A-Level practicals are a series of experiments and set activities that students are expected to carry out in a laboratory while studying science A-Levels. Once well practiced, the practicals themselves are then assessed and marked by an assessor (usually the course teacher) ready for submission with the student’s written examination papers.
Obviously, when you’re learning A-Levels online as a distance learner, you’re not going to be able carry out the experiments and activities within your own home. So how exactly are you meant to complete the A-Level practicals? This blog aims to explain it all.
A-Level Practical Theory
Although you don’t have a laboratory in your house, you can still cover the theory aspect of practicals during your study. Your course materials will cover what experiments and activities you need to carry out proficiently in order to be assessed for them.
Depending on the A-Level subject you are studying (Biology, Chemistry or Physics), you will have up to 16 practicals to complete, with 13 of these being core ones (the ones you must pass). It’s advisable you read up on what they are and what you will be expected to be able to demonstrate and where possible, watch videos of the practicals being carried out on YouTube.
Practising the Practicals
Just because you’re a distance learner, it doesn’t mean you can’t practice the practical element of your course(s) before assessment. Once you have found an examination centre, they will be able to give you a timetable of available sessions where you can attend and carry out the needed experiments and activities before you get formally assessed on them. This is why it’s always advisable to find an examination centre early.
If you just want to practice the practicals and get some face to face guidance on them, there are training centres that do just the practical element of courses, for example Biograd in Liverpool, you can attend there either on daily basis or through a residential week long course to practice. There are several centres like this around the UK and they can be easily found with a quick Google search.
Getting A-level Practicals Assessed
When you feel you are proficient and ready to be assessed on the practical element of your A-Level course, you can then arrange to be assessed on these. Your practicals will need to be assessed and carried out at the same examination centre where you will be sitting your written papers, but do not need to be assessed during the examination period. You can opt to do your practical element at any point of your studies, which is advisable as it will take the pressure off you when you’re preparing for your written exams.
Opting not to do A-Level Practicals
In some circumstances, you can opt not to do your practical element for your A-Level course. This isn’t advisable though at the practical element does account for 20% of your mark, so by not doing them, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage from the start.
However, if you’re reason for doing the science A-Level is for personal interest or just to add a few more UCAS points to your university application, then you can opt not to partake in the practicals. This will simply mean that when you get your final certificate, it will state that you opted not to do the practicals on the certificate, but you will still achieve a grade.