Degrees are qualifications studied after leaving school education, generally after year 13 when a student has completed their A-levels. This used to be a fairly unusual thing for a young person to do, particularly someone from a less than privileged background, but it has become much more popular, and now 75% of 18 year olds apply to attend a university.

At Blue Tutors we frequently receive requests for degree level tuition. This is probably because we have a reputation for being a very academic tuition agency, and the majority of our tutors are from Oxford or Cambridge, so are the best academics in the country.

At the start of a student's last year of school study, they apply to a maximum of 6 universities through an organisation called UCAS. It is then the university (or college if Oxford or Cambridge) that decides whether to offer the student a place, and if so, what results to require from the student in their A-levels, or equivalent qualifications.

It's common for student not to achieve the results required by their selected university, and in that situation they have the option to attend a university clearing. Clearing is where a university advertises the places that they still have available, and a student can apply to that university, and hope that their achieved grades are sufficient to win a place.

A major difference to the system described above is in Scotland, where most university courses last for four years, and students apply to university aged 17, after completing Scottish Highers. However, many students opt to study Advanced in year 13, and continue onto a three year course at university.

Degree Subjects

At degree level the options for subjects to study become even more varied than at A-level. However, students also become more specialised, often studying only one subject for three years.

The award that a university graduate receives is generally a BA (Bachelor of Arts), or a BSc (Bachelor of Sciences). Two undergraduate courses, Medicine and Engineering tend to last longer than a bachelor's degree, with Medicine lasting just under 6 years, and including a lot of clinical experience, and Engineering lasting 4 years.

A-level Examining Boards and Grading System

In the UK each university sets its own exams, and marks its own students papers. Obviously this makes it difficult to compare two graduates' degrees, and the results received in those degrees. The intention is for there to be equality across universities in terms of the grades they award, but the better universities will tend to set harder exams, and consequently their awards are worth more.

The grading system consists of 4 clear grades; assuming someone graduates with honours they will either be placed in the 1st class (1st), 2nd class 1st division (2-1), 2nd class 2nd division (2-2), or 3rd class (3rd).

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