A-Levels are very important for your progression in your academic career. You will need them to successfully move on to University, and they are important if you want to move straight into a career or an apprenticeship after University.
So, when do they start? When should you enrol in college? How long is the exam period? And when do they finish? These are all common questions which students may have, and that this article will cover.
A-Levels will start at around the same time that GCSEs do. This means that the majority of exams will take place starting from the second week of May (or 2 weeks before the half term).
Generally, the A-level period is slightly longer than the GCSE period, and some exams may take place up until the last Friday of June. However, the A-Levels you have chosen will have a huge impact on the time period of your exams.
When Do A-Level Exams Start?
The precise date of your first A-Level exam will depend entirely on the subjects that you are studying at Sixth Form, as well as how the exams are organised for your year. However, broadly speaking, your exams will start in the second week of May.
If you would like to find out the specific dates of your exams, you can either wait for your Sixth Form to provide you with these dates (this may be on a subject-to-subject basis, or could be presented as a personalised exam timetable) or you can take a look at the exam board websites in order to see the timetables for all exams and identify your exams from the timetables of all exams. These can be found here:
If your exam timetable has not been released yet, you may want to take a look at this example of an exam timetable from Pearson, so you know what you will be looking at. If you decide to look at your exam timetable like this before you receive your personalised timetable, you will have to pick out the subjects which you study, and you must make sure that you gather the correct information.
You may find that there are some exceptions for this rule. For example, Modern Foreign Languages (such as Spanish, French and German) require a speaking component to the qualification, and this is likely to take place around 2 weeks before the regular exam period. If you are unsure of the date of your speaking exam, your college teacher will have details of this in around March of the year of your exams.
When Do A-Level Exams Finish?
Again, the time that A-Levels will finish depends entirely on the subjects that you have chosen to take. However, generally speaking the A-Level exam period will finish at the end of June. Due to the time of year that A-Levels take place, you will find that the May half term sits in the middle of your exams. This can be used as a great opportunity for lots of revision!
The exams for some subjects may take place very close together, whereas others they might be more spread out. You have to remember that there are both positives and negatives of both of these, and because it is completely out of your control, you should choose to focus on the positive aspects. For example, if your exams are all close together, you may have a more intense period of exams, but it will be over more quickly. Alternatively, if your exams are more spread out, your summer may start a bit later, but you will have more revision opportunities in between exams.
Remember that the same way that you can find the start date of your exams, you will be able to find out the last day of your exams by using either the personalised timetable which your Sixth Form will provide you with, or the exam board websites.
When Do Students Enrol in Their A-Level Courses?
You may be at the stage of applying to college now, while being curious about the timeframe in which A-Levels take place, and perhaps you wonder about the time that you should be enrolled in your A-Level courses.
You should be staring your application to Sixth Forms during the autumn term of Year 11 through UCAS, and if you achieve the grades that you need to get on to your courses you should have no worries about enrolment at your new College.
Enrolment will happen for most students around results day, and it is an opportunity for you to confirm the details of the courses which you will be starting, pay any fees which may be associated with your course, provide your new Sixth Form with your GCSE results, and get your College ID.
If you have not achieved the grades necessary for the courses that you wanted to study at Sixth Form, this will be your opportunity to talk to the Sixth Form staff about your options that you have regarding your study. You can also talk to staff about your options to swap your subjects if you have changed your mind about your original decisions. If you are unsure about what subjects you should take at A-Level, take a look at this useful article which lists good A-Level combinations.
Enrolment is not something that you have to actively organise with your college – it is likely that they will send you an email inviting you to enrol, and perhaps even giving you a place and time to do so. This means that even though you don’t need to actively reach out to them, you will need to keep an eye out for any contact that they might make with you over this period.
Once you have enrolled into your Sixth Form, you may be invited to go to an induction day, where you have the opportunity to meet your teachers as well as other students who are studying the same subjects as you. The teaching will then start in the first couple of weeks of September. Your second year of A-Level teaching will start around the same time.
When Do Students Finish Covering Their A-Level Subjects Specification Content?
The content of exams for each A-Level subject will vary hugely. This means that there are often differences in the time by which the teachers cover the content for the course. Though many A-Level teachers plan to finish teaching at around Easter to give time for revision.
Although most A-Level teachers aim to finish the courses a month or 2 before the start of the exam period, in order to give you lots of time to revise new ideas, in some courses (due to the sheer quantity of content that you have to cover) this will not necessarily be possible.
This absolutely does not mean that you should be panicking about whether or not your course is over or not by the Easter holiday – your teacher will have experience of teaching the content and will know what the best way is to manage time for their subject in terms of when to cover the content by.
Ultimately, also you don’t have control over the pace of teaching on your course. Instead of worrying about when the teachers should have taught you all of the content, you should try to focus on revising the content that you have learned (and if you are not sure about how to do this, you may want to take a look at this helpful article on how to revise effectively for an exam).