• What is A-Level
  • After students have a finished two-year full time O-Level, IGCSE or GCSE programme of different subjects, they can start General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (A-Level) course immediately, which are always known as A-levels.  High school graduates from Great Britain always consider A-Level as the most important preparation and path to universities. It is very similar to the 3-year high school preparation for the entrance exam before going to college in China. It is the same as senior high to university first year in China, grade 12 and university first year in US and Australia.

    Meanwhile, over 160 universities in different countries worldwide have recognized A-Level. With their A-Level results, students could apply for universities in English speaking countries such as US, Canada, Australia and Great Britain, as well as universities in the European Union, Hong Kong and Macau. In Singapore, A-Level exams are used directly as the university entrance standard. Students from A-Level courses are favoured by all famous universities globally. Therefore, Chinese education experts call A-Level courses the “Worldwide university entrance exam that suits Chinese students most”. To obtain an A-Level certificate, a student needs to pass at least three A-Level exams. If students want to apply for top universities, A*s or A’s should be achieved for at least 4 subjects; for good universities, at least B should be achieved.

    A-Level courses are divided into two-year programmes that are AS and A2.  From January 2nd or May 6th, students will sit for exams in each unit of work. By the end of A2, the student’s result will be totaled from A* to U. U means the first year of A-Level has been failed. In this case, students could choose to stop learning in AS and obtain an AS certificate, which may be useful when applying for certain universities. However, a student must complete both years of study with a completed result sheet for entering a university, because A* does not exist in the AS program. During the year of AS study, students will obtain an “estimated result”, which is used to apply for universities and makes the AS programme extremely important. During the A2 year, students need to complete the other half of the A-Level course. Based on the estimated result from the AS year, universities will send admission letters to students.  Students need to be well prepared for the A2 year, which is the most tense and challenging year. The lowest goal for students is to achieve the A-Level result required by universities through the UCAS system.

  • Why Choose The A-Level Course
  • There are many exam courses provided for Pre-University students. Why do so many students choose the A-Level course provide by Edexcel? Main reasons include:

    A great many of countries with world famous universities accept the A-Level result, such as Great Britain, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other commonwealth countries. GCE A from Edexcel thus is known as “the golden key to universities”.

    Beginning in 1838, Edexcel Academic exams have had a good reputation due to their long history. Two educational departments from the British government (QCA and JCQ) guarantee the exams are reliable under the management of QCA and JCQ. The exam papers and times are globally standardized, which ensured this exam has the same level, standards and quality. Edexcel’ GCE A result is recognised by top universities in both the UK and USA. Those facts have brought Edexcel Exams worldwide fame.

    The depth of learning – A-Level is a comprehensive high school course. It is not only the “worldwide university entrance exam”, but it also focuses on developing students’ capabilities such as self-study, analysis and practical training, which will benefit students for all their whole life. GCE A doesn’t require students to learn a great many subjects; it has only three to four subjects. However the expertise for study is required in each subject. They are helpful for students to determine a main area of research and be well prepared for their undergraduate study.

    Flexibility – Firstly, Edexcel continuously updates the GCE A syllabus according to the latest developments in society, economy and technology. Secondly, the module exams are used in A-Level, which means students could study in different modules and focus in the same major for certificate.

  • What is IGCSE?
  • IGCSE is short for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education. In the UK, students always start this programme from Grade10. It is the same as the high school graduate in US, CEE in Hong Kong or high school entrance exam in Mainland China.

    IGCSE is widely acknowledged by educational institutions worldwide. IGCSE is not a total result for an exam. Students will have exams in many different subjects, which are similar to the AP or SAT exams. Exam taking techniques are taught in IGCSE, thus can be also implemented to prepare for the two types of exams. Students could express opinions and specialties in some of the subjects, have advantages over other subjects that they may not be so good at.

    The exam date is usually in May or June. Levels are divided from A* to U, of which U means fail. To achieve the A-Level standard in one subject, students must prove that they could obtain A* to C at IGCSE. If the student plans to apply for a good university in two years, s/he must obtain at least C’s in four to five subjects. Certainly if s/he wants to study in a top university, high grades are required.

  • Do the teaching materials for IGCSE correspond to the grade / year that students
  • GCSE is the main exam which British students complete in the first level of secondary school, which is a diploma of junior high school in the UK and similar to middle school graduate certificate in Mainland China. It is the course provided in Grade 10 and Grade 11 by middle schools in the UK. IGCSE is part of global exams provided by Cambridge International Examinations (CiE) and Edexcel. The IGCSE certificate is acknowledged by all English speaking countries and regions. This exam is similar to Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT).

    CISCD will conduct a writing test and an interview. Then they will go to class upon their own levels. In CISCD, academic lessons are designed particularly for each student. The education system in other schools is Chinese; while the British education system is implemented in CISCD. They are totally different. Teaching materials are also totally different.

  • Who have designed questions for A-Level?
  • All syllabus, lessons and exams are designed by official exam institutions in the UK.

    Currently following four A-Level exams are acknowledged in the UK:

    Edexcel Exam Centre: A-Level exams by Edexcel / Cambridge are supervised and administered by the Qualification and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and it is the third level course in the National Qualification Framework (NQF). Edexcel covers 70% A-Level exams all over Great Britain. It is known as the A-Level Exam Center with the longest history, most senior qualification and widest acknowledgement in the UK. Meanwhile, it accepts registrations from both local and overseas students. Edexcel is the only one that owns two A-Level Exam Centers both in the UK and abroad.

    OCR and AQA: They both share the final 30% market of British students. Only registration from local students from UK is accepted.

    CIE: Only registration from overseas students is accepted.

  • What is the structure of the GCE A-Level Exam?
  • Generally, students need to provide the university with results of three to four subjects when applying, which means they need to take three to four different subjects, such as Mathematics, Chemistry and Economics. Capable students can also take more subjects for more options to choose the major in university. Six exams (except for accounting) are required for each subject, which means 6 units.

  • Does going abroad after finishing the A-Level Exam differ from the foundation pr
  • Take Chinese students who are going to study in the UK for example. The following main ways of study abroad are introduced:

    The first is going to A-Level programme abroad, which means going into a high school in the UK.

    The second is going to a programme of University Foundation Year (UFY) abroad first; then going to university through UFY. Those foundation programmes were formed by local language schools or certain universities from the educational institutions. Therefore, students could only enter universities listed in the foundation. UFY usually takes one year, and the main purpose is to improve English so to achieve the language requirement (IELTS) required by universities in the foundation system. However, the majors are not so systematic and strict required.

    The third way is entering International Foundation Year (IFY) in universities of Mainland China. Then students go to overseas universities through IFY programmes. IFY is very similar to UFY except the study location is within China. Therefore, IFY students, as same as UFY students, may enter limited universities. The study options are narrow. If going through IFY to study overseas, a lot of excellent Chinese students would lose the chance of going to top universities abroad.

    Another way is going to cooperated programs among universities. Those programmes usually are unions between one Chinese university and one overseas college or university. Students will transfer to the overseas university or college after studying one to two years in China, which are known as ‘2+2’ or ‘1+3’. This kind of cooperation is similar to UFY and IFY, so options are very limited.

    Students can also apply for undergraduate or postgraduate programmes through some agencies. This requires parents to be very familiar with overseas high education institutions. To apply for university that suits you, you have to do research on the employed agency so as to avoid being sent to a ‘bad university’. Otherwise, you might obtain a certificate that is not acknowledged by China Education Bureau after spending a great deal of money and efforts. This is therefore risky.

    From the brief introduction of ways to go study abroad, A-Level is the mainstream course in high schools of the UK. It is acknowledged by all regular universities in 160 countries; it is the best way for outstanding students in China to go and study in top universities worldwide. In conclusion, going to world-famous universities through taking A-Levels is an internationally authorized way that suits Chinese students.

  • Is A Level of high educational quality?
  • A-Level is considered as the course with the highest educational quality all over the world. It is considered as the result for entrance exam by 11,000 universities in more than 160 countries, which is also known as Gold Standard of British Education. Outstanding A-Level exam results are considered as the key to enter worldwide top universities. As long as students have passed A-Level exams, they are certain to receive “admission letters” from world top universities afterwards.

  • What is the age requirement for students in IGCSE and A-Level?
  • IGCSE courses in CISCD suits students who graduated from middle school and entered the first high school year in China. Some of the outstanding students from second year of middle school may also study here after passing the test. A-Level suits outstanding students from the second year of high school and senior high.

  • Compared to courses in Chinese schools, is A Level easier?
  • There are lots of differences between two education systems. Chinese education system aims on how to pass exams, which focuses on difficulties and memorizing. A lot of students could obtain high scores but may forget right after the exam.

    Courses provided at A-Level do not only focus on challenging different concepts. Usually the difficulty of exam is the same as that of textbooks and tests. It might be considered ‘easier’ compared to the Chinese education system, and it defines difficulty on clear boundaries. However, A-Level covers more content and it focuses on understanding and application of knowledge. For instance, Physics provides students with content about the latest inventions or information in the field of Astronomy; Mathematics contains information related to mechanics. Many subjects are not in the current high school system, too, such as further Mathematics, Business, Economics, Accounting and Drama. Taking the Physics exam for example. There is a large number of calculations, calculator and formula reference are allowed for use in exams; the analysis and explanation of concepts and phenomenon in Physics is added. In a lot of multiple-choice questions, students are not only required to give the answer, but also explain why they chose the answer. Without explanation, no score would be given even if the answer was right.

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