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Thinking of signing up for A level by distance learning - how hard will it be?

(9 Posts)
spugglers Thu 08-Sep-11 09:49:24

Considering signing up for A level English or English Literature and History with a view to going on to study History at degree level when ds2 starts school.

How hard exactly are A levels? Will I fail miserably or struggle to put in enough hours?

I feel that I could really do with improving my grammar skills. I looked at details of an open learning grammar skills course but it was really expensive. Do you think that my skills will improve as I get used to doing assignments? Or does anyone know of a cheaper short course I could complete?

My grammatical skills were absolutely fine when I was at school but seem to have gone downhill in recent years. blush

Has anyone else recently studied for A levels? How did you find it?


spugglers Thu 08-Sep-11 12:22:48

Anyone? smile

quirrelquarrel Fri 16-Sep-11 21:02:57

Ooo don't do English Lit, because it'll be so hard to get the hang of the mark scheme without a teacher prodding you on (my English teachers gave different versions, the visiting exam-writer gave a different one, the syllabus is no help etc etc). You only read set texts, ideas don't count. History is much more concrete, more to get your teeth into. If you need any help, you can always ask btw smile there are things that really only a teacher will tell you, like learning quotes and things for the exam. A levels aren't straightforward at all, at least not essay subjects, there's such a lot of baby red tape to navigate. All training for the day we're sucked into the mythical Real World!

quirrelquarrel Fri 16-Sep-11 21:03:57

Oh and just did History AS last year. Am in Y13 doing A2 (we're all v. happy because the evil Irish history is lovely safe coursework).

AlpinePony Sat 17-Sep-11 13:52:07

I think it depends which subjects you do. E.g., I self-taught myself A-level Biology and get excellent results (fact-based subject of course) - yet with English Literature I was way off. I read the texts, I interpreted them (I believe well), however it wasn't what my teacher was looking for and I scored low. Tbh not sure if I completely missed the point or whether they were looking for a predicted interpretation - if it were the latter then it's a pretty shoddy state of affairs. sad

quirrelquarrel Sat 17-Sep-11 21:00:34

Not so much a predicted interpretation as a prodigious knowledge of the AOs. You simply can't get an A without knowing what each one stands for (and even that's not about memorising, it's just so cryptic) and which questions they come into...the people who are super organised and pay attention when the teacher gives out notes and talks about the mark scheme get good grades. It looks like a great subject on the surface- write five essays on books and poems. But it's just test-driven in the end. Creativity doesn't come into it.

crazymum53 Mon 19-Sep-11 10:10:51

Does your local FE college have a flexi-study option ? This allows you to use distance learning-type materials and also have face-to-face tutorials with a tutor at the college.

ellisbell Tue 20-Sep-11 09:21:24

I haven't recently studied A levels recently myself but know people who have, including some young people studying outside school. It's possible if you are determined but easier for the more factual subjects. It would be much simpler with someone to guide you on what is required. History involves source handling these days and you get a lot of marks for structure of the work. Boards generally publish information about their mark schemes to help students/teachers, look on the website of the one you'd plan to take.

If possible I'd suggest for the less factual subjects either an evening class, a tutor or a short residential.

homeaway Tue 20-Sep-11 09:43:46

My two eldest did fast track a levels last year. What I have learnt is that you have to choose your exam board carefully. Any exam board that has course work has to be done in conjuction with a college so that they can authenticate your work. History and English will be hard doing it by yourself. You can get the specification for the exam boards for each subject by going on their website. You can also have a look at the mark schemes and previous exams. Currently the only English Lit that has no coursework is CIE board which you can sit in the Uk as well. I think ,but I am not sure that is also the only board that has the history without coursework. (My son di both).English Lit is very hard to do on your own without expert help and guidance. I would advise doing it with a college or distance learning course so that you have feedback on your essays. It is all about ticking boxes you dont get the points unless you have written the answer the way they want you to. History was very hard and there is a lot of assesing of documents. Edexcel do a biology course that is achievable on your own, but again you have to know how to answer the questions their way. The Geography Edexcel course is ok as well . Foreign languages are ok to do on your own as there is a lot of support material out there. HTH

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