A Level Tuition
Conducted jointly by the Ministry of Education (MOE), Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) and the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES), the Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Advanced Level, better known as the A Levels, is said to be one of the most gruelling and important examinations a student will ever sit for.
Pathways that the A Level Opens Up
The importance of the A Level examination cannot be emphasized enough. This certificate is often seen as the gateway to higher education, and by extension your future career. Especially, top local universities like NUS and NTU typically recognize and award admission based on performance in the A Levels.
In particular, highly coveted courses like Medicine and Law typically require straight A’s from the student. As such, if you are aiming for a career in the medical or legal field, it is imperative that you excel in the A Levels.
Moreover, while local universities do accept students from polytechnics, it is definitely much harder as the majority of admission offers are still given to A Level graduates. Hence, A Levels is perceived as the better option for admission into universities.
If you’re aiming for entrance into prestigious overseas universities like those in the Ivy League, it also goes without saying that stellar A Level results are a must. Education in such world class institutions would not only open you to new experiences but also put you in a favourable position for future employment opportunities.
Besides admission into universities and courses of your choice, good A Level results also make you eligible for scholarships. University tuition is notoriously expensive. If you’re able to cinch a scholarship, not only would you be able to learn without the burdensome worry of paying for your education, you’d also have the peace of mind of employment after graduation as many scholarships come with a bond.
A Levels Exam: What to Expect
Like the O Levels, the A Levels are written examinations that you sit for, with the exception of certain subjects like Art where candidates need to submit coursework. A difference between A Levels and O Levels would be that the former no longer requires oral examinations.
You can expect both breadth and depth in typical H2 A Level subjects. This is generally what makes the A Level so hard! Nonetheless, if you find yourself struggling with a particular subject, there is an option to downgrade to H1. H1 subjects usually halve the amount of content knowledge required, and also go less in-depth, hence making it more manageable for students.
School vs. Private Candidate
You can sit for the A Levels as either a school or private candidate. Most students do so as the former, having enrolled in a Junior College. Generally, private candidates are students who have previously attempted the A Levels but would like to resit for them. It is typically not advised to apply for the A Levels as a private candidate as it is arguably difficult to learn so much content all by yourself! Schools have a fixed curriculum and regular tests to help check in on your progress throughout the 2 years of junior college. Furthermore, it goes without saying that schools have dedicated teachers who are committed to helping students.
Difference between the A Levels in Singapore and in the UK
Pros of taking the UK A Levels
It is commonly lamented amongst students that the A Levels in Singapore is much harder. Indeed, some people have pointed out the A Levels in the UK demand less of candidates in several ways.
Firstly, while the UK A Levels have sufficient breadth, they lack in depth. This means that candidates will not be penalised for giving relatively superficial answers. In comparison, Singapore’s A Level curriculum is crafted in a way that encourages and in fact, requires, heavy critical thinking and in-depth thoughtful answers. This is especially true for subjects that require lots of writing such as Humanities subjects like History and Geography.
Next, the grading rubrics used in the UK are seen as more lenient. Thus, students find it easier to do well in the UK A Levels. As such, some students who struggle with the first few months of JC education may opt to drop out of Junior College in Singapore for a pre-tertiary education in the UK. Of course, this comes with a huge caveat that financial costs are not an obstacle. Indeed, we do some patterns of well-to-do families sending their children to the UK to study for and sit for the UK A Levels instead.
Cons of taking the UK A Levels
However, it is important to note that the UK is facing a problem of grade inflation, arguably because of their relatively easier exams. Hence, it might still be difficult to stand out from the crowd even with straight As. To be the cream of the crop, students might need to be active in and excel in other non-academic areas like sports, music or even volunteering. Bear in mind that this would take a certain strain on you, as you still need to devote time to studying!
Furthermore, admission officers would also be aware of the difference in difficulty levels between the two examinations. Thus, in the unfortunate event that you are tied with another candidate for admission, whether or not you took the “more challenging” exam (i.e. the Singapore A Levels) may contribute to the final decision.
So, should I sit for the A Levels in UK or Singapore?
Considering what we’ve just discussed, it is evident that whether or not you decide to take the A Levels in the UK instead of Singapore is an important decision that hinges on several factors.
First of all, are you financially capable of sending your child overseas? Studying overseas is definitely expensive. Airplane fares, accommodation, food, tuition fees et cetera, et cetera – all these costs can add up to a pretty colossal amount.
Next, you have to bear in mind the grade inflation situation in the UK. Do you have other achievements that can help you stand out from the many students who might probably achieve stellar scores like you?
In addition, you should also consider your goal – what university and what course are you aiming for? Top local universities in Singapore may prefer candidates that have taken the Singaporean A Levels, as they are presumably harder and excellence despite the difficulty would really showcase your academic ability.
Nanyang Academic: Helping you Achieve More
A Levels is indeed a huge challenge in your education journey. However, if you’re able to overcome this well, your future academic and career path can be said to be rather smooth sailing. Our team of dedicated and knowledgeable A Level tutors can help you to navigate these challenging examinations better.
Contact us now for an assignment!