New Zealand students who choose to follow the CAIE pathway in high school aim, in most cases, to enter university afterwards. Year 12 of their education is very important to achieve that goal because that's when they start preparing for A-level exams.

Unlike the GCSE or IGCSE which are certificates of secondary education that aren't usually taken into consideration by universities, the A-level grades will directly determine your eligibility for higher education.

AS-levels are the first stage of A-level qualifications that serve to prepare students for A2-level exams taken in year 13. Both AS and A2 grades reflect students' level of knowledge in different subjects and their ability to pursue higher education in a given field.

That is why the preparation for AS exams needs to be taken seriously by students from the start of year 12, so they can have enough time to tweak their skills and train themselves to deal with the assignments included in the exam.

You can get more tips about high schools pathways in our article.

The advantage that AS-level students have is that, at that point, they have already passed their GCSE exams and know how to deal with external examinations more effectively. That is a great moment to improve your results even further and reach the grade required by the university of your choice.

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The right choice of subjects at the AS-level is crucial

We will not pretend that choosing the right subjects at high school is easy. That decision will often determine what higher education programmes they can apply to and the qualifications they can get in the following years.

That's an extremely important moment and, as many of us know from our own experience, school students don't always have a clear career plan for the future.

Luckily, you won't be required to choose a concrete profession in year 12 but rather the large area you want to specialise in, such as the sciences, informatics, humanities or art.

If the subjects you took at GCSE are not completely consistent with your project, AS-levels are your chance to make small changes.

Try to use AS level books to brush up on your knowledge
AS level exams are quite challenging, so you'll need to find the revision techniques that work for you | Unsplash - Becca Tapert

For example, let's imagine that at GCSE, you took one scientific and two humanities subjects on top of English and Maths. If now, you rather want to specialise in the sciences, you can take AS-level courses in the scientific subject, English and Maths, and add two new GCSE courses that will be useful to your career.

You can learn more about NCEA exams in our article.

It is not a problem to study GCSE-level subjects in year 12 because you will have one more year to take AS-levels in them.

By contrast, it would be difficult to do the same thing in year 13, as you will need AS or A2 grades for university and there will be no time to go through a GCSE course first.

To sum up, in year 12, you can take both GCSE and A-level courses, whereas, in year 13, you should normally follow only AS or A2 subjects. That way, you will meet the university entrance requirements and can study for the degree you want without any problem.

What's more, A-levels will help you deepen your knowledge in the area of your choice, so you will arrive at university with good basics.

Are AS-level courses more difficult than GCSE?

AS-levels are the continuation of GCSE courses, so they naturally tackle more advanced topics. But does that mean that an AS subject will be more difficult for a student than the preceding GCSE?

That is not necessarily the case. In both A-level and GCSE courses, new material is introduced at more or less the same speed, so year 12 shouldn't be more challenging for a student.

What's important to keep in mind though is that the GCSE serves to prepare students for A-levels, so they are supposed to have a certain level of knowledge when they enrol in an AS subject.

You can read about IGCSEs in more detail in our article.

That means that if a student has had a good grade for a GCSE subject, they can take the same subject at AS without any worries. On the other hand, those who didn't have good results at GCSE should probably think of revision in the summer if they want to improve their performance in year 12.

So, you can use your GCSE grade in each subject as a reference to decide how much revision to do and when to start.

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How to organise your revision?

Most New Zealand schools that offer the CAIE pathway centre their year 12 courses on preparation for AS-level examinations. That means that a student is likely to do a lot of revision in class and be guided by their tutor through the process.

However, that may not be enough for a student who got an unsatisfactory grade in the prevision year. For them to improve their results, it can be sensible to start revision earlier than other school students and do additional exercises throughout the year.

You can find past AS papers online and practice solving them
There are numerous online resources to help students prepare for AS levels | Unsplash - Maya Maceka

To begin with, a student should analyse their performance in year 11. They are likely to know themselves what assessment criteria they had difficulty meeting, so they can start by revising those topics in the first place.

In our article, you can find useful information about the IB.

They can also get information about the oncoming AS-level exams online, which can help them compare their current level of knowledge with the one to achieve by the end of the year.

After the careful assessment of their level of skills, they will have a much clearer understanding of what needs to be done and which subjects will require particular attention. After that, they can draw up a revision plan and study with AS-level textbooks or websites.

A particularly useful revision tool for year 12 students is A-level past papers. They can help the student get an idea of what kinds of assignments will be included in the exam and how they are evaluated.

Past exam papers often come with exemplar answers which can also be used by students for reference. However, we recommend that you try to do the assignments on your own at first and only then can you compare your answers with the model.

That way, you will use past papers the most effectively and develop the necessary qualifications for the end-of-year exam.

AS exam dates

When we plan our revision for an exam, it is important to know how much time we have left. So, let's find out when AS examinations take place in 2022.

AS exams are organised for students at the end of the school year, generally between October and November. 2022 will be an exception to that rule and all the exams are planned for the period from October 17 to November 17.

An important detail is that similarly to GCSE, each AS subject has several exams covering different parts of the course. For example, you can have a chemistry exam between two English tests and so on.

That means that you will not be able to finish with one discipline and then focus on another one during the assessment month. You will need already to have a good level in most subjects even before October, so it's better to start revision a long time in advance.

Give a boost to your grades with a private tutor

For some students, the preparation they get in school is enough to get excellent grades on their AS exams. However, that is not the case for everyone.

If a student doesn't manage to keep up with their class and has difficulty revising alone, they may need personal help from a tutor.

The advantage of lessons with private tutors is that they can provide a student with one-to-one assistance, tailoring their approach to their learning style and needs.

They will focus on the assignments that the student struggles with and assess the student's homework to guide them in the right direction.

That can be especially relevant when working on creative tasks, like essays, or scientific problems requiring a detailed answer. It can be difficult for a student to evaluate their own performance and identify the weak points.

An experienced tutor will help them overcome all those issues and give them confidence in their abilities to achieve greater results. Students often start enjoying the subject more when studying with a tutor which becomes beneficial for their education in general.

A good AS tutor can help you plan your revision for the exams
Your school tutor will provide you with information about AS exams and the skills you need to develop | Unsplash - Jason Goodman

Find a qualified AS-level tutor on Superprof

Without any doubt, private classes can be of great help to high-school students but where can you find a good tutor who will be attentive to your child and give them the motivation to study more? That is where Superprof comes in.

On Superprof, numerous tutors from all across New Zealand offer AS-support classes to year 12 students. We will provide you with information about their services and you can read comments from other students to get first-hand information.

You can earn excellent A-level grades with a Superprof tutor.

You can contact all our tutors directly via chat to schedule lessons and get feedback on your child's performance and other essential questions.

Studying with Superprof is motivating and fun, so you may even end up enjoying AS revision.

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