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A Levels – Everything You Need to Know in 2024

Tornike Asatiani - Co-founder & COO of Edumentors

A Levels and Their Importance

A levels are subject-based advanced school leaving qualifications in the UK. They are internationally recognised and there are more than 80 subjects to choose from. The subjects you choose depend on what course you are wanting to pursue in university. That’s why there are no compulsory subjects in A level exams, it’s all up to you. 

Normally, A-levels are studied during your AS year (Year 12) and your A2 year (Year 13) – it’s a two-year programme.

A levels are required for university admissions and many jobs. Good grades in A level exams open the doors for you in different career paths and can get you a good education. If you want to go to Cambridge, Oxford or other big UK universities, you’ll have to put really good effort into getting good grades. A levels are the big step after GCSEs, so everything needs to be carefully planned out. This article can help you recognise what you might need and how to prepare for A levels effectively. 

A Level Dates and Registration Process

A level exam dates in 2023 are not known yet, however, they typically occur during May and June. You can check AQA’s website for updates on dates. 

Are A Levels Free?

  • If you are in public school, the sixth form is free. You just have to pay a symbolic fee to take a final exam which is a maximum of £100.
  • If you study in a private school, they are not required to provide you with free A level courses from the government. Some of them don’t even have courses or are lacking them. Private schools decide on prices by themselves. 
  • If you are a private candidate who is above 18, you’ll have to pay for courses and their price will differ from school to school. Some of them even go up as high as £20,000, so make sure you scout for affordable, but effective options.

A Level Registration

You can register on UCAS. Go to the UCAS hub, complete the registration questions, and confirm the year you want to start and that you want to study at the “undergraduate” level. Then, the website will take you to the dashboard where you’ll see “Your application”. If you need further explanation on what the requirements are there to register, read UCAS’s guide

The deadline for registration is not known for 2023 yet.

Can You Still Take A Levels if You Fail Your GCSEs?

You can take A levels without passing all of your GCSE subjects. However, it’s really hard to get into a good university if you don’t at least have passing grades in core subjects like maths, science and English.

Who Can I Speak to Help With A Levels?

A levels are very important, they may influence your whole future education, so it’s essential that you get answers to all your questions.  you can contact career advisors, the university admissions office and the professionals that work in the field you are interested in. 

However, who can give you the most help with A levels? Students who already successfully passed A levels! Now, the question is – where to find them. You can find those people through social media, reach out and speak to them, but you can also find tutors from top universities online!

There are many different online tutoring services, some only hire people who graduated, some hire both students and grown-ups, and Edumentors only scouts for skilled tutors that are still in the universities. Young tutors who had their fair share of struggles with A levels can give you helpful tips, guidance and help to make your studying most effective. If you click with one of the tutors, you can always come back for more sessions, whenever you like!

A Level Exam Grading System

A levels are graded with the letter system :

A* – 90%+

A – 80-89%

B – 70-79%

C – 60-69%

D – 50-59%

E – 40-49%

U (ungraded) – 0-40%

If you are aiming for top universities, As and A*s are the way to go. However, the D and E are still passing grades but will result in lower UCAS points.

How Hard are A Levels?

You may wonder if A levels are similar to GCSEs. The answer is –  not entirely. Both GCSEs and A levels are the courses you take for one or two years, they both go in-depth in subjects. However, A levels are way harder since they go deeper and explore harder topics in different subjects. If you just finished your GCSEs, don’t be worried, with dedication, motivation and effective studying techniques everything is doable!

Are A-Levels Getting Harder?

The short answer is – not really.

A 2022 Ipsos study revealed 44% of UK adults believe A-levels are easier, a view more common among older people. However, younger adults also share this perception to some extent.

Historically, opinions have varied. A 2013 YouGov poll found younger people thought A-levels were harder, while older individuals disagreed. Despite technological advancements and curricular changes, the difficulty in subjects like ICT remains notable, with few students achieving top grades in 2022. Meanwhile, there’s been an increase in students scoring higher grades over the years, suggesting a shift in academic performance.

Changes in A-level exam structure, like more multiple-choice questions and fewer essays, might affect perceived difficulty. Additionally, technology in education has made studying more efficient, potentially leading to better exam performance.

However, this does not conclusively mean A-levels are easier. Improved student performance could be attributed to better preparation and resource access, rather than reduced exam difficulty.

Difference Between AS Levels and A Levels

AS levels are similar in the first year of A levels programme, but A level takes a longer period of time to complete. Additionally, in 2017, they changed the rules and AS levels results don’t count anymore towards students’ final A level results. That’s why many students choose not to take them. However, if you take your AS levels too and choose different subjects, you may have more career options in the future, even if that grade won’t count into A level grade.

How to Choose Subjects for A levels?

Everything You Need to Know About A Levels - Choosing A Level Subjects
Everything You Need to Know About A Levels – Choosing A Level Subjects

Choosing subjects wisely is very essential since it will impact your future education choices and job opportunities. Research different courses and what subjects they require – choose something that you’ll enjoy. If you hate maths but you need to take an A level maths to get into your top choice course, consider if it will be fulfilling to study somewhere that you might hate.

Don’t choose subjects or careers just because your parents, teachers or friends tell you to. Even if your school does not have an A level course for the subject you want to take, consider getting a tutor or finding the course in different schools or colleges.

There are approximately 80 subjects to choose from, so you can definitely find the subject you can do well at and have fun studying. Choose subjects from as many categories as possible to give yourself broad choices in the future.

If you want to learn more, read how to choose A level subjects.

How many A levels can you take?

At the very least, every student should aim to complete three A-Levels since this is the usual requirement for getting into most universities in the UK. While it’s possible to study up to five A-Levels, it’s important to think carefully about whether this is a good choice for you.

Taking more than three A-Levels doesn’t always mean universities will view your application more favourably, so unless you’re confident you can do well in the extra subjects.

If you’re wondering about how many A-Levels you should take, we have shared some insights on this topic. It’s a common question with no simple answer. Check out our blog about “How Many A-Levels Can You Take?” for a straightforward look at making the right choice for your education. It could help clear up any confusion you have.

How to Prepare for A Levels? 

There are numerous ways you can prepare for A levels other than studying A level courses at school or university. You can find various online resources like practice papers, mock tests, books for A levels and etc. However, if you feel like A level course is not enough for you, you can always choose to get additional help in the form of tutoring.

Additional Help Options

There are several options you can choose from – in-person tutoring, group tutoring, and online tutoring. In-person tutors meet their tutees face-to-face at their house/office or at the student’s house. Group tutors have a small group of tutees with the same level of knowledge. Online tutors use video calling apps and their features to tutor. 

Benefits of Online Tutoring

There are many benefits of online tutoring:

  • Convenience and Time-Efficiency – none of the parties involved has to leave the house which saves time and extra money.
  • Flexibility – you can schedule sessions easier and even have sessions later at night since none of you has to travel back home.
  • Can Be Cost-Effective – not all online tutors are affordable but you get so many choices, you can find tutors from all around the world which gives you a better chance of finding someone who has acceptable prices for you.

Examples of Experienced Online Tutors

To prepare for A levels as productively as possible, you can hire an online tutor. Find someone who already passed the exams, received A*s and got into Cambridge, Oxford, Warwick, Durham or other top UK universities.

1. Rueben from the University College London

“I can help tutor A-Levels in Mathematics, Economics, Chemistry and Further Maths. I have a proven track record in exam success, achieving 10A* at IGCSE level and 2A* and 2A’s at A-Levels.”

2. Joely from the University of Warwick

“I always make sure my students come out of every lesson more confident, knowledgeable and independent. How? By tailoring the experience to the student’s specific learning style and revising information in engaging, creative ways based on a scientifically-proven revision approach. I want to be not only a teacher but also a mentor, and so”

3. Iacopo from the University of Edinburgh

“I am passionate about STEM subjects, and I have almost two years of experience in tutoring Math and Physics to high school students. I am aware of the crucial role that education played in shaping the person that I am today, and I aim to help younger students find their own way through difficult subjects at school and discover their interest.”

When Should You Start Revising for A levels?

Revision for A levels effectively is important. You have been studying for more than a year and it’s impossible to be perfect in every topic in every subject. It’s up to you, but it is advised to start revising around four or five weeks before your exam. 

How Much Revision a Day for A Levels?

Again, depends on you. Some students prefer to study more in one day and some prefer to divide their revision and spend around 1 hour on one subject a day. Find what works best for you and check out top revision methods to revise even more productively. 

What Happens if You Fail Your A Levels?

There are several reasons why you might not get an offer from universities. You may get good grades, but some universities are very rigid with their admissions. Also, you may have declined all your offers since you changed your mind before the A level results day. Or, the most stressful reason of them all – you didn’t get an acceptable grade.

Don’t worry – there are many options available

  • UCAS clearing – clearing matches candidates with available spots in university courses that still have places left. There is no shame in using clearing – some students even use it when they got better grades than they imagined and want to try getting into a better university than their top choices before. If you want further information, read how to be prepared for UCAS clearing
  • Appealing A level results – if you feel like you’ve lost points unfairly, you can appeal your grades. The first thing you should do is to contact your school officials – teachers, head teachers etc. They will check if they had made a mistake in the grading process or submitted the wrong grade to the exam board. If you did that and you are still unsatisfied, then your next step is to appeal to the exam board. However, you can’t do that by yourself – your school needs to submit an appeal on your behalf. For more guidance, read appealing A level results – the process explained.
  • Resitting an A level exam – you can always take a gap year and resit an A level exam. In the meantime, you can find apprenticeships or internships from the UCAS career finder tool


If you opt for online tutoring, there are numerous online tutoring websites you can choose from, one of them is edumentors.co.uk. It handpicks candidates from UK’s best universities such as Cambridge, Oxford, Warwick, etc. and puts them through a robust quality check and verification process. You can rest assured that anyone teaching at Edumentors, is highly qualified in every subject they teach. They are also all DBS certified so that you get a safe online learning experience. In other words, if you are looking for the highest quality tutors, Edumentors is the place to go.

Young tutors can ensure that you get good grades on A level exams and it’s not the only way they can help you! Since tutors are similar in age to you, it’s easier to create a comfortable and friendly learning atmosphere. Edumentors’ tutors can provide you with mental and emotional support throughout your entire learning process. They can give you tips and tricks for A levels and some of them might even help you get into your dream university! Find your perfect edu-mentor today and book a free introduction call to see what you could get out of them.

Good luck with your A-levels!


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