Tuesday, February 18, 2014

All about General Certificate of Education (GCE) Examinations

What is GCE?
The General Certificate of Education (GCE) is an internationally recognised secondary-level academic qualification. GCE examinations are set by Cambridge International Examinations, an examination board under Cambridge Assessment. GCE qualifications are offered at the Advanced Subsidiary (AS) Level or the Advanced (A) Level. Students can opt to take preparatory courses that guide them through the specific syllabi of the subjects they have chosen as part of their course of study.

What are AS- and A-Level GCE?
Cambridge International AS- and A- Level qualifications are taken by over 175,000 learners in more than 125 countries. They are typically for learners between the ages of 16 and 19 years, who need advanced instruction to prepare them for higher education. The average A-Level syllabus can be divided into two parts. The AS syllabus content must ideally be covered in the first year of study while the second part of the syllabus, commonly referred to as A2, is tackled towards the end of the second year of study. However, there are certain subjects that can only be taken in the AS-Level while others can be taken as free-standing qualifications.

Why should I opt for AS- and A-Level?
Good A-Level results can open doors for students. Some of the world’s best institutions for higher education—Cambridge, Harvard, MIT and London School of Economics to name just a few—value for students with excellent A-Level records when it comes to granting admissions to their reputed undergraduate programmes. Thousands of learners opt for Cambridge International AS- and A-Level degrees every year in hopes of gaining placements in leading world universities—in the UK , the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, among others.

All UK Universities and over 450 US Universities accept Cambridge International A-Level Qualifications. Learners can find out which universities accept Cambridge qualifications by searching online at www.cie.org.uk/recognition. Employers worldwide also recognise Cambridge International AS- and A- Level results as reliable records of academic achievement. Good A-Level results can give students access to a range of professional and vocational courses that can help build their skills for an exciting career. A-Level qualifications are also accepted by many national and private universities in Nepal.

Benefits for Learners
The wide variety of subjects available for study at Cambridge International AS- and A-Levels—55 in total—means learners can choose a study route that suits their interests and aspirations. This develops deep understanding of the subject as well as independent learning and constructive thinking skills as well as other abilities that universities value highly. This programme is flexible and provides learners the freedom to explore the various subjects they might be interested in.

When can I opt for an A-Level degree?
Students who have completed secondary education can take opt for an A-Level degree.  Three subjects at A-level and one General Paper at AS-level is equivalent to the Intermediate level in Nepal.

When do the exams take place?
The GCE examinations are held twice a year. One is held in May/June and the other in October/November.

When do registrations take place?
Registrations for the May/June exams take place in January/February, while those for the October/November examinations take place in July/August.

How does the evaluation system of A-Level education work?
A-Level evaluations are based on written examinations that use a variety of question types. These include essays and multiple choice questions. In some subjects, oral or practical examinations are mandatory. Practical examinations are a must for physics and chemistry students.

Percentage uniform marks
Percentage uniform marks correspond to the grades available (A*, A, B, C and so on) and give students additional information about their academic performance. The Percentage uniform mark range for each grade is as follows:

Grade    % uniform mark range
A*    90-100
A    80-89+
B    70-79
C    60-60
D    50-59
E    40-49
l    The percentage uniform mark shows students whether they are in the middle of a grade, or near either the top or the bottom of it.
l    It does not affect the grade they receive, but gives them additional information about the same.
l    It will appear on their certificates.   

When do I get my results?
The results are sent in six-seven weeks after the exams in the form of Statement of Results. Certificates for candidates who have successfully passed the exams are normally sent out six weeks after the issue of results.

Where, in Nepal, can I enrol to study courses that will lead to a GCE degree?
The British Council website (www.britishcouncil.org/nepal) lists all recognised GCE schools in the country, including their contact information. It will be best to prepare for the exams after attending classes at one of these registered institutions. Each college typically has its own rules regarding the number and types of subjects offered, as well as the duration of the A-Level course. Currently, there are 41 institutions in Nepal which provide A-Level education to students. Out of these, 37 are affiliated with the British Council.

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