After 16, most young people choose to follow either an academic route or to do vocational (work-related learning). Some opt to take a mixture of the two routes.
If you take the academic pathway you may study:
AS and A levels
There are many different A level subjects – not all of them are on offer in every school or college. You might continue with the subjects you studied at GCSE level or choose new courses. You will need to have good grades at GCSE level to get onto a course. A levels are usually taken over 2 years.
There are some important changes to A levels:
- Some content has been reformed and updated
- Assessment will be mainly by exam, unless another type of assessment is needed to test essential skills
- Testing will take place at the end of the course; there will no longer be modules or mid-course exams
- AS level results will no longer count towards a final A level grade
If you decide to take AS / A levels in the subjects you did well at GCSE, make sure that you talk to your teachers and subject tutors about any differences at A level. Go along to any talks or taster sessions, read course guides carefully and talk to current A level students to help you to decide.
Extended Project Qualification
The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is often taken alongside A levels. You would be researching a topic of your choice (agreed with your tutor / teacher) and then presenting a detailed report or other piece of work. You will need to show your independent research and learning skills, be able to plan, carry out and present your work, and review the final outcome.
GCSE English and Maths
If you didn’t get English and maths GCSEs at grade C or above (grade 4 from 2017), you will continue to study those subjects alongside your A levels or other academic qualifications.
Some schools offer the opportunity for you to study an International Baccalaureate (IB) as an alternative to A levels. Students taking an IB all study a range of subjects, including languages, sciences, maths, the arts and humanities (history, geography etc). There will be assessment tasks, an extended essay and written exams.
After 18, you may decide to use your academic qualifications to go into employment or an Apprenticeship or to go on to higher education.