The Advanced Level General Certificate of Education
The Advanced Level General Certificate of Education (GCE A-levels) is completed in F.6 and F.7. The first year of A-levels is the Advanced Subsidary (AS) level and the second year is the A2 level. Students normally start their AS year taking four to five subjects, out of which they choose three to four stronger ones to focus on when they progress to A2. To enter an UK university, a minimum of three passes are required. There is little restriction on subject choices, allowing students to do arts subjects alongside with science subjects.
GCE A-level Reform
Starting from the academic year of 2015/16, the GCE A-levels will be reformed in phases. In reformed subjects and syllabuses, re-sits will no longer be allowed and assessment in most subjects will be based solely on exams at the end of the course (A2). Students starting their Year 12 in September 2018 will complete their A-levels in reformed syllabuses.
- Worldwide reputation of the qualification enables students to apply to all top universities in most countries including universities in Hong Kong.
- Less restriction on subject choices. Students can do arts subjects alongside with science subjects.
Typical Electives *Popular Choices of HK Students)
- Art & Design*
- Business Studies*
- Design & Technology
- English Language
- English Literature
- General Studies
- Further Mathematics*
- Physical Education
- Theatre Studies
Comparison of HKDSE & GCE A-levels
|Number of Candidates||60,347||222,084|
|% of 5 in HKDSE or A in GCE AL or above||12.4%||46.2%*|
|% of 555, 3As or above||N/A||27.4%*|
|University places:Graduates ratio||1:4
About 5 candidates compete for one place in universities.
|Supply outnumbers demand. Everyone gets in.|
|* Using information of boarding school candidates only. National achievement of A and 3As are 26.9% and 13.4% respectively. Source: HKEAA – 2017, DfE (UK) – 2017|
1-Year and other flexi-programmes
In addition to the standard 2-year programmes, a number of independent colleges and international boarding schools also run flexi-programmes which last for 3 terms (1 Year) to 5 terms respectively, allowing students with outstanding academic and English ability to complete A-levels at a faster pace. With the additional start dates in January and April, these are excellent options for current F.6 students. Students study fewer subjects in these shorter programmes. Typically, three to four subjects are expected for a 5-term A-levels programme.
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