A Levels are a universally recognised qualification, offering students an amazing degree of freedom in their choice of subjects. A Levels courses are intensely academic, and should only be considered by students who have a love of learning, and who will enjoy further academic study at university. There is little to choose between A Levels, the IB and Cambridge Pre-U. Ashbourne Independent Sixth Form College offers two year, 18 month and a one-year intensive A Level courses, providing a wide range of subject choices.
A Universally Recognised Qualification
A Levels are a universally recognised qualification and, for example, a student applying to university in Canada or the USA will almost always receive credit for any A Level qualifications.
Choice and Focus
A Level students enjoy an amazing degree of freedom in their choice of subjects, and are seldom constrained by compulsory subjects. The London School of Economics (LSE), for example, welcomes applications from students who have not studied A Level Economics.
The absence of compulsion with A Levels is especially appealing to international students, many of whom come from countries requiring 12 or more subjects to qualify for entrance to university.
Academic Merit of A Levels
A Levels courses are intensely academic, and should only be considered by students who have a love of learning, and who will enjoy further academic study at university.
A Levels are designed to:-
- Teach students to think logically, and develop clear, cogent arguments based on considered evidence;
- Ensure students understand the importance of a disciplined approach to revision;
- Give students the skills to write properly constructed essays;
- Instill confidence through understanding;
- Teach students to think critically and not to leap to conclusions.
Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.
The ideas of economists and political philosophers both when they are right and when they are wrong are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.
A Levels versus the IB and Cambridge Pre-U (CIE)
The International Baccalaureate® (IB) offers a range of courses for students (normally aged 16 to 19) via a worldwide community of schools and colleges. There are currently more than 900,000 IB students in over 140 countries.
The Cambridge Pre-U is a post-16 qualification designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge they need to make a success of their subsequent studies at university.
Level of Difficulty
For any particular examination, there is little to choose between A Levels, the IB and Cambridge Pre-U. Indeed, A Levels are pitched at about the same level as the American Advanced Placement Examinations and both are given credit by universities in the USA.
Both the IB and Cambridge Pre-U require Independent Research Projects whereas (course work notwithstanding) A Levels do not.
There is no doubt about the educational value of such research, although there is nothing to prevent schools and colleges which offer A Levels from stretching able students with similar in-house projects.
The IB requires students to study 6 academic subjects, 3 at higher level and 3 at the less demanding subsidiary level. By comparison, A Levels require only 3 at A2 level. These must include the study of the student’s native language and an additional language.
The approach of the IB has obvious merit from a liberal arts perspective.
A Level students benefit from flexibility and a lack of compulsion. They are freer to take up extra-curricular activities, pursue their own subjects in depth and to focus on subjects which they enjoy whilst avoiding subjects they don’t.