The A-Level debate!!!!


Lets lay it on the line here, how important are A-Levels? and is it fair to judge people by what they may have done 3/4 years previously?




'A' level grades are really just qualifications to get you into University to do your first degree (i.e. your B.Sc). The grade you get here (2:1 or first) determines whether you get on to a postgraduate degree. although some institutions may look at both 'A' level grades and your degree grade it is not really important as your more recent qualifications are a better representation of your academic ability at the time of applying for further study.


NED: yeh i have mate thanks. I am just trying to get a conversation going here.


I have just been offered a PhD and my Highers/A-Levels weren't the go for it!!


Depends what you want to do with them - as far as many professional qualifications are concerned A levels are a much better indicator of success than degree.

As far as degree classifications are concerned - depends largely on the subject and where you did it - the Times Higher this week quotes someone (can't remember who) saying that a 2.1 degree in Particle Physics from University A is worth more than a first in Leisure Management from University B (and I write this as someone who teaches leisure management (among other subjects) - mind you my first degree was in Eocnomics


In theory they shouldn't be that important, but in practice they generally are - thats just my experience though. I didn't do very well in my A-Levels at all and was lucky to get into the university I went to, then went on to get a first class degree. In the last year of my degree I applied for a MA course at a different university and was told not to worry about my A-levels as my degree performance made up for them, however in the interview I was grilled about the discrepancy between my A-level and degree results; I didn't get a place on the course despite having a first when all they required was a 2.2. I think there were other personal reasons for my rejection, but I do think A-levels count - I'm just hoping they won't for my PhD applications.


No it is not fair to judge peoples' academic performance on the basis of their A level results. It's snobbery for one. I never did A levels and I manage. I did a GNVQ (generally not very qualified) and I've managed fine. You also find that mature learners that enter university based on access courses do extremely well in their degrees.


In my experience they count for nothing apart from getting into an undergraduate degree. For my postgraduate applications (MA, PhD), I have never even had to provide them.


We have revived a 7 yr old thread ?! yeah!! :p


I left my not very impressive state school (which is now in special measures) with 2 A level's and 1 A/S level. At the time I went there the sixth form sent around 40 people (out of 100) to university - which was good, but often many went to very low ranking universities and choose courses that were not perhaps best choices. The staff "sold" degrees as a way to get a good job, which we wanted. So I would say that most - including me - picked our undergraduate degrees from a not very informed position.

I have never thought about my A levels every again really and nobody has ever asked about them on an academic application form post undergrad. I don't even know what my close friends or boyfriend got for their A levels! Mine weren't that bad (one A and two Cs) but equally nowhere near reflect where I am now. I developed and changed so much post A level that I really was a "late academic bloomer". If I am to be judged by my A levels, then is is akin to comparing the 20 something adult to the 17 year old child I was when I took them - hardly fair or accurate.

A levels are not a good indicator of future achievement in my opinion - though they may give recruiters and universities a certain sort of "risk assessment". I know that there are certain paths where they do matter though. Even if one gets a 2.1 or 1.1 from a good redbrick and wants to apply to a graduate recruitment post at a big firm like Deloitte or Acenture etc - they will need 3 or perhaps 4 a levels at A and B grade. These must also have been taken at the same time, so no repeats aloud. There types of career paths clearly think that A level grades matter to a degree for screening purposes.


Mine were atrocious, I cringe every time I have to put them on an application form and just pray that they'll assume it's a typo! It really annoys me as all my results before and since are pretty high.