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 me?
For a qualification to be defined as linear all assessments must be taken at the end of the course.
If you receive a grade for a linear qualification and wish to improve it, you must re-sit the entire qualification.
What is a de-coupled A level and what implications does taking such a qualification have for me?
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 you complete the exams in a de-coupled AS level, you will receive a grade for that qualification.
Similarly, if you complete the exams in a de-coupled A level, you 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 I take the exams in a de-coupled AS level, receive a grade and then decide that I want 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 you achieve in a de-coupled AS will not contribute to the grade for a de-coupled A level.
If you choose to take a de-coupled A level having taken a de-coupled AS in the same subject, you 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 I start studying a de-coupled A level, don’t enter for AS and then decide at the start of year 14 to give the subject up?
If you do not complete the course and do not take the exams, you cannot be awarded a grade in the qualification.
Will I be able to re-sit qualifications?
You 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, you may re-sit individual units once.
What happens if I have to change schools half-way through my A levels and the school I am going to uses a different awarding organisation than the previous school?
If you are 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, you will have to take the AS units as well as the A2 units to complete the qualification and obtain a grade.
If you are 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, you 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 you may find that you will be assessed in the same areas that you were assessed in for AS level.
What happens if I want to take all my exams in one year?
There are no rules to prevent you 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.