Comprehensive Guide to A Levels

Your comprehensive guide to A Level Study at Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College.

A-Levels are an excellent route to gain access to University or higher level apprenticeships. A levels give students the skills and knowledge to prepare them for the academic workload expected at university or the demands of higher level apprenticeships.

Due to the A-Level reform, most A-Levels are now linear in structure as opposed to modular. Under the new linear structure, students can still sit an AS Level qualifications but the marks awarded for this qualification no longer count towards the final A level grade. The overall A level grade is determined solely by the marks awarded in the exams at the end of the second year.

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)
This extra qualification can be taken at AS Level and requires the student to choose a topic of interest, complete an assignment or research project on this topic and deliver a presentation. The EPQ is equivalent in size to half an A Level and requires students to show evidence of planning, preparation, research and independent working. The EPQ earns extra UCAS points, is highly regarded by universities and is recommended for any student planning on applying to Oxford or Cambridge.

Who can take A Levels?
Many students take A Level qualifications in Years 12 and 13, after completing their GCSEs.

Entry Requirements and Subject Choice

Entry Requirements
To study A Levels at Queen Alexandra, students need at least five GCSEs at grades A*-C. Sometimes, you need a grade B or above at GCSE in a particular subject (see prospectus for full details).

How Many Subjects to Choose
Queen Alexandra students study three subjects in the first year and then continue with three subjects in the second year to gain full A Level qualifications. Some students take the EPQ as well to increase their UCAS points for university entry. Students also follow a functional skills programme (Maths and English) alongside their chosen subjects. Some learners can study four if they are particularly gifted and talented.

How to Choose the Best Combination of Subjects
When choosing a combination of A Level subjects, it is important that students select the best options to secure a good grade as well as choosing subjects that they will enjoy and fit in with their career plans. Even if a student is not sure where they want to go in life yet, A Level studies will help to broaden their skills and experience to progress to Higher Education at college or university, or to go straight into employment. There can be big differences between GCSE and A Level. It is important to read the content of the course and details of how it is assessed (exams or coursework).

Student Support and Success

Queen Alexandra is the perfect bridge between school and university. We want students to develop some independence, but ensure that they are fully supported every step of the way. From the start, students are set clear expectations on areas such as punctuality, attendance, behaviour, homework and study during free periods.

Personal Learning Plans
All students receive a Personal Learning Plan (PLP) to track their progress and achievements against specific goals, and subject teachers set homework and give feedback on each piece of work showing progress against these individual student targets. We use a system called ProMonitor: an electronic tracking system which flags any concerns and can be accessed by parents to monitor their child’s progress online.

Pastoral Tutors
Every student is allocated a pastoral tutor who will be there to help with their Personal Learning Plan and keep them on track for success. Tutorials are part of the timetable to ensure that progress can be tracked and that students are fully supported throughout their course. This helps students to manage college work through regular one-to-one contact. This helps each individual to become better equipped to meet future employers’ requirements and be ready to progress onto Higher Education courses at college or university.

How Students are Assessed
In most subjects the A Level is each made up of two units, although in some subjects they are each three units. The majority of the assessment is by written exams, although in some subjects there is a small amount of coursework. There is also assessment of practical skills or portfolio generation in subjects like Science or Art. The College prospectus explains the assessment of each A Level subject.

Grades and Marks
A Levels are graded A*to E. January module results are announced in March and end of year results in August. Results slips will also show a score on something called the ‘uniform mark scale’ (UMS). The AS is scored out of 300 UMS marks, and the A Level out of 600 marks.

Predicated Grades for A Level
GCSE results and predicated grades are a good guide to a student’s abilities in a particular subject. Use this information to inform A Level subject choices that are most likely to result in good grades. On the home page of the website there is a grade predictor tool which allows students to enter their predicted or actual GCSE results and see what they are likely to achieve as an A Level grade.

Higher Education and Careers

Where can A Levels lead?
A and AS Levels are one of the main routes into Higher Education, but they’re also useful if you want to go straight into a job.

UCAS points
Normally, to take a Higher Education course you will need at least two full A Levels or equivalent Level 3 qualification. If you’re applying to university or college, A and AS Levels earn the following points in the 'UCAS Tariff':

Grade A Level AS Level

Note: this tariff table relates specifically to university entry from September 2017 onwards. Details of the 2016 entry can be found on the web site.

Parental Support
Parents play a vital role in supporting students and are invited to meet personal tutors to talk about their progress. Parents’ evenings and regular written reports ensure that you can have confidence that student learning and progression is top of the agenda.

Careers Guidance
At Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College, each individual’s learning and development is of paramount importance to us and we take pride in offering the highest level of support and guidance. The College’s Learner Services team has been accredited with the Matrix standard which recognises excellence in delivering information, advice and guidance on learning and work. Our team of dedicated student advisors and transition tutors are there to help with any questions or concerns as well as offering careers guidance to keep students up-to-date with opportunities for the future and how to get there.

Business Ambassadors and the Queen Alexandra Scholarship Programme
Queen Alexandra works with a group of influential business ambassadors who can offer students work placement or internship opportunities. The College is committed to ensuring that students gain work-ready skills and have every opportunity to get involved in real business projects and competitions to enhance their personal statement or CV.

A Level Requirements for Degrees

The information below aims to give you some general advice about essential and useful A Level choices for specific degree courses. It is essential that you check university prospectuses for confirmation. Please note that a number of degrees are open to students from a wide range of academic backgrounds and it is often the grade that is important rather than the subject.


Accountancy/Banking/Financial Management
Useful A Levels: Maths, Economics

Essential A Levels: Maths, Further Maths
Useful A Levels: Physics

Business, Computing and Law

Business Studies
Useful A Levels: Maths, Business Studies, Modern
Foreign Languages

Essential A Levels: for some courses Maths
Useful A Levels: Physics, lCT, Further Maths

Useful A Levels: Law, History, Psychology, English

Management Studies
Useful A Levels: Maths, Business Studies

Creative Industries Degrees

Art and Design
Essential A Levels: Fine Art, Graphic Design, Photography (depending on specialist area of Art and Design)

Essential A Levels: Drama and Theatre Studies
Useful A Levels: English Literature, English Language

Fashion Industry
Essential A Levels: Fashion and Textiles
Useful A Levels: Fine Art, Photography, Graphic Design, English Language

Media Studies (including Communication Studies)
Essential A Levels: English Language or Literature, Media Studies
Useful A Levels: Sociology, Psychology

Engineering and Construction

Aeronautical Engineering
Essential A Levels: Maths, Physics
Useful A Levels: Design Technology, Further Maths

Architectural Technology
Essential A Levels: Maths, Design Technology
Useful A Levels: Physics, lCT

Essential A Levels: Maths and/or Physics, Art
Useful A Levels: Design Technology

Building Services Engineering, Building Surveying, Construction Management
Essential A Levels: Maths and/or Physics

Chemical Engineering
Essential A Levels: Chemistry, Maths, Physics

Electrical/Electronic Engineering
Essential A Levels: Maths, Physics
Useful A Levels: Further Maths, lCT

Engineering (general)
Essential A Levels: Maths, Physics
Useful A Levels: Further Maths, Design Technology, lCT

Mechanical Engineering
Essential A Levels: Maths, Physics
Useful A Levels: Design Technology, Further Maths, lCT

Useful A Levels: Maths, Physics


Classical Studies
Essential A Levels: For Classical Studies or Classical Civilisations most subjects are accepted Useful A Levels: Modern Foreign Languages, English Literature, History

Essential A Levels: English Literature or English Language
Useful A Levels: History, Modern Foreign Language

European Studies
Essential A Levels: Modern Foreign Language
Useful A Levels: Business Studies, English Literature/Language, Sociology

Essential A Levels: French
Useful A Levels: another Modern Foreign Language, English Literature, History

Essential A Levels: History
Useful A Levels: English Literature, Classical Civilisation, Sociology

History of Art
Useful A Levels: Art, English Literature, History, Modern Foreign Language

Useful A Levels: Sociology, Psychology, Geography, Media Studies

Science based Degrees

Useful A Levels: Biology, Sociology

Essential A Levels: Chemistry
Useful A Levels: Maths, Physics, Biology

Essential A Levels: Biology, Chemistry
Useful A Levels: Maths, Physics

Essential A Levels: Chemistry, Maths, Physics
Useful A Levels: Biology

Essential A Levels: Chemistry, Biology
Useful A Levels: Maths, Physics

Environmental Science/Studies
Essential A Levels: Two from Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Physics, Geography

Essential A Levels: Geography
Useful A Levels: Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Physics

Geology/Earth Sciences
Essential A Levels: Two from Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology
Useful A Levels: Geography

Essential A Levels: Chemistry, Biology and either Maths or Physics

Materials Science (including Biomedical Materials Science)
Essential A Levels: Two from Chemistry, Maths, Physics and Biology

Nursing and Midwifery
Useful A Levels: Biology or another science

Occupational therapy
Essential A Levels: Biology
Useful A Levels: Psychology, Physical Education, Sociology or another science

Optometry (Ophthalmic Optics)
Essential A Levels: Two from Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Physics

Essential A Levels: Chemistry and two from Biology, Maths, Physics

Essential A Levels: Maths, Physics
Useful A Levels: Further Maths, Chemistry

Essential A Levels: Biology
Useful A Levels: Chemistry, Maths, Physics

Essential A Levels: One from Biology, Chemistry, Maths or Physics
Useful A Levels: Psychology, Sociology

Speech therapy
Essential A Levels: Biology
Useful A Levels: Chemistry, Physics, Modern Foreign Language, English Language (and Literature), Psychology

Sports Science/Physical Education
Essential A Levels: One from Biology, Chemistry, Maths or Physics
Useful A Levels: Business Studies, Physical Education, Psychology

Veterinary Science
Essential A Levels: Chemistry, Biology and one from Maths or Physics


Childhood Studies and Education (not teacher training)
Useful A Levels: Sociology, Psychology, English Language

Teacher training (primary and/or secondary)
Essential A Levels: at least one from the area in which you want to specialise.
Useful A Levels: English Language, English Literature, lCT

Useful Links and Contacts

Look at the College Prospectus for details of A Level course content.

Call 0191 229 5123 to speak to a student advisor at Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College.

Visit for information on Higher Education entry requirements and links to university websites.

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Latest News

Get ready to step up 'A' level at our December Open Event

School-leavers can pick up prizes galore at an exciting A level information event at a highly rated North East college.

Gifts are up for grabs to attendees of Queen Alexandra Sixth Form’s open evening, between 4.45pm and 7pm on Tuesday, December 7.

Items at the ‘Step-up A Level Open Event’ include Waterstones and Amazon vouchers, a hamper packed with essential stationery items, and chocolates.

But the college says the best prize of all is the chance to speak to tutors about the range of career-enhancing courses available from September.


Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College has made the A level grade once again – with virtually perfect pass rates.

Seventy-five students helped the North Shields college gain a stunning overall pass rate of 98.6%.

They include Lauren Collins, 18, from Howden, who has won a place at Cambridge University with 3 A* grades in law, psychology and history.

Daniel Blacklock, 18, gained A* in maths and physics, and Lauren Hallewell, also 18, achieved A* in law and business and an A in sociology.

And Max Ramage, 19, has won a place at Newcastle University after gaining A* in psychology and business and an A in maths.


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