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A modular approach to A Levels

A modular approach to A Levels
Rachael Hobbs

At Harrow School Online we take a modular approach to teaching A Levels. This means that the content of the course is divided into separate modules, or units. Examinations are taken in May and June at the end of year 12 for AS level units, resulting in the award of an AS qualification, and again the following summer for A2 level units, resulting in the award of A level qualifications. 

Traditional schools in the UK take a linear approach to teaching A Levels. This means that all exams are taken at the end of the two-year course. 

Students following the modular approach here at Harrow School Online have more flexibility in their courses, and splitting the examinations across two years lowers the anxiety and revision burden prior to their final set of examinations in the summer of year 13. For those who join us without GCSE qualifications, achieving AS grades prior to applying to university can help evidence their ability within the UK educational system. 

Heather Rhodes, Principal of Harrow School Online, says: “The modular nature of the International A levels make them a perfect fit for our school. By nature, they're a whole lot more flexible than standard A levels, allowing our pupils to choose between completing AS and A levels in each of their subjects as they progress through their sixth form studies.”  

If a pupil wants to improve their overall grade, they can immediately see which units they have done less well in and retake just that unit, rather than waiting until the end and retaking the whole course. There is more flexibility to take exams, with windows three times a year for most subjects, compared to just one for the linear A Level. 

Rhodes adds: “It gives some pupils the confidence to start their sixth form with four or even five A levels, know they can change one or more to an AS if they find the workload in year 12 challenging. And very occasionally, we've had students add AS levels in their second year, having reconsidered university options and decided a change of focus would be helpful for their applications.”  

The modular A Level that we teach is known as the ‘International A Level’, and it is widely recognised by universities across the world. All Russell Group universities in the UK, including Oxford and Cambridge, as well as prestigious US universities including Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and California Institute of Technology (Caltech), recognise these qualifications. They are comparable to the linear ‘UK’ A Level.