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All change!

Several tutors have been asking about the A level syllabus changes coming into effect next September and what it means for them and their students. To try and clear up any confusion, here’s a bullet point guide to what’s happening:

* The major change is that exams are no longer going to be modular, so the times of sitting modules at different stages are over and everyone will be examined at the end of the two-year courses.

* Students will be able to resit their exams, but they will have to resit all papers in a subject (as opposed to picking certain modules) at the end of the following academic year (January exams being a thing of the past since this year).

* The new specifications will start to be implemented in September 2015 with the first new A levels (English (Literature, Language, Literature and Language), physics, chemistry, biology, history, psychology, art and design, sociology, business studies, economics and computer science) being examined in the summer of 2017. (New specifications in maths, further maths and geography will be introduced from September 2016.)

* The amount of coursework involved is being reduced, unless it’s integral to assessing the level of a student – such as in art, design and technology, and drama.

* A levels will no longer be made up of AS and A2 years. It will just be the A level. AS levels will be separate stand-alone qualifications that can be studied alongside A levels. The standard of the new AS levels is thought to be the same as the current AS, but this is not yet 100% clear.

Changes to GCSE syllabi have already started to come into effect – notably the reduction of modular exams and removal of coursework. A new grading system is going to be introduced so instead of students being awarded A* to E grades, they will get 9 to 1, with 9 supposedly being harder to achieve than an A*.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on any new developments to ensure that we are bang up to date with any further changes. Watch this space!

Lucy Cawkwell

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