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Can someone explain how AS and A2s work?

(43 Posts)
catwalker Sat 27-Aug-11 19:14:59

Eldest about to go into the sixth form which is a whole new ball game to me (many decades since I did A levels and things have clearly changed since then).

I know they do AS levels at the end of year 12 and A2 at the end of year 13 but that's about all I know! Presumably the A2 builds on the AS so they have to get a certain grade at AS to be sure of a good grade at A level? Do schools normally expect certain grades at AS before they allow students to continue with A2s?

Talker2010 Sat 27-Aug-11 19:20:35

The AS result forms half of the full A Level grade

Your school will be able to give you their Y12 into Y13 requirements ... at my school students cannot continue with a course if they are more than a grade below their target

Some schools do part of the AS exam set in January as well as in June

Talker2010 Sat 27-Aug-11 19:21:29

Oh and usually students take 4 AS and drop to 3 A2 in Y13

Usually, but not always

catwalker Sat 27-Aug-11 19:33:32

Thanks Talker. But is it the case, for example, that someone getting a B at AS could expect then to get a B at A2 if they keep up the same level of work? Or would you get a lower grade at AS which is then converted to a higher grade when you've done the A2?

Talker2010 Sat 27-Aug-11 19:48:31

Hard to say tbh

Same level of effort would probably give same grade at the end but, ime, they rarely stay the same

Some underachieve at AS (do not understand the shift needed) but can often pull a grade back at A2

Others perform as expected throughout

Others still find it hard to maintain the push in A2 (my son was one of these) and fall off the edge

trixie123 Sat 27-Aug-11 19:49:05

the exams are marked and the marks converted into UMS points. (not entirely sure what it stands for and I've been teaching for 13 years!). It is the number of points accumulated over the two years that ultimately determine the grade. If a student gets a B at AS it depends on how many points they have (ie, did they just scrape a B or just miss an A) as to how likely it is that they will achieve a better grade at A2. On the whole, A2 courses are harder so they will have to work harder in order to achieve the same grade. If you DON'T work hard at A2 it is possible to actually go down a grade because you will achieve fewer points and thus fall below the grade boundary for a B at A2. It is possible to resit AS modules in the January and the June of the A2 year to try and accumulate more points and as ASs are easier than A2, many of my students do this is they have only just scraped an A in order to try and take them further inside the boundary (if you see what I mean). The downside to that is that you have to revise more material instead of concentrating on the new modules so your DS / DD should not approach the first round of exams as a practise run. Also there is some suggestion that unis may start to look at how many resits have been needed to achieve the final grade, though that is not yet certain. Hope that helps smile

catwalker Sat 27-Aug-11 20:01:31

Hmmm - quite complicated then! UMS = Uniform Mark Scheme I think!! Just looking at my son's 6th form prospectus and it says anyone getting less than 3 Ds in their AS levels won't be able to continue in year 13. I thought that seemed low but if it's a question of adding points with A2 then that makes sense. He's very lazy and didn't get his predicted grades in many of his GCSEs so I'm trying to get my head round what the coming year has in store for him and making sure he knows what he needs to do to stay in the sixth form after year 12!

Thanks.

Talker2010 Sat 27-Aug-11 20:10:06

He's very lazy and didn't get his predicted grades in many of his GCSEs so I'm trying to get my head round what the coming year has in store for him and making sure he knows what he needs to do to stay in the sixth form after year 12!

You need to accept now that you cannot do this for him ... Y12 will be much more work than Y11 ... especially if he did not work in Y11 ... has he done the work that he was set for the holiday ... any prep he was given ... what grades did he get in those subjects he wants to do at AS

catwalker Sat 27-Aug-11 20:19:26

Talker - I'm know I can't do the work for him and have just said something similar to someone on another gcse thread! I just want to make sure he knows what he has to do and how the system works. I've no intention of doing anything else! (Though I do periodically confiscate his x box controls) He's so clueless at times - when he went to get his GCSE results he rang me up to ask ME what, if any, forms HE had filled in for enrollment ....

He wasn't given any work during the holidays - I didn't think that happened after GCSEs as they have effectively left school and need to enrol into the sixth form if they get their required results. He got an A in one of his chosen subjects and Bs in the others.

noblegiraffe Sat 27-Aug-11 20:21:55

Is one of his chosen subjects maths?

catwalker Sat 27-Aug-11 20:24:21

Er yes! That's what he got the A in (in year 10) Why do you ask?

Talker2010 Sat 27-Aug-11 20:26:36

He wasn't given any work during the holidays

Really ... I do not know any schools that do not provide prep work for A Levels ... is he going to a college rather than a school?

What subjects is he taking?

Talker2010 Sat 27-Aug-11 20:27:30

Er yes! That's what he got the A in (in year 10) Why do you ask?

What Maths has he been doing in Y11?

catwalker Sat 27-Aug-11 20:30:57

He goes to a Grammar School and in Year 11 he did Statistics (was getting A* in mocks and practice papers but got a B for his GCSE)

noblegiraffe Sat 27-Aug-11 20:35:00

Has he not done any maths since Y10?!

At my school when the students come in for induction day we set them algebra revision to do over the holidays before starting the course. Most students find the leap from GCSE to A-level maths very hard and what they struggle with most is the algebra. Topics that at GCSE were A and A* level become the basic techniques required to answer more difficult questions in C1, which is the first AS level module he will sit. Because it was it was covered at GCSE, it is merely revised quickly at AS so the more difficult concepts can be tackled. If he only(!) got an A at GCSE then he will struggle. If he hasn't done any algebra since Y10 then he will almost certainly flounder if he hasn't done any pre-preparation.

I would strongly advise that you get him on the internet before he starts his course revising:
Algebraic manipulation, rules of indices, factorising expressions
Solving quadratic equations by factorising and by using the quadratic formula (including factorising where a>1)
Completing the square.

Talker2010 Sat 27-Aug-11 20:35:20

Well I do not know what other subjects he is going to do but he is about to find A Level Maths hard

An A in Y10 and then nothing but Stats for a year ... hmmmmm interesting choice for his school

I am still stunned by the lack of work provided for the summer

noblegiraffe Sat 27-Aug-11 20:36:44

He did stats in Y11 instead of Y10 and GCSE in Y11? That's outrageous in terms of preparation for A-level, imo. He will definitely need an algebra refresher.

catwalker Sat 27-Aug-11 20:43:27

Thanks for your advice

Talker2010 Sat 27-Aug-11 20:49:17

www.amazon.co.uk/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=cgp+head+start+to+as+maths&tag=googhydr-21&index=aps&hvadid=5834622606&ref=pd_sl_ybgakcvjd_e

My daughter has just bought the Bio and Chem versions of this (because the school she is going to has done a different GCSE syllabus to her) and feels they offer a good grounding

We did not get the maths as I am a maths teacher so cannot specifically comment but think it might be useful

senua Sat 27-Aug-11 20:53:06

I do not know any schools that do not provide prep work for A Levels

Really? Ours doesn't, and we are the best school in the LEA for A Level results conveniently ignores the fact that we are actually second in the table, beaten by a sixthform college.

catwalker Sat 27-Aug-11 21:17:14

All of the students doing statistics in year 11 had done maths early but for various reasons (probably subject combinations, as in my son's case) decided not to do AS maths in year 11. DS tells me most of those in his statistics group are doing maths next year so presumably if there are a number of them in the same boat the school will need to do some sort of refresher in algebra etc rather than leave them all floundering ...

I just asked him if he thought it would be an issue not having done maths for a year and he immediately repeated some of the comments above about formulae and algebra. I've ordered the book recommended by talker and he seems keen to get it so thanks for that talker.

noblegiraffe Sat 27-Aug-11 21:32:06

He will be sitting C1 in January, that doesn't leave much time for an algebra refresher, tbh, anything he can do now will be useful.

noblegiraffe Sat 27-Aug-11 21:33:45

If he immediately said the stuff about algebra, that rather suggests to me that the school has told him he needs to brush up?

Talker2010 Sat 27-Aug-11 21:43:42

www.slideshare.net/NOWWEARESIXTH/yr-12-preparation

This is the sort of thing I would expect that most schools give for the Summer

catwalker Sat 27-Aug-11 22:30:16

I'll get him to do it Talker, but where would he find the answers?

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