If you are taking exams in the Autumn or Summer, whether these be AS or A Level, you will likely be keen to find out what day(s) the actual exam(s) will take place. Perhaps you are planning a family trip, organising a birthday party or simply want to count down the days until your finals. Regardless of your reason for wanting to know, you can rely on the exam boards publishing their timetables with good notice.
Provisional timetables, including those for English Language and English Literature, will usually be given to your establishment quite a way before the exam period. Your teacher will no doubt pass on this information, along with any other important dates relating to the exams, during class as you get close to revision stage so that you can start making the necessary arrangements.
Find exam timetables for English Literature and Langauge online (Photo credit: Xin Li 88 via Visualhunt.com)
Final exam timetables will then be confirmed and published, highlighting any major amendments, via the exam boards’ websites and subsequently communicated to your head of department.
Students may also consult the exam board themselves for assessment-related queries, including exam duration and regulations for candidates. Both OCR and AQA have accessible timetables on their websites and explain what should be done in the event of exam clashes. In general, provisional exam timetables are made available 1-1.5 years in advance.
You can get a concise overview of your upcoming English A Levels in one helpful guide!
It goes without saying that you must at all costs avoid being late or being absent from any exam, especially one as important as an AS or A Level. These assessments have the ability to influence (if not dictate) your choices for your future. If you want to arrange a celebratory trip to mark the end of a pivotal year, do not take any chances. Wait until you know that your exam timetable is set in stone.
It is not uncommon for changes to be made to timetables if there is good reason, so you should be extremely careful about making any plans which cannot be broken around this exam period.
Sadly for some, this means missing out on special events, like a big family birthday or a great festival – but it will all be worth it!
It is so important to know exactly where you need to be on the day of your exam. Be sure to memorise or, even better, write down in your diary or planner the dates of your exams so that you do not accidentally miss them. Be sure to give a copy of your timetable to your parent or guardian too, as they can assist with getting you organised on the day. Even if that is only by making you eat a good breakfast to settle your nerves!
Older test takers should be especially mindful of approaching their exam well prepared!
Being certain of the exact location, and by this we mean which particular room, your assessment is due to take place is also a must. If you leave anything to chance on the day, this will impact on your ability to mentally prepare for the exam, causing unnecessary stress. Know your route to the venue, whether that be by car, bus or foot, and make sure that you arrive in plenty of time.
Don’t let yourself be late for your exam. Photo credit: 18mm & Other Stuff via Visual hunt
It is far better to have an extra thirty minutes to re-read your flash cards and notes rather than rushing to your seat in a panic. Note that being late for the start could result in you not being allowed to sit the exam at all, and thus cause you to fail that section of the assessment.
Flash cards and notes are just two study strategies. Would you like to learn more of them?
Most of you will be aware that an A* is the top grade you can achieve in most exams. But what some might not truly understand is how A Level results differ from GCSEs. At this higher level, anything above an ‘E’ grade is classed as a pass, as opposed to the cut-off being at grade ‘C’ like you might be used to. The ‘A*’ at A Level is also a relatively new thing, with ‘A’ previously being the highest grade you could achieve.
With such a wide spectrum of grades offering you a pass rate, what do A Level grades really mean to you, your university choices and your prospective employers? Well, when it comes to applying for university or further education, your A Level grades will be translated into UCAS points. By this, we mean that your grades are converted into their equivalent of UCAS points (the UCAS table can be found online).
Since universities accept students from a range of different courses, including A Levels, the International Baccalaureate and other international qualifications (all of which are marked differently), they use this universal points system to calculate students’ suitability for their course.
To find out the minimum grade you need for your desired course and how many UCAS points you require to be considered, you can consult the body’s website which offers more information for prospective students.
At one time, the grades accumulated during the course of your AS Level (i.e. your first year of study) would contribute to your final A Level grade. Though some may argue that they surely haven’t learnt enough in the first year for this assessment to count, others would agree that since there are less distractions and reasons to be stressed it would be a good idea as their marks could be much better.
Since the A Level reform, however, officials decided that exams are the best way to determine a student’s ability in a subject and therefore only take into account your final year’s assessments, making the first seem like a practice run. The value of a taster year is that you can get to grips with your subject matter and the exam requirements before heading into your final year.
Moreover, students should bear in mind that universities will still see their AS grades, good or bad, and those results will also have been used by their tutors to predict their final grade (which, as you know, is what universities base their offers on).
Universities will take into account your predicted A Level grades. Photo credit: Piedmont Virginia Community College via Visualhunt.com
With many mature professionals returning to school to re-sit their GCSE and A Level exams, it goes to show the effect these exams have on your life.
Although it can feel like you are still too young to take such life-changing steps, the reality is that your A Levels mark a very important stage in your life.
Doing well can spur you onto even greater success, while failing to achieve what you set out to can leave you feeling inadequate and shake your confidence. If you are a believer in fate and ‘what will be, will be’, be reminded that a reasonable percentage of your grade is reliant on the skills you display during the course of the study programme and the effort you put in on the day of your exam.
Would you like to learn more about career opportunities for English language graduates?
As we now know, to pass your A Level you will need to achieve a grade in the region of ‘A*’ – ‘E’ (an ‘Unclassified’ or ‘U’ grade unfortunately means that you have failed the course) yet a good grade is probably considered by many as a ‘B’+. But how are these grades worked out to reveal your final qualification? Do certain modules count for more than others in the overall grading? These are questions that you should be asking your teacher or tutor. In the unlikely event that they cannot help with your A Level assessment queries, you should consult your exam board to find out more.
The majority of exams follow a Uniform Mark Scale (UMS), which defines grade boundaries for A Level subjects. An average UMS mark of 90% across all A2 modules results in an ‘A*’. Meanwhile, 80%+ is an ‘A’, 70-79% is a ’B’, 60-69% is a ‘C’, 50-59% awards a ‘D’ grade and, finally, 40-49% is the equivalent of an ‘E’. Anything below 40% is deemed off the pass scale and will result in course failure.
As you can see, it is vital that you achieve good grades in all modules to avoid a disappointing grade. Those who excel in certain areas but fall back in others might find that their weaknesses bring their overall grade down, so tailoring your revision to you personally is vital. The importance of knowing your mark scheme can therefore not be reiterated enough.
If you, a student who has paid particular attention to mark schemes and grade brackets, are put up against a student who has no idea what they need to do to achieve a ‘B’, you will come out on top. The reason behind this is that you will be far more attentive to the details which could make the difference between coming below or above a boundary, in turn making you more confident in your approach to the exam.
Intricate planning and research are great traits and will prepare you for further exam-taking, like prepping for a university dissertation or degree-related assessment.