Changes to A Level from 2017

You will know that we are part way through major changes to the A Level, where modular A Levels are being phased out and linear A Levels are being phased in. Overall, our approach has been to ensure that we are responding in a way which is in the best interest of our students in order to secure their futures with the minimum of disruption and confusion.

The changes are:

1. A Levels are moving to a linear structure where all of the A Level course will be examined at the end of Year 13. For these linear A Levels, the AS examinations will still exist but the marks will not count towards the final grade. The AS becomes a stand-alone qualification and the examination boards talk of this as ‘de-coupling’ the AS and A2.

2. For these linear A Levels, the whole of the year 12 and Year 13 work will be examined at the end of Year 13. In effect the AS content will be examined, alongside the A2 content, but the questions will be A2 standard and not AS standard – in other words – more demanding.

3. The complication is that some A Levels started this new linear structure from September 2015 and others later. This means that students have been taking a mix of examination structures since September 2015, where some subjects have been modular AS and A2, and other subjects have been linear courses as described above.


Our response:

In response to what we have learned from teaching the new reformed, linear A Levels, for students starting their A-Level courses in September 2017:

1. Students will choose three subjects to study for the whole two year period. There will not be any scope to study 4 AS subjects and then drop one at the end of Year 12.

2. All A-Levels will be linear for those students starting Year 12 in 2017 and so students will not sit AS examinations at the end of Year 12. The full content of the A-Levels will be examined at the end of Year 13. Students will, however, sit internal examinations during Year 12 to help them, and their teachers, monitor progress.

3. The much tougher demands of the new specifications and the much greater content of the reformed A-Levels means that taking 4 AS subjects in Year 12 and then dropping to 3 A-Levels in Year 13 is simply no longer possible. The universities will be looking for three grades which will obviously need to be as high as possible.

4.  Able students will be able to take four full A-Levels right through Years 12 and 13.


The start dates for the new linear A-Levels are as follows:

First teaching 2015 (first A Level exam 2017):

art and design, biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, English language, English language and literature, English literature, history, physics, psychology, sociology.

First teaching 2016 (first A Level exam 2018): 

ancient languages, dance, drama and theatre, geography, modern foreign languages (French, German, and Spanish), music, physical education, religious studies.

First teaching 2017 (first A Level exam 2019): 

design and technology, further mathematics, government and politics, mathematics, media studies, music technology, philosophy.