Why Your AS & Year 12 Grades Still Matter With The Latest Educational Reform
The educational reform, with the reintroduction of the linear A level, means that many year 12 students are beginning to consider AS level examinations a thing of the past. Your A level qualification will now only be awarded upon completion of A level examinations taken in the same sitting at the end of year 13. However, students would be foolish to dismiss the importance of continuing to take revision and examinations at the end of year 12 seriously. Here’s why:
It allows you to hedge your bets
In common with many independent schools, MPW is continuing with the 4 AS/3 A2 model for the majority of students meaning that over the summer you will choose to drop one of your AS level subjects and continue with only three. Taking an AS level is a strong indicator of your expected performance at A2 so achieving AS results of AABC in August would be a good hint as to which subject needs to go. If you are really keen to keep the subject with the lower grade, the AS results will at least have alerted you to the extra work you need to put into your A2 courses in order to stay on track.
Your results will help your tutors predict your final grades
You have earned a rest surely: you had GCSEs last year and you’ve got A levels next year. So you decide to turn up for your year 12 exams without trying too hard and you get BCC, which isn’t the end of the world but is a surprise given that you were a straight-A student in year 11. At the start of year 13 you start putting together your UCAS application and discover that for your dream course, Exeter are making offers of AAA. Although you might well have been capable of AAA at one point, you’ve been resting on your laurels and it is now very difficult to convince your tutors that you are going to make the five-grade improvement that you need over the next year. Some tutors will not predict you higher grades than you achieved at AS (or the school equivalent) so you may find that your options for university are suddenly narrower than you were expecting unless you stay on track throughout your A level courses.
You need the practice
Don’t tell GCSE students this, but once you’ve taken an AS level paper you will wonder what all the fuss last year was about. Year 12 is an academic step up from year 11 and year 13 a step even further. Waiting until the end of year 13 to care about this is a big mistake. Even if you do not take AS levels at the end of year 12, schools and colleges will set internal end of year assessments instead. You need to take these seriously. Not only are they a good indicator of your progress so far (which, as we have already seen, will be useful to you) but they are also a great chance to practise. Gone through exam technique and tips in class? Now’s your chance to apply the theory. It’s a lot easier to understand what to do than to actually do it and the more you try, the greater your chances of getting it right when it really matters.
Clarify the difficult topics
Revising C2 and suddenly realise logarithms went straight over your head? Going over French grammar and struggling with si clauses? You have a whole year more of studying these subjects and understanding them properly at the end of year 12 will make year 13 a lot easier. At the time, you could probably get away with a rather flimsy understanding of what was happening in class before the schemes of work moved in a new direction but revisiting topics that you have covered earlier (in some cases, up to eight months ago), you will be surprised as to what you remember and what you don’t understand. Now is a perfect time to clear up any confusion. It stands you in good stead for A2 and when you find yourself in a similar position next year, this time with the infinitely trickier subjunctive tense and vectors, you will be very grateful to not be dealing with AS level topics as well.
You get another qualification
AS levels don’t count any more, right? Wrong. AS levels don’t count in the same way that they used to but that certainly does not mean they do not count at all. AS levels continue to be a standalone qualification, something that you can put on your UCAS form and on your CV. If you drop a subject after year 12, the AS level will be the only evidence you have that you ever took it.
You’re the guinea pigs
Sorry, year 12s, but you are the first students to take the new linear A levels. The good news is that the slow phasing in of these A levels is designed to cause minimum disruption and everyone is in the same boat. The bad news is that no-one has ever taken these exams before. Of course, they will be similar to existing AS and A2 examinations and guidance has been issued to teachers but the bottom line is that it is impossible to predict exactly how reform subjects will be examined and marked. You need to have a go so you know what you are up against. The papers are new to everyone and practising the first set will give you a chance to have a real ‘test run’ the year before everything matters more.
Don’t be disheartened; you have already covered the course and it will all be over before the end of June. All we are suggesting is that before you have a well-earned and gloriously hedonistic summer break, you make one final push. You’ll thank yourself later.