Trying to be Pro-active

hello all,

I am currently awaiting my date to join as a Writer.
I have passed everything including doing my RNAC. But have been told by my AFCO that it will 100% be at least May before I join...which I understand and accept

I am now thinking about undertaking some qualifications in order to gain the 180 UCAS points needed to join as an officer.
I feel I would rather attempt this in the mean time rather then simply looking at the calender wishing the time away.

I should have done my A-levels at school, but for one reason and another I left at 17.
I know I am capable of at least attempting this, and if I were to do well, changing my application to an officer.

My question is, does anyone know or can anyone recommend any courses / qualifications which will result in the 180 points, which would be possible to do in around 6 - 12 months??

Aha - an area in which I have some expertese.

If you go to a College you will be limited in the time scale under which you can complete a qualification. Most colleges will expect you to complete an A Level across two years. Some will agree to do it over one. All will expect you to fit in with their academic cycle.

The thing that needs to be understood is that if you are in a rush, then there are no cheap options. If you have not done any A Levels before (or any other equivalent Level 3 qualification on the QAA's FHEQ), and you are under the age of 25, then you are legally entitled to sit the equivalent of two A Levels at the tax payer's expense. However, you would have to register to start in September 2011 in most instances, and even then it may take two years. You see the problem I am sure.

If you are willing to pay, then you can sit A Level examinations as a Private Candidate - that is to say, you do not officially enrol with a compliant college, you simply pay to be able to sit the examinations with them. The best provider of this I have encountered is Campbell Harris:

The main advantage of sitting as a Private Candidate is that you can sit full A Levels for whenever the examinations are scheduled. Virtually all A Level examinations are scheduled in both January and June/July. The earliest possible date you could sit all examinations would thus be January 2011 - however, unless you are proficient in the subject matter of your chosen subjects, I would not advise this. You may also want to liaise with your AFCO about the next available intake date.

Now the other thing you have to consider is subject options. First of all, you must choose subjects the Navy find acceptable (not all meet this requirement), and the subjects you choose must not be substantially similar (Maths/Futher Maths etc).

You then also need to (ideally) choose A Level subjects that do not require the submission of any coursework components and are entirely assessed at examination. The reason for this is because if you sit exams as a private candidate you must arrange separately for the submission of any coursework, and that in itself can prove a nightmare (and prodigiously expensive). The way to do this is to visit the websites of the Examination Boards (AQA, Edexcel, OCR) and browse through the A Level subjects offered, making note of those that do not require the submission of coursework (off the top of my head, Government & Politics, Sociology and Law are three examples of this).

Once you have selected these, you must retrieve your candidate ID number (the one used at school when sitting GCSE examinations), make a note of the subjects you want and contact one of the colleges that agree to accept private candidates.

The cost is usually £70/examination (somewhere in the region of that). Most A Levels require four examinations. To sit two full A Levels (which, with good grades, would meet the 180 UCAS points requirement) would therefore cost up to £560. If you were feeling exceptionally confident, you could meet this requirement with one A Level and one A/S Level, both at A* grade, cutting the cost somewhat.

If you want to do it, then go for it. I was in a rather odd position of having a degree but no A Levels, hence my grasp of the details of the process. Any questions I will try and answer for you.
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