The General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Level, or A Level, is a main school leaving qualification in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It is available as an alternative qualification in other countries.
A Levels require studying an offered A level subject over a two-year period and sitting for an examination at the end of each year (A1/S and A2, respectively), proctored by an official assessment body. Most students study three or four A level subjects simultaneously during the two post-16 years (ages 16–18) in a secondary school, in a sixth form college, in a further and higher education college, or in a tertiary college, as part of their further education.
A Levels are recognised by many universities as the standard for assessing the suitability of applicants for admission in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and many such universities partly base their admissions offers on a student's predicted A-level grades, with the majority of these offers conditional on achieving a minimum set of final grades.
A Levels were introduced in 1951 as a standardised school-leaving qualification, replacing the Higher School Certificate. The examinations could be taken on a subject-by-subject basis, according to the strengths and interests of the student. This encouraged specialization and in-depth study of three to four subjects. The A Level at first was graded as simply distinction, pass or fail (although students were given an indication of their marks, to the nearest 5%), candidates obtaining a distinction originally had the option to sit a Scholarship Level paper on the same material, to attempt to win one of 400 national scholarships. The Scholarship Level was renamed the S-Level in 1963.
Quite soon rising numbers of students taking the A-level examinations required more differentiation of achievement below the S-Level standard. Grades were therefore introduced. Between 1963 and 1986 the grades were norm-referenced:
The O grade was equivalent to a GCE Ordinary Level pass which indicated a performance equivalent to the lowest pass grade at Ordinary Level.
Over time, the validity of this system was questioned because, rather than reflecting a standard, norm referencing simply maintained a specific proportion of candidates at each grade, which in small cohorts was subject to statistical fluctuations in standards. In 1984, the government's Secondary Examinations Council decided to replace the norm referencing with criterion referencing: grades would in future be awarded on examiner judgement thus eliminating a possible inadequacy of the existing scheme.
The criterion referencing scheme came into effect for the summer 1987 exams as the system set examiners specific criteria for the awarding of B and E grades to candidates, and then divided out the other grades according to fixed percentages. Rather than awarding an Ordinary Level for the lowest pass, a new "N" (for Nearly passed) was introduced. Criticisms of A level grading continued, and when Curriculum 2000 was introduced, the decision was made to have specific criteria for each grade, and the 'N' grade was abolished.
In 1989, Advanced Supplementary (AS) awards were introduced; they were intended to broaden the subjects a pupil studied post 16, and were to complement rather than be part of a pupil's A-level studies. AS-Levels were generally taken over two years, and in a subject the pupil was not studying at A-Level. Each AS level contained half the content of an A-Level, and at the same level of difficulty.
Initially, a student might study three subjects at A-Level and one at AS-Level, or often even four subjects at A-Level. However, due to decreasing public spending on education over time, a growing number of schools and sixth form colleges would now arrange for their pupils to study for three A-Levels instead of four.
A levels evolved gradually from a two-year linear course with an exam at the end, to a modular course, between the late 1980s and 2000. By the year 2000 there was a strong educational reason[clarification needed] to standardise the exam and offer greater breadth to students through modules and there was also a pragmatic case based on the inefficiency of linear courses where up to 30% of students were failing to complete or pass.
Curriculum 2000 was introduced in September 2000, with the first new examinations taken in January and June of the following year. The Curriculum 2000 reforms also replaced the S-Level extension paper with the Advanced Extension Award.
The Conservative Party under Prime MinisterDavid Cameron initiated reforms for A Levels to change from the current modular to a linear structure. British Examination Boards (Edexcel, AQA and OCR) regulated and accredited by the government of the United Kingdom responded to the government's reform announcements by modifying specifications of several A Level subjects.
Prior to Government reforms of the A Level system, A-levels consisted of two equally weighted parts: AS (Advanced Subsidiary) Level, assessed in the first year of study, and A2 Level, assessed in the second year of study. Following the reforms, while it is still possible to take the AS Level as a stand-alone qualification, those exams do not count toward the full A Level, for which all exams are taken at the end of the course. An AS course usually comprises two modules, or three for science subjects and Mathematics; full A Level usually comprises four modules, or six for sciences and Mathematics. The modules within each part may have different weights. Modules are either assessed by exam papers marked by national organisations, or in limited cases by school-assessed, externally moderated coursework.
Main article: List of Advanced Level subjects
A wide variety of subjects are offered at A-level by the five exam boards. Although exam boards often alter their curricula, this table shows the majority of subjects which are consistently available for study.
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. Three is usually the minimum number of A Levels required for university entrance, with some universities specifying the need for a fourth AS subject. There is no limit set on the number of A Levels one can study, and a number of students take five or more A Levels. It is permissible to take A Levels in languages one already speaks fluently, or courses with overlapping content, even if not always fully recognized by universities.
The pass grades for A Levels are, from highest to lowest, A*, A, B, C, D and E. The process to decide these grades involves the uniform mark scheme (UMS). Under this scheme, four-module A levels have a maximum mark of 400 UMS (or 200 UMS each for AS and A2), and six-module A levels have a maximum mark of 600 (or 300 UMS each for AS and A2). The maximum UMS within AS and A2 may be split unequally between each modules. For example, a Physics AS may have two exam modules worth 90 UMS and 150 UMS, and a coursework module worth 60 UMS. The 'raw marks' i.e. actual score received on a test may differ from UMS awarded. On each assignment, the correspondence of raw marks to UMS is decided by setting grade boundaries, a process which involves consultation by subject experts and consideration of statistics, aiming to keep standards for each grade the same year on year. Achieving less than 40% results in a U (unclassified). For passing grades, 40% corresponds to an E grade, 50% a D, 60% a C, 70% a B, and 80% an A. The A* grade was introduced in 2010 and is awarded to candidates who average 80% UMS across all modules, with a score over 90% UMS in all A2 modules. In Mathematics, which comprises six 100 UMS modules, only the C3 and C4 modules count towards this requirement. In Further Mathematics and Additional Further Mathematics, where more than three A2 modules can be taken, the three best-scoring A2 modules count. There is no A* grade at AS level.
Wales and Northern Ireland
TSR Wiki > Study Help > Subjects and Revision > A Levels > A-Level Subject Guides II > A-Level ICT
Background information about studying ICT
In the first year you’ll study two ‘big picture’ themes. First there’s ‘Practical problem solving’, which introduces you to the various hardware and software technologies used in ICT, and how you can apply them to different applications in real life. The second theme is ‘Living in the digital world’, which gives you a solid grounding in ICT areas like transferring data, backups and the interface between people and ICT systems. In the second year you’ll build on that strong foundation with another two study themes. In the first theme, ‘The use of ICT in the digital world’, you’ll cover technology developments, how to manage ICT projects, and the use of ICT solutions within organisations. In the second theme, ‘Practical issues’, you’ll get hands-on experience by conceiving, designing and implementing a real ICT-related system.
How will it differ from GCSE?
Easy. (But resources are scarce)
Fairly relaxed. Coursework is the only real burden - but that has a very long deadline.
Required Individual Study
Not much. Coursework requires a real client; you will have to find somebody with a real need for an ICT solution - often done outside of lesson time. You will have to interview this person, visit the organisation, perform document analysis and various other analytic tasks.😡😡😡vb
How is it assessed?
The new AQA Spec is as follows:
50% INFO1 exam (For this exam - you take in a piece of coursework you prepared in class)
50% INFO2 exam
60% INFO3 exam (Preliminary Material provided)
40% INFO4 coursework (Thats 40% internally marked - externally moderated coursework)
The total qualification is marked out of 400 UMS. (200 AS, 200 A2)
INFO1 and INFO2 are both 90 minute exams, INFO3 is a 120 minute exam.
IT1 - Exam - To succeed on this exam board you MUST follow the mark scheme, stay away from ALOT of resources and stick to memorising the mark schemes to exam papers as many of the answers lie there. (Worth 60%)
IT2 - Coursework - Very long piece of coursework overall, about 70 pages. Very easy to follow and can be all done in class time. (Worth 40%)
IT3 - Exam - Similar to the IT1 exam however contains more "advanced" concepts and stricter mark schemes. (Worth 60%)
IT4 - A database project, very long winded. For an A/A* you're looking at 150 pages + (Worth 40%)
In AS there is one 2 hour exam G061 - Information, systems and applications. This is worth 60 % of AS, the remaining 40% (of AS) is coursework called 'Structured Tasks'
In A2 there is one 2 hour exam G063 - ICT System, Applications and implications. This is worth 60 % of A2,the remaining 40% (of A2) is coursework called 'ICT Project'
The total qualification is marked out of 400 UMS. (200 AS, 200 A2)
The coursework unit (INFO4) provides students with the opportunity to complete a substantial project involving the production of an ICT-related system over an extended period of time. In so doing, students will enhance their transferable practical skills. The unit is designed to be taught alongside or after Unit 3 and topics covered in Unit 3 may provide the stimulus for work for this Unit 4, but the centre or student can explore new areas of ICT if they wish.
The skills set down in the QCA Subject Criteria for GCE ICT are those necessary to undertake an ICT related project: thus, as part of this unit, students will have the opportunity to enhance their transferable skills in:
• definition of requirements
• design of effective solutions to meet a requirements specification, including the methods to be used for testing and installation
• selection and use of appropriate technologies
• evaluation of solutions and their own performance.
The coursework accounts for 40% of the A2 Grade
Field trips and excursions
Where can I go with an ICT A-Level
What I like about studying this subject: Its easy.
What I dislike about studying this subject: In my opinion, they took out most of the interesting ICT and replaced it with a load of business studies. There are very few good resources avalible - even the text books lack clarity.
What I like about studying this subject: Not a lot, let's put it that way. I enjoyed the pure practical aspect (i.e. building a system - not the 500 page documentation that went with it), and I learnt a lot about problem solving and did a fair bit of VBA/SQL codinpcg - it was cool. I guess some A2 topics taught me a bit about industry (e.g. disaster recovery management etc) and nothing impresses the ladies more than recalling the eight principles of the Data Protection Act :p
What I dislike about studying this subject: I finished the old course last year, and our AS and A2 courseworks were HUGE (I wrote >1000 pages combined) - new courses are less heavy. This meant it reallyyyyy took up my time December-March and I couldn't focus on my other studies. It is boring as HELL. Seriously. In a 'tear my skin off and boil me in a vat of oil' way. The books (in my day anyway) were HUGELY outdated - Teletext was the next big thing according to them :p - and they were rubbish, except for the amazingness of Mott's textbooks. Also, essays in the A2 = horror. In my experience, all ICT teachers are stupid and crap. And I'm in an ICT specialist school. So good luck!
What I like about studying this subject: Its pretty easy. Im doing it in year 11, having not studied any formal GCSEs in ICT.
What I dislike about studying this subject: Its really boring! There are no interesting topics, and often it involves common sense.
What I like about studying this subject: I did AS OCR ICT. It is quite easy, as long as you keep on top of the coursework! I did ICT as a fifth AS, this subject was my 'just relax you don't have to think' subject. I had a really good teacher though, who made the lessons memorable!
What I dislike about studying this subject: The coursework is tedious, it is repetitive and soooo long, if you are organised it is easy to get a good grade in it though. On OCR there is one 2 hour exam which is worth 60% of the AS grade, the exam asks some 11 mark questions, so be prepared to do some essays. I did most of the coursework during class hours, if you actually work during the lessons the coursework doesn't take over your life like it does with some subjects.i.e. History. The worst think was I didn't actually learn anything, some people found the Excel work hard.e.g IF statements, but I had already learnt about them when i did ECDL during Year 10-11.
Username: Ross M
What I like about studying this subject: It has a few select interesting-ish topics and the coursework (building database and website) can be pleasurable.
What I dislike about studying this subject: Theory is boring and so is the coursework write up.
What I like about studying this subject:
What I dislike about studying this subject:
Categories: ICT | A-Level Subject Guides