CIFE colleges are reporting high demand for A-Level and GCSE Easter Revision courses this year.  This is being attributed to the recent reforms to the exam systems, with the new non-modular A levels being examined  for the first time this summer.

James Barton, Director of Easter Revision Courses at MPW College, London, explains: “The educational reforms are driving demand at the full A-Level stage largely due to uncertainty as to what the exams might be like in this new system.  Whilst the fundamental reasoning for taking a revision course remains the same, parents' readiness has increased because they see it as an investment now, for the benefit of securing the future.  Under the new reforms, retaking exams will not be as straightforward as it was under the old modular system.  Therefore this is the most risk-averse and perhaps cost-effective strategy.”

Although enquiries and enrolments for the linear A-Level subjects are proving most popular, the exam reforms are also increasing demand for GCSE revision courses.  “The upturn in demand for GCSE revision over the past two years has been maintained,” adds Barton. “Schools are continuing to increase their sixth-form entry requirements, but now there is an additional factor –  universities used to look at AS-Level grades as a marker of achievement.  From next year they will be relying more on GCSE grades when assessing applicants' capabilities.  Students and parents are aware of this, so there is more emphasis on ensuring top GCSE results.”

On the other hand, early booking trends suggest that AS-Level revision courses are in decline.  Mike Kirby, Principal of Ashbourne Independent Sixth Form College, comments, “Before the introduction of linear exams you might want to impress admissions tutors with your AS results at the end of the Lower Sixth, so you would be more tempted to do an AS-Level Easter Revision course.  Now, with so many schools and colleges abandoning AS-Levels, what's the point?  Also, we may find that universities are hamstrung because they may be obliged not to give preference to those candidates who can put AS results on their UCAS application forms.

Julia Southby, Principal, of Oxford Tutorial College, adds, “Providers will find it a challenge to marry new specification revision with the old specifications, which will impact on what courses, particularly for the old-style exams, are being offered during this transition period. These exams are new, with revised content, changes to exam papers and marking criteria, and although specimen exam questions are available, students can't reliably use old past papers as a guide to question styles and standards.” While CIFE colleges face the same uncertainty, their expertise in exam analysis and technique enables them to provide best-in-class support as students approach the new exams.

Barton concludes, “Parents are generally clued up on the A-Level reforms, which means schools have done a good job at effectively communicating the information.  What that means therefore is that we are seeing a customer who appreciates the need for the revision courses because they are the most effective way of revisiting the whole two years' worth of learning.”

For more information on Easter Revision courses run by CIFE colleges, go to

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