Advanced subsidiary (AS) and Advanced (A2) level qualifications are usually the next step from secondary education and GCSEs and provide the most commonly used entrance route into degree courses.

A wider range of courses are available compared to GCSEs. Most AS/A Level institutions will require 5 A-Cs at GCSE for entry and may also specify which GCSEs are a pre-requisite to A Level study.

Levels are split into two years of study. The first half represents AS Levels and the second, A2. Together they form a whole A Level. Some students choose to take more courses in their first year than they plan to complete and stop one course after a year. While an AS Level by itself is still an advanced qualification, it does not have any where near the academic value of an entire A Level and may restrict further application to higher education qualifications. Most 6th-form college students will complete 3 A levels in two years that form the basis of their university application.

You can choose to stay on at your school if it offers AS and A levels (this is usually called 6th-form) or find a nearby college and try something new.

Levels are generally full time courses but some institutions do offer night and access classes. While A-C at GCSE level is considered a pass, A Level pass gradings extend down to E. Universities will most commonly give offers of places based on expected A Level results.

  • Compare UK academic qualifications here. For AS and A levels, look under level 3.
  • Speak to your school careers adviser, or if there's no one there to help you, use this search facility to find a registered careers adviser near you.