What is the difference between AS and A-Level?

What is the difference between AS and A-Level? Choosing what to do after completing GCSEs can be difficult. There are a lot of options, but the most important is to take up A-level exams. Taking up AS level may be another thing on your mind. Do you want to know how A/AS Levels can help you get the qualifications you need for your job? This article will help you to clear all your doubts related to it. 

When you do A-levels, it is of two years, and AS levels are half of your A-levels. Thus you can say that the first year of your A-levels is generally considered your AS levels. Further have discussed about what are A-levels and AS levels and how both are different from each other.

What are A-levels?

Your A-levels are the exams that are important in your life. You will take your A-levels after your GCSE. They are tough and involve tough content. A-levels are qualifications offered by schools and colleges to students aged 16 to 19. They typically concentrate on academic subjects, as opposed to more practical vocational qualifications such as BTECs and NVQs. There are over 40 different A-level subjects available, some of which you may have studied at GCSE. The rest of them may be new to you.

What are AS-levels?

Again after completing your GCSE exams, you can take your AS Level qualification. This is simply the beginning of a full A-level. You will be studying a subject for a year and obtain an AS-level qualification. It is separate from the issues you continue to study to the full A-level. The majority of students who choose to take an additional AS-level, want to focus entirely on their A-levels in their second year. When you continue an AS subject into your A2 year, you are pursuing the full A-level qualification.

What is the difference between AS and A-Level?

An AS Level, as previously stated, is half an A Level. In other words, you can say that it is the first year of a full A-Level qualification. A Levels are divided into two years: the AS Year (year 1) and the A2 Year (year 2).  A and AS levels are taught similarly. However, your AS-level results are used to be added to your final A-level grade. You can still study an AS level along with the initial year of your A-level course. Though your A-level result will be entirely based just on exams you take at the end of your two-year course. 

Unlike A Levels, you cannot achieve an A* at AS Level. A is the highest possible grade for your AS levels.  An AS Level has half the subject matter of an A Level. Though it will give you only half the UCAS points as well. This means that  An AS Level is nearly half of an A Level, as you only take the first year and receive roughly half the UCAS points.

Is AS-Level equivalent to A-Level?

As we have already discussed that your AS levels are nearly half the worth of your A levels. This means that your AS levels are 40% of your A-levels. Though this might vary with the subject you have chosen for your A-level. The below table shows how different AS levels are equivalent to A-levels-


Which is harder, A-level or AS-level?

From the beginning, we have been discussing that your A-levels are much tougher than your AS levels as they will have more content. But does it mean that your A-levels are harder than your AS levels? Of course not. There is no doubt that your A-levels are much more challenging in comparison to your AS levels.

But there are still subjects whose second year is much easier than the first year. This means that both can be equally hard depending upon the subject you have chosen. During your AS levels, you may need to study half of the tough content of the subject. Due to it, you may find your AS level harder than your A-level. 

Is AS-level enough for university?

Unfortunately not. As already mentioned AS is the first year of your A-levels. You would not be able to complete an undergraduate degree with only AS Levels. This means that it may be of no use if you pass your AS level and not your A-level. Levels are the best way to get into university. However, they are not the only way to get in there. You have several other options like taking BTEC, NVQ, T-level, etc.

Though there are no hard changes made between them, the only thing that students may consider is the importance of choosing A-levels. Obviously, to get into a university or even go for a job, you will need to have A-levels.

Another factor that they may be considering is the grades they receive. As you have seen in the chart in the above section the difference in receiving the grades. Although you will be studying less content in your AS, you will need to get more marks to get a particular grade. Also in your AS levels, you can not get an A* grade. This might be a possible reason why AS levels are becoming less popular than A-levels.


A-levels play an extremely important part in your life. They may act like a deciding factor of the university you are getting into and also may be a factor for making you stand out among other candidates for a particular job. Many students get confused between the A-levels and AS levels. AS levels are basically like the first year of your A-levels. Though there is almost half of the content of A-levels in it, you also get almost half of the UCAS points for it. 


Does AS or A level come first?

After completing your GCSEs, you can take up your AS and A levels.  AS exams are usually given after one year of study, and A levels after two. This means that your AS levels will come first and after your A-levels. Exam boards can design AS levels to be taught alongside the first year of A levels.

What are the alternatives for your A-levels?

Your A-levels are the highest qualifications that are necessary for getting into universities. Though if you find them tough there are alternatives that you can try. Some of the best alternatives for your A-levels are National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ), BTECs, Traineeships, and Apprenticeships.

William Christie