Wednesday 7 December 2022

A Parents Guide to A Levels

**Collaborative Post**

AD: A levels are one option that your child may have been considering as something they wish to do once they finish school. They can study them alongside or in place of vocational courses and training programmes such as apprenticeships or even small part time jobs. They are studied at level 3 and offer a gateway to university. 

Whilst it is a big choice there is often lots of help, advice and guidance for students considering this option, but not much information out there for parents wishing to help their child with the decision. Which is why I have teamed up with an independent school in Surrey to put together this guide to A levels for parents, so that they can help advise their children with any questions they might have. If you would like to learn more about these courses and what they entail, keep reading.

Choosing the Right A Levels

What your child chooses to study should be based upon three things - their passions and interests, strengths and the career that they want to pursue. These are questions that you can help your child to answer by spending time with them to explore the different possibilities and what appeals to them. There is also professional help available should they need it via school careers advisers and the national careers service. 

College and sixth form open days are also usually on offer to help children find what’s right for them and learn a little more about the courses on offer. They will have the opportunity to ask questions and learn about what they may not otherwise such as graduate prospects and assessments. Depending on where they go, they may even be able to take part in taster lectures that give an insight into what the courses are about.

A Levels vs BTECs

Which to go for all depends on what your child prefers. If they are more hands-on and don’t like exams, they may benefit from doing an equivalent BTEC. They are coursework and practical based and many are now recognised by universities. While still early days, it’s worth having a look at the courses that they may want to study at university and what the entry requirements of those are to ensure that they’re on the right track.

How Do A Levels Differ from GCSEs? 

The main difference between the two is in the study hours required. There are fewer subjects that your child will have the option to study at A level as there’s much more commitment expected from them. They are also mostly independent. They will have around 20 hours of timetabled lessons and the remainder of their time must be spent consolidating their notes and reading.

When Do Exams Take Place?

Examinations usually take place in the summer, between May and June. As there is far more content, it is advised for children to start revision as soon as possible. Most colleges and sixth forms complete course content by April which gives students the easter break to revise what they have left.

Hopefully with this information you can help your child make the best and most informed decisions for their future! 


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