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AS levels are "vital" say Cambridge, GuildHE and AoC

Cambridge University has joined forces with representative bodies for higher and further education institutions to urge the government to keep AS levels as a year 12 exam.

The university issued a joint statement with GuildHE and the Association of Colleges criticising plans to shift all sixth form exams to the final year of study before university entry.

In a response to exams watchdog Ofqual’s consultation on A Level reform, they argued that Year 12 exams act as a vital progress check to help sixth formers and college students find the “right university for them”.

Ofqual held a public consultation into the proposed A-Level reforms, ending on January 17. The consultation invited participants to give their views on how the reformed A-Levels should be designed, assessed and regulated.

Among the proposed changes is a move to hold all exams at the end of the two years of sixth form. Although the AS-Level will be retained as a standalone qualification, all assessment will take place at the end of the two years.

This means university admissions staff will no longer be able to use pupils’ Year 12 AS-Level results as an early indicator of their final grade prospects.

The joint statement from Cambridge, GuildHE and AoC says: “At present, AS acts as a vital progress-check that helps students make appropriate choices for HE in terms of both subject and institution, and helps universities make objective judgements about potential. Such judgements are at the heart of fair admissions,”

In addition, it is proposed that non-exam assessment – such as coursework – will be dropped completely in many A-Level subjects.

The consultation says non-exam coursework is only to be used “when it is the only valid way to assess essential elements of the subject”.