What is A-Level?

Advanced Level (A-Level) is the second part of GCE (General Certificate of Education) (the first part of GCE is O-Level (Ordinary Level)). It is being studied by students of Year 12 & 13 (or sixth form) from the age group 16-18 (in certain countries are age group 17-19).

A-Level is a 2-year course, and it is recognized as the standard assessment of a student’s suitability to enter universities’ courses. According to the British Council, A-levels are similar to the American Advanced Placements which are themselves equivalent to first year courses of America’s four year bachelor degrees.

Structure and Curriculums

At least 5 A*-C grades from GCSE or O-Level, including English and Mathematics are needed as a qualification to start A-Level.

A-Level is being offered by school’s sixth form, private colleges, and universities (normally it’s called Foundation Course in universities). Students may choose to take four to six subjects in A-Level, from the sciences categories (Advanced Maths, Maths, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, etc) or arts categories (Business Studies, Economics, Accounting, Arts, Music, Sociology etc).


A-Level is a qualification offered by education institutions in the UK. It is widely taken by students in Commonwealth and former Commonwealth countries.

A-Level course is considered very rigorous, and its certification is highly excepted by universities worldwide. Students normally will apply a placement in preferred universities prior to A-Level exams, with their predicted A-Level results from schools.

As the predicted A-Level results are graded by students’ teachers (which normally considered unreliable), universities still insisted an actual A-Level results before the final decision of placement, though students might be granted a place in the university earlier.

27 Replies to “What is A-Level?”

    • Hi Omer,

      We strongly suggest that you check with the university (or any higher qualification than diploma for your future study) on the required subjects at higher education level. Universities and/or bachelor programs’ entry requirements are usually based on subjects taken, not the amount of subjects. As long as you take the required subjects, you don’t have to worry.

  1. Hi I am an international student and I have 5 O level subjects and 1 Higher subject and I was wondering If I could take my A levels online and write them at a center which allows private candidates how long would it take me to finish 3-4 A level subjects and would I be allowed to do my A levels for eg maths which I have on Ordinary level would i be able to do A levels for maths if I revised/got myself a private tutor to do higher maths would I be able to pass my A levels for maths?

    • Hi Lean,

      Yes, you may take A-level as a private candidate. AS/A-level is typically a 2 year course wherein AS levels can be taken as a stand-alone qualification, or as the first part of an A-level course. Then A2 exams and coursework are added on to an AS level, bringing it up to A-level standard. Or you can choose to take all A-level course in the same examination series at the end of the course. You can refer to Assessment section in this article: http://www.igcsecentre.com/what-is-cambridge-international-as-a-level/ for assessment options.

      If you?ve completed O-level Math, yes you will be able to take Math at AS/A-level and if you think you will be able to get higher grades with a private tutor, you are free to do so.

  2. Hey igcse team , I am a student from India who’s has been repeating gases As level English for the past two years and still I am not able to make it yet and I am writing it this coming October/November session to.. Would you please give me few tips and advices about approaching the exam .. I really need to make it through this time

    • Hi Kimberly,
      Yes, we do have. We will launch the A-Level site soon. Please make sure you have signed up to receive our news at the right sidebar.

  3. Dear IGCSE Team,

    is it possible for EU but non-UK* adult citizens to take A-level exams without taking a course?

    *i. e. I don’t have O-levels

    Thank you!

  4. Thanks for your kind work!
    Can I take my O and A-Levels just online? And which centre in Uganda can I sit for my examinations?

    • Hi Maxwell,
      You can’t sit for your exams online. You must sit for your exam with an exam centre, such as a school or British Council.

  5. Hi there at IGCSE CENTRE,

    I’m an international student from India doing my A levels right now. My subjects include – Math, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science, D&T and English. The problem here arises with D&T. I’m one of the only students from my city who has taken up D&T as a subject and consequently the first from my school. As a result the school has no particular information about the course and I was asked to take up tuition/private classes for the course as they couldn’t provide a teacher for just one student. We were quick to finish off the syllabus, but the problem came up with the projects. The school couldn’t provide us with any inputs on the project requirements and examples to start off citing lack of help from CIE. Both, my parents and I have mailed CIE and their representatives around Asia multiple times to no benefit. There is no reply. This has repeated many times and we would like to give it one last try. We would like to know:
    * why D&T exams are held during only the November series?
    *even though we finished my syllabus in May we have not been able to start off with our projects due to lack of information. Would you be able to help us with the requirements and examples?
    *even though there is information listed on the CIE website, my sir doesn’t find it completely beneficial as he thinks if he misinterprets something I might lose marks.
    *Is it possible for me to request CIE for a special allowance? Something like an exam during the March or June series?

    You’re help would be appreciated as otherwise the only option that would be left for us would be to drop the subject, which I wouldn’t want to.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Vishal,
      You may start using our A Level site here: http://www.alevelcentre.com

      Here are the answers to your questions:

      1. The exam availability is being decided by CIE. They have weighted many factors to decide on the frequency and the examination series. So, the only person could answer this question is CIE 🙂

      2. This has raised our doubt that your school is NOT a registered Cambridge School. If your school is a registered Cambridge School, they definitely will receive all the supporting materials, and also teacher’s training courses. You might want to find out whether your school is a registered Cambridge School here: http://www.cie.org.uk/i-want-to/find-a-cambridge-school/

      3. You might want to ask your teacher to take up the subject training courses with CIE, if your school is a registered Cambridge School. Otherwise, you might need to find another school that is a registered Cambridge School.

      4. There are only 2 examination series in a year: May/June and Oct/Nov. If everyone is asking for a special treat, CIE would be in chaotic mess. 🙂

      You do not have to drop the subject, just find out which school is offering this subject in a professional way.

    • Hi Sarah,
      You must find out what are the subjects needed for your university application. We do not think 3 subjects are enough as entry requirement. Please get the consent from the university.

  6. Dear IGCSE Team,

    Few months back I read somewhere about you guyz building an A-Levels Centre, similiar to the IGCSE Centre. I would like to know whether it is ready or whats the status as I am an A-Levels student and such a site would be reallly helpful!


  7. how many subjects i need to apply for al level. i have given exams already for 5 in o level, math , English, accounting, business , studies, economics.

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