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What you should know before joining A-level in Nepal- My experience as an A-level student

Santwana Rai

January 19, 2021
Last updated July 15, 2021
KMC Lalitpur

Right after my SEE graduation, I was told my future depends on the major I chose at the intermediate level. So, a wrong decision meant a hefty price- both in terms of time and money. During that unsettling moment, discovering Cambridge GCE A-Level almost felt like serendipity. Colleges sold the prospect of abroad studies as the overriding feature of the board. Plus, the very idea of getting the same education in England and Wales from Nepal was extremely enticing for someone from a small village.

Right then, Miss SEE, a beauty pageant, promised its winners scholarships in A-Level courses. I joined the pageant, became the 1st runner-up, and got a 60% scholarship in college fees. Money did not appear like a big deal at first, as I was only calculating the college fees. Little did I know- Cambridge GCE A-Level exam fees are astronomical. And scholarships provided by colleges do not cover any Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) fees. Furthermore, students are required to purchase expensive books from the CIE board. If you are considering A-Level after SEE, be prepared to leave some dent in your parents’ budget.

Also, Read- GCE A Level Colleges in Nepal

There is a notion that A-Level is extremely hard. Many brush it off as a myth and say a regular study habit will get you through easily. But what is the truth? As far as my experience goes, A-Level is indeed hard. But not to the extent that you need to grind day and night. One of the reasons why A-Level becomes hard for many students is that the courses are extensive, and initially, many topics appear foreign. However, a regular revision of class materials can get you or even A, or A* with no trouble. Having said that, if you are unwilling to put some effort into your studies and want to have a carefree high-school life, A-Level is not a good fit for you. 

You should be able to score 90 above to get A*, 80-89 for A, and 70-79 for B grade. Similarly, you will need 60-69 for C, 50-59 for D, and 40-49 for E grade. Scores under 40 will be graded as U, which means Ungraded or failed. If you want to enroll in foreign universities, you will need a total of 2.5 credits. You might be wondering what credit is and how it is scored. It’s simple! A-level is a two-year course. Let’s say you pick Physics as one of your subjects. If you pass physics exams in the first year, you will get 0.5 credit regardless of A*, A, B, C, D, or E grade. If you pass physics in the second year as well, you will get a total of 1 credit. Keep in mind that General Paper (GP) is the only compulsory subject, which carries 0.5 credit. Thus, you will need to pass two subjects in both first and second year alongside GP to be eligible to apply abroad.

However, in the context of Nepali colleges and universities, you may need more credits to apply for a Bachelor’s degree. The majority of Nepali colleges require 3.5 credit, while some require more, but never less than 2.5. The grades do not matter in counting credit, but it does affect your eligibility for scholarships. You might be thinking- scoring just 2.5 credit seems like a piece of cake, but trust me, it is far from the truth. The majority of my friends enrolled in General Educational Development (GED) course- an alternative to the US high school diploma- after A-Level because they could not get enough credits to join colleges and universities. Some dropped out in the first year and joined +2, while some have not still graduated from A-Level, and it’s been years.

Like many others, my primary intention of joining A-Level was to go abroad for higher studies. Nonetheless, I ended up enrolling in one of the reputed colleges in Nepal. Upon my A-Level graduation, I did apply to four different universities in the United States. However, I decided to continue my education here. Colleges feed the notion that having an A-Level degree is a plus-point, and it makes applying abroad for studies easier. But from my experience, I can say that there is no extra privilege or significant benefit during the college application process with an A-Level degree. 

So, was studying A-Level worth it? Do I regret joining the course? Far from regret, I feel fortunate about it. In retrospect, I realized that I had a myopic vision on education and possibilities in life and career until SEE. The exhaustive courses and concurrent syllabus of A-Level are informative of the contemporary world and equip students with critical thinking ability. Plus, the subject selection is flexible. So, one does not have to be fearful of making a mistake in choosing either science or management. The college fees do not change when you add or deduct the number of subjects you are taking. You only need to pay for extra exam-fees and course books.

A-Level provides an opportunity to get a world-class education in the comfort of our homeland. However, it is relatively expensive than +2. Yet, the cost can be justified for its quality education.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Edusanjal.

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