Levels are qualifications that students are given the opportunity to work towards between the ages of 16 and 18 after they have completed their GCSEs. These qualifications should help them secure a place on a university course.
A private secondary school in Dublin has put together the following information about A levels and what students can expect, as well as how parents can help.
Like GCSEs, A levels are studied over a two-year period. Most students study four subjects of their choice in the first year and drop one as they enter year two when things become more challenging. Consequently, they finish with one AS level qualification and three full A levels.
The reason students study so few subjects compared to previous years is that A levels are a lot trickier, providing them with far more in-depth knowledge and requiring a great level of independent study.
Students should choose to study subjects that are going to help them secure a job role in their desired field. For example, if they want to be a psychologist, then a psychology A level is a necessity.
If they want to get into film, perhaps media studies would be a good option. If they are unsure of what they want to do after they have left sixth form/college, they should focus on studying subjects that they are likely to perform well in and enjoy.
Under no circumstances should they choose to study something because their friends are doing it, they like the teacher, or because they want to follow in the footsteps of someone they admire. Unless they are passionate about the course content, it will be difficult for them to engage and get good results.
Parents will need to be prepared to support their teenage children through this process, providing a shoulder to cry on where necessary and offering guidance when required.
Be patient with your son or daughter during this period as they will already be under a lot of pressure. Before they embark on their A level journey, you should attend open events and chat with their tutors to gain as much information as you can, putting you in a good position to help your child as much as possible.