Halfway through AS and I am writing this. Duh, six weeks of exam comprising of roughly 1.33 papers per week is tiring. Tiring due to the suspense and also due to the discontentment of seeing some of your pals finishing the exam earlier than you. A week gap between my Stats and Chemistry Practical. Who wouldn’t love that? But the duration is so stretchy that Goodyear is contacting CIE to get the recipe to be included in their tire mixture.
Rants apart, I was asked by my friend Balqis to write briefly about Pre U and specifically about A Levels and the underlying mystery unknown facts behind it. So here we go…
Life after your SPM results is out boils into one thing, what you want to do next. Being in Asia, the common question friends, relatives and even you ask yourself would be where and what to study next. Some might be exhilarated by the fact that they’re away from the clutches of their parent’s watchful eyes, some are thrilled by the fact they would be learning something which will somehow be same as what their working world would be (you’ll realize this is wrong the very first week in your Pre-u hood)
People call it as Pre-University (since we gotta make up for another one year so that 12 Years of schooling will be completed)
Pre U basically covers vast area eg.
- Government Matriculation
- SAM/AUSMAT (South Australian Matriculation)
- ADP/ADTP (American Degree/Transfer Programme)
- CPU (Canadian Pre U)
- UNSW (University of New South Wales Foundation)
- IB (International Baccalaureate)
- A Levels
In this particular blog post, I’m gonna talk about A Levels. First of all, there are two bodies offering two different types of A level program particularly in Malaysia.
- Cambridge International Examinations A Levels (known as Cambridge A Levels)
- Pearson International A Levels, IAL (formerly known as Edexcel)
The difference between CAL & IAL? Quite slim, I would say.
(Quoting another friend of mine who’s doing her IAL in HELP)
- IAL is more sorta thinking over memorizing.
- Grading criteria differ a bit and based on the UMS (click the link to find out more)
- The syllabus is more over similar.
- IAL is prone to applying the knowledge you’ve learnt especially for Physics
What’s A Level?
The A Level is a school-leaving qualification offered by educational bodies in the UK and the British Crown dependencies to students completing Pre-University education.
A level is generally undertaken over two years and split into two parts, namely AS (Advanced Subsidiary), and A2 Level each studied for one year. The AS Level and A2 Level.
There are three options for you to choose from in terms of time
- One year (this is available as an express option in BAC)
- 1.5 years
- 2 years
As for the one year, the usual subject combo would be Law and Economics (Arts) and you might be graduating 2 years earlier than those who follow the conventional route.
As for the more mainstream and conventional 1.5-year route, you would be taking 3 or 4 subjects either Arts, Science or Pre-Law. There’s a variety of subjects that you can take for your A Level. But it is dependent on your college since colleges would usually provide a combo of subjects to ease grouping and you can choose the suitable group based on your degree of choice in the future.
I’ve made up my mind and chosen a combo. What’s next?
Attend your classes, you will regret it later if you bunk your classes (talking from my own experience) and don’t expect that you can slip away by asking your friend to sign the attendance for you as the lecturers are always eagle-eyed and the number of people per class is relatively low when comparing it to the lecture in universities. Your lecturer will catch you eventually.
Pay extra attention in practical sessions, or you might end up banging a retort stand on a nail to drive it into a thin piece of card.
Do shitload heck load of past year questions. The best method to score on Paper 1 and also to familiarize yourself is by doing past year questions. An advice from my lecturer was to go through all the question at least twice.
Done with my classes, what’s next?
Get registered for an exam session and review your timetable (Malaysia is under Zone 5). Plan your studying strategy and ace it.
Basically, that’s A Level. Kinda higher level of SPM but it’s not 🙂 One thing for sure, it is the toughest exam in the world.
Let us all hear what my fellow comrades here are to say….
- “For a person like me who has no clue where to go or where to start for my post high school studies, A level sounds like the only open door to me beside STPM and Matriculation. Heard from the people saying A level is for those who are still indecisive about the future, plus they say it’s a passport to literally everywhere in the world so yea I chose A Level. Of course, the price and the risk knowing A Level is really tough pull me back a little but if you want to keep your opportunities wide open this will probably be the only way when I first enrolled in A Levels, excited, of course, new faces, new learning environment. It’s really one whole new chapter of life. 4 subjects but much in-depth, it’s as if SPM was just the surface. But, time won’t wait for you to adapt or enjoy your college life. Lectures and syllabus be running like tap water, don’t even think of ponteng like back in high school.” –Tan Zhao Zheng (CIE @KDU)
“I didn’t have any idea about it at first. I just thought, it will be like STPM. After finishing 2 sem at Taylor’s, I found the environment is very challenging and allows me to learn and develop myself. I get to meet ppl from different walks of life. A Levels for me was not only exams, but beyond that. The journey taught me part and parcel of life. We created a club here, conducted events, and managed to nurture our talents and skills. The environment helped me to change my perception towards life. I think, it is just because of the learning atmosphere here. But, A-levels alone, doesn’t really allow me to learn something beyond textbooks syllabus.” – Kumanan (CIE @Taylors Subang)
- “Something. My siblings have done before, and I never expected it to be this tricky” -Naveen Menon (CIE @KDU)
“Exam based program like SPM, so when I first enrolled I’ve met my expectations” -Liew Yee Voon (CIE @KDU)
- “I was like erm, A levels? Isn’t that like one of the toughest exams? Oh my god. Hope so I do fine. Once enrolled into it, I found the syllabus quite similar to SPM, however, the questions were twisted. They were wicked but in a way that suits its reputation as one of the hardest exams in the world. It does require a lot of time and effort, but we shall do fine.” -Kalithashinee (CIE @KDU)
- A levels is pretty academic. You can’t afford to have fun like your peers in other courses. The syllabus is pretty awesome so if you are a keen learner, I would definitely recommend A levels to you!. –Suwarna Laxshmi (IAL @HELP)
- Initially, A-Levels was what I perceived as the ultimate ticket to go anywhere I wanted in the world, it sounded like the most prestigious course you could take as an 18 yo in Malaysia. But once I enrolled, I realized it was a worse version of exam-oriented course even compared to SPM where your examinations mark reflect 100% of what you have achieved in college. –Leslie (CIE @KDU)
- A-levels can be really hectic and stressful if you don’t enjoy what you are studying. The keys to get thru A-levels with flying colours are constant revision and completing as many past year papers. Taking up A-levels opens up more university course options and definitely helps to build a solid foundation for your undergraduate studies. Never regret taking up A-levels because at the end of the day you will feel proud of yourself for getting thru one of the toughest phase of your life. –Tarshini Nair (CIE @Sunway)
Well, the choice is yours now. Good luck.