What is Cambridge International AS & A Level?

Thousands of learners use Cambridge International AS & A Level every year to gain places at leading universities worldwide. Students develop a deep understanding of subjects, as well as independent learning and constructive thinking skills ? abilities which universities value highly.

Cambridge International A Level is typically a two-year course, and Cambridge International AS Level is typically one year.

Learners have the freedom to take Cambridge International AS Levels as qualifications in their own right, or as part of a progression to Cambridge International A Level. Learners can study for Cambridge International AS Level alongside Cambridge International A Level subjects to increase breadth in the curriculum and to build further knowledge and understanding.


Cambridge International AS & A Level curricula are flexible. Learners can take almost any combination of 55 subjects. Learners can specialise or study a range of subjects, ensuring breadth.

Below are the 55 subjects being grouped into Subject Group:



University recognition and research

Learners use Cambridge International AS & A Levels to gain places at leading universities worldwide including in the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Singapore, Egypt, Jordan, South Africa, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.

Cambridge International AS &
A Levels are viewed as equivalent to the AS and A Levels taken by learners in the UK, and are accepted for entrance to all UK universities.

In places such as the United States and Canada, good grades in carefully chosen Cambridge International A Level subjects can result in up to one year of university course credit.

Over 500 US universities accept Cambridge International AS & A Levels, including all Ivy League and Ivy Plus universities. These universities include Brown, Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Yale.

Research carried out* looked at whether Cambridge International AS & A Levels prepared learners for continued studies in colleges and universities in the US, as well as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programmes. The findings suggest that Cambridge quali cations compare favourably with the other programmes.

<* Published in the Journal of College Admission (Number 213, Fall 2011)>


Each subject that a learner takes at Cambridge International AS & A Level receives a separate grade.

Cambridge International A Levels are graded from A* – E. Candidates who do not obtain enough marks for an E grade at A Level may be awarded a compensatory AS Level.

Cambridge International AS Levels are graded from a to e. Candidates who do not obtain enough marks for grade e at AS Level will be ungraded.

Group awards

The Cambridge AICE Diploma is a group certi cate which requires learners to study subjects drawn from three curriculum areas within Cambridge International AS and A Level: mathematics and science, languages, and arts and humanities.


Learners can choose from a range of assessment options:

Option one
Take the Cambridge International AS Level only. The Cambridge International AS Level syllabus content is half a Cambridge International A Level.

Option two**
Take a ?staged? assessment route ? take the Cambridge International AS Level in one examination series and complete the nal Cambridge International A Level in a subsequent series.

(** The staged assessment route is not possible in all subjects. The outcomes awarded for Cambridge International AS Level language syllabuses cannot be carried forward to Cambridge International A Level.)

Option three
Take all papers of the Cambridge International A Level course in the same examination series, usually at the end of the course.

Note: CIE (Cambridge International Examination board) has its name changed to CAIE (Cambridge Assessment International Education) since October 2017.

Note: All info taken from CIE.

54 Replies to “What is Cambridge International AS & A Level?”

  1. Hi,
    This is for my friend. It’s regarding AS level exam 2020. Is it possible to write Physics and Chem in May/June and Math in Oct/Nov. Please reply as as soon as possible .

    • Hi Saritha,

      Yes, your friend may take Physics and Chemistry during the June exam series and Mathematics on November exam series. We do suggest that they only register when they’re ready. Furthermore, they may also get the final confirmation from their school, if they are schooled students. Alternatively, they may register as private candidates.

      Please kindly find out the key dates here: https://www.igcsecentre.com/exam-registration-dates/

  2. Im in Zimbabwe and would like to know the benefits of A level over AS or vice versa if any. Does one need to write both or you can pick either? . Which one is needed for admission into uni’s?.Kindly assist so i make an informed decision.
    Thank you

    • Hello Faith,

      There are different assessment options to gain Cambridge International AS & A Level qualifications:

      1. Take the Cambridge International AS Level only. The syllabus content is half a Cambridge International A Level.

      AS Level syllabuses are designed on the assumption that students have about 180 guided learning hours per subject over the duration of the course (normally one year).

      2. Take a ‘staged’ assessment route (A2) – take the Cambridge International AS Level in one examination series and complete the final Cambridge International A Level at a subsequent series.

      AS Level marks can be carried forward to a full A Level twice within a 13 month period.

      3. Take all papers of the Cambridge International A Level course in the same examination session, usually at the end of the course.

      The whole A Level syllabuses are designed on the assumption that students have approximately 360 guided learning hours per subject over the duration of the course (normally two years). For private candidate, the hours could be different depending on the number of hours spent on studying.

      Students typically study four subjects at AS-level and three subjects at A-level. The standard admission requirement for UK universities is three A-level subjects.

      If you have further questions, do not hesitate to write again.

  3. Hi,I am kamala krishnan from India.I am getting ready to face my AS level examination in the May/June series 2020.I have selected to write accounting,business,economics,english general paper and IT.We do not have any teachers for accounting and business.Do you have any websites which gives useful learning skills that can help in my exams ?.It will be very useful for all the our classmates in my class.Please considerthe above message.Waiting for your reply

    • Hi Kamala,

      We suggest that you download the Examiner’s Report here: https://www.igcsecentre.com/as-a-level-past-exam-papers/. It will give you additional insights on how to structure your response properly and learn from the common mistakes students make.

      Here are some tips for you:

      – You should show your workings for computational questions. You will not get credit for partially correct answers if workings are not shown.

      – You should make sure that you provide sufficient development to your answers. One or two word answers will seldom suffice.

      – You must develop greater analytical skills and learn to extract information from scenarios to make your answers relevant.

      – Marks are frequently awarded for the correct entry, this being the value with correct terminology/narrative. This applies across the different statements such as ledger accounts and financial statements.

      – Read and interpret questions carefully before commencing an answer.

      – Spend an appropriate amount of time determining which essay question to select in Section B of the paper. Effective responses require sound understanding of the business concepts associated with particular questions.

      – Application marks in section B can only be awarded if candidates address the particular context given in a question. This can be specific such as examples. You must do more than merely repeat words that are in the question as this will not count as application and will limit the number of marks awarded.

      – Analysis marks in Section B are awarded when candidates have clearly gone beyond making a brief statement or description and have assessed the impact of any point made.

      – In order to access evaluation marks candidates need to make a critical comment or counter argument rather than a summary that repeats what they have already said. Evaluation occurs when a judgement has been made on the evidence presented.

      Hope this helps.

  4. Hi There

    I have 2 questions:
    Firstly, is it mandatory to do IGCSE before doing AS for any subjects?
    The second is, if I fail a subject at IGCSE, will I be excluded from being allowed to write the AS exam for that subject?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Safron,

      To answer your questions,

      First, you must take IGCSE or equivalent qualification (e.g. O-level) before you can proceed to AS or A-Levels.

      Second, the subjects you take in IGCSE is affecting what subjects you could take in AS or A Level. We strongly suggest you visit the colleges/school’s website to find out what are the minimum grades and subjects that you need in order to get an admission into their AS or A Level courses.

  5. Hi, Iam fathima ashfa from Srilanka. I am getting ready to face my AS level examination in the october november series 2019. I have selected to write biology, chemistry, and physics. we do not have any facilities here to do practice for practical test in all three subjects. Do you have any websites which gives useful practical skills that can help in my exams? our school doesn’t have any instruments to carryout the practicals.it will be very useful for all the our children in my class. please consider the above message. waiting for your reply

    • Hi Fathima,

      Here are some tips for you:
      As with all exams it is essential that you read practical exam papers very carefully. You must follow the instructions on the paper so that you do the correct experiments and record the correct observations. If the question tells you to record results or observations in a certain place you must record them in that place.
      Do not panic if the context of the practical experiment appears unfamiliar. Where appropriate the question paper will tell you exactly what to do and how to do it.
      If you find yourself in real difficulty setting up your practical equipment you may ask your supervisor for help. You will only lose one or two marks for this.

      For Biology , make clear descriptions of colours and colour changes; refer to ‘blue’, ‘orange’ and ‘purple’ when describing reagents used in biochemical tests. You may want to refer to slight differences, so use words like ‘pale’ and ‘dark’. When drawing slides and photographs, read the question carefully, the drawing may have to be an accurate size e.g. twice the original. Observe details carefully, such as the relative number of chloroplasts in different cells and the thickness of cell walls in different cells in a vascular bundle. Show these accurately on your drawing. When presenting your data and observations, use the space provided, do not make the table too small. Write brief, but informative headings for each column and columns headed with physical quantities should have appropriate SI units. Lastly, data should be recorded in the table in the order in which it is collected – this is because the table is prepared before the data collection.

      For Chemistry , make sure you are well practised in handling all of the equations relating to titrations. Being able to convert between cm3 and dm3 is an essential part of this. Make sure you are well practised in the graphical techniques that have been necessary to answer questions on past papers. Get a set of results for each question of this sort and repeat the graphical exercises until your teacher agrees you have them right. Make sure you are well practised in the correct vocabulary for recording observations, e.g. precipitate, slight, dense, soluble, insoluble, excess, gelatinous, and effervescence. If you are asked to record observations do so in as much detail as possible. If a solution is colourless, or a precipitate is white, say so. Don’t just describe it as a “solution” or a “precipitate”. If you have to add one solution to another, looking for observations, add it slowly. You need to notice the difference between an instant or sudden change and a gradual change. If a change is instant or sudden, say so. If a change is gradual, say so. If the change goes through intermediate stages, describe each of these stages.

      For Physics , all the raw readings of a particular quantity should be recorded to the same number of decimal places which should in turn be consistent with the precision of the measuring instrument. When drawing your graph, do not forget to label each axis with the appropriate quantity and unit, using the same format for expressing column headings in a table. Choose a scale such that the plotted points occupy at least half the graph grid in both the x and y directions. The x-axis scale should increase positively to the right and the y-axis scale should increase positively upwards. Use a convenient scale such as 1, 2 or 5 units to a 2 cm square as you will then be less likely to make a mistake with the position of your plotted points and it will be easier for you to read off points from your graph if you are calculating the gradient or finding an intercept. Similarly, it is good practice to mark values on at least every other 2 cm square. Show all your working when calculating a gradient. It is helpful to draw the triangle used to calculate the gradient on the graph and to clearly label the coordinates of the vertices (accurate to half a small square). These values can then be used in the gradient calculation. The length of the hypotenuse of the triangle should be greater than half the length of the graph line.

      Hope this helps.

  6. How is English AS level carried out? What papers are written for it?

    It would be great if you make a section for subject-wise explanations

  7. Can I continue with IGCSE A level for my 11th Standard in India.Which are some of the best Cambridge A level colleges in INDIA?

  8. Greetings IGCSE Team,

    I wanted to know whether International Baccaulerate Diploma Programme is better for foreign universities or AS/A levels. I’ve heard that AS/A levels are good if you want to study in the UK, but IBDP is better for going to other countries. I’m in a huge confusion whether or not to do my A levels or go with IBDP.

    • Hello,

      A-level and the International Baccalaureate are both eligible qualifications for entry in many foreign universities. Both programmes are considered very carefully on their individual merits and cannot be compared on which is better.

      The success rates for students applying with the IB and students applying with A-levels are broadly similar, and that the choice of qualification (as long as it is an eligible qualification as specified on the university?s website) plays no part whatsoever in the selection criteria for the university?s courses. So, choose the course of study which appeals to you the most, and which you feel will give the best preparation for your future studies.

      But we do suggest that you check with the university you wish to apply to, and get the confirmation on their entry requirements. Specifically which qualification they would accept: A Level or IB.

  9. i did my AS business and got a E grade but passed and now studing for my A level business but i want to retake the Business AS level ,can i retake at the same time iam taking the A level of the same subject? answer ASAP please

    • Hi Eyad,

      There are two possible options for you:

      1. Take all the papers in the same examination session at the end of the course
      2. Sit for AS level first and take A2 exams at a subsequent series. Make sure that it is within the 13 month period.

      However, we strongly suggest that you discuss this with your school and your parents.

        • Hi Eyad,

          Kindly address this matter to your school directly as they are responsible in submitting your entry option. Ask them if you will be entered under the staged assessment route or the full A-level course because these two routes have different option code.

  10. Hello. May I know the consequences of writing the wrong centre number? I think I may have been writting my centre number wrong for the first half of my exams and I am worried if the papers may be graded U. My candidate number and name are correct, does that help in tracking my papers back to me?

    • Hi Julian,

      There are some cases if the name and candidate number is written on the paper then CIE can still manage to grant the grade to the candidate properly. It will just cause some minor manual handling? So next time please read the instructions and write properly.

      But you may contact CIE, http://www.cie.org.uk, directly regarding this matter.

  11. Hi there I am a mom we are in Qatar as expect teachers my son is in grade 12 now cambridfe cirriculumbut is very unhappy at school how can i vo about to homeschool his last year but Im unable to teach him though

  12. Hi,

    I will be entering A Level after completing IGCSE, and when i downloaded all the past paper’s I found that math’s 9707 has been divided into 3 parts: Pure Mathematics, Mechanics, Probability and Statistics. When I checked the sciences (Bio, Phy, Che) they were not.

    My teacher told me to check again but I didn’t find anything. So, I am asking you.


  13. Hello,
    I just wanted to know whether after remarking if your marks decrease, they let you choose between the original one and the remarked one or the final remarked one is your final score sheet. Thank you for your time.

  14. Hi ,I’m studying in an igcse school in India and I’m now in grade 9 . I’ve been told that grade 9 and 10 are a single course. We also have subject selection . Is this AS level or not.

  15. Hello, I’m a private candidate who will be taking the Mathematics, Biology and and Chemistry A levels this June. I would like to clarify if graphing calculator TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition can be used in examinations under these subjects? Thanks!

    • Hi Ali,

      AS level is the first part of an A level course. A2 exams and coursework are added on to an AS level, bringing it up to A level standard. AS level results can be used to count towards your final A level result if you are proceeding to A Level.

      As such you cannot take AS & A level Mathematics in the same examination series. You need to complete the AS level and A2 exams first before you take its A level counterpart. Consequently, you have to take AS level Further Mathematics before you can take A level Further Mathematics.

      Alternatively, you can start studying Further Mathematics during your AS Level year, while you sit for the Mathematics exam, then sit for the Further Mathematics exam in the following year.

  16. Helloo

    I have combined science, english and mathematics at O-level in Zimbabwe .which combination is best for me @ IGCSE A-level

  17. Greetings team members,
    I would like to know if it is possible to take an A level subject without taking its As level

    • Hi Mariyah,

      To answer your question – AS levels can be taken as a stand-alone qualification, or as the first part of an A level course. On the other hand, A2 exams and coursework are added on to an AS level, bringing it up to A level standard. You can refer to Assessment section in the article above for assessment options.

      Hope this clarifies 🙂

  18. Hi,
    i am IGCSE student, if i want to take A Level how many IGCSE subjects are usually required?
    how many minumin subject i need to take in IGCSE in order to apply for it?
    how about the Grade, minimum Grade that required? is it the courses i want to take in A level based on the subject that i take during my IGCSE?

    • Hello Sha,

      Yes, the subjects you take in IGCSE is affecting what subjects you could take in A Level. We strongly suggest you visit the colleges/school?s website to find out what are the minimum grades and subjects that you need in order to get an admission into their A Level courses.

    • Hello Abdallah,

      You need to check with your desired university which is better for you and that will help your target course.

  19. My son has passed IGCSE o levels with six subjects including maths and science , How many subjects does he need to do for AS levels to get an equivalent of 12th Grade of Indian Boards.
    Can he do them long distance without attending regular school if so what subjects can he opt for.
    Thanks in advance for the valuable information.

    • Hello Mangala,

      We do not know the requirement of Indian Boards. Please check with the exam boards for their requirements.

      If your son is looking for studying AS/A Level privately, he is free to do so. You will then register him with your local British Council to sit for the exam.

  20. I took english and accounts as my AS LEVEL and business,economics as A LEVEL and i did not do my 10th from cambridge… are 4 subjects are enough or do i have to take one more?

    • Hello Sanjana,
      You have to look at what is the university’s entry requirement for the course that you wish to apply. It is not about the number of subjects that you took, it is about taking the right subject and obtain the required grades to get an admission into the university.

      • Hey, I gave 6 subjects which were English, Urdu, Business studies, Pakistan studies, Islamiyat, Economics. Can it be attested from the foreign ministry since I wanted to apply for America and the university is ready to take me for the foundation?

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