Teaching & Learning


Five things you need to know about UCL and qualification reform

24 May 2016

UCL held a policy forum in April with its three London partner schools, including UCL Academy, to discuss the government’s reforms to GCSEs and A levels.

UCL Academy students

1. UCL’s education partnerships help inform our admissions criteria

UCL’s school partnerships enable the university to hear directly from teachers about how recent government changes are having an impact on schools and colleges and to consider how UCL admissions might be affected.

2. GCSE marks are changing and GCSE and A level syllabuses are changing

From September 2019, all pupils will receive a number score of between nine and one for their GCSEs, rather than a grade. Many syllabuses have also changed at GCSE and at A level. There is now more maths in science subjects and the new English Language GCSE has an increased emphasis on spelling, punctuation and grammar.

3. There will be a greater emphasis on assessment by exam

GCSE and A levels will soon be assessed almost entirely on exams, with the removal of coursework in most subjects. There will also be fewer opportunities for resits. For all Science A levels, practicals will be assessed and given a separate pass/fail mark in addition to the overall final grade. UCL will require a pass in the practical to meet the entrance requirements for a programme.

4. UCL will no longer require a fourth AS level

AS results will no longer count towards A level exams in the way they do now. Instead, students will sit two-year A level courses, with final assessments at the end of the two years. Schools will have the option to enter students for stand-alone AS qualifications, worth 40% of an A Level. However, due to a reduction in post-16 funding, many schools will not be able to offer AS levels. UCL will no longer ask for a fourth AS level in our entry requirements for undergraduate programmes. We will only require applicants to have three A level subjects.

5. Schools may offer fewer subjects

As these changes take place, schools may find it challenging to offer a broad range of subjects at A Level. Certain qualifications, such A level Anthropology, will no longer be available while other less popular subjects, such as some A levels in Modern Languages, may be removed from school timetables due to lack of funding or poor take-up.

For further information on UCL’s education partnerships visit the website or email educationpartnerships@ucl.ac.uk