B Week

B Week

  • A Levels - Overview

    A Levels - Overview

Introduction

Study at Braintree Sixth Form involves a number of elements. The core of your studies will be your choices of courses. These will be A levels, vocational courses, or a combination of the two. Alongside these, the pastoral and enrichment programmes foster students’ academic and personal development.

A Levels

A levels are subject-based qualifications which are held in high regard by employers and universities, and which have often been described as ‘gold standard’ qualifications. Academically rigorous, A levels stretch and challenge students. Many students greatly enjoy the demands of A level study and the opportunity to develop their independent learning skills and to carry out additional research to deepen their understanding.

A Level courses are mostly assessed through written examinations. Students who have studied a programme at school which is mostly made up of vocational qualifications, assessed through coursework, are generally recommended to continue with a vocational pathway at post-16. To progress from a vocational course to an A Level subject (e.g., Business Studies, DT, Art) we would normally expect a pass at distinction in the vocational subject.

Changes to A Levels

The specifications for all A Level courses have recently undergone a process of review by the government to ensure that they prepare students effectively for university and employment. All A Level courses are ‘linear’ courses examined at the end of the two-year course and with no more than a 20% coursework component. The AS examination is still available as a standalone qualification but the marks from these do not contribute to the overall A Level qualification.

Changes have been phased in over several years and all A Levels on our curriculum have been revised to a two-year linear specification.

As a result of the reforms, we no longer offer AS examinations at the end of Year 12. The performance of students in internally assessed end of year examinations is used to determine whether or not students continue with the second year of their courses. Students who are able to progress to Year 13 will continue with some, or all, of their Year 12 subjects, completing the full A Level by the end of their second year of sixth form studies. If a student decides to discontinue a subject at the end of Year 12, they are offered the opportunity to take an AS examination in that subject alongside their full A Levels at the end of Year 13.

Admission Requirements

For admission to a typical programme of three or four courses, students should have 5 GCSEs or equivalents at grade 4 or above, including English and Mathematics. Each subject also has its own entry criteria which should be met. Where a student does not achieve at least a grade 4 at GCSE in English and Mathematics they must continue following a timetabled course to allow them to resit the qualification until a minimum of a grade 4 is achieved.

In addition to the normal Braintree Sixth Form entry criteria, subject-specific requirements are detailed below and on each subject’s page.

A Level Subject

Entry Qualifications

Art (Art, Craft and Design)

A grade 5 in GCSE Art/Textiles or Graphics is normally required. If a relevant GCSE has not been taken, students may be admitted via a portfolio of work that demonstrates an appropriate level of skill and commitment.

Biology

GCSE grades 6/6 in Combined Science or grades 6/6/5 if the Triple Science route was followed at GCSE. A grade 6 in the chosen science subject and a 6 in GCSE Mathematics is required.

Business

No prior knowledge of business is necessary; however, if GCSE Business has been taken, a Grade 4 is required.

Chemistry

GCSE grades 6/6 in Combined Science or grades 6/6/5 if the Triple Science route was followed at GCSE. A 6 grade in the chosen science subject and a 6 in GCSE Mathematics is required.

Computer Science

Students will require a minimum of a grade 6 in GCSE Mathematics. Grade 6 or higher in GCSE Computing, or its equivalent, is also desirable.

Design Technology: Product Design

Students wishing to take this course should have completed a GCSE or equivalent course in a Design Technology subject, achieving at least grade 5 or equivalent.

Drama and Theatre Studies

A grade 5 in GCSE Drama is normally required.

Economics

Grade 6 in GCSE Mathematics.

English Language and Literature

GCSE grade 5 in English or English Literature is required.

English Literature

GCSE grade 6 in English or English Literature is required.

Geography

GCSE grade 5 in Geography or a similar subject e.g. History or Leisure and Tourism are desirable.

Geology

GCSE grades 6/5 in Combined Science or 6/5/5 in Triple Science and a 5 in GCSE Mathematics. A grade 5 in Geography would be advantageous, although not necessary.

Government and Politics

You do not need to have studied Politics at GCSE, as it is more important that you have a lively and enquiring mind, an interest in current affairs, and a desire to explore new ideas.

History

Students should have a GCSE grade 5, or higher, in History or a similar subject e.g. Geography or English.

Law

No prior experience of Law is required. However, a GCSE grade 5 in English or a Humanities subject e.g. History, Geography or Religious Studies is required.

Mathematics

GCSE grade 6 in Mathematics is required for A Level Mathematics.

Further Mathematics

GCSE grade 8 is required for Further Mathematics. Note that students opting to take Further Mathematics must also take A Level Mathematics as a separate option.

Media Studies

GCSE grade 5 in English is required. GCSE Media Studies is desirable but not essential.

Modern Foreign Languages
(offered in French and Spanish)

GCSE grade 6 in the relevant language is required. However, students will also be considered if they already have some expertise in the language as a result of home circumstances.

Music

GCSE grade 6 in Music is normally required. It is expected that students will have instrumental or vocal achievement at grade 5 or higher.

Physical Education

A grade 6 or above in GCSE Physical Education is normally required. If a GCSE in this subject was not taken, then a grade 6 or above in a Science subject is necessary.

Physics

GCSE grades 6/6 in Combined Science or grades 6/6/5 if the Triple Science route was followed at GCSE. A 6 grade in the chosen science subject and a 6 in GCSE Mathematics is required.

Psychology

Students should have a GCSE 5 in maths, or higher and a GCSE 5, or higher, in a Humanities subject or English.

Religious Studies

Students should have a GCSE grade 5 in Religious Studies or a similar subject, e.g. History or English.

Sociology

Students should have a GCSE 5 grade, or higher, in History or a similar subject e.g. Geography or English.