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Errata and Updates


AS levels (p 125)

The original paragraphs read:

Unless you have to do them, or need them for a particular reason, I’d avoiud the Cambridge AS-levels. “AS” stands for “Advanced Subsidiary” and is half an A-level. There is a PDF outlining the differences. This becomes important when you start looking for textbooks because the “AS” books won’t contain the full two-year A-level syllabus.

Cambridge, Pearson and I would like to stress that AS is a stand-alone qualification. You cannot use your AS mark and apply it to the corresponding A-level.

The PDF link led to a document that does not now exist! Since the release of The Dog Ate My Experiment!, rules regarding AS and A levels have changed. Both Pearson and Cambridge now allow a student to sit for their AS-levels and then use the results from those exams to “feed into” the subsequent A-level exams. Cambridge now says:

Your learners can choose from a range of assessment options to gain Cambridge International AS & A Level qualifications:

  1. Take the Cambridge International AS Level only. The syllabus content is half a Cambridge International A Level.
  2. Take a ‘staged’ assessment route – take the Cambridge International AS Level in one examination series and complete the final Cambridge International A Level at a subsequent series. AS Level marks can be carried forward to a full A Level twice within a 13 month period.*
  3. Take all papers of the Cambridge International A Level course in the same examination session, usually at the end of the course.

We hold Cambridge International AS & A Level examination series twice a year, in June and November. Results are issued in August and January.

* The staged assessment route is not possible in all subjects. The outcomes awarded for Cambridge International AS Level language syllabuses cannot be carried forward to Cambridge International A Level.

Now it starts to get tricky with Pearson, so pay attention. If you take the Pearson A-levels (not the International A-levels), then:

New AS levels are stand-alone qualifications and no longer contribute to an A level grade. Their purpose is to encourage curriculum breadth and the AS level is designed to be co-taught with the first year of the A level.

Note that the Pearson A-levels are only available for UK students. The conditions are different for Pearson International A-levels (i.e. the IAL), where:

Edexcel International AS (Advanced Subsidiary) qualifications are offered in the same subjects but contain half the content of an Edexcel International Advanced Level. Learners can either study AS as a stand-alone qualification or as a stage towards completing an International Advanced Level, allowing them to study a broader range of subjects before deciding which ones to take forward.

But what does this all mean? Here’s a summary.

If you’re a UK homeschooling student:

  • Cambridge: You have the option to take the Cambridge AS, sit the exams, continue studying for your A-level and have your previous AS result added in to give a final A-level grade (provided the A-level is taken within 13 months of the AS-level and does not include a language subject).
  • Pearson Edexcel: The Pearson AS-level is independent of the Pearson A-level and will not contribute to your A-level.

If you’re a non-UK homeschooling student:

  • Cambridge: The Cambridge International AS-level is independent of the Cambridge International A-level and will not contribute to your A-level.
  • Pearson Edexcel: The Pearson IAL accepts AS-level exams as a stepping stone to an IAL, so you have the option to take the Pearson AS, sit the exams, continue studying for your International A-level and have your previous AS result added in to give a final International A-level grade.

Or, in a nutshell, if you want your child to take their A-levels in a staged fashion, follow the Cambridge route in the UK and the Pearson Edexcel route everywhere else in the world. There will be more details on the number and organisation of exams at A-levels in the expanded chapter on Homeschooling A-levels (Chapter 16) in the second edition.