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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.
Common to misconceptions, Grades F through to U are still passes, and do not stand for "fail" or "ungraded" A Levels were introduced in 1951 as a standardised school-leaving qualification, replacing the Higher School Certificate.
The examinations could be taken on a subject-by-subject basis, according to the strengths and interests of the student.
AS is still offered, but as a separate qualification.
AS grades no longer count towards the final A-level.
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.The Scholarship Level was renamed the S-Level in 1963.Quite soon rising numbers of students taking the A-level examinations required more differentiation of achievement below the S-Level standard. Between 19 the grades were norm-referenced: The O grade was equivalent to a GCE Ordinary Level pass which indicated a performance equivalent to the lowest pass grade at Ordinary Level.Three is usually the minimum number of A Levels required for university entrance, with some universities specifying the need for a fourth AS subject.There is no limit set on the number of A Levels one can study, and a number of students take five or more A Levels.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.A wide variety of subjects are offered at A-level by the five exam boards.Although exam boards often alter their curricula, this table shows the majority of subjects which are consistently available for study.Following the reforms, while it is still possible to take the AS Level as a stand-alone qualification, those exams do not count toward the full A Level, for which all exams are taken at the end of the course.An AS course usually comprises two modules, or three for science subjects and Mathematics; full A Level usually comprises four modules, or six for sciences and Mathematics.