There are more than 50,000+ courses available to choose from and the list grows each year. It is advisable to start your research early in year 12. A good starting point would be to use the UCAS website as well as some of the other course search sites such as ukcoursefinder and hotcourses.
Most people tend to think of HE as being just degree courses; however there are several other qualifications that can be gained at university or college:
• Certificate of higher education: first year of a degree course.
• Higher National Diploma (HND): 2 year course, which can lead to the third year of a degree.
• Degree: 3 year or 4 year course leading to a batchelor’s degree.
Spend some time thinking whether you want to continue with some of the subjects you are studying at A level or do you want to combine subjects you like. An alternative could be to choose a course that offers you something new that could help you develop different knowldege and skills. Some universities are flexible and can offer combinations of subjects in one qualification:
• Joint Honours Degree: two subjects studied equally 50%/50%.
• Major / Minor: time spent is usually 75%/25%.
It is wise to think about specific aspects of a subject before you make a decision: eg employment opportunities, admissions tests, costs. Taking the UCAS Stamford Test may offer guidance on which course could be suitable.
You may be confused by entry requirements for some universities appearing as points score. This is because UCAS uses a tariff. Here is a table showing how grades convert to points:
You may be surprised to know that many qualification other than traditional AS and A2 Level courses qualify for UCAS Points (see UCAS for details).
Remember that you do not get points for AS results in subjects you are continuing to A2 because they are included in your final A2 grade. If you have completed an AS and gained a grade, but are not taking the subject to A2 level, those AS points do apply separately.
Awarding of the A* Grade at A2
Summer 2010 saw the first awards of the new A2 level specifications in nearly all subjects, together with the first awards of the new A* grade at A level. This grade rewarded exceptional performance and allows for improved discrimination between the best performing candidates. The A* grade is awarded for all A levels.
It is important to remember that the A* grade is awarded for the A2 level qualification only, not for the AS qualification or at unit level.
The A* grade is awarded to candidates who have achieved:
• An A grade overall in their A2 level, and
• 90 per cent of the maximum uniform marks (UMS) on the aggregate of their A2 units
The way in which the A* grade is awarded will mean that it is achieved by learners who have consistently performed very well throughout their A level units and outstandingly on the A2 units, which incorporate the most challenging questions.
(It should also be noted that the percentage of A* grades is likely to vary from subject to subject, as does the percentage of A grades awarded each year. This grade is not being awarded to a set percentage of the total candidates or a set percentage of those who achieve an A grade – it is strictly be awarded according to the rules set out above).