GCE (A-level)

How to get A and A* in GCE A-Level?

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What is GCE?

The General Certificate of Education (GCE A-Level) is an academic qualification that is confered to students by examination boards in the United Kingdom. Ordinarily, a student would be enrolled in GCE coursework, after having taken the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), in preparation for the last stage of secondary education before his/her eventual admission to university.

Syllabuses and Grades
GCE is comprised of two programs: the AS ( Advanced Subsidiary ) Level and the Advanced Level ( A-Level.) The new AS Level is subdivided into two parts: the AS and the A2 syllabuses, which are to be covered during the first year and second year respectively.
The GCE A-Level exam is normally taken after two years of study. The exam is comprised of six units ( Edexcel ) or 2 units ( Cambridge Examinations ) and can be taken either in stage or as a final examination.
Grades earned in A-Level can range from A* to E, and in AS from A to E. In the UCAS Tariff system, points earned in AS level are equivalent to half of the A-Level counterpart.

Examination Boards and Subjects
The four major boards that administer the GCE are: Edexcel, OCR, AQA, and CIE. A broad range of subjects are offered, including: Art and Design, Biology, Business Studies, Biology, Chemistry, Chinese, Design and Technology, Economics, English Language, English Literature, French, Geography, German, Government and Politics, History, Mathematics, Music, Physics, Psychology, and Spanish.

Dates
Depending on the examination boards, tests are administered in May-June and either Oct-Nov or Jan-Feb.

University Requirements
Admission requirements for most universities include a minimum of three A-Level subjects or equivalent. Please consult respective university websites for updated details. 

 

GCE offers English Literature at both Advanced level (A-level) and Advanced Subsidiary level (AS). To complete Advanced level GCE English Literature, students need to complete Unit 1 to Unit 4. For students taking GCE English Literature AS level, they only have to complete Unit 1 and Unit 2.
There are 4 examination boards that offer GCE English Literature, including Edexcel, AQA, OCR and CIE.

Edexcel:
The units offered are:
Unit 1 – Explorations in Prose and Poetry
Prose and poetry from 1800 – 1945.  Students study one prescribed selection of poetry and one prescribed novel
Unit 2 – Explorations in Drama
Shakespeare and Drama from 1300 – 1800.
Unit 3 – Interpretations of Prose and Poetry
Prose and Poetry published after 1990.  Students study three prescribed texts.
Unit 4 – Reflections in Literary Studies
Independent study – extended essay or two shorter studies or creative response with a commentary

AQA – English Literature A
Unit 1 – Texts in Context
Students study poetry and poetry/drama/prose from a prescribed theme - Victorian Literature, World War One Literature, or The Struggle for Identity in Modern Literature.
Unit 2 – Creative Study
Students study drama or prose from a prescribed theme.  This unit is assessed by coursework.
Unit 3 – Reading for Meaning
Students study texts on the theme of Love through the ages.  Texts will be prose, poetry and drama by both men and women from Chaucer to present day.  It will also include some non-fiction texts
Unit 4 – Extended Essay and Shakespeare Study
Students prepare an essay based on three texts, of which one is Shakespeare.

AQA – English Literature B
Unit 1 -  Aspects of Narrative
Students study four texts – two poetry and two prose, one of which is written post 1990.
Unit 2  - Dramatic Genres
Students study two plays – one of which is by Shakespeare
Unit 3 – Texts and Genres
Students study three prescribed texts from the period 1300-1800 from the category Elements of the Gothic or Elements of the Pastoral.
Unit 4 – Further and Independent Reading
Candidates study three texts, one of which will be a pre-released anthology of critical writing applied to a piece of literature. The purpose of the critical material is to introduce to candidates some of the ways the study of literature can be approached.

GCE offers Economics at both Advanced level (A-level) and Advanced Subsidiary level (AS). To complete Advanced level GCE Economics, students need to complete Unit 1 to Unit 4. For students taking GCE Economics AS level, they only have to complete Unit 1 and Unit 2.

There are 4 examination boards that offer GCE Economics, including Edexcel, AQA, OCR and CIE. Most local students take Edexcel or AQA GCE Economics. The contents included in each GCE Economics examination board varies.

For Edexcel GCE Economics, the 4 units included are:

AS Unit 1: Markets they work
AS Unit 2: Managing the Economy
A2 Unit 3: Business Economics and Economic Efficiency
A2 Unit 4: The Global Economy

For AQA GCE Economics, the 4 units included are:

AS Unit 1: Markets and Market Failure
AS Unit 2: The National Economy
A2 Unit 3: Business Economics and the Distribution of Income
A2 Unit 4: The National and International Economy

For OCR GCE Economics, the 4 units included are:

AS Unit 1 (F581): Markets in Action
AS Unit 2 (F582): The National and International Economy
A2 Unit 3 (F583): Economics of Work and Leisure
A2 Unit 4 (F584): Transport Economics
or
A2 Unit 4 (F585): The Global Economy

OCR GCE Economics Unit 4 contains options. Students can pick between Transport Economics and The Global Economy.

The examination structure for GCE Economics varies across different examination board and different paper.

For Edexcel GCE Economics, the examination is structured as follows:

Unit 1: Supported multiple choice questions + 1 data response question out of 2
Unit 2: 1 data response question out of 2
Unit 3: Supported multiple choice questions + 1 data response question out of 2
Unit 4: 1 essay question and 1 data response question out of 2

For AQA GCE Economics, the examination is structured as follows:

Unit 1: Non supported multiple choice questions + 1 data response question out of 2
Unit 2: Non supported multiple choice questions + 1 data response question out of 2
Unit 3: 1 data response question out of 2 + 1 essay question out of 3
Unit 4: 1 data response question out of 2 + 1 essay question out of 3

For OCR GCE Economics, the examination is structured as follows:

Unit 1: WIP
Unit 2:
Unit 3:
Unit 4:

Click here to read more on how to do well in GCE Economics.
 

General Certificate of Education (GCE), commonly referred to as A-level, is a syllabus designed for students in the last two years (or post-(I)GCSE) of secondary school education. GCE A-level maths, studied over a two year period, is composed of the AS (first year) - and the A2 (second year) syllabuses. Together they make up the AL course.  GCE is widely recognised around the world as well as being the standard admission qualification for assessing the suitability of applicants for universities in Great Britain.

Specifications
Students study a variety of units, following pathways to their qualifications, and toward attaining desired awards.  The major awards are: GCE A Level --- Mathematics, Further Mathematics, and Pure Mathematics.  The structure of qualification varies for each award, and is comprised of a combination of the following units of study:
1.    Core Mathematics (C1, C2, C3, C4)
2.    Further Pure Mathematics (FP1, FP2, FP3)
3.    Mechanics (M1, M2, M3, M4, M5)
4.    Statistics (S1, S2, S3, S4)
5.    Decision Mathematics (D1, D2)

Grades
The passing grades for A-levels are A*, A, B, C, D and E.  The A* grade is awarded to candidates who achieve an A in their overall AL, with a score of at least 90% at A2. There is no A* grade at AS or unit level.

Examination Boards
Examinations boards that offer GCE exams in Hong Kong include: Edexcel (London Examinations) and CIE (Univ. of Cambridge International Examinations).

Dates
For Edexcel, examination dates are Jan/Feb and May/June, while CIE Oct/Nov and May/June.

GCE offers Biology at both Advanced level (A-level) and Advanced Subsidiary level (AS). To complete Advanced level GCE Biology, students need to complete 6 units (Units 1, 2 and 3 are AS level while units 4,5 and 6 are Advanced level) with 2 units for internal assessment. For students taking GCE Biology AS level, they only have to complete Unit 1 to Unit 3 with 1 unit for internal assessment.

The three major examination boards that offer GCE Physics are Edexcel, OCR and AQA. The contents of three examination boards are as followed.

 

 

For Edexcel

 

AS unit content:

Unit 1: Life, Transport, Genes and Health (Unit code: 6BI01)

Availability: January and June

  • structure and function of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins; enzyme action
  • structure and properties of cell membranes; passive and active transport
  • structure and role of DNA and RNA
  • replication; protein synthesis
  • monohybrid inheritance
  • gene mutations
  • principles of gene therapy; social and ethical issues

(1 hr 15 mins written paper, 80 marks, consists of objective questions, short questions and long questions, contributing 40% of the total AS GCE marks OR 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

 

Unit 2: Development, Plants and the Environment (Unit code: 6BI02)

Availability: January and June

  • cell structure and ultrastructure of eukaryote and prokaryote cells: cell specialisation
  • the role of meiosis
  • genotype and environmental influence
  • stem cell research and its implications
  • biodiversity, adaptations and natural selection
  • principles of taxonomy
  • plant cell structure
  • transport of water in plants
  • uses of plant products

(1 hr 15 mins written paper, 80 marks, consists of objective questions, short questions and long questions, contributing 40% of the total AS GCE marks OR 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

 

Unit 3: Practical Biology and Research Skills (Unit code: 6BI03)

Availability: June

  • Students write a report of between 1500 and 2000 words, either a record of a visit to a site of biological interest or a report of research into a biological topic.
  • Students’ practical skills will be assessed by the teacher against criteria provided in the specification. Please see Unit 3 Section 9.1 Part 1: Practical biology skills on page 77.

(Teachers have the option of marking the report and having it moderated by Edexcel, or having it externally marked by Edexcel, 40 marks, contributing 20% of the total AS GCE marks OR 10% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

 

A2 unit content:

Unit 4: The Natural Environment and Species Survival (Unit code: 6BI04)

Availability: January and June

  • photosynthesis; energy transfer within ecosystems
  • evidence for global warming
  • evolution through natural selection and speciation
  • nutrient recycling
  • DNA profiling and PCR
  • structure of bacteria and viruses
  • infectious diseases (eg AIDS and TB) and immunology

(1 hr 30 mins written paper, 90 marks, consists of objective questions, short questions and long questions, contributing 40% of the total A2 marks OR 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

 

Unit 5: Energy, Exercise and Coordination (Unit code: 6BI05)

Availability: January and June

  • ATP, glycolysis, anaerobic/aerobic respiration
  • control and functioning of heart; ventilation and cardiac output
  • homeostasis
  • the nervous system
  • impact of exercise on body, and improving performance
  • hormonal coordination
  • brain structure and development
  • imbalances in brain chemicals
  • Human Genome Project

(1 hr 30 mins written paper, 90 marks, consists of objective questions, short questions and long questions, contributing 40% of the total A2 marks OR 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

 

Unit 6: Practical Biology and Investigative Skills (Unit code: 6BI06)

Availability: June

  • Students will complete a written report of an experimental investigation, which they have devised and carried out.

(Teachers have the option of marking the report or having it externally marked by Edexcel, 45 marks, contributing 20% of the total A2 marks OR 10% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

 

For ORC:

Unit F211: Cells, Exchange and Transport

Module 1: Cells

  • 1.1.1 Cell Structure
  • 1.1.2 Cell Membranes
  • 1.1.3 Cell Division, Cell Diversity and Cellular Organisation

Module 2: Exchange and Transport

  • 1.2.1 Exchange Surfaces and Breathing
  • 1.2.2 Transport in Animals
  • 1.2.3 Transport in Plants

(1 hr written paper, 60 marks, consists of objective questions, short questions and long questions, contributing 30% of the total AS GCE marks)

 

Unit F212: Molecules, Biodiversity, Food and Health

Module 1: Biological Molecules

  • 2.1.1 Biological Molecules
  • 2.1.2 Nucleic Acids
  • 2.1.3 Enzymes

Module 2: Food and Health

  • 2.2.1 Diet and Food Production
  • 2.2.2 Health and Disease

Module 3: Biodiversity and Evolution

  • 2.3.1 Biodiversity
  • 2.3.2 Classification
  • 2.3.3 Evolution
  • 2.3.4 Maintaining Biodiversity

(1 hr 45 mins written paper, 100 marks, consists of objective questions, short questions and long questions, contributing 50% of the total AS GCE marks)

 

Unit F213: Practical Skills in Biology 1

Practical Tasks

(Candidates complete three tasks set by OCR. Tasks are marked by the centre using mark schemes provided by OCR, 40 marks, contributing 20% of the total AS GCE marks)

 

A2 unit content:

Unit F214: Communication, Homeostasis and Energy

Module 1: Communication and Homeostasis

  • 4.1.1 Communication
  • 4.1.2 Nerves
  • 4.1.3 Hormones

Module 2: Excretion

  • 4.2.1 Excretion

Module 3: Photosynthesis

  • 4.3.1 Photosynthesis

Module 4: Respiration

  • 4.4.1 Respiration

(1 hr 15 mins written paper, 60 marks, consists of objective questions, short questions and long questions, contributing 15% of the total Advanced GCE marks)

 

Unit F215: Control, Genomes and Environment

Module 1: Cellular Control and Variation

  • 5.1.1 Cellular Control
  • 5.1.2 Meiosis and Variation

Module 2: Biotechnology and Gene Technologies

  • 5.2.1 Cloning in Plants and Animals
  • 5.2.2 Biotechnology
  • 5.2.3 Genomes and Gene Technologies

Module 3: Ecosystems and Sustainability

  • 5.3.1 Ecosystems
  • 5.3.2 Populations and Sustainability

Module 4: Responding to the Environment

  • 5.4.1 Plant Responses
  • 5.4.2 Animal Responses
  • 5.4.3 Animal Behaviour

(2 hr written paper, 100 marks, consists of objective questions, short questions and long questions, contributing 25% of the total Advanced GCE marks)

 

Unit F216 Practical Skills in Biology 2

Practical tasks

(Candidates complete three tasks set by OCR. Tasks are marked by the centre using mark schemes provided by OCR, 40 marks, contributing 10% of the total Advanced GCE marks. This unit is synoptic.)

 

For AQA:

Unit 1 BIOL1: Biology and disease

Availability: January and June

(1 hr 15 mins written paper, 60 marks, consists of 5 – 7 short answer questions plus 2 longer questions, contributing 33% of the total AS GCE marks and 16.7% of the total A level GCE marks.)

 

Unit 2 BIOL2: The variety of living organisms

Availability: January and June

(1 hr 45 mins written paper, 85 marks, consists of 5 – 7 short answer questions plus 2 longer questions, contributing 46.7% of the total AS GCE marks and 23.3% of the total A level GCE marks.)

 

Unit 3 Internal Assessment: Investigative and practical skills in AS Biology

Availability: June

Either

  • BIO3T: Centre Marked Route T (50 marks)
  • Practical Skills Assessment (PSA – 6 marks)
  • Investigative Skills Assignment (ISA – 44 marks)

Or

  • BIO3X: Externally Marked Route X (50 marks)
  • Practical Skills Verification (PSV – teacher verification)
  • Externally Marked Practical Assignment (EMPA – 50 marks)

(Contributing 20% of the total AS GCE marks and 10% of the total A level GCE marks.)

 

A2 unit content:

Unit 4 BIOL4: Populations and environment

Availability: January and June

(1 hr 30 mins written paper, 75 marks, consists of 6 – 9 short answer questions plus 2 longer questions, contributing 16.7% of the total A level GCE marks.)

 

Unit 5 BIOL5: Control in cells and in organisms

Availability: June

(2 hr 15 mins written paper, 100 marks, consists of 8 - 10 short answer questions plus 2 longer questions, contributing 23.3% of the total A level GCE marks.)

 

Unit 6 Internal Assessment: Investigative and practical skills in A2 Biology

Availability: June

Either

  • BIO6T: Centre Marked Route T (50 marks)
  • Practical Skills Assessment (PSA – 6 marks)
  • Investigative Skills Assignment (ISA – 44 marks)

Or

  • BIO6X: Externally Marked Route X (50 marks)
  • Practical Skills Verification (PSV – teacher verification)
  • Externally Marked Practical Assignment (EMPA – 50 marks)

(Contributing 10% of the total A level GCE marks.)

 

GCE offers Physics at both Advanced level (A-level) and Advanced Subsidiary level (AS). To complete Advanced level GCE Physics, students need to complete 6 units. For students taking GCE Physics AS level, they only have to complete Unit 1 to Unit 3.

The three major examination boards that offer GCE Physics are Edexcel, OCR and AQA. However, only Edexcel physics examinations can be taken at Hong Kong Examination Assessment Authority (HKEAA).

The content of the course and assessment ways vary among different examination boards:

For Edexcel:

AS unit content:

6PH01: Physics on the go
- mechanics and materials

 (1 hr 20 mins written paper, 80 marks, consists of objective questions, short questions and long questions, contributing 40% of the total AS GCE marks OR 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

6PH02: Physics at Work
- waves, electricity and the wave/particle nature of light.

(1 hr 20 mins written paper, 80 marks, consists of objective questions, short questions and long questions, contributing 40% of the total AS GCE marks OR 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

6PH03: Exploring Physics *
- students need to write a report on either a physics-based visit or a case study of an application of physics.

(40 marks, contributing 20% of the total AS GCE marks OR 10% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

A2 unit content:

6PH04: Physics on the Move
 - further mechanics, electric and magnetic fields, and particle physics

(1 hr 35 mins written paper, 80 marks, consists of objective questions, short questions and long questions, contributing 40% of the total AS GCE marks OR 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

6PH05: Physics from Creation to Collapse  
- study of thermal energy, nuclear decay, oscillations, astrophysics and cosmology

(1 hr 35 mins written paper, 80 marks, consists of objective questions, short questions and long questions, contributing 40% of the total AS GCE marks OR 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

6PH06: Experimental Physics*
- students need to plan and implement an experiment and to write a report

(40 marks, contributing 20% of the total AS GCE marks OR 10% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

* For candidates taking examination in international centres (e.g. HKEAA), 6PH04 and 6PH06 have to be substituted by written examination papers:
6PH07: Exploring Physics
6PH08: Experimental Physics
(Each paper is of duration of 1 hr 20 mins, 40 marks, contributing 10% to the GCE AL-Physics.)

For OCR:
Two syllabuses for GCE AL physics are offered:

1) Physics A:

AS unit content:

G481: Mechanics
(1 hr written paper, 60 marks, contributing 30% of the total AS GCE marks OR 15% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

G482: Electrons, Waves and Photons
(1 hr 45 min written paper , 100 marks, contributing 50% of the total AS GCE marks OR 25% of the total Advanced GCE marks)

G483: Practical Skills in Physics
- students need to complete 3 tasks set by OCR
(40 marks, contributing 20% of the total AS GCE marks OR 10% of the total Advanced GCE marks)

A2 unit content:
G484: The Newtonian World
(1 hr 15mins written paper, 60 marks, contributing 15% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

G485: Fields, Particles and Frontiers of Physics
(2hr written paper , 100 marks, contributing 25% of the total Advanced GCE marks)

G486: Practical Skills in Physics 2
- students need to complete 3 tasks set by OCR
(40 marks, contributing 20% of the total AS GCE marks OR 10% of the total Advanced GCE marks)

2) Physics B – Advancing Physics:

AS unit content:

G491: Physics in Action
(1 hr written paper, 60 marks, contributing 30% of the total AS GCE marks OR 15% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

G492: Understanding Processes, Experimentation and Data Handling
(2 hr written paper , 100 marks, contributing 50% of the total AS GCE marks OR 25% of the total Advanced GCE marks)

G493: Physics in Practice
- students need to carry out two short tasks, including a measurement task and a presentation on a researched topic that they choose.
(30 marks, contributing 20% of the total AS GCE marks OR 10% of the total Advanced GCE marks)

A2 unit content:
G494: Rise and Fall of the Clockwork Universe
(1 hr 25 mins written paper, 60 marks, contributing 15% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

G495: Field and Particle Physics
(2hr written paper , 100 marks, contributing 25% of the total Advanced GCE marks)

G496: Researching Physics
- students need to carry out a practical investigation and produce a research briefing on topics that they choose.
(30 marks, contributing 20% of the total AS GCE marks OR 10% of the total Advanced GCE marks)

For AQA:
Two syllabuses for GCE AL physics are offered:

1) Physics A:

AS unit content:

PHYA1: Particles, Quantum Phenomena and Electricity
(1 hr15 mins written paper, 6 or 7 structured questions,  70 marks/120 UMS, contributing 40% of the total AS GCE marks OR 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

PHYA2: Mechanics, Materials and Waves
(1 hr15 mins written paper, 6 or 7 structured questions,  70 marks/120 UMS, contributing 40% of the total AS GCE marks OR 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

Unit 3: Investigative and Practical Skills in AS Physics
- choosing Either
PHA3T: Centre Marked Route T , with practical skills assignment  and investigative skills assignment OR
PHA3X: Externally Marked Route X,  with practical skills verification and externally marked practical assignment

 (contributing 20% of the total AS GCE marks OR 10% of the total Advanced GCE marks )
 
PHYA4: Fields and Further Mechanics
(1 hr45 mins written paper, 25 multiple choice questions + 4 or 5 structured questions,  75 marks/120 UMS, contributing 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

Unit 5: Nuclear Physics, Thermal Physics and an Optional Topic

(1 hr45 mins written paper, 4 or 5 structured questions about Nuclear and Thermal Physics + 4 or 5 structured questions on the optional topics,  75 marks/120 UMS, contributing 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

The choices of optional topics include:
PHA5A: Astrophysics
PHA5B: Medical Physics
PHA5C: Applied Physics
PHA5D: Turning Points in Physics

Unit 6 Investigative and Practical Skills in A2 Physics
- choosing Either
PHA6T: Centre Marked Route T , with practical skills assignment  and investigative skills assignment OR
PHA6X: Externally Marked Route X, with practical skills verification and externally marked practical assignment

 (contributing 20% of the total AS GCE marks OR 10% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

2) Physics B- Physics in context:

PHYB1: Harmony and structure in the universe, comprises of modules of
Module 1: The World of Music
Module 2: From Quarks to Quasars

 (1 hr15 mins written paper, 5-8 short questions + 3-5 longer questions,  70 marks/120 UMS, contributing 40% of the total AS GCE marks OR 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )
PHYB2: Physics keeps us going, comprises of modules of
Module 1: Moving People, People Moving
Module 2: Energy and the Environment
(1 hr15 mins written paper, 5-8 short questions + 3-5 longer questions,  70 marks/120 UMS, contributing 40% of the total AS GCE marks OR 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

Unit 3: Investigative and Practical Skills in AS Physics
- choosing Either
PHA3T: Centre Marked Route T , with practical skills assignment  and investigative skills assignment OR
PHA3X: Externally Marked Route X, with practical skills verification and externally marked practical assignment

 (contributing 20% of the total AS GCE marks OR 10% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

PHYB4: Physics inside and out, comprises of modules of
Module 1: Experiences Out of this World
Module 2: What Goes Around Comes Around
Module 3: Imaging the Invisible

 (1 hr45 mins written paper, 5-8 long questions, 100 marks/120 UMS, contributing 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks)

PHYB5: Energy under the microscope, comprises of modules of
Module 1: Matter under the Microscope
Module 2: Breaking Matter Down
Module 3: Energy from the Nucleus
 (1 hr45 mins written paper, 5-8 long questions, 100 marks/120 UMS, contributing 20% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

Unit 6 Investigative and Practical Skills in A2 Physics
- choosing Either
PHA6T: Centre Marked Route T , with practical skills assignment  and investigative skills assignment OR
PHA6X: Externally Marked Route X,  with practical skills verification and externally marked practical assignment

 (contributing 20% of the total AS GCE marks OR 10% of the total Advanced GCE marks )

General Certificate of Education (GCE), commonly referred to as A-level, is a syllabus designed for students in the last two years (or post-(I)GCSE) of secondary school education. GCE A-level Chemistry, studied over a two year period, is composed of the AS (first year) - and the A2 (second year) syllabuses. Together they make up the AL course.  GCE is widely recognised around the world as well as being the standard admission qualification for assessing the suitability of applicants for universities in Great Britain.

 

Specifications

In chemistry, the structure of qualification is comprised of a combination of the following units of study:

 

AS Unit 1: The Core Principles of Chemistry

40% of the total AS marks 20% of the total GCE marks

Assessment:

Examination of 1 hour 15 minutes in two sections.

  • Section A:objective test questions.
  • Section B:mixture of short-answer and extended answer questions.

 

AS Unit 2: Application of Core Principles of Chemistry

40% of the total AS marks 20% of the total GCE marks

Assessment:

Examination of 1 hour 15 minutes in three sections.

  • Section A:objective test questions.
  • Section B:mixture of short-answer and extended answer questions.
  • Section C: contemporary context questions.

 

AS Unit 3: Chemistry Laboratory Skills I

40% of the total AS marks 20% of the total GCE marks

Assessment:

  • Three separate activities testing students’ laboratory skills in three different ways. The
  • three activities must cover the areas of physical, organic and inorganic chemistry.

 

A2 Unit 4: General Principles of Chemistry I – Rates, Equilibria and Further Organic Chemistry

40% of the total A2 marks 20% of the total GCE marks

Assessment:

Examination of 1 hour 40 minutes in three sections.

  • Section A: objective test questions.
  • Section B:mixture of short-answer and extended answer questions.
  • Section C:data questions, with use of a data booklet.

 

A2 Unit 5: General Principles of Chemistry II – Transition Metals and Organic Nitrogen Chemistry

40% of the total A2 marks 20% of the total GCE marks

Assessment:

Examination of 1 hour 40 minutes in three sections.

  • Section A:objective test questions
  • Section B:mixture of short-answer and extended answer questions.
  • Section C:contemporary context questions.

 

A2 Unit 6: Chemistry Laboratory Skills II

20% of the total A2 marks 10% of the total GCE marks

Assessment:

Students’ laboratory skills are tested in three different ways, through a choice of activities and pathways. The three activities must cover the areas of physical, organic and inorganic chemistry.

  • Pathway 1 —as in AS but with practicals covering areas of Units 4 and 5.
  • Pathway 2 —activity b as in AS, but tasks c and d are together in a multi-stage experiment.

 

Grades

The passing grades for A-levels are A*, A, B, C, D and E.  The A* grade is awarded to candidates who achieve an A in their overall AL, with a score of at least 90% at A2. There is no A* grade at AS or unit level.

Examination Boards
Examinations boards that offer GCE exams in Hong Kong include: Edexcel (London Examinations) and CIE (Univ. of Cambridge International Examinations).

Dates
For Edexcel, examination dates are Jan/Feb and May/June, while CIE Oct/Nov and May/June

 

FAQ

What are the differences between the Grade Boundaries and UMS Conversions links?
Most exam boards provide grade boundaries in a basic tabular form, whereby you have to scroll down to find your exam. These boundaries will not give you an exact conversion of raw marks to UMS, and only the boundary marks. However, AQA have introduced a new website where you can enter a raw mark to get the equivalent UMS score. If you simply enter 0 for the raw mark, it will give you a visual breakdown of what the equivalent UMS score is for every raw mark.

 

Why do grade boundaries change?
Modules may vary slightly in difficulty, and although examiners aim to keep a consistent standard every year, there are inevitably going to be questions which cause problems, or questions which are found easier by students. Grade boundaries are changed to ensure a fair reflection of a student's achievement based on the difficult of the paper. This is what exam boards call comparable outcomes, and this is why UMS scores are used. Visit our UMS guide for more information.

 

I thought it was always the same amount of UMS for a particular grade?
You would be right. The UMS grade boundaries do not change, but the conversion of raw marks to UMS scores do.

  • A: 80% UMS
  • B: 70% UMS
  • C: 60% UMS
  • D: 50% UMS
  • E: 40% UMS

Why is the grade boundary for an A* sometimes lowercase?
Technically you cannot receive an A* in a module, so exam boards will use a lowercase a* to signal how many raw marks are required to get 90% of the UMS available on the module.

 

To achieve an A* at A-Level, you will need 80% UMS overall (either 320/400 or 480/600 UMS depending on the qualification) and then 90% UMS overall in your A2 modules (either 180/200 or 270/300 UMS depending on the qualification). This differs slightly for Chemistry and Further Chemistry.

 

Why isn't there always a grade boundary for the A*?
As mentioned above, you technically cannot receive an A* in a module, so some exam boards choose not to show what you need to get 90% UMS. Look at the question below if you want to work out the raw mark required.

 

How do I work out the boundary for 90% and 100% UMS?
You only need the grade boundaries for the A and B grades to work this out. Suppose you have taken a module which has 75 raw marks available, and this is converted to 100 UMS.

Suppose the grade boundaries are as follows:

  • 62 raw = 80 UMS (A)
  • 57 raw = 70 UMS (B)

Take the difference between the A and B boundaries, in this case 5 raw marks. Add this value onto the A boundary to find how many raw marks are needed for 90% UMS. Then, if you want to find what's required for 100% UMS, double the value and add it on to the A boundary.

We can then work out the following boundaries:

  • 67 raw = 90 UMS
  • 72 raw = 100 UMS

There will be many situations where this method will give you a grade boundary for 100 UMS which exceeds the maximum raw mark. In this situation, you can simply halve the difference between the A boundary and the maximum raw mark available.

Now suppose the grade boundaries are as follows:

  • 69 raw = 80 UMS (A)
  • 60 raw = 70 UMS (B)

We can see that the above method will give us grade boundaries which are not possible. Therefore, the we can work out the boundaries as follows:

  • 72 raw = 90 UMS
  • 75 raw = 100 UMS

If halving the difference does not give you a whole number, it may be the case that there isn't a raw mark which will give you exactly 90% UMS. Some exam boards may choose to round down, but this is not always the case.

 

What should I do if I am close to a higher grade boundary?
This really depends on your circumstances. If you are have received your A-Level results and have missed out on a university place, but are close to a higher grade boundary, it may be wise to request a priority remark. Similarly, if you have just received your AS-Levels, and are desperate for a higher grade, a remark could be considered. However, having just finished your AS-Levels, you do have plenty of chances to retake modules or perform strongly in A2 modules. Remarks are expensive, and marks can go down, as well as up, so consider them carefully.