A levels cause confusion

May 21, 1999

Admissions tutors and teachers are confused over the effect new A levels will have on university admissions, it emerged at a Universities and Colleges Admissions Service conference this week, writes Alison Goddard.

From next September, 16 to 18- year-olds will be encouraged to study up to five revamped AS levels in their first year, followed by three "A2"s in their second year, to convert three of the AS levels into A levels. But admissions tutors are unsure about how schools will deliver such qualifications, and teachers are unsure about the universities' response.

For example, students could take five AS levels at the end of their first year. Universities could then use the results to help decide whether to offer places. But at this stage, students would hold the equivalent of two and a half A levels and could, theoretically, progress straight to university. They could then become demotivated in their A2 year.

Or students might benefit from taking five AS levels with the three A2s, as they would then have a more mature grasp of subjects. But they could be penalised at the applications stage, since they could not demonstrate exam results. A further complication is that two of the five AS levels would be in subjects the student then chose to drop.

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