Birmingham - A Level Courses

MPW offers a comprehensive suite of A level options with 31 different subjects offered over six different course durations (including retake 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.

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

Study routes for A level retakes

There have been no domestic January sittings permitted since January 2013 at AS or A2. Students who might have previously spent the Autumn term improving just one or two units in a given subject prior to examination in January must now defer the examination to June (with the option of top-up revision either at Easter or the beginning of the Summer term) or take the revision course itself from January to June. There may often be an interaction, which should be discussed fully at interview, between the UCAS re-application cycle and the decision on retake course duration.

To accommodate this change 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

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 (Legacy subjects) and also the default option for Reformed subjects where retake students need to revise and take all papers again and where most students will require full-year study.

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 priced at the same fees. In addition, it is not uncommon for students on these courses to require retakes of only a small subset of units (Legacy subjects only), 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 require 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 46 MPW Birmingham A level retake students who applied to at least one Russell Group University (RGU) for 2017 entry, 41 were successful in being offered a place by at least one RGU. These figures have been highly consistent over many years.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Exeter University (Business Management)

I chose MPW because of the academic support provided by the college, which was instrumental in helping me throughout the challenging nature of my one-year A level courses. The weekly Timed Assignments and assistance provided by the Personal Tutor system helped me in areas I had previously struggled. Playing for the college football team was a great release from the challenging academic nature of the year and it helped me build friendships with other students in the college.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Leeds University (Dentistry)

The best part about studying at MPW is the friendly, encouraging and supportive classroom environment that MPW provides.  It makes asking for help and reaching your potential easy and enjoyable. The college really helps students to believe in themselves.  The Personal Tutor system is great because it is available for you to use to whatever extent you might need whether that be having weekly meetings or meeting every now and then for a quick catch up to analyse my current progress.  The weekly Timed Assignments have also enabled me to build my confidence in the build up to my exams.  They help you to feel comfortable in an exam environment, as well as enable you to consolidate the material you need to recall in the final exams


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Exeter University (International Relations and History)

“Having not achieved the grades I wanted or needed in my A levels at my previous college I decided that retaking would be the best option for me.  I have found the small classes at MPW to be a real asset, and that, coupled with the fantastic teaching, has certainly enabled me to grow academically. Further to this, both the academic support and the university guidance provided by the college have been exceptional.”


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Manchester University (Dentistry)

After failing to get into Dental School last year I lost a lot of confidence and was worried that I might never get into my dream course.  The one-to-one support you get from MPW is so much more efficient compared to the main stream schools and colleges. The individual help you get for applying to University which includes interview support is amazing. No matter if you are a resit or a first time student, no one judges you and as long as you are hardworking and want to be a success.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Oxford University (Mathematics)

I joined MPW because I wanted to be part of a close knit community that focuses on helping students attain the grades they are really capable of.  Each student is assigned a Personal Tutor who assists them in all aspects of student life.  I would recommend the individual and personally tailored care given to any student looking to expand their academic horizons.  The encouragement and support has allowed me to aim high and achieve results that I had previously thought weren't possible. 


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
King’s College London (Dentistry)

MPW gave me a second chance in pursuing a career in dentistry. The small class sizes and weekly timed assessments gave me and my tutors a clear indication of my progress.  The rigorous teaching schedules, structured and tailored to my personal needs, was exactly what I needed. MPW placed heavy focus on exam technique as the key to achieving the required higher grades. Being able to talk with my tutors at any time in the day was an invaluable aid. It was also clear how much the teachers took a personal interest in the development of each individual student.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Warwick (Management)

I joined MPW having not fulfilled my academic potential during my AS level exams at my previous school. I decided to retake my AS year at MPW and it was the best decision I ever made. The tutors at MPW have pushed me to achieve my maximum potential and have greatly improved my academic performance. The best part of studying at MPW is the weekly timed assignments as they ensure that you continuously review and revise work as well as helping you to make weekly improvements on exam technique.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Bristol University (Dentistry)

Throughout my time at MPW I have been provided with constant support.  The college has prepared me for not only my exams but also the university interviews I attended.  It has been an amazing experience from start to finish.  The friendly and welcoming environment created by the staff and students made it an ideal setting for me to concentrate on achieving my targets.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Birmingham (Law)

I came to MPW with very low self-confidence after under-achieving at AS level at my previous school, and have left with greater confidence about my academic ability and with a definite degree of clarity about what I hope to achieve in terms of my career. My experience at my previous school was that those with Oxbridge potential receive the most support and attention. This is not the case at MPW. I have found that it does not matter about that what the student's potential may be, each student receives the same amount of help to achieve their goals.