Studying[ edit ] The number of A-level exams taken by students can vary. A typical route is to study four subjects at AS level and then drop down to three at A2 level, although some students continue with their fourth subject.
Beforethe grading scheme varied between examination boards, but typically there were "pass" grades of 1 to 6 and "fail" grades of 7 to 9.
However the grades were not displayed on certificates. The CSE was graded on a numerical scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being the highest, and 5 being the lowest passing grade. Below 5 there was a U ungraded grade.
The highest grade, 1, was considered equivalent to an O-Level C grade or above, and achievement of this grade often indicated that the student could have taken an O-Level course in the subject to achieve a higher qualification. As the two were independent qualifications with separate syllabi, a separate course of study would have to be taken to "convert" a CSE to an O-Level in order to progress to A-Level.
Introduction of the GCSE[ edit ] GCSEs were introduced in  to establish a national qualification for those who decided to leave school at 16, without pursuing further academic study towards qualifications such as A-Levels or university degrees.
They replaced the former CSE and O-Level qualifications, uniting the two qualifications to allow access to the full range of grades for more students.
However the exam papers sometimes had a choice of questions designed for the more able and the less able candidates. Changes since initial introduction[ edit ] Over time, the range of subjects offered, the format of the examinations, the regulations, the content, and the grading of GCSE examinations has altered considerably.
Numerous subjects have been added and changed, and various new subjects are offered in the modern languages, ancient languages, vocational fields, and expressive arts, as well as Citizenship courses.
This remained the highest grade available until From the first assessment series incontrolled assessment replaced coursework in various subjects, requiring more rigorous exam-like conditions for much of the non-examination assessed work, and reducing the opportunity for outside help in coursework.
These were a precursor to the later reforms. The new qualifications are designed such that most exams will be taken at the end of a full 2-year course, with no interim modular assessment, coursework, or controlled assessment, except where necessary such as in the arts.
Some subjects will retain coursework on a non-assessed basis, with the completion of certain experiments in science subjects being assumed in examinations, and teacher reporting of spoken language participation for English GCSEs as a separate report.
Other changes include the move to a numerical grading system, to differentiate the new qualifications from the old-style letter-graded GCSEs, publication of core content requirements for all subjects, and an increase in longer, essay-style questions to challenge students more.
Alongside this, a variety of low-uptake qualifications and qualifications with significant overlap will cease, with their content being removed from the GCSE options, or incorporated into similar qualifications.
GCSE examinations in English and mathematics were reformed with the syllabus publications, with these first examinations taking places in The remainder will be reformed with the and syllabus publications, leading to first awards in andrespectively. Qualifications that are not reformed will cease to be available.
The science reforms, in particular, mean that single-award "science" and "additional science" options are no longer available, being replaced with a double award "combined science" option graded on the scale to and equivalent to 2 GCSEs.
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The GCE A-level is a linear qualification taken over two years by students at school in the UK. International students can still take it but they should note they will take regional versions and will sit papers at slightly different times.