AS exams continue but do not count towards A-level marks, and the number of students taking AS has fallen.
AS exams continue but do not count towards A-level marks, and the number of students taking AS has fallen.A and AS keep the same A*-E pass marks, but written exams include a wider range of question types, and coursework is examined only if it is essential to assessing the subject.
It is likely to be several years before the uptake of ‘new’ AS levels stabilises, and, although uptake in some subjects such as Maths remains healthy, in others the AS examination may not survive.
Universities don’t want to penalise or discourage students whose sixth-form courses depend upon what their school has decided to offer, so while competitive university courses emphasise the need for high grades, they don’t require more than 3 A levels and none require AS exams.
When the exam itself changes ‘grade stability’ judgements are put under more strain, especially if the only way to ensure that there are no major changes in the percentage getting each grade is to make significant shifts in grade boundaries.
Raw marks are adjusted (‘scaled’) to give the final marks to which grade boundaries are applied, and the scaling process changed with the shift from modular to linear A levels, making it hard to do objective comparisons.
The difficulty of the new AS is broadly the same as the old ‘modular’ AS, aimed at students half-way through an A-level course.
Because AS and A level have been ‘de-coupled’ there are real questions about how AS will fit in to sixth-form education.
GCSE exams has already gone linear several years ago, and have changed further, with revised and often harder content and exam questions, and a new 9 (best) to 1 grading system.
Coursework has been cut back (for instance GCSE Maths now doesn't involve any) and fewer subjects now offer ‘tiered’ exams (different exam papers aimed at higher / lower achievers).
As described in the ‘Guide to AS and A level results for England 2018’, exam boards operate on the principle of ‘comparable outcomes’: that if the ability of the cohort of students is similar to previous years, they would expect results (outcomes) to be similar.
This means that, in general, students who would have achieved a grade A in one year would achieve a grade A in another year.