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A Levels and Pre U

Sixth Form pupils at Christ’s Hospital have the choice of two courses of study: a combination of Pre U and A level subjects or the IB Diploma Programme.

A LEVELS AND THE PRE U

Here at Christ’s Hospital, we have decided to go fully linear with our A level Pre U, since the government reforms meant that AS levels were de-coupled from the A levels. We believe this is the best method for teaching the course allowing for an uninterrupted five term, more in-depth thorough study of each subject, and allowing pupils to grow into independent, self-reliant, reflective learners. As such, all courses have a terminal examination taken at the end of two years of study.

All pupils start with a choice of four subjects made up of the available Pre-U and A level subjects. The choice of subjects to be taken in Year 12 should be determined by two factors: the pupil’s academic potential to succeed and enthusiasm to study that subject. If both of these are present it is entirely possible for pupils to do well in that subject. If either is absent it is unlikely that pupils will enjoy the course or make a success of it. We believe that academic potential is well measured by high grades at GCSE and therefore we hope that pupils will have achieved an A or A* grade in subjects taken at GCSE which are to be continued at A level. In the case of the subjects where it has not been possible to take a GCSE in the subject, we expect an A grade in a related subject. For instance, if a pupil opts for the Economics course, we would expect them to have an A grade in Maths to take it at A level. Please note, if pupils opt for a subject and do not get at least an A grade in it at GCSE, we may ask them to reconsider their A level choices.

Many of the new reformed A level syllabuses contain similar content to previous courses; however more challenging material and rigorous assessment has certainly been introduced. We are committed at Christ’s Hospital to teaching the course in each subject that we think best serves our pupils’ needs, and which we think will challenge pupils and be enjoyed most by them. We have therefore embarked on the Cambridge Pre-U syllabuses in some subjects: Art, Mandarin, Music, and Theology & Philosophy. The Pre-U course, like the new linear A levels, takes two years and a pupil embarking on a Pre-U course must study it for two years. The grading system is different from A level and has far more grades: Distinction 1, 2, 3; Merit 1, 2, 3; and Pass 1, 2, 3. Distinction level 1 is considered to be the equivalent of the highest A* at A level, while a pupil gaining Distinction 3 would have the  equivalent of an A grade at A level. We emphasise that the Pre-U has the full backing of the universities and pupils should have no concerns about the validity of the Pre-U as a qualification.

As a pupil progresses through their two year A-Level/Pre-U programme, they may choose to drop one of their chosen subjects and concentrate their efforts on the remaining three subjects. We encourage any pupil to continue with four A-levels, if the timetable allows and they are capable of it. In terms of reducing the number of subjects taken, it is important not to drop the fourth “insurance” subject too early, certainly not until they have established their proficiency in the three remaining subjects that they wish to take forward.

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