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What exactly is A-levels? watch

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    Hey, so I finished my IB this year and am on a gap year.
    I was thinking of doing a few A-level subjects independently, and the related research brought forth several queries.

    1. What exactly is A-levels? What are Edexcel, Cambridge, OCR, and AQA? (I'm super confused with this distinction; are they different organisations for ultimately the same examination? or are they independent of one another?)
    2. What is the difference between A levels, AS levels and A2 levels? Does 'A' mean that the whole of it is assessed together? What exactly is this
    3. As a non-UK student, will I be eligible to independently study and take the exams? (Okay, I guess I should send an email to them, but then that can be done only after 1 is clearer)

    Thanks for helping out
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    (Original post by ibprocrastinator)
    Hey, so I finished my IB this year and am on a gap year.
    I was thinking of doing a few A-level subjects independently, and the related research brought forth several queries.

    1. What exactly is A-levels? What are Edexcel, Cambridge, OCR, and AQA? (I'm super confused with this distinction; are they different organisations for ultimately the same examination? or are they independent of one another?)
    2. What is the difference between A levels, AS levels and A2 levels? Does 'A' mean that the whole of it is assessed together? What exactly is this
    3. As a non-UK student, will I be eligible to independently study and take the exams? (Okay, I guess I should send an email to them, but then that can be done only after 1 is clearer)

    Thanks for helping out
    1. A-levels are a British qualification taken right before heading off to university. The qualification is offered in many different subjects by many different exam boards (like Edexcel, OCR, AQA, etc). At the end, you receive a grade from A*-U in each subject you have taken (A* being the highest and U the lowest). Although you get the same qualification, different exam boards have different means of testing students and have different content. It is up to you to decide which exam board to pick (e.g. I have picked Edexcel).

    2. A-level is the full qualification you receive after studying a collection of subjects (usually 3-5) for two years. AS is the first year of A-levels and 'half' of an A-level, taken by people who are dropping that subject after one year. A2 is the second and final year of A-levels (so usually doing A2 Maths is the same as completing A-level Maths).

    3. A-levels can be taken internationally and privately, simply register with your nearest British Council to take the exams when you feel you are ready (sessions are usually in June, with CIE doing it in June and November).
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    (Original post by mathcon)
    1. A-levels are a British qualification taken right before heading off to university. The qualification is offered in many different subjects by many different exam boards (like Edexcel, OCR, AQA, etc). At the end, you receive a grade from A*-U in each subject you have taken (A* being the highest and U the lowest). Although you get the same qualification, different exam boards have different means of testing students and have different content. It is up to you to decide which exam board to pick (e.g. I have picked Edexcel).

    2. A-level is the full qualification you receive after studying a collection of subjects (usually 3-5) for two years. AS is the first year of A-levels and 'half' of an A-level, taken by people who are dropping that subject after one year. A2 is the second and final year of A-levels (so usually doing A2 Maths is the same as completing A-level Maths).

    3. A-levels can be taken internationally and privately, simply register with your nearest British Council to take the exams when you feel you are ready (sessions are usually in June, with CIE doing it in June and November).
    Oh my god. Thank you so much for taking the effort to type out such a comprehensive and lucid description. I think I understand it a lot better now.
    Also, are all of them affiliated to Cambridge or are they independent?

    P.S. Can I ask you why Edexcel?
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    (Original post by ibprocrastinator)
    Oh my god. Thank you so much for taking the effort to type out such a comprehensive and lucid description. I think I understand it a lot better now.
    Also, are all of them affiliated to Cambridge or are they independent?

    P.S. Can I ask you why Edexcel?
    Cambridge International Examinations or CIE is an entirely different exam board to Edexcel just as Edexcel is to AQA and so on. Only CIE and OCR are affiliated with Cambridge (CIE being for internationals mostly). Otherwise, every exam board is independent from the other. It's not so much as I chose Edexcel, but rather my school that chose for us.
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    (Original post by mathcon)
    Cambridge International Examinations or CIE is an entirely different exam board to Edexcel just as Edexcel is to AQA and so on. Only CIE and OCR are affiliated with Cambridge (CIE being for internationals mostly). Otherwise, every exam board is independent from the other. It's not so much as I chose Edexcel, but rather my school that chose for us.
    Oh, okay. Alright
    Thank you so much!
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    (Original post by ibprocrastinator)
    Oh, okay. Alright
    Thank you so much!
    No problem. Have you thought about the subjects you want to do?
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    (Original post by ibprocrastinator)
    Hey, so I finished my IB this year and am on a gap year.
    I was thinking of doing a few A-level subjects independently, and the related research brought forth several queries.

    1. What exactly is A-levels? What are Edexcel, Cambridge, OCR, and AQA? (I'm super confused with this distinction; are they different organisations for ultimately the same examination? or are they independent of one another?)
    2. What is the difference between A levels, AS levels and A2 levels? Does 'A' mean that the whole of it is assessed together? What exactly is this
    3. As a non-UK student, will I be eligible to independently study and take the exams? (Okay, I guess I should send an email to them, but then that can be done only after 1 is clearer)

    Thanks for helping out
    1. A-levels is achieving a GCE (general certificate of education) and is completed before university as it is a qualification of entry into university. Edexcel, OCR etc. are different exam boards. Basically companies/charities which write different papers containing slightly different content from eachother for each subject so an Edexcel Maths paper will be slightly different from an OCR Maths paper but they each are equivalent weightings towards achieving an A level grade.
    2. AS levels are half of an A level (though I think they've changed it to just 40% now) and are completed before A2 levels so you can get a grade in that which will be 50%/40% now I think of your full A level. A2 is the second year of A level. By completing both other the two years or some people sit them both in one year you achieve one full A level grade.
    3. You can do them independently if you want to study and exam.
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    (Original post by mathcon)
    No problem. Have you thought about the subjects you want to do?
    Hey, so I had taken Math HL, Economics HL, Business Management HL, English A Literature SL, Environmental Systems and Societies SL, French SL Ab Initio, and Psychology SL in IB.
    I was debating with myself whether I should diversify the subjects in A-Levels, so as to bring forth a more rounded application (probably just because I want to do a few more humanities/science based courses). So probably, Biology, History, Geography and Maths. I'm not really certain tho
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    (Original post by tcameron)
    1. A-levels is achieving a GCE (general certificate of education) and is completed before university as it is a qualification of entry into university. Edexcel, OCR etc. are different exam boards. Basically companies/charities which write different papers containing slightly different content from eachother for each subject so an Edexcel Maths paper will be slightly different from an OCR Maths paper but they each are equivalent weightings towards achieving an A level grade.
    2. AS levels are half of an A level (though I think they've changed it to just 40% now) and are completed before A2 levels so you can get a grade in that which will be 50%/40% now I think of your full A level. A2 is the second year of A level. By completing both other the two years or some people sit them both in one year you achieve one full A level grade.
    3. You can do them independently if you want to study and exam.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this
    What subjects had you taken/are you doing at A-Level?
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    (Original post by mathcon)
    3. A-levels can be taken internationally and privately, simply register with your nearest British Council to take the exams when you feel you are ready (sessions are usually in June, with CIE doing it in June and November).
    To add to this Edexcel International (different from Edexcel) the exam board for international students that resembles Edexcel's (the UK one) closely have sessions in June, November and January.

    With that said, I think you'd be better off doing something more enriching with your gap year than A-Levels, given that you already have an IB qualification.

    (Original post by ibprocrastinator)
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    (Original post by ibprocrastinator)
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this
    What subjects had you taken/are you doing at A-Level?
    I finished A levels this June and took Chemistry, Biology, Geography and General Studies (+ Maths at AS)
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    (Original post by Zacken)
    To add to this Edexcel International (different from Edexcel) the exam board for international students that resembles Edexcel's (the UK one) closely have sessions in June, November and January.

    With that said, I think you'd be better off doing something more enriching with your gap year than A-Levels, given that you already have an IB qualification.
    Thank you for taking the time to respond to this
    Why do you think I shouldn't take the A-Levels? (just curious)
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    (Original post by tcameron)
    I finished A levels this June and took Chemistry, Biology, Geography and General Studies (+ Maths at AS)
    Oh, that's nice! What are you planning to do now? Will you be attending Uni?
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    (Original post by ibprocrastinator)
    Hey, so I had taken Math HL, Economics HL, Business Management HL, English A Literature SL, Environmental Systems and Societies SL, French SL Ab Initio, and Psychology SL in IB.
    I was debating with myself whether I should diversify the subjects in A-Levels, so as to bring forth a more rounded application (probably just because I want to do a few more humanities/science based courses). So probably, Biology, History, Geography and Maths. I'm not really certain tho
    Which university/s and which course are you thinking of applying for?
    If it's top UK universities (like Oxbridge or top Russesl Group unis) you're applying, they're not interested in 'a rounded application' with diversity in subjects. The only they're interested in how you're able and have potential in the subjects that's related to the course you're applying for. Their stance is very different from universities in US. They're not even interested in extra-curricular things unless that's related to the subject.

    So if you spend a year to strengthen your application, it'd be much better to find something you can do to explore the subject in a way that's outside and beyond what studying for standard exam-oriented course like A-levels, etc. etc.can do.
    And you're competing against applicants who've been concentrating their effort in quite quite narrow range of subjects that's relevant to the course they're applying for.

    Edit:
    Note 'Russell Group'
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Group

    http://russellgroup.ac.uk/about/
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    (Original post by ibprocrastinator)
    Thank you for taking the time to respond to this
    Why do you think I shouldn't take the A-Levels? (just curious)
    What Vincrows said above^
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    (Original post by vincrows)
    Which university/s and which course are you thinking of applying for?
    If it's top UK universities (like Oxbridge or top Russesl Group unis) you're applying, they're not interested in 'a rounded application' with diversity in subjects. The only they're interested in how you're able and have potential in the subjects that's related to the course you're applying for. Their stance is very different from universities in US. They're not even interested in extra-curricular things unless that's related to the subject.

    So if you spend a year to strengthen your application, it'd be much better to find something you can do to explore the subject in a way that's outside and beyond what studying for standard exam-oriented course like A-levels, etc. etc.can do.
    And you're competing against applicants who've been concentrating their effort in quite quite narrow range of subjects that's relevant to the course they're applying for.

    Edit:
    Note 'Russell Group'
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Group

    http://russellgroup.ac.uk/about/
    Hey, thank you for your answer. I fully comprehend the point that you are trying to put across, but I really do love to study which is why I even thought of taking A-Levels in the first place. It is not so much for a diverse application than for my own academic interest in those subjects. While I understand that fellow applicants may have rightly concentrated their effort on narrowing the range of subjects that must be highly pertinent to their chosen course, I am applying for Land Economy at Cambridge. And several other such courses that encourage A-Levels Geography, (but do not strictly require it). There are other things that I plan to do this year, undoubtedly, and this will just be an addition to it.
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    (Original post by ibprocrastinator)
    Hey, thank you for your answer. I fully comprehend the point that you are trying to put across, but I really do love to study which is why I even thought of taking A-Levels in the first place. It is not so much for a diverse application than for my own academic interest in those subjects. While I understand that fellow applicants may have rightly concentrated their effort on narrowing the range of subjects that must be highly pertinent to their chosen course, I am applying for Land Economy at Cambridge. And several other such courses that encourage A-Levels Geography, (but do not strictly require it). There are other things that I plan to do this year, undoubtedly, and this will just be an addition to it.
    Well, you really don't have to stick to high-school level exam study, and you shouldn't because you'll be in the position you can do it at higher and broader level without a constrain of regular curriculum.

    Remember large majority of competitive applicants have very high grades in relevant subjects. What gives some of them edge and makes even more competitive than others is what and how much they've been doing beyond and outside regular school curriculum (= exam-oriented)
    Doing A-level even though you already have IB will not give you this edge because you're basically staying on a same level you're on already.

    If you're applying for Land Ec or geography, there're many many opportunities to explore the subject. Read a lot of books/newspaper & magazine articles in topics you're interested and think and analyse what you've read, go to lectures/talks that's open to public, etc,etc,etc. If you look around and search with more open mind, I'm sure you'll find lots of things you can do.

    If you can only thrive in a standard format of 'school' education,Nakhichevan is passive learning, I don't think they'll think you're suitable to their course. They're looking for students who can rise above it.

    Edit:
    A-level is not something you can do 'part-time' as an addition to lot of things you seem to be planning, especially if you want to get competitive enough grade. It's quite demanding. That's why majority of a-level students only do 3 subjects.
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    (Original post by ibprocrastinator)
    Hey, thank you for your answer. I fully comprehend the point that you are trying to put across, but I really do love to study which is why I even thought of taking A-Levels in the first place. It is not so much for a diverse application than for my own academic interest in those subjects. While I understand that fellow applicants may have rightly concentrated their effort on narrowing the range of subjects that must be highly pertinent to their chosen course, I am applying for Land Economy at Cambridge. And several other such courses that encourage A-Levels Geography, (but do not strictly require it). There are other things that I plan to do this year, undoubtedly, and this will just be an addition to it.
    In that case perhaps doing some geography study might be useful, however doing more than one a-level may be more unnecessary. I understand you want to promote a well-rounded profile but IB has already given you a more unusual breath of study and unless I'm counting wrong you did 7 subjects not 6? Being well rounded is more than academic so travelling, working, volunteering, doing sport, all would make you seem more well rounded rather than someone who is focussed only on academics although I understand you will have done this in CAS already.
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    (Original post by ibprocrastinator)
    Oh, that's nice! What are you planning to do now? Will you be attending Uni?
    Yeah I'm about to start uni in like a weeks time
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    (Original post by Headingtonian)
    In that case perhaps doing some geography study might be useful, however doing more than one a-level may be more unnecessary. I understand you want to promote a well-rounded profile but IB has already given you a more unusual breath of study and unless I'm counting wrong you did 7 subjects not 6? Being well rounded is more than academic so travelling, working, volunteering, doing sport, all would make you seem more well rounded rather than someone who is focussed only on academics although I understand you will have done this in CAS already.
    Yes, I will probably consider doing the Geography module of A-levels.
    And indeed, you're counting right, I did an irregular Diploma with 7 subjects. I will surely think about other aspects of adding depth to my application. Thank you
 
 
 
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