Cambridge - A Level Courses

MPW Cambridge has been offering A level courses since it opened in 1987. Located next to the Cambridge Botanical Gardens and only 5 minutes walk from Cambridge’s most famous university colleges, MPW Cambridge is ideally situated to inspire. We provide a comprehensive suite of A level options with 30 different subjects offered over a range of different course durations and with no restrictions on combinations of subjects or course lengths.

Retake Courses at A Level

The college has unrivalled expertise in helping retake students make carefully planned and successful applications to the highest quality institutions in UCAS, including Oxbridge applications and applications for Medicine.

Read about MPW’s approach to the new A level curriculum.

Study routes for A level retakes

We offer multiple study routes for retake students, best understood by reference to the following five Study Periods (SPs) over which the academic year can be subdivided:

  • SP1: start of academic year to half term of Autumn term
  • SP2: second half of Autumn term
  • SP3: first half of Spring term
  • SP4: second half of Spring term
  • SP5: the short Summer term in the run-up to exams

A-Level -Retakes -Study -Routes

The study routes themselves are as follows:

Full-year retake course

September to June (full-year study): SPs 1,2,3,4,5

For students who have fallen substantially short of their target grades and require thorough revision of multiple A2 units, often over more than one subject.

View full list of A Level subjects.

Short retake courses

September to June (split-year study) Route A: SPs 1,2,5

The closest cousin of the old “January Retake Course” prior to the abolition for domestic exam boards of the January sitting. Students cover the syllabus intensively during the Autumn term, complete their UCAS applications and take gap year activities in the Spring term before returning to college for syllabus revision and final exam practice in the short Summer term.

September to June (split-year study) Route B: SPs 1,4,5

Students start the year with preparatory work, especially, for example, where Science coursework is involved, and focus on making early UCAS applications around half term. This suits students whose UCAS applications as retake students do not need to evidence the academic progress that they have made in the retake year prior to re-application. Students rejoin the college at Spring half term after any gap year activities and have a sustained period of study through to the Summer exams.

January to June: SPs 3,4,5

Students start these courses after their UCAS forms have been submitted; they may or may not have already been studying on September to June courses in other subjects. For students starting all their subjects in January, the UCAS application clearly must not depend on being able to evidence the academic progress that they have made in the retake year, but in the appropriate circumstances January to June courses allow students to undertake at least part of the gap year activities they may already have planned to start in the Autumn term.

All short retake courses involving combinations of 3 of the 5 Study Periods above are the same price. In addition, it is not uncommon for students on these courses to require retakes of only a small subset of units, in which case the required contact hours and course fees are reduced pro rata.

November Retake Course with CIE: SP1

MPW is an exam centre for Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), which offers linear syllabuses with a sitting around or shortly after Autumn half term. Many leading independent schools offer CIE either for IGCSE, for some of their mainstream A level subjects or both. As well as being clearly suitable for such students, our SP1 intensive course is also suitable for certain students converting from other syllabuses who need to complete all exams prior to extensive gap year activities after Christmas for example. This question must be discussed thoroughly at interview. Students should be aware that they are required to take the entire exam and cannot carry over unit scores from another exam board.

View full list of A Level subjects.

Russell Group placements

Competition for top universities is always a bit tougher for retake students than for first-time students and securing improved grades is only half the battle. Just as important is securing renewed, new or sometimes even more interesting offers from leading universities so that students feel that their retake experience has been a positive addition to their sixth-form careers and perhaps opened doors that were not available to them when they made their first applications.

MPW prides itself on the expertise it has accumulated over many generations in helping retake students in this crucial area. Of the 33 MPW Cambridge A level retake students who applied to at least one Russell Group University (RGU) for 2016 entry, all 33 were successful in being offered a place by at least one RGU. These figures have been highly consistent over many years but 2016 is our record so far!


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University College London (Economics) 

“Honestly, I could not imagine when I joined MPW that, due to language and adaptation barriers, I would achieve top grades in my first A-level exam sittings. This view changed completely after only a few weeks in the college’s supportive and motivational environment; with teachers who aimed at finding a personal touch with each student and with my Personal Tutor who made my adjustment to the UK education system not only an easy step in my life but, more importantly, an enjoyable one.”


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
King's College London (International Relations)

 “The teachers really helped me overcome any difficulties I came across; they always seemed willing to offer support be it inside or outside of the classroom. I could safely say my teachers inspired me to work hard and aim for the best, sometimes simply by being passionate about what they do.”


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of York (Law) 

“Having a Personal Tutor to discuss ANYTHING with, from my UCAS application to organising my life in general, really did make life at the college more streamlined and in general less stressful.”


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University College London (Economics)

“My subject teachers and Personal Tutor have been very patient and helpful in supporting my studies and university application.”


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

“International students have many aspects to think about, such as accommodation and guardians, but MPW surprised me by having a highly organised and supportive administration. Also, because most MPW Cambridge students are local, as an ‘international’ student, I found this very useful in both improving my English and in giving me a taste of a genuinely ‘English’ college.”