HE Exams Wiki

Most home-educated students go to college or sixth-form school to study for A-levels, or other qualifications such as Btecs. However, some students do continue to study from home at 16+.

What Are A Level Qualifications?[]

A(Advanced) Levels are an academic qualification typically taken by students aged 16-18 and after GCSE or IGCSE exams. They are the most common route into further (colleges) and higher (universities) education. Other routes include Btecs, T Levels and certain apprenticeships.

A Levels are more specialised than GCSEs, allowing students to study specific subjects in greater depth. Students typically study three or four A-Level subjects over two years, with exams taken at the end. A wide range of A Levels are available, some in subjects which are not available at GCSE level. A-levels are more advanced and challenging than GCSEs and require a higher level of critical thinking, analysis, and independent study skills.

A Level qualifications are graded from A* to E, with A* being the highest grade and E the lowest. Many universities and employers use A Level grades as part of their selection criteria, with universities requiring specific grades for admission to degree programmes.

Although A Levels are usually assessed through written exams, some will also include assessed coursework or practical assignments. Students are expected to have a high level of self-discipline and independent study skills to succeed in their A-Level studies.

Studying A-levels From Home[]

Because most home educated children go on to 6th forms or FE colleges to study for A Levels, there may be less experience of A Levels in your local home educating community. Do join the groups below for more support and information.

Support Groups[]

Facebook Group Home Educating through A-levels

Facebook Group Home Education UK Exams and Alternatives

Useful Links[]

Sixteen Plus - options, child benefit etc

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) - alternatives from home education.

Applying to University after Home Education

Making entries and sitting exams

Finding an exam centre

There are specific issues around taking the practical exams for Science subjects at A Level. For more information about this see this page.

A Level Awarding bodies[]

To find out what subjects are available to study at A Level and whether they are open to private candidates, you will need to read the specification (syllabus) of each one you would like to sit. Each awarding body has a list of the A Levels they offer.

AQA A Level subjects.

Edexcel Pearson A Level Subjects

Educas qualifications, including A Level

OCR A Level subjects

CCEA (Northern Ireland) A Level subjects

WJEC (Wales) qualifications including A Levels

International A Levels[]

Cambridge International A Levels[]

CAIE (Cambridge) International A-levels, are available in the UK.

They are accepted as equivalent to state-regulated A-levels by UK universities; most unis have made statements confirming this. CAIE has a search facility which allows you to find these recognition statements, but it can be hard to navigate so we have made a snapshot of recognition statements as of May 2019.

They have November and June sittings. Cambridge International A Level is typically a two-year course, and Cambridge International AS Level is typically one year. Cambridge International A Levels still have the option to sit AS-levels which contribute to the final A-level grade, unlike the reformed A levels.

Assessment options

You can choose from a range of assessment options to gain Cambridge International AS & A Level qualifications:

  1. Take the Cambridge International AS Level only. The syllabus content is half a Cambridge International A Level.
  2. Take a ‘staged’ assessment route – take the Cambridge International AS Level in one examination series and complete the final Cambridge International A Level at a subsequent series. AS Level marks can be carried forward to a full A Level twice within a 13 month period.*
  3. Take all papers of the Cambridge International A Level course in the same examination session, usually at the end of the course.

* The staged assessment route is not possible in all subjects. The outcomes awarded for Cambridge International AS Level language syllabuses cannot be carried forward to Cambridge International A Level.

CIE were not effected by the A level reforms - explanation here CIE International A-levels and the A-level changes:

Edexcel International A-levels[]

Edexcel International A-levels have no coursework - they offer exam-only assessment for all subjects, including sciences. They are now available in the UK, but only through Tutors & Exams exam centres. These are modular exams, unlike A levels or Cambridge International A Levels which are all linear exams. You can also take them at overseas Edexcel centres.

A Level Reforms[]

From 2013-2019 there were large reforms to A Levels

The main features of the new qualifications are:

  1. Assessment mainly by exam, with other types of assessment used only where they are needed to test essential skills.
  2. AS and A levels assessed at the end of the course. AS assessments will typically take place after 1 year’s study and A levels after 2.
  3. AS and A levels are decoupled – this means that AS results no longer count towards an A level.
  4. AS levels can be designed by exam boards to be taught alongside the first year of A levels.
  5. The content for the new A levels has been reviewed and updated.

Government information on changes inc a timetable of he changes (useful if looking for past papers)

The Uni Guide (from The Student Room) to the changes

Alternatives to A Levels as a route into university[]

Btec v A Levels

Degree apprenticeships

T Levels

A-Levels In One Sitting? Retakes?[]

Does it matter if you spread your A-levels out over 3 years or more? What about resits?

Some universities, or some departments, specify that A-levels must be taken in one sitting, ie 3 A-levels with final exams taken in the same exam season. Others do not have a policy on this. Some say that applicants with resits will not be disadvantaged, whilst others may say they do not accept resit grades. Usually the university will make a statement about these things on its 'Information for applicants' page, and then on the department/ course listings you may find more detail about requirements for a specific course. The reason for prioritising first-time grades and 3 A-levels in one sitting is that very competitive courses may be fast-paced and they want applicants who will be able to keep up with the workload. Some degree courses have a lighter workload than others or may be more flexible.

Personal Experiences[]

What is it like doing A-levels from home education?  How do families decide whether it is right for them?  Here are some comments from home educators: Case Studies: A Levels at Home

Distance Learning Providers For A Levels[]

The National Extension College (NEC) is the oldest and possibly the most well known organisation providing distance learning for A Level courses.