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ASA2 facts

* This month lower sixth-formers are taking the new AS-level exam. It is a distinct qualification taken after a year of study which can earn university entrance points.

* Pupils have been encouraged to take up to six subjects. Most students will continue with three or four in the upper sixth, with more exams after the second year of study, now called A2.

* Students at most state schools are also taking key skills exams in information technology, communication and use of number this smmer. A portfolio in each of these subjects has been completed.

* Vocational A-levels are also being taken for the first time. They are six-unit qualifications which take two years. Vocational AS-levels are also available in business, health and social care, IT and engineering.

* Last year sixth-formers sat 771,809 A-level papers. With the new qualifications clashing with the last cohort taking traditional A-levels, a 20 per cent increase in scripts is expected this year.

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