Advanced Extension Award

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The Advanced Extension Awards were a type of UK school-leaving qualification usually taken in the final year of schooling (age 17/18), and designed to allow students to "demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skills to the full".

They were introduced in 2002, in response to the British Government's Excellence in Cities report, as a successor to the S-level examination – and aimed at the top 10% of students in the British A Level tests. They were assessed completely by external examinations.


For each subject, only 50-100 students in the country received a Distinction.

According to,[1] in 2004, 50.4% of the 7246 entrants failed to achieve a grade at all (fail), indicating that the awards are fulfilling their role in separating the elite. Only 18.3% of students attained the top of the two grades available, the Distinction, with the next 31.3% of students receiving the grade of Merit. Given the fact that only the top students in the country sat these examinations, these results indicate that the AEAs were successful at rewarding only the 50-100 students that were most able in a particular subject.

It was possible to obtain an AEA distinction in more than one subject; however given the rarity of AEA distinctions, this was uncommon.

Available subjects[edit]

Due to the small numbers of candidates for each subject, the exam boards divided the subjects offered amongst themselves - so unlike for A-Levels, each AEA was only offered by one board.


The last AEA examinations across the full range of subjects took place in June 2009 with results issued in August 2009. After this time the Advanced Extension Award was withdrawn for all subjects except Mathematics.[2] This came after the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) decided that the new A* grade being offered at A level will overlap with the purpose of the AEA, thus rendering them unnecessary. However, the AEA in Mathematics was extended until June 2012, as confirmed by Edexcel and the QCA. This was because it met a "definite need", meaning the A* grade was still not viewed as being challenging enough.[3][4] On 2 June 2011 Edexcel announced that the AEA was being extended yet further for Mathematics, until June 2015.[5] It has been extended further up to 2017.[6]

Many[who?] still maintain that the A-level A* grade is still too easy for the most intelligent students, and that AEAs, or similar examinations are still necessary for all subjects in order to distinguish the most intelligent students.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ | Advanced extension awards 2004
  2. ^ JCQ | Withdrawal of Advanced Extension Award (AEA) specifications Archived July 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Edexcel: Advanced Extension Award (AEA) Extended!
  4. ^ QCA | Advanced Extension Awards Archived March 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Edexcel: Mathematics Advanced Extension Award (AEA) extended further until 2015
  6. ^ [1]

External links[edit]