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AS level - please help!

(19 Posts)
trickerg Sun 23-Aug-09 19:30:55

I have been trawling around trying to get info, but I think your great knowledge will help me more, MNers!

My son just got BBCC for AS. His Bs were in product design and art, which are important to him.

I really can't get my head around how the marking's done, so all I actually want to know is: is there any chance WHATSOEVER of pulling these up to an A next year (assuming, of course, he pulls his finger out!)

If he has a score so far of 148/200 for product design, what's all this about A levels being based on 600 points? I thought AS were half of A? Or aren't they? All these acronyms...all these meaningless numbers!!

Please, please... someone explain. (I may need gentle handling!)

Lilymaid Sun 23-Aug-09 19:36:59

Yes - he can retake modules in January and improve these marks and re-take the same modules again next June. Be warned that A2s are generally harded than AS, so he will need to work very hard.
I'll let someone else explain the marks ...

Karam Sun 23-Aug-09 22:41:10

You'll need to get him to chat to his teachers and get the specific marks as to what he did in each module / exam.

As to whether he could get an A next year, well that depends on whether he has underachieved this year or not grin. If you and he feels he has, then your best bet is to look at a january retake. However, be warned that not all subjects / exams offer jan retakes (my exam board doesn't for example), and so it might not be worth it.

Further, you need to find out how close he was to the grade boundary. If he was just below the 'A' grade boundary, and they don't offer jan retakes, then it might be better if he just works that bit harder next year, rather than trying to revise all of his AS stuff as well as his A2 stuff as well.

We always do 1-2-1 tutorials with our A2 students when they return, I think most places do. If your school does not offer them, then get your son to request one and to discuss his options... as it depends on exactly what modules he dropped his grades on, when he does retakes and so on... The teacher is in the best place to advise.

BecauseImWorthIt Sun 23-Aug-09 22:46:22

You should have got a letter from college or the exam boards outlining the marks and how these relate to the grades.

Knowing the marks is important as it will tell you how far away from achieving an A he was - and if it's close you do have an option to get the paper re-marked. Certainly you should have an option to re-sit.

Sympathies with you - my DS is in a similar boat, although he didn't achieve so well. CCCE, instead of hoped for As and Bs sad

NotanOtter Sun 23-Aug-09 22:50:36

as far as i understand it grade boundaries for A are 80%

90% a*

agree its a total minefield and sooooo confusing

HarlotOTara Sun 23-Aug-09 22:58:25

Yes you can turn it round through re-sits. Friend of my DD got an E in Law AS and an A for A level. You can as many re-sits as you like now I believe. My DD got ABBC at AS and AAA at A level.

I think you can send off for copies of the marked papers so that you can find out how to improve if that helps.

trickerg Sun 23-Aug-09 22:59:41

On his results (from AQA), he has a sheet with (for example) a column labelled 'mark' and has 72 (out of?) for an art unit.

On the provisional results sheet, it has his UMS score as 72. All other 'marks' and 'UMS' scores concur. I thought they were supposed to be different. Perhaps 'mark' should read 'UMS' on the other sheet??!!

Anyway, from what I understand from you, these are not his raw scores, and he should be getting these early in next term? Please tell me if I'm right!

I presume that is why, when I look at the AQA site, maximum score is different, as they are talking about raw score, and ALL WE KNOW SO FAR ARE UMS SCORES??? (please confirm!!)

Bloody hell, is this all done for a GOOD reason??!! Or just to employ more administrators (and ombudsmen?)!

I feel quite tired, and child says he understands nothing about it. (for 'understands', supplement 'cares' ... 'gives a damn' ...)

trickerg Sun 23-Aug-09 23:01:56

Thx for re-sit info but art and graphic products were half coursework, and the last minute rush we had on that was a nightmare. He'll be 'busy' with this year's coursework, so we'll really have to look into what a 'resit' would entail.

NotanOtter Sun 23-Aug-09 23:04:45

my ds did a re sit - of a module and it was straight forward

mumeeee Mon 24-Aug-09 23:41:55

If he has B's then he willbe able to come out with a's in A2 without having to do a resit.

NotanOtter Mon 24-Aug-09 23:56:05

i read that a2s will be tweaked up a gear next year - harder so we cannot bank on things being as in previous years

senua Tue 25-Aug-09 08:19:11

Why is the A grade important? Does he need it for university or college entry?
The school will be thinking about UCAS in the next term and will be making A2 grade predictions. Speak to them as they will have an idea of what he could/should achieve.

trickerg Tue 25-Aug-09 11:19:13

Sorry, about this. I'm a bit upset that the school hasn't given info to help. I would hope that they will do 1:1 with the boys early next term.

senua: No, he probably doesn't need As - it's probably just me being whirled into a frenzy by the media this week. He actually wants to go to art college to do a foundation course, then uni for graphic design. I figured that things might be even more competitive next year, so the better the grade, the more likely he is to get a place. I guess portfolios from art college will be quite important at that point though..... oh I don't know!

I also know he was quite disappointed with the art result (B), and I really need him to get motivated somehow - so seeing that an A grade is possible might be a bonus. Unfortunately for all concerned, he is taking 2 A-levels that require self-motivation and dedication, because of heavy course work units (art and product design), and I know that facebook (or even staring into space when facebook component is removed) will always be preferable to school work.

Product design needs massive commitment as they need to go to find a real 'client' for their product. The woolly list of 'conceptual' products to design is causing him a bit of trouble, and it really does seem that children with parents in the trade, or with friends in the right places, will be at a total advantage with this one. We're a bit flummoxed to tell you the truth - I've downloaded the A-level spec, and that was of little use, we've tried forums, he's talked to people at school.....

All in all, I'm just worried he might be up all night finishing projects two days before hand-in like he was this year...

The rational part of me says leave it, he's nearly 18 and should be able to sort it himself; but the other observing part - the part that has to live with him, day in, day out - is nearly blowing a gasket!

senua Wed 26-Aug-09 10:44:17

I'm not sure that retakes are a good idea. He will get used to the idea of last-minute coursework and re-doing things.
Universities aren't as accommodating as schools & A Level boards and he might get a nasty shock if he tries to carry on like this at Uni.
Besides, re-doing AS in Y13 means taking time away from A2 and thereby making those grades suffer.

Disclaimer: I'm not his mum so it's easy to theorise about these things!

titchy Wed 26-Aug-09 11:07:24

If you're looking at uni entry it'll be based on his portfolio, most of which will be produced during his Foundation course. So long as long as he has a couple of A2s the actual grade won't be that important.

Disclaimer - at least that's how our arty-farty uni offers places to Art degrees.

mumblecrumble Wed 26-Aug-09 21:10:31

Please bare in mind that most teachers are either on holiday or planning.

I have spent aaaaaaaggggges this week preparing the info you require for my students. It takes time and often money [if resits are proposed] and difficult questions to nightmare exam boards.

This info will be delivered the SECOND they enter my classroom read translated from exam board speak to TEacher/student/parent language.

If by the second week you haven't got this info, call them up. The teacher should have a one to one session exaplining the options so that your son and you can choose what to do.

Agree with above about portfolio.

"The woolly list of 'conceptual' products to design is causing him a bit of trouble .... We're a bit flummoxed to tell you the truth - I've downloaded the A-level spec"

This is what his teacher is there for. Its sooooooooo amazing how involved you are [wish my lot had your support!] but I think you need to give the teacher a chance to help translate spec and teach about wooly products. You';re worrying about the exam when he hasn;t even done the learning yet.

Enjoy this relatively easy part of the year, allow teachers to do their job and keep in touch with them.

Poor you! Not looking forward to being on that side of the exam results!!!

trickerg Wed 26-Aug-09 22:48:00

Thanks mumblecrumble, I'll look forward to 'sharing' the conversation ds has with his teacher!! I have a bit of a problem about following up stuff with school on his behalf - I believe at his age he really should be acting on conversations, making decisions about his courses , etc, (with a few discussions at home, of course). He has got a bit of a problem with his tech teacher this/next year - so much so he tracked down his Y11 teacher and asked whether he could do the A level course at the girls' school, or whether she'd tutor him at home!! It appears any info they were getting was coming from the student teacher last term! They didn't have any written notes at all. All learning was done from the awful Edexcel text book.)

I'll see how it goes (I really hide my stress well with ds - it just keeps me awake at night!)

I'm a primary school teacher who now has RESPECT for you secondaries if you have to trawl your way through those AQA/Edexcel websites, specs, admin docs, etc, etc, etc. UGH. You must be tearing your hair out ! In addition to the problem of having to motivate a load of teens.....

(Anyway I have 3 excited and lively teens in the house at the moment. Reading festival tomorrow, my ds is as yet unpacked and we're leaving in 6 hours. I'm sitting and observing in a kind of bemused way - what sport!!)

LadySharrow Sat 29-Aug-09 11:31:44


One of the reasons for your confusion is that A-level mark calculations changed last year (for the first time since 2000.)

Anyone receiving their A-level results this year will have done six units in total (3 in Year 12, 3 in year 13) and the total grade will be calculated out of 600 UMS marks.

Anyone receiving their AS-level results this year will have done two units so far, marked out of a total of 200 UMS marks, and will do two more units next year, giving a total mark out of 400 UMS marks.

The UMS boundaries are...
E - 40%
D - 50%
C - 60%
B - 70%
A - 80%

The boundaries for each unit depend on the proportional split for each unit, which varies by subject and by exam board. So, for example, if you have two units, one 60%, one 40%, the 60% unit will be out of 120, and have boundaries of 48, 60, 72, 84, 96 and the other unit will be out of 80% and have boundaries of 32, 40, 48, 56, 64.

Overall grade has nothing to do with the grades of the units, and is calculated as % of the total UMS mark, so for AS level the boundaries are 80, 100, 120, 140, 160 and for A level next year the boundaries will be 160, 200, 240, 280 and 320. (However for anyone finishing this year, the A-level boundaries are out of 600 and are 120, 150, 180, 210 and 240)

It gets even more confusing when the raw mark gets involved. There is not always an easy formula to convert one into another, as this is the point at which exam boards scale to take into account whether it was a 'hard' paper or an 'easy' paper. You can find the conversion for the particular year by finding the examiner's report for that paper on the web site for the exam board (however they are not out yet.)

In general, it is possible to turn marks around but you have to encourage your son to work smarter as well as harder. Beware taking so many resits that he hasn't time to revise for them - it just costs money and splits focus. In general, it's difficult and counterproductive to resit practical units so the best thing in Art might be to seek advice on how to maximise marks in the U6 units. I would also agree with the posters who said that in art it usually comes down to portfolio for admission to a foundation year anyway, so don't worry too much about that.

In general, the AS results act as a huge wake up call for many students and I have lost count of the number of students I've taught who have turned it around in the second year.

Don't worry, and I am sure you son's school will have a handle on it.

trickerg Sat 29-Aug-09 12:19:34

Ladysharrow - thankyou thankyou!
That's where the mysterious 600 came from! (I was getting so confused.) It's much, much clearer now, along with the earlier info about raw scores. I can even understand his result sheet!

We had a day going round to businesses, etc, trying to get them to accept his graphics ideas, so something is starting to get done. Cogs are whirring, albeit slowly at present! So, it's really up to him now.

Thanks again everyone - you really have been a great help.

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