A levels

Facts about A levels: recent changes, subjects and grades, who they are for and what you can do afterwards.
Relevant to

A levels are subject-based qualifications that can lead to university, further study, training, or work. You can normally study three or more A levels over two years. They’re usually assessed by a series of examinations. 

Changes to A levels

New AS and A level qualifications are being introduced in England from September 2015. These changes will not happen in Wales and Northern Ireland. 

  • Some new AS and A levels will be introduced in England in September 2015 – the changes affect some subjects you may want to study.
  • You will also be able to do A level and AS level courses in other subjects which are not being reformed yet.

You can find out more information about what subjects will be affected by changes to A levels in our  guide to the changes to A levels.


What grades do I need to take A levels?

You normally need:
  • at least five GCSEs at grades A* to C
  • at least grade B in the specific subject(s) you want to study

However, the specific requirements needed to study A levels will vary across schools and colleges. It's important to check what you will need with the school or college you are looking to study at.  


Who are they for?

  • If you're thinking about going to university, most higher education courses require specific A levels or combinations of A levels (or alternative level 3 qualifications).
  • If you’re not sure what career or job you want to do, studying a selection of A levels can be a good way of keeping your options open.

Choosing A level subjects

The most important criteria for choosing A levels subjects are:

  1. Looking at what you are likely to enjoy and be good at. If you enjoy a subject or have an ability in it already, you are more likely to do well.
  2. Are there any particular subjects and/or grades you may need? If you have a particular career, job, or further study in mind, you may need to choose specific A levels in order to meet entry requirements.
  3. How open you want to keep your future study and career choices?

See our tips on choosing A level subjects for more ideas about picking the subjects you want to study. 


What you can do after A levels

Many people ask 'What can I do with my A-levels?', here are some answers:

  • Here is a great place to start looking at all the options open to you.
  • Continue on to university – A levels are the most common qualifications studied to get into higher education.
  • Keep your options open if you’re unsure about what you want to do in the future.
  • Look for employment – they’re valued by employers because they show a good level of education.
  • Go on to vocational or work-based qualifications, such as a higher apprenticeship.