list of people's experiences of transfers between different exam-boards:
AQA Business Studies to OCR Business Studies:
I found this basically the same difficulty level of AQA, *but* the papers are stroppily marked, especially the Unit 4 option modules - make sure you can do the calculation questions on those exams. Unit 6 is perhaps easier than the AQA counterpart in that it is a pre-released case study as opposed to an 'on-the-day reading megathon'.
AQA Religious Studies to OCR Religious Studies:
AQA RS is far easier than OCR. Do not transfer unless you are willing to put the extra work in to get up to speed. Look at the OCR past papers (make sure of your 'Path' - the concept doesn't exist with AQA - and the specific A2 modules you have to do) and make your own mind up. OCR really do put emphasis on the philosophical side with their specification, AQA was more general (e.g. the RS05 module was entirely just about the major aspects of one religion, nothing terribly deep).
Edexcel French to AQA French:
AQA are FAR FAR harder than Edexcel for GCE French. I can't stress this enough. Actually print off one of the AQA past-papers and do one, and then get one of the Edexcel past-papers from the Edexcel online shop as a PDF and do that as well. The difference is unbelievable.
Edexcel Maths to OCR MEI Maths
This will be the case with basically all the Maths boards - the content is the same but rearranged through different modules. The papers are also of different difficulty but it won't be too hard to catch up if moving to a harder exam board. The one issue you might have with Edexcel to MEI (and others) is C3 coursework - your new sixth form might have already done it before the AS year ended so there'll be a bit of catch-up.
Your A2 modules taken at your new centre are absolutely fine, since they are obviously on the new exam-board, and can be resat as normal. There will be no 'loss' where points are transferred between equivalent modules (which may have different weightings) on different exam-boards. Your A-level results certificate will NOT show that a transfer has taken place, it will be as if you have done the whole A-level at your new school/college.
When to move?
I realise that not everyone has the choice of when to move, but to be honest, if you're changing exam boards, you need to change straight after the AS exams, as otherwise, you'll miss the first few weeks of a new A2 course.
If enrolling at a college remember to take your AS results with you, they usually want to make a note of your results and don't appreciate you just sitting there trying to remember them, they want proof on paper (though I guess they may accept you just writing them down, as long as you don't give off the impression that you got all Grade Es!).
Will I adapt?
Fitting into a new school is always difficult, but you'll find that people do try hard to make friends with you. It's only a year anyway, and you'll find that as long as you make an effort to talk to people and put yourself out there, they'll be very helpful and make friends with you.
Adapting to new teaching may also be difficult, but to be honest, its not as difficult as people think. I have completely different teaching methods throw at me here than i did before, but I've found it to easy to adapt. You may have to ask your teachers to go over things again with you in some subjects, but they really won't mind! They know you're still adapting.
I'm gonna add a little note about travelling - I lived very near to my sixth form (a ten minute walk!) but my new school was almost an hour away (including train and walking). I found it hard to get used to - I used to finish at 4 and be home for 4:15, my new school would finish at 5 and I would end up being home at 6pm, not including the times I would stay behind to do coursework etc. It is worth bearing increased travel in mind if it is an applicable factor but I certainly never regretted moving schools - the benefits to my work, self-confidence and of course UCAS statement were far greater! (And I quite enjoyed travelling on the train everyday!)
UCAS References and Universities
I see no reason why your old school would have to do your references, except if you were getting your UCAS statement off very promptly (e.g. for Oxbridge) - though then again it would most likely be that your new centre just asks your old school/college for a reference that they then add to and make a bit better (or A LOT better in the case of someone I know whose previous teachers seemingly had no good word to say about her). I applied in December and my college tutor and teachers did my reference, there was no discussion of whether your old centre should do your references, it seemed bizarre. Your teachers/tutor will know you enough by then. Personally I didn't have a good relationship with the teachers at my old school so just the fact that *they* wouldn't be doing my references was a motivating factor in itself to move, I just knew that they wouldn't be able to say good (-enough!) things about me! And given that they have 3 months or so worth of an "impression" of you (which is longer than you think!), they won't, hopefully, know yet of your possible foibles with regards to coursework or last year's slack attendance or whatever - for God's sake be good until you get your UCAS form done! And now I shall add the obligatory: DON'T make the mistake of delaying doing your Personal Statement! Personally I made sure to make a small mention that I had moved in my UCAS Personal Statement, they like to see that can you cope with an abrupt change such as transferring school after AS levels. Universities are HIGHLY unlikely to discriminate you because you transferred, I mean come on! Remember that it is your grades, references and personal statement (and maybe LNAT or BMAT) that the universities care about. It can't be a bad thing to show that you can adapt to new situations easily... you'll have to when you go to uni anyway!
Note that if your transferring exam-boards then on your UCAS Form the subject(s) are listed as being cashed in when you do your June A2 levels, instead of when you did your June AS levels. (I think this is right)
- A-Level Subject Guides
- What Subjects Should I Study?
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- A Guide to Further Education Qualifications
- Things You Should Know Before Starting College