AS and A levels
AS and A levels are the main general qualifications at Level 3 and are usually taken at age 16-19. They are used as a basis for admissions to higher education, further training or entry into employment.
Reformed A level qualifications in Wales consist of Advanced Subsidiary (AS) and A2 units. The AS is a stand-alone qualification and also contributes 40% towards the full A level qualification.
The qualification principles set out the overarching framework for the development of all reformed AS and A level qualifications developed for teaching in Wales from September 2015 onwards.
AS and A levels in Wales:
- share the same content as A levels in England, where appropriate
- retain practical or non-examination assessments where they are assessing an important part of the subject, with these assessments contributing towards the final grade
- include a Welsh perspective where appropriate
- have AS contributing 40% to the full A level
We are making a number of changes to our AS and A level qualifications over the next few years. Specifications for subjects that changed for first teaching in 2015 have been published by WJEC. Specifications for subjects being changed for first teaching in September 2016 will be published later this year. Information about subjects that will be reformed for first teaching in 2017 will be available shortly.
In all the subjects which are being developed by WJEC for first teaching in Wales from September 2015, 2016 and 2017 the WJEC specifications will be the only ones available to the maintained sector in Wales. For all other subjects, centres will be free to choose from a range of AS and A level specifications from any of the awarding bodies that offer general qualifications.
What is happening in other parts of the UK?
AS and A levels in England and Northern Ireland are also being reformed. This means that in future there will be some differences in the qualifications awarded in each country.
- Click here for an infographic on the changes in Wales, England and Northern Ireland.
- For a more detailed explanation of the of the changes, click here.
An important difference will be that AS and A levels reformed for Wales will continue to be coupled, with a student’s AS results contributing to his or her overall A level grade. In England, reformed AS and A level qualifications are being decoupled, which means the new AS qualifications will not contribute to the A levels.
It’s important to remember that these changes will not affect the value of AS and levels taken in Wales, which will remain comparable to those taken in England and Northern Ireland.
The new qualifications in all three countries will continue to be of the same size and accessible to the same range of students as those they replace. And, with a few exceptions, the same or similar content will be assessed in each country, using similar assessment methods.