Generally, the requirement to study at A-Level depends on the school. The most common requirement is five GCSE's at grade C-A*, sometimes including both English and Maths, but some Sixth Forms/Colleges will let you resit them if you didn't manage to get at least a C in them. Sixth Form's that are part of prestigious private schools or grammar schools generally require more/better grades, such as B's in Maths and English, two A's, and a string of B's and C's.
The A in A-Level stands for 'Advanced'-Level, and so it should. A-Levels are not neccessarily confusing or hard, but they are a LOT more work than GCSE's, and in a shorter space of time. The first half of the A-Level is the Advanced Subsidery or AS-Level, the second year is Advanced 2 or A2-Level, you complete both to get the full A-Levels.
The most common amount of A-Levels taken per person is either three (for the average students) or four (for smart students). However, some people actually pic even more, or less.
The average time spent doing A-Levels is two years, but some people end up doing three years for various reasons, such as failing a year, wanting to do extra AS's, or wanting to change subjects.
Generally after A-Levels, people go on to study at University or a skills/trade school or college.
Person 2: You mean you werent forced into them by your parents/teachers/both?
Person 1: Oh no, I'm not 16 yet, but believe me when I am, I will be forced to take them
Person 2: That blows.
Person 1: Yup
(and so the boring conversation continues)
Numerous students choose to take this exam after sitting for the O-levels (Ordinary Level Examinations), which tends to make others wonder why one would want to experience this suffering yet again at an advanced level.
Prior to the A-Levels, one will spend two years preparing for the examinations at a Junior College. During this period of time, the student will go through lectures, tutorials and various phases of regret.
It is commonplace for many students to believe that taking the A-levels was the biggest mistake of their life, in which they are correct.
Person 2: My A-Levels.
Person 1: What is that?
Person 2: The biggest mistake of my life.