A – Levels
The A Level (Advanced Level) is a subject-based qualification conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education, as well as a school leaving qualification offered by the educational bodies in the United Kingdom and the educational authorities of British Crown dependencies to students completing secondary or pre-university education. A number of countries, including Singapore, Kenya, Mauritius and Zimbabwe have developed qualifications with the same name as and a similar format to the British A Levels. Obtaining A Level or equivalent qualifications is generally required for university entrance.
A Levels are generally worked towards over two years and split into two parts, with one part studied in each year. The first part is known as the Advanced Subsidiary Level, A1 Level or AS Level (the AS Level acronym was previously used for the separate Advanced Supplementary Level qualification). The second part is known as the A2 Level and is more in depth and academically rigorous than the A1 Level. The AS Level is a qualification in its own right and the AS Level combined with the A2 Level forms the complete A Level qualification, with the exception of linear qualifications in which all of the A Level marks are obtained from exams taken in the second year. Up to June 2009 a third Special/Advanced Extension Award level was available for the brightest candidates.
A number of countries use A Levels as a school-leaving qualification. The A Levels taken by students in some countries often differ significantly from the A Levels taken in the United Kingdom.
A Levels are the secondary school leaving qualification offered in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. These are not compulsory, unlike GCSEs. In Scotland, A Levels are also offered by selected schools as an alternative school-leaving qualification in place of the Scottish Advanced Higher. The five main examination boards which administer British A Levels in the UK are:
Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA)
Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR)
Edexcel (Edexcel Pearson – London Examinations)
Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC)
Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA)
Edexcel and Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) also offer international versions of the British A Levels in the United Kingdom and worldwide.
The British variants of A/AS levels are also taken in many Commonwealth and former Commonwealth countries, as well as in examination centers worldwide. British international schools in foreign countries generally offer the British A Levels as offered through Edexcel or Cambridge International Examinations. At select examination centers, the British A Level exams may also be available to private candidates.