As students enter the latter stages of their compulsory education they are prepared for external examinations of the ‘International General Certificate of Secondary Education’ (iGCSE).
iGCSE subjects are studied in more depth from previous learning and over the course of two academic years usually between the ages of 14-16, but sometimes longer. External examinations are typically set at the end of these two academic years and graded on a 9 to 1 level scale (level 9 being outstanding).
It is generally regarded that studying five iGCSE subjects is the minimum, while ten and more subjects to be challenging. However, this is dependent on each students’ individual circumstances and their study plan.
Once students complete their iGCSE education, they can be prepared for the external examinations of the ‘Advanced Level’ (A-Levels).
A-Levels are studied over the course of two academic years usually between the ages of 16-18 but in some cases, longer. External examinations are typically taken at the end of the two academic years and graded on a A* to E level scale (A* being outstanding).
A-Level subjects are studied in considerably more rigorous depth and breadth from iGCSE learning. A-levels are designed for students who want to focus and specialise on three subject areas of their interest and knowledge/skill suitability. The importance of achieving good iGCSE grades of level 5 and above, are a realistic prerequisite, as to whether the student will be able to assume A-Level study.
For those students that have completed their secondary education outside of the British system prior to A-Level study, equivalency grades will be taken into account. In some cases, it might be recommended that a student undertakes a ‘Bridging Year’ (please read below) before pursuing A-Level study.
A-Levels are the highly respected entry qualification for undergraduate degree programmes by universities worldwide and not just in the United Kingdom. Entrance to university depends upon attaining the specific grades set by each university and their requirements for degree programme type. This also combined with results already achieved at compulsory secondary education.
While students enter university with three A-Level subjects, it is usually recommended for students to study four subjects and or the Extended Project Qualification, (please read below) at least in the first year of their A-Level study.
The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is an officially recognised standalone qualification that students can study alongside their A-Level subjects. The EPQ is designed to develop students’ critical thinking, problem-solving, research and independent learning skills. The EPQ is usually taught across the first year of A-Level learning and submitted for moderation the following year. Good standing EPQs are held in high regard by universities and can boost a student’s chances of successful application.
For those students that have either not achieved the required grades in their iGCSE examinations or have come directly from another educational system, but are still wishing to still pursue A-Level study, a Bridging Year might be recommended.
This would normally consist of studying 4/5 iGCSEs intensely over the course of one academic year. In many cases, a Bridging Year can help students to be much better prepared for A-Level study and eventual university application process.