A Conversation for AS Exams

A544538-AS Exams

Post 1

Researcher 168963

http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/guide/A544538

I thought that since there was a guide entry on GCSE's there should perhaps be one on A levels too. I could be wrong.


A544538-AS Exams

Post 2

xyroth

small point. in the article you write that AS levels are equvalent to half an A level, here you say that they are at the same level. smiley - smiley


A544538-AS Exams

Post 3

Researcher 168963

Oops. I didn't read the post I wrote properly. *blush*


A544538-AS Exams

Post 4

Jamie of the Portacabin

This is a good entry, and certainly covers an area that needs some representation in the Guide! I'm taking AS's myself this year, so this particularly interested me! smiley - smiley

However, there are one or two points I feel need mentioning. Firstly, the opening paragraph; AS's are not just taken by English people, but are also taken by people in Wales and also Scotland and Northern Ireland as far as I know. Plus, many people taking them in these countries are Pakistani, Indian, Italian, Arabic, etc. On top of that, there are people taking AS's in British curriculum schools elsewhere in the world! I'm one of them! Perhaps the first paragraph should read 'These are the exams that sixth form students in British curiculum schools are taking.'? You've assumed that only England is involved in the process elsewhere in the entry too.

The Editors won't like the fact that certain things are sometimes refered to in the present or future tense. Guide entries need to be in the past tense to avoid them becoming dated too quickly.

Other than these small areas it's a damn good entry, and very informative. I look forward to seeing it on the front page! smiley - biggrin


A544538-AS Exams

Post 5

Orcus

Small point about the first paragraph, AS levels were being taken when I was at school and I left in 1989. I suspect they're not starting this year smiley - winkeye


A544538-AS Exams

Post 6

Orcus

Also, I have two AO levels which were taken at the end of my lower sixth form - we did not get the chance to sit back an laze at the end of this year, we still had to do public exams. I do agree that the A level did depend upon one set of exams after two years however.

I think maybe you should clarify these two points as I was confused by it a bit until I reread the article.


A544538-AS Exams

Post 7

Bright Blue Shorts

Yes I was going to mention the AO exams that bridged the gap between O and A levels (in my day) ....

IMHO you need to stress the workload issue. My understanding of the situation is that previously teachers had 5 terms to teach an A level, then 1 term left to do all the revision. Now they have 2 terms of teaching, 1 of revision in each year. Result 1: less term of teaching in the A level. I can remember my sixth form teacher saying that 'A' levels are the hardest exams we'll ever take, even harder than degrees. Their depth seems to be being sacrificed for breadth.

A question: I was wondering whether universities will be basing entries on the AS results. Currently they base them on predicted A level grades, which has always been a bit of a minefield. Anyone know?

Anyway nice work, it has all the hallmarks of being a good entry, although I think there's still a bit of work to do.

BBS smiley - smiley


A544538-AS Exams

Post 8

Orcus

When I was in sixth form the universities had already changed the rules.

Prior to my year, the points total for A levels was based on Grade A =5, B=4, C=3 etc.

When the AS came in the grades were 1-5 for this exam and A levels became A=10, B=8, C=6, D=4, E=2... so I think they have been condering this for a number of years...


A544538-AS Exams

Post 9

coelacanth

First point I'd like to make is that an A/S is not actually meant to be equivelant to the second half, the A2. It's meant to be the bridge between GCSE and A level, and therefore more like the old AO exam, or a 16+GCSE. It is not equivelant even to the content of an A/S that some pupils have been taking for the past 5 years. These have been made up from 3 modules chosen from several of equal content. No consideration was given to whether students were in the first or second year of study when they sat the module.
The new A/S levels require skills of knowledge and understanding, but not so much critical analysis. These skills are now examined in the A2 year only.

There's definitely a need to explain these new style exams, so well done on this entry. Perhaps people might also like to visit my page of links for revision at http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/guide/A545078.
smiley - fish (A Level teacher for 9 years, )


A544538-AS Exams

Post 10

coelacanth

I've been delivering the modular A level for 4 years previous to this new system, and I prefer it. Students all had an A/S Grade at the end of year 12, so even if they left they had something to show for it. They could also change courses if they wanted.
Spring Modules meant less stress all in one go (advantages and disadvantages of course) and something to motivate students.

With regard to uni points they are:
A/S:
A 60
B 50
C 40
D 30
E 20

A Level
A 120
B 100
C 80
D 60
E 40

Some uni's are still asking for Grades, some for points. Also since only 50% of students are claiming Key Skills, nobody is quite sure what happens then.
The advice is to add a statement on the UCAS for regarding your school/college's policy. If they don't offer key skills, you can't claim them, but this shouldn't affect any applications.


A544538-AS Exams

Post 11

Researcher 168963

Have amended article, and would like to know if the improvements are for the better (please).
A few points;
1. I wrote that they were English because I didn't know where they were being taken apart from England and I was very concious that saying they were British would have got me in trouble from Scottish higher, Irish leaving cert students etc. I put a footnote on, I hope that's enough.

2. The previous AS levels were Advances Supplementary, designed as expensions to A levels, so they weren't the same.

3. I didn't know about AO levela (I am ignorant!). I have now given them a mention.


A544538-AS Exams

Post 12

Orcus

Your point 2 there. If you mean they were expansions to A level, no they weren't, sorry but I was there, that isn't correct. That would be S Level, a special paper with more difficult questions than the A level exam papers. AS levels in my day were half an A level, just as you mention in your article.


A544538-AS Exams

Post 13

coelacanth

The A/S _were_ exactly half, and in fact for people in Year 13 at the moment, working under the old sysytem, they still are.
The new A/S are most definitely not exactly half. The A2 modules contain more content, synoptic elements and also require analytical and critical skills. This takes into account the general development of these skills in the students over the two years.
The phrase "dumbed down" springs to mind. Expect a huge rise in the grades and a claim by the DES that this is because the new system works (ie not the students or their teachers!)
Feel sorry for that year group too. Known as the "guinea pig" year because they have been subject to all the new educational reforms over their educational career.
smiley - fish


A544538-AS Exams

Post 14

Jamie of the Portacabin

They are 50%, as far as their value is concerned. An AS is worth exactly 50% of the marks/grade-wise of the full A level. As is A2. Content and difficulty-wise, they may be unbalanced but if Dastardly is using the term '50%' in the value sense (as I believe he is) then he is quite right. smiley - smiley

However, Dastardly, I'm still not keen on the way you've phrased the whole 'English' thing, with the footnote etc. There is no such thing as 'English curiculum', it's the British curiculum. England and Wales, for example, follow exactly the same system. There is no 'Welsh curiculum'. It's sort of a semantic point, but quite an important one I suspect. Or maybe it's just because I'm not English...smiley - winkeye


A544538-AS Exams

Post 15

Researcher 168963

Sorry.
I must have got my sources mixed up on the old AS issue. Thankyou for putting me straight.*goes off to shoot whoever told me wrong*
I have now given the international aspect of AS levels a mention. I hope it's OK, if not then put me straight.
Yes I meant they are worth half by value. I have now clarified that in the article.

Coelacanth, perhaps the exams are easier than usual, but there is nothing worse than doing your best in an exam, coming out of it, getting the grade you feel you deserve and then someone whining 'Oh it's only because they've been dumbed down'. Don't take peoples achievements away from them. And in my school particularly, there have been quite a lot of good grades, but also an astonishing number of fails, for exams that are meant to be so much easier.
I accept that they MAY be easier, but to balance that they have a lot more work involved, according to all the teachers I know.


A544538-AS Exams

Post 16

Orcus

Its a shame you guys have to put up with that. Not your fault and you still have worthy qualifications.

But to put things into perspective, I work at a university an we have had to extend degree courses from 3 to four years now as the incoming students at least in my subject (chemistry) simply have not learned as much chemistry as they used to and there has to be years core course to bring everyone up to speed for the degree level stuff. This is the simple fact and its annoying seeing politicians carping on about how much better the exams results are year in year out.

Anyway, end of rant. It doesn't really matter to you guys, you've all got the same A levels as each other so your not competing on an unlevel playing field with each other.


A544538-AS Exams

Post 17

coelacanth

I'm sorry, Dastardly, I stand by what I say. Call it what you will. The A/S levels have been "dumbed down" in both the content and the skills. But, as I also said, under the modular system that has been running parallel with the linear for the last 5 years, there was a big problem. No consideration was made for the fact that some students taking an individual modular paper were in the first year of study and some were in the second. It wasn't fair.
That has now been rectified. The Year 12 papers are easier than they were.
I switched to teaching the modular course 5 years ago after delivering the linear for 4 years prior to that. The A level of today is also nothing even close in depth to the one I took 20 years ago, and that's the reason for the effect that Orcus notices.
smiley - fish


A544538-AS Exams

Post 18

Jamie of the Portacabin

Coelacanth, you use the phrase 'dumbed down' as if you feel the current sixth form population is stupider than those in days of yore, or as if you are bitter about having had to do harder exams or some such thing.

If you know anything about the new AS system at all you will know that their whole intrinsic purpose is to, and I quote from the blurb, "bridge the gap between GCSE and A level".

The A2 is designed to be of A level standard. It makes sense if you think about it. On top of this, AS students have to put up with a greater workload, due to having to take 4 or even 5 subjects as opposed to the 3 expected of them in previous years.

To paraphrase something someone said earlier, A levels may have been given less depth, but the difficulty and workload remains the same due to a proportional increase in breadth.


A544538-AS Exams

Post 19

coelacanth

Jamie, you can quote from the blurb, or my posting 9 where I do state that the new exams are intended to bridge the gap. You'll also see that perhaps I do know something about the system, having been an A level teacher for more than 20 years, and exclusively so for the past 9, delivering the old style modules for the 4 years prior to this. I have also authored a study guide for the new style A Level in my particular subject.

What BBS actually said in post 9 is: "depth seems to be being sacrificed for breadth".
I use the phrase "dumbed down" to refer to exactly the same thing. The exam content and skills, and certainly not the students who take them. Your cohort, more than any other, have been used to test out a number of educational reforms.
smiley - fish


Congratulations!

Post 20

h2g2 auto-messages

Editorial Note: This thread has been moved out of the Peer Review forum because this entry has now been recommended for the Edited Guide.

If they have not been along already, the Scout who recommended your entry will post here soon, to let you know what happens next. Meanwhile you can find out what will happen to your entry here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/guide/SubEditors-Process

Congratulations!


Key: Complain about this post