A Levels – the Worldwide Academic Gold Standard

A Levels (Advanced Level Qualifications) (the UK school leaver’s certificate exams) are becoming more popular in China each year. Indeed, the number of students taking A Levels in China increased by 9 percent in 2019. 

近些年来,A Level课程在国内的势头愈来愈猛,每年报考学生数量持续平稳增长。据考试局剑桥国际数据显示:2019年报考A Level的中国学生人数增长了9%,总数突破10万人次。 

Perhaps this is due to the fact that A Levels are based on final exams and thus pupils who perform well in exams can do very well at A Level? Or it may be due to the fact that pupils typically study the three or four subjects which interest them most or the three or four subjects which will best prepare them for their chosen University course or future career plans, and thus they can engage wholeheartedly in their learning without being distracted by subjects they do not enjoy? This article seeks to explore the real experience of studying A Level.

为何A Level突然在国内遍地开花呢?或许是因为A Level给予了孩子更多可能性,听从内心选择自己感兴趣的3-4门学科?或许是因为更精更专的学习方式为获得世界顶尖大学入场券提供了更多可能性?今天就让我们一起来聊一聊A Level,听听学生们的现身说法!

To deepen parents’ understanding of A Level, we invite Mr Thackrey, our Deputy Head to answer some frequently asked questions.

提起A Level,总伴随着一些误解。为了让大家更深入、正确地认识A Level,我们邀请了有着资深教学经验的副校长Mr Thackrey,来分享他的见解。

Many parents think A Level is for those students who can’t do well in some subjects, talented students will choose IB, is that true?

只有偏科的人才会选A Level,优秀的学生都学IB了,是这样吗?

On the contrary, A Levels go in to much more depth than IB and thus A Levels are the very best preparation for university as pupils who study A Levels are already accustomed to the in-depth study and research which is required when studying at university.  

恰恰相反,相比于IB,A Level的学习更加深入、难度亦更高。A Level学习过程中还需要运用到大量大学时期的调研方法,因此对于衔接大学生活也变得更加容易了。

IB gives a great variety of knowledge (as do GCSEs), whereas by the time pupils get to A Levels the majority know which three or four subjects they prefer and thus want to focus on and gain a much deeper knowledge in. There are no compulsory subjects at A Level and thus pupils are free to stop the subjects which will not play a part in their future career plans or subjects which they do not enjoy studying. There is a great freedom in focusing on one’s three or four favourite subjects.

在读A Level或IB之前,学生都需要学习(I)GCSE,在这一阶段,学生们通常有机会学习各类科目内容。在这之后,IB继续走均衡教育之路,学生们需要从几大固定的学科组中选择6门科目;A Level则踏上了更精更专的教育之路,学生们可以在70多门学科中自由选择感兴趣的3-4门学科深入专研学习。

A level students can only be recognised by the universities in the UK?

学了A Level,只能申请英国学校吗?

A Levels are recognised as the Gold Standard end of school exam certificates by universities across the globe thanks to the rigour and discipline which is required in order to succeed at A level and thus the fantastic preparation they give pupils before they go on to university. Also pupils receive a separate exam certificate and grade for each exam they take at A Level rather than the single grade which IB pupils receive.

A Level被誉为世界范围内的“黄金课程体系”,不单单因为其体系设置能够最大限度地挖掘学生个人潜力,还在于它被各国顶尖大学的广泛认可。据CAIE(剑桥国际考试委员会)官方数据显示,美国有超过600所大学(含常青藤)认可剑桥国际A Level课程成绩。而在加拿大、澳洲、新西兰、新加坡、中国香港等留学热门地,A Level也同样备受青睐。

Do top universities prefer IB students? 


Top universities welcome both A Levels and IB, although for more specialised courses (for example where Further Maths is required) A Levels are certainly an advantage. The key advantage of A Levels is that pupils who have studied A Levels arrive at university with more detailed specific subject knowledge which is a great help as they begin a significant new chapter in their lives. They can therefore settle in to university and find their feet with confidence in the knowledge that they will be able to make a strong start in their studies.

顶尖大学对所有优秀的IB和A Level学子都敞开大门。不过对于一些相对专业的学科,如高等数学,那些在A Level阶段就学习过相关内容的学生显然更具优势。学习A Level的学生在相比之下,对特定学科有着更深入的知识储备,这对于尽快适应大学生活大有裨益。麻省理工学院招生官也夸赞:“学过A Level课程的学生在大学里的表现十分优秀。他们坚定而自信,有着深厚的学科知识储备以及批判性思考能力,总能为课程做好充分准备。”

As Mr Thackrey said, A Level gives students opportunities to learn deeply about the subjects they are interested in, achieve academic excellence and eventually enter the world’s top universities. For students who know where their passions lies and have clear goal, A Level is definitely a perfect choice.

如Mr Thackrey所说,A Level帮助学生在感兴趣的学科深入探索,成就学术卓越,最终敲开世界顶尖院校的大门。这对于有着明确目标与方向的学生来说,无疑是最好的选择。

Adina and Aegean, who both joined Harrow this year, are these kind of students with clear goals. After studying A Level for a few months, they would like to share their thoughts.

Adina与Aegean正是这样知道自己激情所在,有着明确目标的两位学生,他们都在本学年加入了哈罗上海,开启了A Level的学习。在这里,她们将与我们分享这段时间的学习心得与体验。

Adina, Year 12

We know you studied in an IB international school and another A Level school previously, why did you choose Harrow?

听说你之前在一所IB学校学习,为什么会决定转来哈罗学习A Level呢?

I wanted to study A Levels in 6th From rather than IB as I want to go to the UK for university and also I didn’t want to keep studying all the subjects which IB requires. I hope to study Psychology at Cambridge.

之所以想学习A Level,一是因为我有着明确的目标,将来想在剑桥大学学习心理学。二是我并不想将精力分散在学习IB所要求的那些学科。

Which A Level subjects are you studying?

你现在选择了哪些A Level科目呢?

I am studying Biology, Maths, Economics and Chemistry.


How do you feel after learning A Levels for a few months at Harrow Shanghai? What impressed you the most?

在哈罗上海学习了一段时间A Level课程后,你感觉怎么样?印象最深的是什么?

As a new student who joined Harrow in 2020, I am hugely grateful for the wonderful atmosphere amongst the school community. I found settling in to a new school for 6th Form easier than I had expected – my classmates were really helpful.  I am already getting excellent advice on what I need to do in order to apply to Cambridge. We have being having extra lessons in Critical Thinking which is teaching me how to think from different perspectives. 


Aegean, Year 12

Why did you choose A Level?

你为什么选择了A Level?

My cousin is at Harrow School in London and he is really enjoying A Levels and after speaking to him, A Levels felt like a much better fit for me as I could focus on the 3 subjects I really love.

我的表哥在伦敦哈罗公学学习A Level,他非常喜欢这样的学习方式。在和他聊过之后,我认为A Level能够让我专注于三门感兴趣学科的学习,非常适合我。

Which A Level subjects are you studying and why? 

你现在选择了哪些A Level科目呢?

I am studying English, Drama and Music.  Before I only used to have Drama twice a week – now I have it every day which is great. I love studying three subjects in which I feel really capable, rather than 6 subjects several of which I did not feel so confident in. 


How do you feel after learning A Levels for a few months at Harrow Shanghai? What impressed you the most?

在哈罗上海学习了一段时间A Level课程后,你感觉怎么样?印象最深的是什么?

I am really enjoying spending time focusing on the subjects and areas I need for my future, rather than having to focus on areas which will not be so useful for me. I am also really enjoying how much crossover, connections and links there are between the subjects I am studying. It has been easy to fit in with the 6th Form cohort at Harrow. 


At Harrow, we focus on more than simply the all important end of school A Level exams.  We seek to help prepare our 6th Formers to live fulfilling lives after Harrow, with the confidence to make positive life choices, knowing where to seek help when it is needed and through the holistic education they have received are ready to serve as leaders, with resilience, humanity and innovative thinking. 

在哈罗,我们关心的不仅仅是 A Level的学习与考试成绩,我们还致力于帮助学生们做好充分准备,在毕业后依然能够拥有充实生活、有信心做出积极的人生选择,并通过他们所接受的教育,成长为极具韧性、人文关怀与创新性思维的领导者!