Traditionally, in the UK, A Levels are taken by seventeen-year-olds who do not yet know where life will take them. But what if fully-fledged grown-ups look back upon their exams with regret, or wish they had made better subject choices to support their now dream career – is there still a chance for them to go back and do their A Levels over again?

Thankfully, there are many options available to adults wishing to study towards an A Level qualification, no matter their age or circumstances.

So, whether you decide to return to a nostalgic classroom setting or if it suits you better to study from home alongside other commitments, improving your skills (or learning new ones for that matter) couldn’t be easier.

In this article, we will clarify the options available to you, how you can apply and, finally, explain how the qualification can benefit your career prospects.

A Level English Courses For Adults

Being an adult makes no difference to the examiner assessing your A Level work. As with school-aged pupils, they will expect you to show equal amounts of knowledge, skill and technique as well as a passion for the subject.

English A Level courses in general are designed to encourage wide reading and to develop an enthusiasm for language and literature. Therefore, if you already love your subject, you really are no different from any others enrolled on the course.

College Courses

Colleges across the country offer opportunities for adults to enrol as mature students. At one of these establishments, you can enrol on an English A Level course for adults at any point during the year, and attend classes on a part-time basis at one of their campuses. Some courses are awarded by City & Guilds and Edexcel.

Upon enrolment, your English tutor will most likely meet with you and give you a start date then expect you to attend classes for around 2.5 hours a week, whilst undertaking further independent study in your own time. Many colleges offer case studies and other useful information about their courses, like how you can apply, on their websites.

Did you know you can also study A Level English past papers?

Although with a course like the above, you will not be learning from a tutor all day every day as you would at school, remember that a typical A Level student’s day is additionally made up of other subject classes and free periods. As such, you are not missing a huge amount of teacher/pupil time and, besides, you have the maturity to understand that you need to work independently and to develop as an individual on the course.

Part-time study is particularly useful for those in work or those with families as they can attend group study sessions in the evenings and arrange 121s with their tutor at a time that is convenient for them both. Even better, if you have a home student status, the tuition and qualification are often free.

Please note that full-time courses are equally available, and you can apply for student loans to cover the cost of these (however you will be expected to pay up front for textbooks).

You can get an idea of English Language A Level course content here!

Online Courses

If you decide to go down the route of studying predominantly online, some establishments can offer you accredited fast track A Level courses, awarded by Edexcel.

The online courses offered by such colleges are available for students to sign up to all year round and offer a flexible course length, with an approximation of 700 hours of study and 1 year of tutor support by email (or along those lines) included.

The fee for such a course is normally between £400-£450 yet this price does not include the cost of assessments, which are payable to the student’s chosen examination centre. Some establishments may additionally offer students a pay as you study plan to help ease the financial commitments involved in going back to education.

When signing up to a course run online, you can sometimes choose whether you prefer to use online materials for your studies or printed resources.

Those offering English courses are said to cover the brand new specifications introduced in September 2015, so you can be sure that you are learning roughly the same content as those in schools and colleges currently are. Also included within the price of your course is assessment feedback and marking, so that you can keep track of your progress throughout the duration of the course.

Independent Study

It is possible for adults to enter exams as private students. To do so, you must find a school or college who is able to take you for exams and give information to the examinations officer. This will include your name and contact details, which units or awards you wish to enter for and your Unique Candidate Identifier (UCI), among other things.

Although, as a private student, it is up to you to carry out independent study or find private tuition, the school which has accepted you has a responsibility to forward details of your entry to the exam board, keep you informed of exam timetables, tell you where exams will take place, define coursework deadlines, dispatch your completed coursework to the examiner and indicate where you collect your results from and when.

Although independent study can save you in course fees, it is still recommended that you hire a tutor to guide you through the course and teach you vital exam techniques in order to help you achieve a high grade. This may result you in spending the same amount of money, if not more, on the road to completing your A Level.

Be sure to weigh up your options in terms of suitability and financial implications before making any concrete decisions.

How To Enrol On English A Level Courses For Adults

Signing Up

As aforementioned, adult students can either enrol for a course with a specified start date or alternatively sign up to a flexible course 365 days a year. When you register your interest, you may be required to submit your existing qualifications, to check that you qualify for the course.

Consult your chosen place of study’s website or admissions team for more information on getting started on the course.

Grants, Loans And Bursaries

There is a vast range of grants and bursaries on offer by the government to support adult learners and, in some cases, you may not be required to pay these back. In addition, if you are a parent, you may be entitled to help with childcare costs whilst you are enrolled on a course of study.

Financial help with childcare is just one of the grants on offer by the government to adult learners.
You may be entitled to help with childcare costs when you begin a course. Photo credit: BC NDP via

City & Guilds, for example, offers a course-specific grant to people studying for one of their qualifications while there are also loans available for adults seeking professional and career developing courses.

You can find further details about the types of grants, loans and bursaries on offer by consulting or by applying directly to the organisation that is giving them out.

Get English GCSE help from a tutor.

The Benefits of An English A Level For Adults

Improving Prospects For Promotion

A good English A Level result is essential for those looking to further their studies in the subject, for instance if enrolling on a degree course linked to English. It may be that you wish to specialise in a certain field for work purposes but need a higher A Level grade in order to be accepted on your chosen further education course.

Alternatively, you may be applying for jobs and finding that your core subject grades are letting you down or hindering your ability to secure those big promotions. Whether you want to re-sit your A Level English exam, or simply enhance your qualifications with an additional level of study, a good grade in English will do wonders for your CV.

Benefits For Near-Retirement or Retirement-Aged Students

With the retirement age on the up, retraining and reskilling is becoming necessary for 60-something-year-olds to be able to compete with younger talent entering the workplace. In addition, as workplaces grow to become more modern, up to date skills and qualifications enable older generations to stay on top of their industry and keep their brain active.

Did you know that English is considered a core skill in today's business world?

Adult learning is a great way to acquire new skills, meet people and talk about subjects you are passionate about.
Studying helps to keep the brain active. Photo via Visual Hunt

Quite often, the older the student, the more appreciative they are of the opportunity to study. Being part of a study group, or simply knowing that they are working towards a goal, can reduce the sense of loneliness felt by some older people, some of which may have lost partners or be finding it harder to get out and about. Becoming a student allows them to be more sociable and to have the chance to chat to others about something they are passionate about.

Personal Gain

Furthermore, many adults choose to re-sit their secondary education exams for their own personal achievement or gratitude. You may be unhappy with how you scored when you were back at school, or you might just want to go back to learning something fun like in the good old days.

Many assume that learning is just for young students, but the reality is that any individual can have aspirations, no matter their age.

Find an English tutor on Superprof.

Need an English teacher?

Did you like this article?

5.00/5, 1 votes


Laura is a Francophile with a passion for literature and linguistics. She also loves skiing, cooking and painting.