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Look how happy these kids are. They have A-levels. Do you?

A-levels (Advanced Levels) are courses which are taken by British 16-18 year-olds who hold 'advanced' levels of intelligence. The courses are the way to get to university and thus set their proud owner up for a life of unimaginable riches, unimaginable luxury and unimaginable sex. All because you have A-levels.

What does one do in an A-level?

Two students working on their coursework. Don't forget to use advanced search, girls!

Really, a better question would be "what doesn't one do in an A level?" Once an eager young mind decides to seek further education, a whole new world of learning is opened up to the candidate. Maybe you wish to be a lawyer and so you can study law. A budding young entrepreneur can take business studies or an aspiring reality TV star can try performing arts. Don't know what you want to be in the future and would rather sit on your arse watching TV all day? Then media studies could be the course for you.

Once you actually start the course, you will be required to attend some classes. This may sound worryingly like school, but don't you fret. Unlike at school, lessons don't fill up the whole day. Pick your courses wisely and you needn't get up in the morning. This setup gives you plenty of time to relax in the cafeteria or take up smoking. A student is not even legally required to pursue education to this level, so if you don't feel like turning up to all your lectures, it's no problem. Just tell your teacher you were too stoned and all will be ok.

The assessment of the course will comprise several pieces of coursework and exams at the end of each year. The coursework is designed as a task to test the students' capabilities with Google. So get on the internet and practice! Wait, you're already here! Well done, my friend, that A grade is practically in the bag.

Who takes A-levels?

16-18 year olds. We went through this in the opening paragraph. If you're going to get more than a B in your A-levels, then you're going to have to pay a little bit more attention.

Of course the A-level period is the most vital age of any young person's life, as anyone who has watched Skins would attest. These are the halcyon days where you decide to become emo, or create a new look revolving around always wearing a beanie hat. While, in class, you're experimenting with acids and alkaline metals for your chemistry coursework, outside of class, you're also experimenting with marijuana and your sexuality, all whilst listening to the music of Gossip.

Where does one get A-levels?

She just can't believe that she's finally got A-levels.

There are two options open to prospective students.

School Sixth Form

Once you finish school at 16, no doubt with excellent GCSE results, you can celebrate your departure by throwing eggs at teachers or setting off fire alarms. That's how one says farewell to such an important period in life.

But wait, you might be coming back after the summer! Many secondary schools nowadays give their students the opportunity to stay on and join their sixth form. Here, you'll be the kings of the school. You'll get to be taught law by your old PE teacher, who you can openly mock for her lack of qualifications and obvious lesbianism. Furthermore, the little kids will all look up to you, because someday, you'll have A-levels.

Sixth Form College

If your school doesn't have its own sixth form, or you merely never want to step inside that hell-hole again, then sixth form college may be for you. Here there'll be no pesky little kids around you, no school uniforms, no reminders of past failures. There will instead be a more informal, relaxed atmosphere. There will be specialist teachers, like Steve the politics expert and Karen the classical civilisation professor, who have both been forced into teaching to justify their ridiculous degree choices. These people aren't just your teachers; they're your friends too.

Sixth form college is also a chance to start afresh. Your new college can be the launching pad for a new you, with a new look, with new friends and a newfound appreciation for nu rave music. Get a haircut, wear a cardigan or become annoyingly anti-war and liberal; however you do it, the world is your oyster at sixth form college.

What requirements are there?

A-levels for everyone!!

The A-level course is not for just anyone - it is for the elite. To get into a high-quality sixth-form you must attain five or more A*-C grades at your GCSEs, a feat achieved by only 50% of candidates. To get into a bog-standard, drug-addled, slightly dangerous, sixth form you'll probably get in with a couple of Es. Otherwise, a few GCSEs will be sufficient.

The most important requirement for undertaking A-Levels is a desire to learn (don't worry, you can always fake this). When registering, you may be required to attend an informal interview in which it is recommended to express some interest in your subjects. Simply telling the inquisitor that you're "not bovvered", while unquestionably witty, is a risky strategy.

So, once one has A-levels, what happens next?

Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life! A-levels are your ticket to university. With that piece of paper, you can swat aside those GNVQ chumps and walk straight into your halls of residence with your head held high. With your A-levels you can impress your new peers, your new lecturers and the opposite sex. Within three years you will have graduated and will have the world of employment at your feet, begging for your advanced levels of expertise.

So, when you're old and your grandchild says to you "Grandad, how come you're so rich and successful and have a hot young replacement for granny?" you can tell them, "Kid, I have A-levels."

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