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Explanation of GCSE and A-Levels to a Canadian fellow watch

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    I am a Canadian guy that is still confused about the GCSE and A-level system. Can anyone please summarize or elucidate this complex system?^^ Just curious how the education system is structured.

    (Original post by goldmaninvestor)

    I am a Canadian guy that is still confused about the GCSE and A-level system. Can anyone please summarize or elucidate this complex system?^^ Just curious how the education system is structured.
    GCSE's are usually sat in Year10 or mostly Year11. This is in secondary school and GCSE's are needed to do A-Level courses which you usually only do 3 or 4 subjects. A-Levels now you take 2 years to learn them when you're in Year12 and 13 but you sit the exams at the end of Y13. A-Levels are needed to go onto University courses.

    GCSEs are generally sat in the last two years of high school, with most being in the last year (year 11). We finish high school usually aged 15/16. They used to be graded A* to U but are now beginning to be graded 9-1 with 9 being a high A*.

    After this you can choose to either go to Sixth Form (more academic courses), College (a more applied course) or Apprenticeships (job training). A Levels are sat in sixth form and lasts 2 years with As Exams sat at the end of year 1 and A2 exams at the end of year 2 (all graded A* to U). Most subjects are linear now meaning only the grade you get in the second year counts and the first year grade is usually just used to help predict grades.

    The grades you get at A Level are generally what decide whether you get into specific uni courses or not.

    Hope I've helped and anymore questions just ask!

    Historically, school leaving age was 16 years old. So kids had to take GCSE exams during the summer of their final compulsory year, this was typically on subjects studied for the last two years of school (although some started the subject matter earlier). They used to be A* (top grade) down to G (or U = fail). A good pass was taken as a C or above. Recently, they've changed it to 1 to 9 (9 top) and a good pass taken as a 5. Typically, students take a large range of different subjects (around 9).

    Then, students who were good enough and wanted to could continue to age 18 and then take A levels (i.e. after two years of study). These are graded A* (top) to E (and U). Typically, students study 3 subjects. These are the exams that determine whether students are accepted onto a degree level course.

    Then there are a number of alternatives, BTEC and NVQ in place of both and IB (International studied) and Pre-U (fairly rare) in place of A levels.
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