A levels - What to expect?

3:26:00 PM Elaine Loke 0 Comments


Back to blogging after 2 months because of AS finals and it's actually still not over yet. HAHAHA I'm going mad.

So today's post is dedicated to SPM students who are interested in taking up A levels in college.

Before I start, I'm not a graduate A levels student. I'm currently sitting for my AS finals in Taylor's College. What I'm going to say below is base on my own opinion.

What is A level?

A level is a school leaving qualification offered by educational bodies in the UK to students completing secondary or pre-university education. It is split into two parts, AS level and A2 level.

Is A levels tough?

Frequently asked question and most common answer is yes. I've heard many people saying the toughest part is in A2. I can't comment much on that because I have not experience it myself but I can tell you, it's tough. I've learnt some A2 syllabus and it's nothing you've ever learnt before. It's like a whole new world.

How does this whole A levels thing work? 

The subjects I'm taking now is Mathematics, Economics, Chemistry and Physics. For AS level, the syllabus is similar to Form 5 and O levels. You'll learn new things for sure, but what you've learnt from high school will also be taught again in AS level. If you're wondering, for mathematics, you'll be learning a combination of high school additional mathematics and mathematics (probability and statistics).
Your lecturer is likely to finish teaching AS syllabus by mid year and will start of A2 syallbus after your mid term exam. Hence, July~October is like hell because you'll have to balance AS and A2 knowledge at the same time. In details, you'll be learning A2 syllabus but have to refresh your memory on AS syllabus on your own to prepare for your trials and finals. Trials is VERY VERY important because this result determines your forecast result which you will have to use to apply to university. After your finals in November, you will have to attend 'intensive' classes for around a week so that your lecturers can catch up on the A2 syllabus before you go on your year end holiday. A2 level will start next year when you return and you'll have another trials exam around March~April and then your finals around May~June. (Correct me if I'm wrong)

Why some people take 4 subjects where else some take 3 subjects in A levels? 

The minimum number of subjects to take is 3. Universities' entry requirement usually require 3 subjects minimum. It's very common to see students taking 4 subjects as a backup, just in case they didn't meet the entry requirement with 3 subjects. However, if you find it difficult to handle 4 subjects, you can always drop a subject you desire.


How does each exam in AS level works? 

Mid term - A normal exam similar to the ones you've sat in high school. Mainly to let you know your ability. The exam scope is the whole AS level. Don't expect scopes like 'Mathematics test will be from chapter 1 till chapter 3'. No. It's everything.

Trials - Similar to mid term, only that this result will be used as a guide for your lecturer to determine your forecast result which you desperately need it to be great so that you can apply to universities.

Finals - This result will be carried forward till A2. You final result at the end of A level will be a combination of both AS and A2 level.

How does each exam in A2 level works?

I'm not sure if the exam scope includes AS and A2 level but I doubt so. Please let me know if you know =X

Does A levels give you a wider choice of university? 

Yes and no. I guess it gives you a wider choice because with A levels, you can apply to many places in the world because it is widely accepted. However, I've seen my friends who were studying Canadian Pre-U (CPU) and South Australian Matriculation (SAM) going into UK universities instead of Canadian and Australian university.

Difference between A levels, CPU and SAM? 

A levels - Purely exam (It's like the whole Form 5 again...sien dao...)
CPU - 30% exam, 70% coursework
SAM - 50% exam 50% coursework

If you're not the type who can sit for exam, A levels might not be the one for you. It's like Form 5 all over again, just that the syllabus is more difficult. Of course, pre-u is not only limited to A levels, CPU and SAM. If you're sure of what course to take in university, you can opt for foundation.
All the best and good luck!

PS: College life is not as fun as you think it is, but it's definitely more fun compared to high school. 

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