Advanced search

Needing B at GCSE to do A level

(44 Posts)
TheFrendo Tue 22-Aug-17 22:50:45

My son is awaiting his GCSE results. When looking round VIth forms, the standard requirement was for a B at GCSE in a subject in order to be allowed to study it at A level.

A chemistry teacher said that, "you are allowed to do chemistry A level with a B at GCSE, but I would not advise it. A B means you got half the questions wrong. This is not a good foundation for A level."

That statement made sense to me, but is it right? How well do students progress at A level with a B at GCSE?

noblegiraffe Tue 22-Aug-17 23:01:18

These figures are from 2012 so are out of date, especially regarding the new specifications, but it does show that B grade students do not generally get high grades at A-level Chemistry.

Worth bearing in mind also that the chart only contains the students who made it to Y13, so those will be the 'best' candidates as the dodgy ones would have dropped it at AS or sooner.

If you want to have a look at the charts for other subjects, they are at the bottom of this document:

ReinettePompadour Tue 22-Aug-17 23:14:27

At DDs school you need an A at GCSE to do A Levels. They will only take a B if their tutors feel they should have gained an A and the B was a glitch. Even with this criteria barely a handful of students gain good enough grades for Russell Group Universities (2 this year) and they haven't had an Oxbridge student for 8 years.

DSs high school will take with a B and in some subjects a C at GCSE. They have had 1 student gain a place at Oxford this year and another 7 students gained a place at a Russell Group University.

It is possible to gain a C at GCSE then do ok at A Levels but the staff at DSs school are far more committed to helping the students than those at DDs school. You need a place with a smaller intake thats able to offer a little more help to the students. They should be able to support your ds more to gain the knowledge he needs.

TheFrendo Tue 22-Aug-17 23:21:00

Thanks for that chart. I get your point about missing the data for those that did not make it to A2.

Do you have the link so I can look at other subjects, please?

noblegiraffe Tue 22-Aug-17 23:33:38 bottom of the document.

GCSE grade impacts on maths A-level attainment more than any other subject.

eyebrowsonfleek Tue 22-Aug-17 23:36:38

Very interesting reading.
Our 6th form requires minimum B in every module, Ideally A overall for science A-levels.

TheFrendo Wed 23-Aug-17 00:45:05


Thanks for that. I looked at what the middle grade for A level was for A*, A or B at GCSE for biology, physics, chemistry and maths.
A* --> A (approx middle expectation)
A --> B (bio & maths), B/C chem, C physics
B --> D for all

So, the mid grade for students taking these subjects at A level, who got a B at GCSE is a D.

As pointed out, these figures do not include those who stopped at AS or bailed out with nothing (so it shows more generous grade outcomes)

I can see why some VIth forms want an A.

noblegiraffe Wed 23-Aug-17 00:56:12

Just having a look at some of the tables further up the document you can get some idea of the drop-out rate.
It says that e.g. 15% of B grade GCSE maths students progress to AS Maths, however only 6% of B grade GCSE maths students progress from GCSE to A-level meaning that just under two thirds of B grade students who start maths don't make it to the end of A-level.

wannabestressfree Wed 23-Aug-17 01:01:27

A level are a massive jump academically from gcse's and you need to be confident on ability or it generally doesn't end well (for all involved. Any student we have had our arms twisted over has gone on to drop out or not do very well.

Sorry for all the mistakes in typing but I have one eye open- I should be asleep!

BlessYourCottonSocks Wed 23-Aug-17 01:04:49

I teach History at A level and would require a B grade as a minimum entry requirement. The step up from GCSE to A level is huge, and frankly if a student hasn't managed to scrape a B grade at GCSE they shouldn't really be taking an A level in the subject imo.

I generally reckon that you can bank on dropping a couple of grades at AS (unless very bright) - so my B grade students will be struggling along on Ds through Y12 and I would hope to get them up to a C - and possibly a B grade at A2 depending on how much hard graft they put in. Hope that helps.

TheFrendo Wed 23-Aug-17 01:19:37

noble, I got 8% of B grade maths students progressing to AS (Table 1.6). If that is right the drop out rate from AS to A is ~25%. Though given we are talking single digits, rounded to the nearest %, we have ourselves a bounds question.

Drop out rates for B grades students from AS to A level are
~25% Bio
~27% Chem
~38% Phys
~25% Maths

noblegiraffe Wed 23-Aug-17 01:35:58

Tables 1.6 is independent schools only, they clearly have more stringent entry requirements! Table 1.1 I think is all schools and has 15% of B grade students taking maths AS.

TheFrendo Wed 23-Aug-17 02:43:12

Ok, thanks. Using the correct tables (I hope), the % figures for B grade GCSE students who do AS but do not progress to A level are...
42% Bio, 52% Chem, 50% Phys, 60% maths. And of that fraction that did do A level, the mid-grade was a D.

Phaedra11 Wed 23-Aug-17 08:56:36

I do think that GCSE results are a valid predictor of A level success with Maths and Science but less so with other subjects. DS1 was not predicted great A level results by his 6th form college, as he got mostly Bs at GCSE (8 Bs, 4 As and an A*) but did better than expected, including an A in English Literature A Level despite getting a B in Eng Lit at GCSE.

Danglingmod Wed 23-Aug-17 09:07:40

That feels like it's very true, Phaedra.

My ds could potentially do better tomorrow in science than anything else but I know he's not A level science material. He already has a top grade in maths (taken early) but I know he's not A level maths material.

He may only get B upwards in history and Englishes tomorrow. But I know he's A level essay material (part of why he may drop grades is that he already writes at a higher level to what they want for gcse whilst forgetting to state the obvious). Also marking is far more dodgy for essay subjects. His subject teachers' opinions are a better predictor of success at A level than tomorrow's grades, I believe.

eyebrowsonfleek Wed 23-Aug-17 09:18:04

Danglingmod - what do you mean about A level material?

My ds has chosen sciences and maths. They will probably be his highest grades overall and they are the ones that interest him the most so he'll be motivated to study those subjects most.

Phaedra11 Wed 23-Aug-17 09:20:28

Danglingmod That was my son's experience. He got As in Maths and Science subjects but knew that it was humanities/essay based subjects that were really his strengths. He did better in those subjects once he was actually writing real essays at A level rather than being trained in how to answer a 6 mark question, 12 mark question etc.

Good luck to your DS tomorrow. DS2 gets his results tomorrow and he's the opposite. Brilliant at Maths and Physics but I'm not sure if he's going to scrape a pass in English.

northcoastmum Wed 23-Aug-17 09:24:29

That's a really useful link noble, thanks!

Bonkerz Wed 23-Aug-17 09:32:57

My son got A in maths gcse. He only achieved E in Alevel maths. It is a massive jump.

noitsnotteattimeyet Wed 23-Aug-17 09:40:10

Ds2 got As in maths and computing at GCSE and has just got U and E respectively at AS ... as bonkerz says it's a huge jump ...

catslife Wed 23-Aug-17 10:39:36

Personally I think it depends on whether the B grade student has just missed an A grade by a few marks or whether they have only just scraped a grade B.
I think the former student should still be able to attempt A level and the latter shouldn't.
A grade B student from a school where teaching has been poor may be just as good as one who was at a better school.

user1484040234 Wed 23-Aug-17 12:45:22

From the experiences of my son's peers. You need an A in GCSE maths/chemistry/physics to cope with the A level. His friends who got Bs in art, English, History etc GCSE managed to get Bs in the A level. It seems to be very subject specific!

ifonly4 Wed 23-Aug-17 13:16:55

I think schools are starting to up their minimum requirements. DD's first choice school require As in the subjects they want to take, as well as an A in maths in they want to do a science of history (not idea why you need maths for history) subject. A state school close by require 5 As.

Her present school requires a minimum of four Bs (obviously including Bs for the subjects they want to take). However, if they're taking maths or a language they need a minimum of an A - they have upped these this year.

pointythings Wed 23-Aug-17 19:26:39

DD's schools demands Bs as a minimum for humanities, As for sciences and maths. DD has been told they want a 6 for English Lit but will take students with a 5 if they feel that 5 is a blip.

crazymissdaisy Wed 23-Aug-17 19:29:49

I would say a B at GCSE, one that has been predicted all along rather than an unexpected exam collapse, predicts a D at A level.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: