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What is the International A-Level and how does it work? We’ll explain simply.

In September 2018 international students living outside the UK will be able to study the Edexcel International A Level (IAL) with UK students cannot study IALs. Recently updated subjects offered are Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Business, Economics,  Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Pure Mathematics, and Information Technology, though 19 subjects in total are offered. The qualification will be recognised by international universities and doesn’t have the same ‘all or nothing’ exam approach that current UK A levels do.

Fast Facts

Year introduced 2013
Known as Edexcel International A Levels (IAL)
Examination board Pearson Edexcel
Subjects offered 19
Subjects included Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Business, Economics,  Mathematics, Further Maths
Target audience International students
Available for UK students? No
Assessment Flexible modular exams
Resits Possible at multiple times throughout the year
Coursework None. 100% external assessment
Student age 17 and 18
Study period 2 years
Grades A*-E
Equivalent to Ofqual regulated AS and A levels offered in the UK (certified by UK NARIC)

How do they work?

International students study IALs in schools abroad. They cannot be studied by students in the UK. Students can study AS and A2 Levels separately. Instead of doing big exams at the end of their second year as the UK A Levels currently work, students are assessed on smaller separate units throughout the two years. They have multiple opportunities to take exams- in January, June, and October. This means that they have fewer exams all at once, have the opportunity to resit individual modules, and also receive ongoing feedback. This modular approach reduces pressure on students as they don’t have to do all the exams at the end of their second year, it increases flexibility and increases chances of success as they can resit exams. There is no coursework, and the grade is 100% externally assessed. The content of the courses meets the same high standards as A-levels set by other UK examination bodies and is designed for international students. Top-ranked international universities around the world recognise the IAL, including the UK Russell Group, the Australia Group of 8 (Go8) and top-ranked universities in North America and Asia.  This enables students to progress to undergraduate level study and be internationally competitive.

How do they differ to normal A levels?

  • Students cannot study them in the UK
  • Flexible, modular structure means that learners are assessed on each unit rather than in a big final exam
  • Multiple exam opportunities – in January, June, and October- fewer exams all at once
  • Feedback from exams throughout the course rather than all at once
  • AS and A2 can be taken separately- greater flexibility
  • Contain internationally relevant content
  • Externally assessed
  • Learners have opportunity to resit individual unit exams
  • 100% external assessment
  • No coursework

How are they similar to normal A levels?

  • Globally recognised qualifications by the best local and international universities
  • Provide the same progression route as normal AS and A-Level
  • Challenging course and quality educational content guided by rigorous accreditation standards
  • Significant support and learning resources available online- examiner reports, subject advisor experts, teacher training available for schools running the course

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