A Level Spanish Examinations
A Level Spanish and AS Level Spanish – a Guide
An A-level, short for Advanced level, is a General Certificate of Education, usually achieved by students in the final two years of secondary education (after GCSEs). A-levels are graded from A to E, along with a fail grade, U (ungraded).
Because A-level students often apply to universities before they have taken their final exams, British universities (including Scottish universities, which receive many applicants taking A-levels) consider predicted A-level results when deciding whether or not applicants should be offered places. The predictions are made by students' teachers and can be unreliable. However, the acceptance of a student onto a course will normally be conditional on him or her actually achieving a minimum set of grades (e.g. obtain three grades in upcoming exams: B, B and C). Universities may specify which subjects they wish these grades to be in. A-level grades are also sometimes converted into numerical scores (for example, one system considers an A at A-level to be worth 120 points, while a B is worth 100, a C is worth 80, and a D is 60, etc.), so a university may instead demand that an applicant achieve 280 points, instead of the equivalent offer of B-B-C. This allows more flexibility to students, as 280 points could also, for example, be achieved through the combination A-B-D, which would not have met the requirements of a B-B-C offer because of the D-grade.
Following the introduction of 'Curriculum 2000' in September 2000 an A-level now consists of six modules studied over two years. Normally, three modules are assessed at the end of the first year, and make up a stand-alone qualification called the "AS-level" (or Advanced Subsidiary level). Another three modules are assessed at the end of the second year (which make up a qualification called the "A2": an AS and an A2 in the same subject constitute a complete A-level). There is an opportunity in the second year of study to resit (retake the examination in) any AS modules that have gone badly, and many students take advantage of this. Most module exams can also be sat in January, spreading out the exam load and providing further opportunities to resit.
As the AS-level is a qualification in its own right, it does not need to be continued to A2 level to be considered by universities or potential employers; however, the A2 qualification on its own is meaningless. Some students sit all of their AS and A2 examinations at the beginning of the first or second year. In the first case, this means they complete the A-level in one year, which is possible for more able students. In the latter case, students do not have the opportunity to resit any modules and have a more stressful workload at the end of their second year, but the advantage is that they have more time to concentrate on absorbing details of the subject during the first year.