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AS Level, Not As Easy As some Would Have You Believe
Member Name: Robin_Hod12
Advantages: Moderate Amount Of Variety, Gets In Deth Into Certain Subjects
Disadvantages: Too Much Focus On Some Aspects, Whilst Others Are Forgotten
The AS level is the current exam system for the first year of college, which is usually done in batches of four subjects, which General Studies also occasionally taken. The AS level came about after the government 4 decided to split the current A level and do it over a period of two years of examination instead of the previous one. This has come under some debate, with many schools in the system deciding instead to take all of the exams in the final year, providing a greater level of knowledge for the earlier exams. The exam system has also come under scrutiny for critics claiming that it is too easy, with results improving year on year, but at the time of writing there are now a number of opposing exam systems, many of which private institutions are taking in a bid to provide a better level of education.
The grading for the system is done with 300 points for the AS level and 300 points for the A2 exams. These mark that you receive on the exams themselves are turned into these standardised marking through a UMS marking which attempts to make them more uniform, enabling ease of comparison across subjects and years. To gain an A grade, you require 80%, which corresponds to 240 UMS marks, and for a B, 70%, with each lower mark requiring 10% less, or 30 UMS marks. These run down to E for a pass, with a fail and U also possible, although you will only gain an upgraded in exceptional circumstances. For the new AS levels, they have also introduced an A* grade, which requires 90% in the AS year and over 80% in the A2 year, or perhaps the other way around, but in any case 90% is the kind of level you should be aiming for to gain an A*.
From my impressions of the AS level last year, I have found it not too challenging, although it was a step up from the material learnt at GCSE. Although this was perhaps because I was taking the subjects consider some of the hardest, Physics and Maths, although I would have said the latter was easy, but that may just be me. The level of material is usually given a context, trying to integrate your studies into a more work related background, which obviously helps for the courses undertaken at University. For the science subjects there is a focus on experimentation and your ability to understand and interpret data, which is a necessary skill for the work you would take on a science degree, which is propose to do. I would say though that from my impressions of the material on some university courses, a good deal of background reading and extra work s required to gain a better understanding of the subject at University and will help bridge the step up from A level to degree standard.
Ultimat4ely though, the A level is designed to prepare you for university education, with the grades you gain from the subjects dictating the institutions that will accept you for their course. For many subjects such as Law, no specific subjects will be given, although some will be said as preferable, thus allowing potential students to pick and chose the subjects that they excel at in order to make getting a place at a high level institution easier. But many universities will not recognise certain subjects as suitable for the course, such as Media studies and most other studies subjects, unless they are the degree that you propose to study.
All in all, the A level and the AS level in particular are a good exam system to a certain degree, as they do lend themselves to rigorous learning and understanding of certain areas. But I do feel that perhaps a level of depth present in other systems is missing, forcing students to choose a career path too soon. The Baccalaureate and other degrees do try and remedy this, but I have never been fully convinced by the material involved. And on the matter if whether or not they are easy, that is really rudimentary, and in the end standards for getting into university have risen accordingly, and as such you are likely to require a similar level of understanding and ability to read the top subjects at he top universities.
Summary: A Good Exam System That Is Too Easily Criticised By The Press
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