A-Levels: From a Student’s Perspective

Aaryan Achhami (A-Levels Non-Science student at Chelsea Int’l Academy): You passed your SEE, and you are waiting for your results; college is still far away. You are trying to make the most from your holidays a few months ahead at least. To take bridge courses. You take vocational training. Start thinking about the college you would admit to. You think about the streams you would take, be it Science, Management or Humanities. Start thinking about it all. You also get a glimpse of yet another type of curriculum. Different from your traditional NEB course, A levels!
A-Levels: From a Student’s Perspective

Now I really can’t help you with all those other things I mentioned in my starting paragraph. But I surely can contribute little of my knowledge and experience of A levels. I can brag about it, and maybe it will help you decide if you want to take A-Levels as a course for studying high school.

So on with it, Let’s start with the merits.

So first, simply defining A levels, It is a Cambridge course taught worldwide, across many countries, Nepal included. The very fact that the syllabus is generalizable to the rest of the world makes this course very appealing.
The other basic facilities provided by A levels that make it more Appealing are:

Flexibility in the choice of subjects:

The first benefit I think of studying A levels is its flexibility. The subject choice is so versatile and sound. There is absolutely no rule as to whether you can take certain subjects and other different subjects. Like there is no tag to your capability of subject selection. If you think you can study and do good in any subject you choose, you are free to do so. This option of choice and this flexibility are necessary and relevant at this stage of our life, when we have just finished school and are trying to understand ourselves and our interests and which threads to hold on to for our future.

A practical example of what I just said:

You like mathematics and say you are good with numbers and calculations. But you are also good at writing essays, and you are genuinely attached to social sciences, like sociology. If you were to study the traditional course in our country, you would have to give up one of those two subjects if you want to study. The NEB course does not allow you to take on both subjects whose prime faculties are completely different.
But not A levels. In the A levels, it matters not if the subjects you choose don’t coincide with each other. You can take physics and still study Art and Craft. You can take bio or chemistry and still sit at music lectures. This is the flexibility and ideal study method established by A levels. Subjects don’t matter. Your choice of what you want to pursue and the study does.

Helpful in terms of self researching and seeking syllabus related help:

I mentioned above, A-level is an international course taught using the same methods, same books, and accessories, the same syllabus everywhere. So if you take A levels, and you bought, and now you are browsing your new psychology book, know that some other kid of your age in America or Canada or China or Ghana or any other country in the world is perhaps also doing the same thing. This has a ton of merits for you as a student, as someone who’s just started to learn and explore new boundaries. You can connect based on your syllabus worldwide. As an A-levels student, I should warn you beforehand that there will be some days when you return home exhausted and frustrated over the topics discussed in class because they were complicated and you understood nothing. The solution at those moments (thankfully to the grace of A-levels) are:

You can always consult google or look up Youtube videos regarding that topic. There are millions of videos on the web about the subject content of A-levels because millions of them out there are teaching and studying A-levels worldwide.

A-Levels broaden that community of learning. Till grade 10, you may have had a small friend circle or just a few tutors around you to help you out at times, But since you are studying A-levels, it’s easy to find people on the web making videos and explaining those problems and confusions about the subject topics to you.

Helpful if you are applying abroad:

As I have mentioned quite a lot, A-level is a highly generalizable course. So if you want to try abroad studies after completing college, the universities out there are more inclined to give you admissions and scholarships on the basis of your grades in A-levels.

Involvement in Extra-curricular activities:

If you believe that there is much more to life than just appearing at tests and doing your home assignments, then A-levels are a good fit for you. A-Levels believes in the academic and the overall development of a student. So you can expect a whole lot of debate competitions, sports seminars, vocational training and a wide range of creative outlets that compel you to think of your college phases, more than just academics and presentations.

Good for quality learning individuals who prefer self-study and research more than lectures:
All those students with weird study methods that often shake the fabric of our traditional study, here is your section!! So Yes, if you prefer to study alone and go in-depth into the content and learn from all the sides that offer your subject content, studying A-levels may be your first step. The A-level curriculum demands more from students than teachers.

The basic concept is; that you check out the topics of study, research about it, and you know it. Now it seems like you don’t need a teacher to do these things. I know it sounds so much cooler then. But the teachers are also necessary for you in this phase. In case of any confusion and questionnaires, there is nothing better than a second person talking sense about the topic to you and dealing with your problems. And all of these scenarios are only possible if you put in the effort first.

Also, the subject content is so much practical here at A-levels. Even in major tests, you are asked to critically view and answer your questions. In science subjects like physics, you are not asked to memorize the formulas but to use them in extravagant situations. Parrot learning will harm you in A-levels because it’s not just about how much you can memorize. It’s about how much you can defend and analyze what you have learned throughout your seminar.

So the conclusion of this segment, A-levels compel you to contribute to your subject issues first. You have to study first and raise your hands here if you want to learn and pass your test. Simply sitting silently in the class and copying whatever the teacher with the marker writes is not enough, and it shouldn’t be; after all, we are here to learn not to copy what someone older subscribes on the boards of our class. And also, A-levels demand your practical intuition of your subjects. Subjects here really help you to be more analytical. If you agree that these terms are important to you, then A-levels are for you.

Flexibility to choose when you want to give your exams:

Yet another aspect to students that means a lot, EXAMS!!! We all loathe the system of sitting for exams; that’s just natural instinct if you are a student. But what depresses more is that someone else who makes the routines decides when we give our exams, someone who does not know or care if we are prepared for it.
Well, A-levels have a different path on this journey. No stranger decides when you will give your exams; you decide when you want to sit for your exams. This gives you the authority to decide and evaluate yourself. Are you ready to give your exams? Would you expect more marks if you sit for exams later on? Would your results be better if you sit all of your exams at once, or would it be better to have three or two of your exams this semester and give the rest in your next semester?

When you ask yourself these questions, two things are very clear; you have control over the time and date you are sitting for your exams. This relieves the mental pressures of exam dates nearing your calendar and helps you study in relief and calm.

You start to think and evaluate your decisions like an adult, and in case you do bad, you cannot blame the educational system or anyone else in that matter because it was you who decided the date you would give your exams, so it’s either your passiveness towards your studies or you study methods lagging. And knowing these things will help you study hard for the next exams.

Now, if you are still reading this far, Good! And.., Get ready because the appealing section about A-levels has ended. It’s going to be all Game of Thrones down this hill, so embrace yourself because there are many things to consider before choosing A-levels.

It is Expensive:

Okay!! Hard facts first. Studying A-Levels is super expensive, at least for our country. It has its fair share of reasons for being expensive but surely it is not enough to convince all the parents to enrol their children on A-levels. The Average monthly fee for A-levels in Nepal is Range between 15-20 thousand rupees. YES!!. The truth is; that the sum of money to be invested for you each month is huge, and so is your parents’ expectancy towards you. You are more likely to hear phrases like, “ why so average marks? I invest my life’s savings on your education, and your return is this?” or “ get out of my house!!”

So…. It’s best to think about your finances before taking this expensive course, and above that, think of your return of the share your parents or guardians are willing to invest. Always ask yourself if you can really perform good and take the best of your experiences from this course because money doesn’t last forever, and proper investment is necessary.

It demands a LOT!

A-levels have been known to have in-depth features in subjects that require students to do more than they have ever done in their school days. Just Memorizing and reading books is better than nothing in A-levels because there is little or no straightforward answer to any questions. You need to know more, and you need to be able to interpret it in a way that seems critical and diverse. And to do that, you need to research an awful lot. So, what I mean by all of this is, that making a routine of 2 hours of study time after college is not going to be fruitful. You have to be willing to give more than that, not just on the scale of hours but on the scale of concentration you perceive towards your studies. It’s not going to be easy.

Your Answer should match the mark scheme:

If you catch up with any A-levels students near you, you will likely hear that their result is always depressing. This is because our answers will not be checked by our teachers. It’s not even going to be checked by any teacher in our country. Your answers will travel the whole world before coming back to you in the form of grades. And due to this, the answers of students in Nepal may not be satisfactory for the teachers in the USA. This can be a backlash for you.

It does not guarantee abroad studies:

Now I know that you think A-levels will help you get abroad admissions, and you are right. In some significant sense, it does. But it does not guarantee it. It’s not that just because you studied A-levels, you are going straight to a university in a plane waiting to take you there, No. This false mentality has lived in our country since A-levels were established. In many cases, parents indulge their children to see them fly away to another country.

This mentality is false in so many different ways. First, The British Council here in Nepal did not establish the Cambridge curriculum in Nepal to send students abroad. No, they did not. It’s just that other universities recognize this course, so there is a merit that you may not have to give the IELTS exams to go abroad. But simply believing that the money you spent on A-levels will lead to Harvard and Cambridge without breaking a bone is idiotic. I didn’t say it won’t, but it can happen only if you show your efforts and manage to secure good knowledge and experience from this course.

So, this is all from my side. Points and paragraphs for you as a guide to whether or not you should take A-levels. I want you to think about these points beforehand and don’t just apply to A-levels just because you want to fly abroad as soon as possible. Think about all of these merits and demerits of A-levels and decide for yourself if you can fit here or not. If you think you can, go for it. If you don’t think you can, no worries, there are a lot of other courses you can choose from here in Nepal, which all have their fair share of merits.

This is your decision. I just mentioned things about the course because I am currently studying it. The entire article is something that I wanted my past self to know about A-levels and what to expect from them. And yes, yet again, I say this; No matter what you choose, be sure to give all of your effort to it.

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