It is permissible to take A Levels in languages one already speaks fluently, or courses with overlapping content, even if not always fully recognized by universities.
The pass grades for A Levels are, from highest to lowest, A*, A, B, C, D and E.
This encouraged specialization and in-depth study of three to four subjects.
The A Level at first was graded as simply distinction, pass or fail (although students were given an indication of their marks, to the nearest 5%), candidates obtaining a distinction originally had the option to sit a Scholarship Level paper on the same material, to attempt to win one of 400 national scholarships.
Criticisms of A level grading continued, and when Curriculum 2000 was introduced, the decision was made to have specific criteria for each grade, and the 'N' grade was abolished.
In 1989, Advanced Supplementary (AS) awards were introduced; they were intended to broaden the subjects a pupil studied post 16, and were to complement rather than be part of a pupil's A-level studies.The Curriculum 2000 reforms also replaced the S-Level extension paper with the Advanced Extension Award.The Conservative Party under Prime Minister David Cameron initiated reforms for A Levels to change from modular to the current linear structure.AS is still offered, but as a separate qualification.AS grades no longer count towards the final A-level.Initially, a student might study three subjects at A-Level and one at AS-Level, or often even four subjects at A-Level.Curriculum 2000 was introduced in September 2000, with the first new examinations taken in January and June of the following year.The criterion referencing scheme came into effect for the summer 1987 exams as the system set examiners specific criteria for the awarding of B and E grades to candidates, and then divided out the other grades according to fixed percentages.Rather than awarding an Ordinary Level for the lowest pass, a new "N" (for Nearly passed) was introduced.The number of A-level exams taken by students can vary.A typical route is to study four subjects at AS level and then drop down to three at A2 level, although some students continue with their fourth subject.