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

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 Cambridge A level retake students who applied to at least one Russell Group University (RGU) for 2017 entry, all 46 were successful in being offered a place by at least one RGU. These figures have been highly consistent over many years with a 100% record in each of the past two years.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Exeter University (International Relations)

I have really enjoyed my time MPW and would recommend this college to anyone. I learnt how to work more efficiently and revise more effectively thanks to the tutorials and weekly Timed Assignments, which also allowed me to prepare myself mentally for the exams from the first day. My history teacher was phenomenal. He managed to get me to reengage with the subject, as well as giving me all the support and help I asked for and more, giving me the knowledge and exams technique needed to achieve an A*."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Southampton University (Business Innovation)

The small class sizes proved invaluable for a number of reasons, some of which I did not anticipate. Aside from the obvious individual attention, the size of the class allowed for a lot of students’ questions to turn into a fruitful academic discussion. I have found the atmosphere at the college far more friendly and supportive than I expected. The support I had from my Personal Tutor was very helpful during the application process for university. I could tell that he really did care about my future and wanted to do everything he could in order to help me secure my place at my chosen university. Overall, I am pleased to say that my high expectations of MPW were fully met.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Warwick University (Chemistry)

“I have definitely made the right decision to come to MPW - my grades have gone from averaging Es to straight As. Teaching at MPW is much more personal and I felt like talking to teachers. They are very good and give you lots of support if you do not understand something. My Personal Tutor took me through the UCAS process step by step. We went through my Personal Statement many times to make sure it was completely perfect. I am very excited about my firm choice.”


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Nottingham University (Philosophy)

As a dyslexic student who initially got CCEE for my AS, I was convinced that I could not achieve any higher. My time at MPW proved me wrong. Initially I was reluctant to move from my local school in York to a college so far away from home, my parents, and friends. At the end of my first year I was overjoyed to find that many hours of hard work and renewed revision techniques had resulted in me achieving three A's in my subjects. I wanted to continue at A2 as I knew it would greatly improve my university prospects and encourage me to work even harder. After two fantastic years at MPW I can emphatically say that going to MPW was the best decision I ever made. 


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) 

“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
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.”


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.”