A-LEVEL = LEVEL A?

2014-04-05

edusanjal

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The General Certificate of Education (GCE) is one of the most internationally recognised qualifications offered by the University of Cambridge International Examinations. GCE, more commonly known as A-levels, is a two year course. One can take any number of A- level subjects, but the minimum number of subjects required to be taken in Nepal to be considered equivalent to the intermediate/high school certification, are General Paper and any three principal subjects. Students can join this course after completing their SLC or any other equivalent examination. A-level examinations are normally taken by the student at the age of 18 but can be taken at any age.

The A-levels were first offered in Nepal in 1985 by Budhanilkantha School . Other private schools soon got onto the bandwagon and there are currently more than 30 schools offering the A-level course across the country.

The Advanced Subsidiary course counts as half a credit as compared to a full A-level course. The subject content of the new A-level syllabuses has been subdivided into two parts: the AS syllabus content, which is expected to be covered in the first half of the course, and the second part of the syllabus, commonly referred to as A2, taken at the end of the second year of study. It is offered in most subjects and became available for the first time in 2001. The Subsidiary is a new way of facilitating staged assessment. There are certain subjects that are only available at AS-level and can be taken as free-standing qualifications.

Most students who opt to study the A-level programme do so because of the following reasons.

Global recognition- The GCE qualification is accepted and recognised by all educational institutions throughout the world. Good A-level results can give you access to undergraduate studies at some of the best higher education learning institutions in the world. A-level qualifications can also give you access to professional and vocational courses.

Diverse subject choices- The A-level course has a variety of subjects to choose from and ideally a student can study subjects from two different streams. For example, one can study chemistry as well as psychology or mathematics and art simultaneously.

Enhancing analytical abilities- Being an international qualification, the A-level syllabus is challenging, demanding and rigorous. Consequently, A-level graduates excel at schools of higher learning as they have learned to think for themselves and draw their own conclusions.

Teaching Beyond the Classroom: Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) understand that a student is learning to equip and prepare for life and not just to pass a subject using an antiquated curriculum. Thus, the syllabus is periodically upgraded and updated to suit the changes in the academic arena.

Just as everything has its pros and cons, so do the A-level qualifications. Since we've already talked about the benefits, let us now look at some of the misconceptions concerning the A-level course in Nepal.

Myth 1
Doing A Levels guarantees admission into universities abroad 
Just like there are no guarantees in life, there aren't any concerning admission into the best universities in the world only if you study the A Level course. Admission into universities abroad, especially those in the USA, depend on the students' high school transcript, SAT scores, personal essays, extra-curricular activities, and letters of recommendation, not what curriculum you studied. More students who do the +2 course get admission into universities across the world than do A level students every year.

Myth 2
It is 'fluid' course as I will be able to choose different subjects from a wide range of subjects
While it is true that theoretically you can take three completely diverse subjects such as Physics, Business Studies and Music as your combination for the A Levels, this is not completely true. In the real world, it is just not feasible to have teachers for all the subjects. Most schools lump like subjects together into 'streams' so if you choose to study Physics, in all likelihood you will have to study Mathematics and Chemistry and could choose between Biology and Computer Studies. So, not all that fluid, is it?

Myth 3
A Level is affordable for most Nepali families
The A Levels is a very expensive course. Most schools charge anywhere between 8,000 to 21,000 rupees per month just as tuition fees! In addition to that, most of the more 'renowned' institutes charge upwards of a lakh as admission fees. Then when you are ready to appear for the exam, you have to pay candidate fees, centre fees, subject fees, and if you are a science student, laboratory fees too!

Myth 4
Any student can study for the A Level course
While this might sound slightly elitist, and we at WAVE are very egalitarian!!! But the truth of the matter is that this is an international exam. An international examination from the University of Cambridge! And with this comes certain expectations in terms of reading and understanding and writing in English and analytical analysis. Woefully, many students, particularly those from outside the valley struggle with these aspects of the course, primarily because of the great disparities that exist in the SLC education system.

Myth 5 
All students pass the A Level exams.

Rabindra Thapa angrily says that deciding to study the A level course was the worst decision he could ever have made. He has been an A Level student for over four years now and at 22 is still struggling to complete and improve his grades. Sadly, he is not an anomaly, for every 1 student who is a recipient of the Outstanding Cambridge Learner Award, there are 20 students like Rabindra who are ruing the day they got swayed by the glamour and false hopes, concerning this course, presented by some A level institutes.

(This very important piece of Information was written by authors/reporters of Wave Magazine, we brought this here so that many students will be benefited by this news. We are grateful to authors/reporters for this piece of information).