Cambridge urges schools to enter students for AS-levels

BBC News Online, 05/11/14, Cambridge University has written to schools and sixth forms urging them to continue to enter students for AS-level exams at the end of Year 12.

The leading university says the exams provide a "strong measure of applicants' recent academic progress".

AS-levels were brought in under reforms introduced in 2000, when traditional two-year A-levels were split in half.

But from 2015 in England, AS-levels are due to be split into a separate qualification from A-levels.

Under controversial reforms announced by the former Education Secretary, Michael Gove, traditional two-year A-levels with end-of-course exams will be brought back in.

A-level candidates will no longer sit exams after one year and will instead be tested at the end of their two-year course and the AS-levels will become a separate qualification.

Letter from Cambridge

Cambridge is urging schools to enter students for the exams, saying they are a "robust indicator of student progress".

In the letter to schools and sixth forms, Dr Mike Sewell, director of admissions for the Cambridge colleges, says: "We strongly encourage potential applicants to take AS-level examinations in at least three, and preferably four, subjects, whether reformed or not, at the end of Year 12.

"This will provide us with a strong measure of applicants' recent academic progress, will assist us and the students in judging whether an application to Cambridge is likely to be competitive, and will provide reassurance that grade predictions are not relied upon too heavily in a new system.

"AS-levels taken in four subjects can provide an extremely useful, externally assessed exam that will avoid schools and colleges having to resource and run their own internal mocks."

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