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Ofqual announcement on A level reform for students in England 

 
On 9 November, Ofqual published its key findings following its consultation on A level reform.

These key findings from the consultation show support for:

  • the principle of higher education engagement with A level design
  • students being assessed at the end of each of their first and second year of study
  • the removal of January exams and reduced resit opportunities
  • increasing synoptic assessment in A levels
  • reducing internal assessment.

You can read more about Ofqual’s findings here.

The regulator also announced that, from September 2013, students in England will no longer be able to sit A level examinations in January.

Important: This announcement affects students who started their two-year A level courses this September (2012).

For students who started a two-year A level course in September 2012:

  • AS examinations will be available in January 2013 and June 2013 and June 2014.
    There will be no AS examinations available in January 2014.
     
  • A2 examinations will be available in January 2013, June 2013 and June 2014.
    There will be no A2 examinations available January 2014.

For students who start a two-year A level course from September 2013:

  • AS examinations will be available in June 2014 and June 2015.
    There will be no AS examinations available in January 2014.
     
  • A2 examinations will be available in June 2014 and June 2015.
    There will be no A2 examinations available January 2014.

A level reform FAQs 
 

expand When will there be new A levels?

Ofqual has confirmed that there will be new A levels from September 2015 (for first assessment in 2017) in the facilitating subjects* (except mathematics and languages), along with six additional subjects.
 
Facilitating subjects:
  • English (Language, Literature and Language & Literature)
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • History
  • Geography.
Plus:
  • Psychology
  • Art and Design
  • Sociology
  • Business Studies
  • Economics
  • Computing.
* The A level subjects that the Russell Group of Universities most frequently ask for are known as the facilitating subjects.
expand What changes are being made to the structure of the new A levels?

These new A levels are to be fully linear with more synoptic assessment. They will be taken over two years, with students sitting their exams at the end of the course.
expand Will there be changes to the content of the new A levels?

We will continue to review the content requirements of the subjects to be redeveloped for 2015, drawing on advice from higher education, teachers and learned societies.
expand What's happening with AS levels?

Ofqual has confirmed that, from September 2015, AS levels will be stand-alone qualifications and will no longer contribute to an A level grade. Their purpose will be to encourage curriculum breadth and they will remain broadly at their current standard. It may be that in some subjects it will be appropriate for the AS level to be designed to be co-taught with the first year of the A level.
 
Wales and Northern Ireland
 
expand How do the reforms affect students in Wales and Northern Ireland who are taking Edexcel GCEs?

We're waiting for clarification on how the recent announcement on A level reform applies to Wales and Northern Ireland.
 
Existing A level qualifications
 
expand What changes are being made to current A level specifications?

Ofqual has announced that from 2014, students in England will no longer be able to sit A level exams in January.
expand Will there be changes to the content of the current A level specifications?

No specific requirements to change the content of the current A level specifications have been announced by Ofqual. However, we will continue to review our A level specifications as part of our normal scrutiny processes. We will ensure that if any changes are made they will be communicated to all our centres in the normal way.

expand How does the removal of the January assessment window affect current A level students (that is, those currently doing AS)?

For students who started a two-year A level course in September 2012:
  • AS examinations are available in January 2013 and June 2013 and June 2014
  • There will be no AS examinations available in January 2014
     
  • A2 examinations are available in January 2013, June 2013 and June 2014
  • There will be no A2 examinations available in January 2014.
expand Will students still be allowed to resit exams if necessary, albeit only during the summer exam period? Could an A2 student resit one of their AS exams at the end of the A2 course?

Yes.
expand Will students be limited to one resit only? Will students still be able to resit units?

There has been no announcement from Ofqual at this stage about the number of resits per unit/module. However, there will be no January examinations available from 2014.

 
Applied GCEs
 

expand Does the announcement from Ofqual affect Applied GCEs?

Ofqual has also confirmed that, from September 2013, students in England will no longer be able to sit examinations in January for Applied GCEs.

Our Edexcel Applied GCEs are accredited until 31 August 2015, the current end date for these qualifications. We are seeking further clarification about an option for resits in January 2016.

 
Coursework
 
expand We have coursework in January. Is coursework also affected by the ‘no January exam’ rule?

Yes, the ‘no January exam’ rule also applies to coursework.

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