International A-level exam is a star performer


A-levels may have their detractors in the UK but the international version of the exam is proving popular abroad.

Many countries, including the United States and China in particular, are turning to them to help their examination system out of difficulties, believing they still represent the “gold standard” of the international exam world.

“International A-levels are featuring very strongly in the United States, India, Pakistan and China,” said Michael O’Sullivan, the head of Cambridge International Examinations, which markets both the international GCSE and A-level. “It does very well in New Zealand, too.”

Mark Vella, the director of studies at Auckland Grammar School in New Zealand, said: “Cambridge International  A-levels are the ‘gold-standard’ qualification.”

At present, around 435,000 students around the world are taking the Cambridge International A-levels, compared with just 270,000 five years ago.

It is in the US that the drift towards them has been the most marked. For years, it had no central direction over what kind of curriculum should be taught in schools, but there has been a drive towards a common core in recent years, Mr O’Sullivan said.

Many schools and colleges now believe that the international A-level will leave them better prepared for higher-education study, he added.