Statement on A-level reform

The aim of this statement is to help schools and students make informed decisions about AS and A-levels and to reassure them of the University’s commitment to fair admissions.

Background on AS and A-level reform

From September 2015, AS and A-levels in English will be ‘decoupled’. This means that AS results will no longer count towards an A-level, in the way they do now.

Assessment will be mainly by exam, with other types of assessment used only where they are needed to test essential skills. AS and A-levels will be assessed at the end of each course. AS-level assessments will normally take place after the first year and A-level at the end of the second year. Courses will no longer be divided in to modules and there will be no exams in January. AS-levels can be designed by exam boards to be taught alongside the first year of A-levels.

The assessment of practical skills in reformed Physics, Chemistry and Biology A-levels will be separate from the written exams, which lead to the final grade. The A-Level will be graded A* to E, and the practical element will get a separate pass or fail grade.

What does this mean for applicants?

Some schools and colleges will still wish to enter all students for AS-levels where others will carry out internal assessment at the end of Year 12. The outcome of these two approaches will inform students on progression to Year 13 and predicted grades. The decision whether a student should take an AS-level or a full A-level, must rest with the school or college and the student. The University of Surrey will consider equally applicants who choose either route. Our offers are normally based on three A-levels.

A holistic approach is taken to the assessment of applications. The University’s aim is to select those applicants who are likely to succeed academically and benefit from its programmes. Predicted grades are an important consideration and we have every confidence that schools and colleges will continue to provide us with consistent and reliable indicators of the potential of an applicant regardless whether or not they have taken externally assessed exams.

We currently have no undergraduate programmes where an AS-level is an additional requirement so an applicant will not be disadvantaged should the option to take a separate AS-level not be available to them.

Core mathematics

The University of Surrey supports the ethos behind this new qualification in that it may be beneficial to a range of degree subjects that do not generally ask for A-level Mathematics but where enhanced numerical or statistical skills may be helpful. For this reason, we encourage applicants to consider taking this qualification where practical.

However, we are aware that the school curriculum and/or timetabling may prohibit this, so we will not be including Core Mathematics as part of a conditional offer unless the applicant has presented with in this in lieu of another equivalent qualification.  

Practical science

The University feels that the practical skills are a vital part of science education. The requirement to pass the practical assessment will depend on the programme of study you have applied for. This will be stated on the programme page of our website and the prospectus. If required it will be made clear that this is part of your offer of admissions.


Due to changes to the GCSE grading system, the University has reviewed our entry requirements in respect of the new structure. Please refer to the following table:

Previous GCSE gradeNew GCSE grade