About AS & A

The A Level (Advanced Level) is a subject-based qualification conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education, as well as a school leaving qualification offered by the educational bodies in the United Kingdom and the educational authorities of British Crown dependencies to students completing secondary or pre-university education. A number of countries, including Singapore, Kenya, Mauritius and Zimbabwe have developed qualifications with the same name as and a similar format to the British A Levels. Obtaining A Level or equivalent qualifications is generally required for university entrance.

A Levels are generally worked towards over two years and split into two parts, with one part studied in each year. The first part is known as the Advanced Subsidiary Level, A1 Level or AS Level (the AS Level acronym was previously used for the separate Advanced Supplementary Level qualification). The second part is known as the A2 Level and is more in depth and academically rigorous than the A1 Level. The AS Level is a qualification in its own right and the AS Level combined with the A2 Level forms the complete A Level qualification, with the exception of linear qualifications in which all of the A Level marks are obtained from exams taken in the second year. Up to June 2009 a third Special/Advanced Extension Award level was available for the brightest candidates.

Quick Facts

Who are A-levels for?
Many students take AS and A-level qualifications in Years 12 and 13, after completing their GCSEs. However, adults can take them too. Some schools also offer AS levels in certain subjects for gifted and talented students in Years 10 and 11 (ages 14 to 16).

What’s the difference between A levels and AS levels?
A levels and AS levels are taught in a similar way, but A levels are more advanced and take longer to complete. AS levels are similar to the first year of an A-level course.
AS level results used to count towards your final A level result. This is changing now, so while you will still be able to study an AS level alongside the first year of your A level course, your A level result will be based entirely on the exams you do at the end of the two-year course. These changes are being introduced gradually, but all subjects will have moved to the new system by 2017.

Where are they taught?
You can study A/AS levels at your school sixth form or further education college.

What subjects can you study at A-level?
There are about 80 AS and A-level subjects available. You can continue with subjects taken in Years 10 and 11 and/or take new ones.
Many students studying for A-levels take three or four AS levels in their first year. This means you can keep your options open about which subjects to study as a full A level.

How long does it take to study A/AS levels?
AS levels involve 180 guided learning hours. They are equivalent to just under half an A-level and, if studied full-time alongside other courses, generally take a year to complete.
A-levels involve 360 guided learning hours and generally take two years to complete if studied full-time alongside other courses.
Guided learning hours are the number of hours of supervised or directed study time you’ll need to do to for your A/AS level qualification.

How many UCAS points do I get with A/AS levels?
UCAS points for A levels and AS levels are changing for people who apply to go to university in 2017 or later. Under the new system, AS levels will be worth 40% of an A level instead of 50%. The number of points will also be lower, but this isn’t because A levels will be worth less – university offers will change too.