Your guide to A levels in 2024

In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with the essential information you need to navigate A levels in 2024. We will cover recent changes, updates and general information that you should be aware of. 

At The Profs, we are education experts. That’s why 98% of our students achieve their predicted grades, 75% achieve higher than their predicted grades, and 35% achieve an A*/A! 

So, if you’re looking for advice or information on A levels, you’ve 100% come to the right place. Whether you are just starting your A level journey or are trying to keep informed, read on.

You can reach out to our exceptional A level tutors if you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything you need to absorb about A levels, making your subject choices or achieving highly. We have experts available in any and every subject!

Don’t forget to check out our article on how to revise for A level exams!

Understanding A levels: A brief overview

Before delving into the specifics, let’s begin with a brief introduction to A levels. 

A levels, short for Advanced Level examinations, are academic qualifications typically taken by students in the United Kingdom during their final two years of secondary education (ages 16-18). They serve as a crucial stepping stone for students seeking admission to universities and higher education institutions. A levels are subject-based qualifications that allow students to specialise in 3 to 5 subjects of their choice, however, most students in the UK take 3. 

The curriculum for most subjects consists of a combination of coursework and examinations. Coursework involves assignments, essays, and/or practical work throughout students’ final two years of school, whilst exams are typically taken at the end of the second year. 

A levels are essential in preparing students for higher education by fostering critical thinking, independent study skills, and subject-specific knowledge and skills. They play a significant role in university admissions, as institutions often have entry requirements (regarding specific A level subjects and grades) for admission into certain courses. Moreover, A levels provide a foundation for students to pursue future career paths by providing a more in-depth understanding of their chosen subjects and demonstrating academic proficiency.

Your school or college will register you for the exams and assessments corresponding to the qualifications you are pursuing. If you have any uncertainties regarding the exams or assessments you are entered for, it is advisable to communicate with your school or college to seek clarification.

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by A levels or worried about getting good final grades, just give us a shout. We can walk you through how to revise, manage your time, deal with stress, and master your subject. We have plenty of experience with different grading systems and exam boards too, so we know exactly how to boost your exam and coursework marks.

When do A levels 2024 start?

AS and A level exams will be held between the 9th of May and the 25th of June, 2024.

Most exams for AS and A levels take place in May or June each year.

AS, A level and retakes explained 

Most students who want to resit an AS or A level will need to wait until the following summer to do so.

If you’d like to retake, you need to talk to your school or college. How retakes work drastically depends on what kind of system your school is following, for example, whether it’s modular or linear.

Modular systems still include AS levels in year 12 and A levels in year 13, as per the old system. This means that you can retake a module or an exam you did poorly in without retaking your whole A level course. 

However, linear systems eradicated AS modules, so only A levels are studied across year 12 and year 13 plus if you can’t retake individual modules/exams. In the linear system, if you want to retake, you need to retake your whole A level. 

The only caveat to this is that it is possible to carry forward your coursework mark from your previous attempt, so you don’t have to redo it.

In the modular AS system, you receive an AS grade in year 12 and an A level grade in year 13. In the linear system, you only receive an A level grade in year 13. 

Most schools have switched to the linear system, so most students will not have the option to do AS.

The best approach? Avoid needing to do any retakes. Speak with our expert team to get matched with the perfect A level tutor for you, who can help you achieve your dream grades! Don’t gamble with your future, invest in it. 

Feel like it’s too late? It never is. We know how to navigate retakes and if you get support from our expert tutors, you can smash them. Reach out today.

Please note that AS grades are earned in the first year of sixth form, not the final year, and are viewed as lesser than a full A level (usually students continue AS in their final year to earn an A level grade).

A level exam registration and timelines for 2024

It’s important to be aware of the different exam boards that administer A levels: Pearson Edexcel, AQA, OCR and WJEC. Ensure that you understand the different mark schemes and preferences for the exam boards holding exams for your subject.

Check your A level examination dates so that you can create revision strategies and plans, and work towards your deadlines.

You can view the examination table for

  • Pearson Edexcel, Summer 2024, here.
  • AQA, Summer 2024, here.
  • OCR, Summer 2024, here.
  • WJEC, Summer 2024, here.

When is A level results day?

You will receive A level and AS results on Thursday the 15 of August (2024). Schools and colleges should receive your results the day before, on the 14th.

Key changes in A level subjects

Each A level subject undergoes periodic revisions to ensure its relevance and alignment with changing academic requirements. 

So, ensure that you check if there’ve been any changes in the syllabus content of your subjects ahead of time.

For example, AQA has announced changes to the subject specification of Business AS and A level (2024). Such as removing some of the additional models and theories from the subject content and streamlining content to avoid repetition. You can read up on these changes here or view them in a list format here.

OCR has also announced that they are amending AS and A level Biology to improve accessibility and clarity. You can view information about this here.

So, it’s super important to stay informed about your subject/s so that you know what to expect and can prepare as best as possible. Feeling overwhelmed? Our expert team can match you with the perfect A level tutor to guide you through the process. You don’t need to feel stressed, and you certainly don’t need to get subpar grades!

Revised grading: Will A levels be harder in 2024?

In 2024, the exams and assessments for all qualifications will proceed as scheduled, following the usual grading arrangements. 

Ofqual, the regulatory body for AQA, OCR, Pearson and WJEC, will ensure that awarding organisations adopt appropriate grading approaches for each qualification. You need not worry about your peers’ performance as there will be no predetermined quota for each grade, as grades will be awarded based on individual performance.

Throughout COVID-19, many students did not have to sit exams which led to grade inflation. However, Ofqual has confirmed that the two-year transition period to return to pre-pandemic grading is now completed. So, for the year 2024, grade boundaries will be established to maintain outcomes observed in 2019, aiming to restore pre-pandemic protocols and normality. 

Due to the unique grading approaches implemented during the pandemic, schools and colleges are cautioned against utilising grade boundaries from the autumn series of 2020 and 2021, as well as those from summer 2022, when providing indicative grades for students. 

Ofqual advises schools to refer to past papers from 2019 and earlier, as well as 2023, to maintain consistency in standards. This guidance is particularly vital when predicting grades for higher education applications through UCAS, aiming to prevent potential disappointment for students.

Long story short, no A levels will not be any harder this year than the last 5 years as the content and way in which they’re examined is not changing. It should be just as hard to achieve high grades this year as it was in 2019 and before that. However, it might be harder to attain high grades than during the pandemic. 

Don’t risk being disappointed with your grades this year or next year, seek our expert guidance. With us, 98% of students achieve their predicted grades! 

Impending changes to A level grading 

The Advanced British Standard:

As you might have heard, Rishi Sunak has pledged to replace A levels with the Advanced British Standard qualification. This would include 5 subjects, typically including some form of English Literature/Language and Maths. Whilst this change might be impending, it is not estimated to be enforced any time soon. So, if you’re embarking on your A levels this year or in a couple of years, you should assume that there will be no interruption to this. 

A numbered grading system:

During and after the pandemic, the UK saw unprecedented A level grade inflation caused by the cancellation of exams for the last two years and their replacement with teacher assessment.

In fact, 44.8% of UK A level entries were given an A* or A in 2021, compared to just 25.5% in 2019. 

Consequently, ministers believe resetting A level standards would benefit from the implementation of numerical grades. Discussions surrounding this change in the grading system originally estimated that changes would be introduced in 2023 or 2024, but there is yet to be anything announced. It’s good to keep your eye out for any changes coming, just in case they impact you. However, if you’re starting your A levels in 2024, you are more than likely to continue with the current grading system.

A level factors to be aware of, 2024 edition

How to appeal A level grades 

If you or your school/college have concerns regarding a review decision, you can appeal. 

Schools/colleges can challenge the decision. Unless you’re a private candidate, then you should appeal directly to the awarding organisation. The potential outcomes of an appeal rely on reviews of marking or moderation. 

It’s important to check with your school/college regarding any applicable appeal fees.

You should keep in mind that the number of approved grade adjustment requests in the 2023 exams increased by 21% compared to pre-pandemic numbers. This implies that after grade inflation throughout the pandemic, more A level students were expecting higher grades than they received and thus appealed. So, it’s a risk that schools are still predicting students’ higher grades than what they’ll achieve. 

Why risk being disappointed by your grade? Our expert A level tutors can accurately check what grades you’re likely to receive, as well as help you to attain or exceed them! Don’t wait until the point of needing to appeal. 

Who is eligible for reasonable adjustment?

Reasonable adjustments, also known as access arrangements, are modifications made to exams or assessments to ensure that disabled students can effectively demonstrate their knowledge and abilities. 

These adjustments must maintain the same testing standards for the qualification. Your school or college will handle these arrangements, which may include extra time, modified exam papers (like large print or Braille), assistance with specific tasks (reading questions or transcribing answers), and other accommodations based on individual needs. 

It is crucial to discuss your requirements with your school or college’s designated coordinator for special educational needs and disabilities (SENDCo). 

Access arrangements also encompass temporary modifications related to illness, injury, or exceptional circumstances. 

Here at The Profs, we recognise that a ‘one size fits all’ mentality does not help students reach their full potential. All students are unique, and many are neurodivergent and/or have disabilities. Hence, we have a wide range of tutors who have plenty of experience coaching students who require adjustments so that they can smash their A levels. Reach out!

Who is eligible for special consideration?

Special consideration refers to adjustments given to students who experience temporary illness, injury, or uncontrollable events during exams or assessments, significantly impacting their performance.

Eligibility for special consideration requires full preparation and coverage of the course, excluding cases where students joined late or faced educational disruptions.

Common types of special consideration include changes to assessment methods, awarding of extra marks, and granting grades for missed exams if other assessments have been completed.

If you believe you qualify for special consideration, consult your school or college as soon as possible.

What is malpractice?

It’s important to understand what malpractice is or you could be automatically failed!

Examples of malpractice include:

  • Sharing answers.
  • Impersonation.
  • Leaking exam papers or assessment materials.
  • Swapping scripts.
  • Inappropriate use of artificial intelligence (AI) in non-exam assessments.
  • Smuggling information or using unauthorised communication devices during exams.

Important points to note:

  • Wearing a watch or bringing a mobile phone into the exam hall is also considered malpractice.
  • All submitted work must be your own; submitting work that is not your own constitutes malpractice.
  • Avoid accessing leaked exam papers or materials offered by websites or individuals, as they are likely fake. Awarding organisations thoroughly investigate breaches of assessment and exam paper security.
  • Engaging with leaked papers can result in sanctions, including disqualification from the qualification.
  • Students who cheat or commit malpractice may face severe consequences, including disqualification from all qualifications offered by the awarding organisation.

Preparing for A levels: tips and strategies

Check out some of our valuable tips and strategies for preparing for your A levels:

  • Practice time management (set timers, alarms, dates and deadlines).
  • Utilise past papers and resources.
  • Ask teachers to grade your past papers.
  • Ask teachers to set you practice essays and give you feedback.
  • Create a study timetable accommodating all your subjects.
  • Chat with your teachers and make a revision plan.
  • Practice flashcards with your friends or those who excel in your subject/s.
  • Place sticky notes and posters with key information around your house.
  • Record yourself reading anything you need to memorise and fall asleep listening to it.
  • Search YouTube and social media for student/teacher/exam board tips.
  • Gain help from us, education experts!

Accessing supportive resources and guidance throughout your A level journey is vital. We offer exceptional tutoring tailored to you and your subject, as well as online platforms and revision materials. 

We can walk you through how to revise, manage your time, deal with stress, and master your subject. We have plenty of experience with different grading systems and exam boards too, so we know exactly how to boost your exam and coursework marks.

The importance of A level subject choices and combinations

Choosing the right combination of A level subjects is crucial for your future! For example, certain universities have subject preferences, and if you’re choosing to study a particular discipline at university then specific subjects are likely to be expected from you. Even if this is not a requirement, it could help you get your offer as university and college admissions can be super competitive!

Your subject choices can also affect future opportunities regarding internships, careers and/or postgraduate degrees. So, think long and hard about the A levels you choose.

Unsure what you want or need to pick? We can help. We know how to strike a balance between your interests and strengths, as well as pave the way for your future dreams to come true. Chat with our experts to get started.

Rules to follow for your A level exams and assessments 

You should check what will happen during your A level exams/assessments and what you need to do with your teachers or exams officer as soon as possible. Remember, this can differ and you don’t want to wind up making a mistake that costs you or get disqualified.

For example, you might need to: 

  • Get a personal assessment timetable so that you can check ahead of time where and when your exams or assessments are, including when you need to arrive.
  • Clarify what equipment you’re allowed to take in for each exam/assessment e.g. approved calculators that are only allowed in some exams/assessments.
  • Use a clear pencil case and, if you need a water bottle, remove the label. 
  • Keep your mobile phone, watch or any communication device outside of your exam room, even if it is switched off (if you don’t, you risk losing marks or being disqualified).
  • Check your exam paper for certain information when you receive it e.g. whether it has the correct date, name and tier of exam. 
  • Raise your hand to speak to the exam invigilator the moment you’re unsure of anything.
  • Listen carefully and follow instructions given by an exam invigilator. 

Receive one-to-one guidance from an expert A level tutor

Hopefully, this article helped to clarify what to expect from A levels in 2024. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by A levels or worried about getting good grades, just give us a shout. There’s no good reason for going through A levels alone or being disappointed by grades, so let’s avoid that!

Embark on your A level journey confidently by seeking our award-winning, expert guidance and support! Our team of experienced educators and subject specialists are dedicated to helping you achieve your academic goals. 

That’s why 98% of our students achieve their predicted grades, 75% achieve higher than their predicted grades and 35% achieve an A*/A! 

Contact us today to access personalised assistance throughout your A level studies.