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What are A-Levels?

The A-Level (“Advanced Level”) is a subject-based qualification for students completing secondary education in the UK. Students typically begin the A-Level syllabus in Year 12. They complete the final exam by the end of Year 13, their final year. During the university application process, students present these grades. There are no specific subject requirements in A-Level. Students are free to choose any combination of courses they wish to take. As a result, students will typically choose their subjects based on what they wish to study at university. This is because most degrees require specific A-Level subjects for entry.

When do you take A-Levels?

Students usually take 3-4 subjects in Year 12. Most will cut back to 3 final subjects by the beginning of Year 13, their final year of high school or secondary school. Near the end of Year 13, students will then sit the final examinations. Some subjects also include coursework, which students will usually complete throughout the year.

Can you take A-Levels outside of the UK?

Yes. While A-Levels are mostly taken in the UK, they are offered in countries outside of the UK as well. In Hong Kong, some schools offer International A-Levels (IAL) instead. IALs are considered to be the international equivalent of A-Levels.

Can you self study for A-Levels?

Yes, it is possible to self-study the subjects. You must register with the relevant examination board. Different exam boards include CAIE or CIE (Cambridge Assessment International Education), Edexcel, OCR, and AQA. Depending on which exam board you choose, you will need to make sure you follow their syllabus closely. This is important because course content may differ slightly across different exam boards. The A-Level examinations are offered at certified testing centres around Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) lists the centres on their website.

Can you get accepted to US universities/universities outside the UK with A-Levels?

Yes. A-Levels are internationally recognised. Most US universities or universities outside the UK will accept them as valid certification. On top of this, many universities will still require additional basic requirements as proof of English proficiency. These may include the SAT or ACT, and/or TOEFL. Requirements may vary depending on the university. You must double check with the school directly if you are unsure.

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