Aaryan Achhami (A-Levels Non-Science student at Chelsea Int’l Academy): So, You passed your SEE and you are waiting for your results, College is still far away. A few months ahead at least, and you are trying to make the most from your holidays. You take bridge courses, you take vocational training, you take classes for music and dances and any other things that you are interested in. You try and surround yourself with learning all these new things. Everything seems to work out as you have imagined. But at the end of the day your mind, that independent entity of yours shifts its attention towards college decisions. You start thinking about the college you would admit to, you think about the streams that you would take, be it Science, Management or Humanities. You also get a glimpse of yet another type of curriculum. Different than your traditional NEB course, A levels!
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 helps 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 all over the world, across many countries Nepal included. The very fact that the syllabus is generalizable with 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 on the choice of subjects:
The first benefit I think from studying A levels is its flexibility. The subject choice is so versatile and sound. There is absolutely no rule to whether you can take certain subjects along with 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 is so necessary and relevant at this stage of our life, when we just finished school and are trying to understand ourselves and our interests, and which threads to hold on for our future.
A practical example of what I just said:
Let’s say you like Mathematics, 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. Now if you were to study the traditional course of our country, you would have to give up one of those two subjects if you want to study at all. The NEB course does not allow you to take on both of these 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 the ideal method of study established by A levels. Subjects don’t matter, your choice of what you want to pursue and the study does.
I mentioned it above, A-levels 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 on the basis of your syllabus worldwide. As an A-levels student, I should warn you beforehand that there are going to be somedays 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 for Youtube videos regarding that topic. There are millions of videos on the web about the subject content of A-levels because there are millions of them out there who are teaching and studying A-levels worldwide.
A-Levels just 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 by now, A-levels is a highly generalizable course. So if you want to try abroad studies after completing your colleges, the universities out there are more inclined to giving you admissions and scholarships on the basis of your grades in A-levels.
Involvement in Extra-curricular activities:
If you are the type of person who believes that there is much more to life than just appearing at tests and doing your home assignments then, A-levels is a good fit for you. A-Levels believes in not only the academic but the overall development in 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 all those weird study methods that often shake the very 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. A-level’s curriculum demands more from students than teachers.
The basic concept is; you check out the topics of study, You researching about it and you knowing 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 confusions 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 this scenario is 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 the most 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 compels you to contribute to your subject issues first. You have to study first and you have to 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 simply 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 demands your practical intuition of your subjects. Subjects here really help you to be more analytical. Now, 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 instincts 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 at all if we are prepared for it.
Well, A-levels has a different path on this journey. There is no stranger who decides when you would give your exams, It is you who decides 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 if you 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; It is you that has control over the time and date you are sitting for your exams. This relieves the mental pressures of exams 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 behind. 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 a lot of 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 is. It has its a fair share of reasons for being expensive but surely it is not enough to convince all the parents to enroll their children to A-levels. The Average monthly fee for A-levels in Nepal is Range between 15-20 thousand rupees. YES!!. the truth is; 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 saving 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 who are willing to invest. Always ask yourself if you can really perform good and take the best of 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 really requires the 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 straight forward answer to any questions at all. 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, making a routine of 2 hours of study time after college is not going 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, I am sure you know that. And if you are not ready to invest all of that effort, or if you don’t think you can handle all that pressure then, maybe A-levels is not a good fit for you.
Your Answer should match the mark scheme:
Now, if you catch up with any A-levels students near you, you are likely to hear that their result is always depressing, This is because our answers are not going be checked by our teachers, it’s not even going to be checked by any teacher of our country. Your answers are going to 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 satisfied able 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 is going to help you get abroad admissions, and you are right. On 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 that’s waiting to take you there, No. This false mentality has lived in our country since A-levels was established. In many cases, parents indulge their children for the sake of seeing 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 just 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. It can, 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, who 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 would have wanted my past self to know about A-levels and what to expect from it. And yes, yet again I say this; No matter what you choose, be sure to give all of your effort in it.