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How do people these days manage to do so many A levels?

(20 Posts)
MrsSchadenfreude Sun 04-Sep-11 17:51:42

In my day [old gimmer emoticon], three was the norm, four was only for those who were doing additional maths or wanky general studies. Now I see people doing six, seven, eight A levels with four or five being the norm. How do they have the time? I started off doing four (English, French, German, Economics) and ended up dropping English quite swiftly due to the volume of work.

So how do people have the time to fit all of this work in? confused Or have A levels got easier? My uni offers were BCC for my first choice course and CD for my "insurance" offer - these seem unheard of these days.

<<adjusts grey perm, rearranges pearls, hoicks up pantie girdle>>

mercibucket Sun 04-Sep-11 17:56:13

because they have got easier, essentially

I base this entirely on the grades people are now getting at a level, mind you!

crystalglasses Sun 04-Sep-11 18:03:18

I think the media must be reporting the number of A level modules being sat. If a pupil is studying for 3-4 A levels, each one consists of several modules, each one sat as a separate exam. So, for example a pupil doing english, history and French A levels would have done, say 2 exams in each this summer, each one being marked out of !00 and given the equivelent A*, A, B, C, D score. This would be reported as having 6 A levels. I can't see any other explanation for it.

noblegiraffe Sun 04-Sep-11 18:07:32

Some kids start earlier - they get entered early for some GCSEs and start one or more AS courses in Y11. So essentially they have three years to complete various A-levels instead of the two we had.

webwiz Sun 04-Sep-11 18:08:01

3 is still the norm at my DCs school.

EvilTwins Sun 04-Sep-11 18:10:30

They shouldn't be doing more than 3 or 4. Most start with 4 AS Levels (it's changed since ye olden days when I was doing mine - all courses start with AS now and move to A2 in Yr 13 (upper sixth in old money)) and then drop one subject in Yr 13 to continue with 3 others. The vast majority of universities want only 3 A2s. I have one boy in the VI Form of which I am Head, who has done 5 ASs this year (Double Business Studies, Maths, ICT and History) and whilst he has done OK in all of them (2Bs and 3Ds at AS) I am going to insist that he drops at least one, if not two subjects this year - he's going for quantity over quality...

The other reason is that alternative qualifications such as BTECs are done in many schools or colleges, which can give a skewed result. One girl at our school seemed to get 6 A Levels this year (4As, one B and an E) but 3 of the 6 were from her Level 3 Diploma in Sport, which was the "equivalent" of 3 A Levels. She worked enormously hard in her own time to get the triple (normal over two years would be a Level 3 Award which is worth the same UCAS points as 1 A2) and absolutely deserves credit for it. IMO, it's not as simple as BTECs being "equivalent" to A Levels - they are totally different qualifications, which are equally as worthwhile as each other. When schools (or parents) put out results, though, they tend to go with the "equivalent" card, thereby giving the impression that students have completed 5 or 6 A Levels.

Talker2010 Sun 04-Sep-11 19:11:37

Also ... plenty of courses still make offers including Cs and Ds they just do not make the daily mail news headlines

nickschick Sun 04-Sep-11 19:17:41

I dont think many people take 7-8 A levels 3 is the norm at ds college with the 4th sometimes being 'general studies'.

Tortu Sun 04-Sep-11 19:25:33

They haven't got easier.

Expectations have got higher and top university courses have got more competitive. In my experience, the students doing more than four generally have no life at all.

Three or four are still the norm and you don't hear about the majority of students, who are the ones that don't get top grades.

nickschick Sun 04-Sep-11 19:29:58

My ds did 3 and had hardly any life at all .....hes now going to uni and has spent the weeks leading up to it studying essay guides and dictionaries of legal terms.

changer22 Sun 04-Sep-11 19:32:41

It's the same with GCSEs. I was talking to a 16 year old the other day about her results. She got 5 A*, 5 As and 3 Bs!

When I was at school (admittedly a while ago!), the bright ones took 9 GCSEs and they usually got one or 2 As, mostly Bs and a couple of Cs.

nickschick Sun 04-Sep-11 19:40:03

I think with GCSEs a lot of the btec subjects give multiple results so you can get 4 As in what effectively is 1 subject when i was at school we did

English lit
english lang

And everyone considered the drama and pse option to be easy going and given to you.

So solid GCSEs such as history Geography etc only give 1 result.

lucysmum Sun 04-Sep-11 19:44:30

Agree - I had a BBC offer for a highly sought after course and got a 'county scholar' award and school 'very good work' prize for ABB (in 1985). No course work in those days, no retaking modules. Just very different. Most academic people did 9 o levels, 3, at a push 4 - A levels. I have never studied as hard as when I did my A levels.

GnomeDePlume Sun 04-Sep-11 20:26:33

I certainly think the equivalents have muddied the waters. The problem with these is that I believe (though could be wrong) that the equivalency comes more from study time than an academic comparison.

DD1 is planning 4 A levels:- Maths, Biology, Chemistry, French. I think that the language is the tricky one as DD1 wants the language to keep her European options open and the maths & sciences are the things she wants to take forward ultimately to degree level.

This is the weakness of the UK system, we specialise so much and so early. So far as I am aware other European countries keep the 16-18 academic education a lot broader.

JumpJockey Sun 04-Sep-11 20:36:07

I do wonder how they fit in all the lessons tho for different subjects - i did 4 A levels back in the distant past by not having any study periods at all, and was the only person in my year to do that (started doing 4 in lower 6 with plan to drop one but didn't want to give up any subject, all arts so not maths, extra maths and calculus) and the teachers did say it was a bit of a nightmare managing to schedule the classes. Do kids still have study periods these days?

GnomeDePlume Sun 04-Sep-11 20:41:01

How complex the timetable is will depend on the size of the sixth form. DD1 is planning to move to a huge sixth form for precisely this reason.

noblegiraffe Sun 04-Sep-11 20:45:41

My school has 60 lesson slots a fortnight, each A-level subject is allocated 11 (used to be 12 before the Tory cuts) so 4 A-levels is 44 lessons. They also do 4 lessons of enrichment so they would still seem to have plenty of frees.

EvilTwins Sun 04-Sep-11 21:05:16

My school has 50 lesson slots per fortnight. Each A Level subject gets 8. They also do core PE and Citizenship, and there are 5 supervised study periods when the whole VI Form is "free" at the same time. They end up with at least 8 frees per fortnight though (more than the average teacher)

gelatinous Sun 04-Sep-11 23:12:49

I don't think 6-8 is normal. Most school timetables allow 4 or 5 (with 5 leaving no frees and being the exception rather than the norm), but extras can happen for the following reasons:

1) Sometimes f. maths gets bundled with maths for able mathematicians which allows an extra subject for them.

2) Sometimes general studies and/or critical thinking thrown in as an extra, which some children manage to do without going to many or any extra lessons or doing much extra work for. This seems to be popular at grammar schools where the extra points gained boost the school's position in league tables, but they aren't usually counted as an extra A levels by universities.

3) Some schools offer moonlight options for G&T - I've heard of Government & Politics being offered in this way, but only to AS level.

4) Bilingual children sometimes sit AS or A2s in their native language as an extra.

5) Some children, usually at selective schools, do some AS levels in year 11, especially if they have sat GCSEs early. Subjects like RS, maths, science in society, critical thinking and sometimes languages are the most likely to be seen here, but others feature too. These are often less likely to be continued to A2.

So, while 4 ASs and 3 A2s is by far the most common number taken (especially if general studies is excluded), there are a sizeable minority who take more. Doing 4 subjects in yr 12 became possible and usual when they split the old A levels into AS and A2 which enabled this to be done and the modular structure means children can cope with it even if the exams haven't got easier (which is probable, but controversial).

LawrieMarlow Sun 04-Sep-11 23:41:43

I did A Levels in 1994 and did 5 of them. But one was General Studies (which I didn't have to go to any lessons in but still got an A), one was Further Maths (which is v hard, but less workload than say Art) with the other ones being Maths, Physics and Chemistry. Hardly had any free periods but stood me in good stead for doing a Chemistry degree.

When I did GCSEs in 1992 the norm at my school was that people did 10 GCSEs - you had to do Maths, English Language, English Literature and RE and then chose 6 options.

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