We have included on this page answers to some questions you may have in relation to the changes to A levels and GCSEs. Should we receive any queries that we have not already addressed, they will be added to the existing questions.
What is a linear qualification and what implications does taking such a qualification have for a young person?
For a qualification to be defined as linear all assessments must be taken at the end of the course.
If a young person receives a grade for a linear qualification and wishes to improve it, he / she must re-sit the entire qualification.
What is a de-coupled A level and what implications does taking such a qualification have for a young person?
De-coupled AS and A levels are standalone qualifications. AS levels are usually taken at the end of Year 13 and A levels are usually taken at the end of Year 14.
If a young person completes the exams in a de-coupled AS level, he / she will receive a grade for that qualification.
Similarly, if a young person completes the exams in a de-coupled A level, he / she will receive a grade for that qualification.
The marks from a de-coupled AS level qualification will not contribute to the grade for the de-coupled A level.
A de-coupled A level is a linear qualification meaning all exams are taken at the end of the course (usually two years).
What happens if a young person takes the exams in a de-coupled AS level, receives a grade and then decides he /she wants to continue on to do the full de-coupled A level?
De-coupled AS and A level qualifications are completely standalone so any marks that a young person achieves in a de-coupled AS will not contribute to the grade for a de-coupled A level.
If a young person chooses to take a de-coupled A level having taken a de-coupled AS in the same subject, he / she should be aware that a de-coupled A level is a linear qualification meaning all exams are taken at the end of the course (usually 2 years). This means that material which was assessed in the de-coupled AS will also be assessed in the de-coupled A level.
What happens if a young person starts studying a de-coupled A level, doesn’t enter for AS and then decides at the start of year 14 to give the subject up?
If a young person does not complete the course and does not take the exams, he / she cannot be awarded a grade in the qualification.
Will a young person be able to re-sit qualifications?
Young people will have the opportunity to re-sit qualifications.
All AS and A level qualifications and most GCSEs will only be available in the summer series.
For linear qualifications, the complete qualification must be retaken.
For unitised AS and A levels, young people may re-sit individual units once.
What happens if a young person has to change schools half-way through their A levels and the school he / she is going to uses a different awarding organisation than the previous school?
If a young person is moving from a school that offered de-coupled A levels to a school that offers A levels where AS marks still contribute to the overall grade, he / she will have to take the AS units as well as the A2 units to complete the qualification and obtain a grade.
If a young person is moving from a school that offered A levels where AS marks still contribute to the overall grade to a school that offers de-coupled qualifications, he / she will take the linear A level at the end of the course (usually 2 years). Any marks / grades previously achieved at AS will not contribute to the overall A level grade and the young person may find that he / she will be assessed in the same areas that he / she was assessed in for AS level.
What happens if a young person wants to take all his / her exams in one year?
There are no rules to prevent a young person from taking exams in one year. The only limitations are with the units / exams that the awarding organisations make available.
Is there any difference in terms of UCAS tariff points between de-coupled A levels and those where AS marks still contribute to the overall grade?
How will the existing GCSE A*-G grades be compared to 9-1 grades?
Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications in England) published a postcard which has a comparison of the existing 8 graded A*-G grading system and the new 9-1 grading system.
How will the revised CCEA GCSE A*-G grades be compared to 9-1 grades?
CCEA Regulation is currently working on this new grading system. When details of the new system and how it can be compared to the 9-1 grading system are available, they will be published.
When will the new CCEA GCSEs graded A*-G with a C* be introduced?
These new CCEA GCSEs will be introduced for first teaching in 2017, first awards in 2019. They will be graded on a 9 grade system from A*-G with a new C* grade.