An A-level is a single subject studied in depth at level 3 which requires you to undertake independent research and critical study of the subject.

The A-level is a level 3 qualification and is usually 360 guided learning hours over 2 years, students usually take 3 or 4 subjects together. They are graded A*-E on completion.

A-levels are usually taught in school sixth forms or sixth form centres. You need to achieve at least C grades in your GCSEs to get a place to study A-levels but for some subjects, you might be expected to achieve A*-B.

There are about 80 different A-level subjects available but most schools and colleges are able to offer between 10 and 30 subjects. 

To find out which A-levels are available visit the UCAS website.

A-levels give you broad subject qualifications which are not usually related directly to a job or area of work. For most people, their studies lead them to higher education courses at university. The grades that you achieve will help universities decide which course would suit you best.

When you apply to university each grade is worth a number of UCAS tariff points. These are the way that universities decide whether to offer places to students, they may ask an applicant to achieve:

  • grades such as ABB or BCC
  • a numeric total such as 200 UCAS points
  • a combination such as 280 UCAS points with at least a grade B in the subject you want to study


Use the UCAS tariff calculator to work out UCAS points.

There are some employers who are able to offer specific job training in the workplace and recruit from students who have completed A-levels. Employers may value the maturity that the additional years of further education can provide as you will have learned skills like the ability to meet deadlines manage your own work and time and developed research skills.

You can apply for an apprenticeship after you complete your A-levels but as you might not have a specific skill for the job you may be required to study qualifications at the same level or lower than you have already achieved.

AS-levels can be taken as a stand-alone qualification, or as the first part of an A-level course. AS-levels are completed at the end of Year 12. A2 exams and coursework are added on to an AS-level at the end of Year 13, bringing it up to A-level standard.

To find out more about other qualifications return to the Qualifications page.

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