Among Cambridge students, there exists a rumour… A rumour that, one day, you may be walking about your business – perhaps down a scenic backstreet, or along the famous King’s Parade – and you may feel a discreet tap on your shoulder. What does it mean? It means, of course, that your invitation has finally arrived… Your invitation to become a spy. Cambridge has a long-running association with secret intelligence, which has helped, and hindered, Britain through times of war and peace.

But wait, what does that mean?

It simply means that you’re one of the select chosen few who’ve graduated with an academic passport to further your studies, just about anywhere in the world.

One of the most popular globally recognised curricula is the Cambridge International Examinations: Advanced Level (CIE), more commonly known as the Cambridge International (GCE) A Level and AS Level.

Through CIE, you can gain A Level qualifications, made up of AS Levels and A Levels, as private candidates at registered Cambridge examination centres.

Online learning certainly looks different than the usual classroom experiences many students are accustomed to, but it doesn’t have to be less interactive, less engaging, or less fun. Crucially, our online lessons allow each student to work at their own pace, in their own space, best suited to their needs, making for a unique, personalised learning experience. Think Digital Academy (TDA) is perfect for any student looking to make a good decision about their university career or to expand their knowledge in their chosen subjects. Our students often tell us that their TDA experience was a pivotal factor in their decision to study a particular subject at a higher level. Our online lessons have been designed with that feedback in mind.

So, what are A Levels?

According to the official Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website, “A levels are subject-based qualifications that can lead to university, further study, training, or work. You can normally study three or more A Levels over two years.”

Recognised by universities around the world, the A Levels originated in the United Kingdom (UK).

The A Level qualification has two components: AS Level and A2 Level.

You must study and complete your AS Level before you take your A Level. They take the average of your two scores (50/50) to produce your overall A Level score. Students usually complete the AS Level in their second to last year of high school and the A2 Level in the year after their final high school year.

Both AS and A2 Levels are designed to be year-long courses.

You can sit for the exam two times each year. The first is in May/June, and the second is in October/November.

Some students sit both the AS and A2 Level papers during the same exam periods.

While this might sound more difficult, it comes down to personal preference and schedule. Choose whatever works best for you and your timetable.

While sitting the exams together may offer a heavier workload, this could be a great option if you think you’re less likely to forget the content learned in AS by the time you reach A2.

It’s important to note that students must take AS and A2 Level papers within 12 months of one another. Otherwise, the AS mark “expires” and can’t be combined with the A2 mark to gain an A Level qualification.

How hard are the AS and A2 exams?

At this point, you might be wondering just how difficult the A Levels are and if they’re suitable for you.

The difficulty is something you should take into account when you’re choosing different curricula and subjects.

Although difficulty differs from person to person, you want to make sure that you’re confident you’ll be able to tackle it and perform to a high standard.

Cambridge International Examinations releases online updated syllabuses for all their subjects. Input the keyword you’re looking for along with “Cambridge syllabus”, and you can see what they include in the curriculum.

How to prepare for the AS and A2 exams?

Though the syllabuses may appear long and confusing, choose to focus on the learning objectives. They explain learning expectations and everything about the exams.

The objectives get more difficult because they’re written in the order they’re taught. To get an idea of the difficulty, scroll down to the bottom to check out the more difficult topics.

You can also look at past papers online. Because A Levels are a popular curriculum, many online resources are available.

Use past papers to get a better sense of the exams and their difficulty level by skimming through their content. You can also use these to get an idea of the exam structure.

Try to look at past papers from recent years because they tend to get more difficult as time goes on! Even better, look at specimen papers (fancy term for sample papers) for the current year released on the Cambridge website to get the most up-to-date examples.

How are the AS and A2 Level exams assessed?

You don’t necessarily need to get 70% or 90% of the questions correct, to get a 70% or 90% on your report card.

Scaling makes this possible.

All exams are scaled on a bell curve, so raw grades are often inflated. Your score might inflate 1%-15% depending on where you score, the difficulty of the paper, and the subject you choose to take.

If the past papers look impossible, do not fear! You may be getting an unrealistic representation of your final score.

When looking at past papers, always look at the grade and scaling boundaries of that year’s exam.

Now you should have a broad understanding of how A Levels work, what AS and A2 Levels are, and how together, they give you your overall mark.

But what is the difference between AS and A2 Levels?

They may have minor differences in exam structure. For example, AS science papers have a multiple-choice component but A2 science papers do not. However, the two levels still have a lot in common.

They are both one-year courses.

They both require a year-long study that culminates in a series of exams.

They both count for 50% of your final A Level mark.

A2 Levels are generally harder than AS Levels. They build on the knowledge you learn taking your AS papers.

Many A2 Level papers also test on the content covered in the AS papers. For example, business studies A2 exams require you to recall knowledge from AS business studies.

Resources for AS and A2 Levels

Many resources are available to help with your AS and A2 studies.

Cambridge publishes a set of textbooks geared towards the curriculum of each subject. These textbooks offer comprehensive cover for both the AS and A2 courses.

Alternatively, you could buy study guides and textbooks produced by other companies that target A Level students.

Final thoughts

The A Level curriculum is a hugely popular, internationally recognised curriculum that helps you secure your place at a top university. Whether you’re hoping to attend Stanford, Oxford, or Harvard, A Levels are the high school curriculum to help get you there!

Cambridge International A Levels are offered in 55 subjects.

A Levels is an incredible curriculum that opens up many tertiary opportunities for high school students.

Unlike other curricula, coursework or classroom participation grades don’t affect the final score of AS and A2 courses.

Your entire grade is determined by how you perform in your final exams.

While you may think that this is an excellent opportunity for you to procrastinate, think again!

Prepare and study throughout the year so you don’t jeopardise your final grade. Take notes and keep up with the content.

Next steps

Try out or free two week trial and see whether this is a curriculum that is suitable for you!

We think you should and here’s why:

The world renowned British International curriculum, which we offer at Think Digital Academy, is an internationally recognised qualification, currently offered in over 160 countries across the world, and in over 10 000 schools or colleges. Our world today has become, more and more, a global village, and arming your child with an internationally acclaimed and respected education is the way to go.

In the hundreds of nations where the British International curriculum is taught across the world, there are variations and adaptations inculcated to suit local contexts.

Where does British Assessment International Education take you?

Success in British International qualifications often gives students admission to the best universities all over the world including, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany and many other countries worldwide.

British International qualifications are accepted and valued by universities around the world, including MIT, Harvard and Cambridge.

They are recognised as qualifications that prepare and equip students with the skills they need to succeed both at university and beyond. According to the British Assessment International Education, feedback from universities is that they value the independent research and critical thinking skills, as well as the deep subject knowledge that a British International qualification brings.

The British International curriculum has a clear path for a student which runs from the age of 5 to 19. British International primary is from age 5 to age 11, and it consists of 10 subjects including English, Mathematics and Science.

British International lower secondary also consists of 10 subjects. The age group in this category is from 11 to 14 years old. From 14 to 16 years old, it is referred to as British International upper secondary. This stage identifies British International IGCSE [which has over 70 subjects], British International AS/A level and the British International AICE certificate.

But why British International curriculum?

Skills acquired through the British International pathway equip learners with the ability to thrive at university and beyond. The four stages named above (British International primary to British International advanced level) all build on each other systematically. This is vital as it builds on previous learning in a systematic and creative manner.

Through a combination of the programmes students are encouraged to develop higher-order thinking skills, problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, independent research abilities and information interpretation. These lifetime skills prepare learners well for their academic journey.

British International schools can tailor the British International international curriculum to their culture, and ethos and to suit students’ needs. Many schools around the world use British International programmes and qualifications as the English-medium strand of a bilingual education programme.

Professionals from American universities do concur that British International is a good foundation for students. The academic skills that British International students display are second to none and they are well prepared for college. Students who have experienced the British International curriculum are able to survive and adapt to the rigorous environment in tertiary institutions.

The students are more willing to take part in academic communities and other societies, which enables them to be part of the university holistically.

Another positive attribute noted by the admissions personal of the University of Virginia is that British International students have great writing skills as well as comprehension skills. Arizona State University enrolment services alluded that British International learners match the Arizona preparatory units and perform very well.

Students at Brown University who have a background of British International are said to perform in the 90s and they graduate on time.

British International exams are taken in June or November. The time table is carefully crafted in a manner that no student can have more than six hours of examination per day. Exams for the same subjects are taken at the same time for security and credibility; this is the British International key time rule.

Think Digital Academy offers you an opportunity to be part of this globally acknowledged academic programme. We offer the British International curriculum in a conducive, fun and creative manner. Our hands-on approach creates a holistic learning environment. We produce students who are well groomed independent thinkers, flexible and well prepared to take on the world.

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