AS & A levels

AS and A levels are the main general qualifications at Level 3 and are usually taken at age 16-19. They are used as a basis for admissions to higher education, further training or entry into employment.


Following the 2012 Review of Qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds in Wales, a new set of A levels has been designed for learners in Wales. The first set of reformed A levels were for first teaching from September 2015, with the last for first teaching from September 2017.

Differences from England and Northern Ireland

A levels across the three countries are of the same size, rigour, and portability; however, there are some key differences

In Wales:

  • A level qualifications will:
    • Consist of Advanced Subsidiary (AS) and A2 units. The AS is a stand-alone qualification and also contributes 40% towards the full A level qualification. 
    • Share the same content as A levels in England, but include a Welsh perspective where appropriate.
    • Retain practical or non-examination assessments where they are assessing an important part of the subject, with these assessments contributing towards the final grade.
  • Individual units can only be retaken once. 
  • AS exams can be taken at the end of the AS course or alongside A2.

Click here for an infographic on the changes in Wales, England and Northern Ireland.

For a more detailed explanation of the changes, please click here.

What subjects are available

There are some subjects that have been designed specifically for Wales. However, there are subjects that have been designed for England that are also available in Wales, when there isn't already a Welsh-specific version.

Those designed for Wales are referred to as approved qualifications. Those designed for England that are also available in Wales are referred to as designated qualifications. More information on designated qualifications can be found below.