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A/AS levels - 3 or 4?

(9 Posts)
olivia41 Sun 14-Oct-12 23:20:10

Hi, my DC is off to college next year and I'd like to know if anyone's DCs have done 3 as opposed to 4 a/as levels? Is it the norm to take 3 or 4? I have been told by DC that you sometimes take 4 and drop 1 (to get 3 A levels and 1 AS level), but she feels it's better to take 3 and concentrate solely on them... any thoughts? Thanks.

BackforGood Sun 14-Oct-12 23:27:16

"Normal" practice these days is to take 4 subjects to AS, then drop one and take 3 at A2 level. I have no idea why, and I'm sure there are youngsters out there who do it differently, but, as that's what the vast majority of A Level students do, if (s)he does fewer than what the 'competition' has done when applying for University places, (if that's what she wants to do), I don't suppose it would be a plus point.
My understanding is that some colleges / Universities count 'points' rather than just offering places on condition you get grades 'AAB' (for example), and an AS brings points in it's own right, even if you don't take it to A2.

boomting Sun 14-Oct-12 23:29:58

It is the norm to take 4 AS and then drop 1 after AS, so that you end up with 3.5 A Levels.

IMO it's better to take 4 initially. Very often people find that they don't like one of their subjects at AS (despite loving it at GCSE) / aren't very good at it / otherwise want to drop it - I know that this was my experience, and the subject that I had originally intended to drop after AS became my degree subject! If you're only doing 3 AS in the first place then there's no room for manoeuvre.

creamteas Mon 15-Oct-12 10:05:24

As an admissions tutor I see lots of UCAS applications, and I whilst it is more usual for students coming from school to take 4 at AS and drop 1 for A2. A significant proportion of students only have 3 AS/A2 especially those coming from FE/6th form colleges.

Having the extra AS can make a difference to entry, especially if a student has just missed their offer grades. (This is because UCAS points rather than grades are used for league tables. A student that has the right number of points including the AS is this more likely to be admitted than one who has dropped grades and has no extra points.)

My advice would be to at least start with 4, if the workload is too much then drop one and focus on 3.

senua Mon 15-Oct-12 11:07:06

I have been told by DC that you sometimes take 4 and drop 1 but she feels it's better to take 3 and concentrate solely on them

Sometimes take 4? hmm Has she been misinformed or is she spinning you a line?
Look at the college's options booklet -I'll bet it is designed around the assumption that they will do 4 AS. If not, then chose a different sixth form!

If she feels that 3 subjects is right for her then fair enough but it is not the norm.

Moominmammacat Mon 15-Oct-12 18:25:05

My DS was adamant he wanted to do only three but school talked him in to four and there hasn't been a problem. You're stuck if you dislike one of three because you won't have a dropper. And the point about AS points is relevant too.

sashh Tue 16-Oct-12 06:31:28

At a VI form my friend's son attends it depends on the GCSE grades and the predicted grades for AS.

So GCSE A* student will take 4 AS, then either drop one or continue with 4 ALevels.

GCSE C grades - 3 AS levels, 3 A Levels.

The reasoning is that it's better to have 3 D grades than 4 E or U grades.

olivia41 Tue 16-Oct-12 20:08:45

Many thanks for very helpful replies.... Senua, thanks for reply - DD was told that and we know that to be the case, she is very hardworking and just wanted to do well at 3, but think that now (having talked to college and teachers) the way to go is to do the "norm" 4, then drop 1 at AS. Thanks again for replies! smile

londongirlatheart Thu 15-Nov-12 23:30:40

You may find that the college policy is to take 4 unless there are sen issues. DC wanted to do 3 AS and college would not allow it at all

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