Closed consultation

Regulating Advanced Extension Awards

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Changes to A levels mean we need to alter some of our rules for AEAs. This consultation sets out our proposed changes.

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Consultation description

Advanced Extension Awards (AEAs) are qualifications taken alongside A levels, designed to stretch and challenge the most able students. Our rules permit AEAs in any subject, but there is currently only one available, in mathematics. Around 700 school-age students take this qualification each year. Some universities use it to inform entry decisions.

Proposed changes

Maintaining comparability with previous qualifications

We continue to require AEAs to:

  • be accessible to students who have taken an A level in the corresponding subject, without requiring any further study or learning
  • be more demanding than the corresponding A level, requiring students to demonstrate a greater depth of understanding
  • have two passing grades - Merit and Distinction

Reflecting A level reforms


  • only permit AEAs in subjects where there is at least one A level offered in England
  • require all future AEAs to be based on the Department for Education’s subject content for the corresponding A level
  • also require AEAs to reflect the assessment objectives we have set for the corresponding A level, but with a greater emphasis on the skills of analysis and evaluation
  • require AEAs to use exam assessment, with non-exam assessment only permitted in subjects where we consider it appropriate; in such cases, we would set regulations to specify the amount and form of any non-exam assessment

Securing standards

Our rules for setting grade boundaries in AEAs require exam boards to use the same principles we have adopted for reformed A levels. This will mean exam boards will need to have regard to an appropriate range of evidence when setting grade boundaries.


Consultation on regulating Advanced Extension Awards

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Published 8 February 2018