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In a region where we are spoilt for choice in post-secondary education, it is important to understand your options. Although the number of schools in this area offering an English-speaking curriculum is growing, the number of university entry programmes is still fairly limited. Some schools offer alternatives but many students choose between A-Levels and the International Baccalaurate (IB).

Perhaps less well-known amongst international families originating from outside the UK, the British A-Level programme provides a gateway to universities worldwide and is available to students of all nationalities and educational backgrounds.  It is a two-year course, during which students usually choose three or four “AS-Level” subjects in their first year, before moving on to take full “A2-Level” examinations in their second year. Universities usually require students to complete A-Levels in three subjects for admission to an undergraduate course but students may take more if they wish. This allows students to specialize and at the same time drop subjects they may have less interest in or in which they struggle.

Like the A-Level programme, the IB diploma is a two-year course. However, the IB requires students to be alrounders: they must study three subjects at higher level and three subjects at standard level, choosing from five distinct subject groups in their best language, a second language, social sciences, the experimental sciences, and mathematics. The sixth subject can be an arts subject or another subject from the list above. There are also additional modules, including the extended essay, theory of knowledge and Creativity, Action and Service progammes.  

Conversely, A-Levels allow students to develop specific areas of strength or interest, thus enhancing prospects for those who are not naturally alrounders to access the university of their choice.

As Year 11 students gear up to make the choices for their final two years of study at senior school, it is clear they need to start thinking about their potential subject choice for university. To help parents find out more about the A-Level programme, and to see how well it matches their children’s abilities, working styles and aspirations and for university, three experts from English-speaking educational establishments in Geneva and Vaud have teamed up to provide their own unique insights on this programme: Sabine Hutcheson, Academic Director at TutorsPlus; Sarah Frei, Head of Marketing at Brillantmont International School; and Raji Sundaram, Principal at British School of Geneva.

Sabine Hutcheson, a new guest blogger announced this week on knowitall.ch, told us  “Students in year 11 need to make a choice now about which path they take next year; understanding the A-Level option could be crucial to their academic success and a better chance for a university career of their choice."

Raji Sundaram, Principal at the British School of Geneva, the only school in the Geneva area offering an A-Level programme, summarised its benefits as follows:
"The A-Levels definitely suit a particular type of student, one who is good in certain academic areas. Being forced to do subjects that you are not interested in takes attention away from ones in which you can excel. The GCSEs, that precede the A-Levels, offer a variety of subjects, thus providing a well-rounded education across the board. The A-Levels are a safe bet if you are planning to go to university in the UK or anywhere else in the world, including North America, Australia or Europe."

Sarah Frei, another guest blogger on our site, has already written a short article article about the benefits of A-Levels versus the IB. Click here to read the article and to download the detailed Whilte Paper on this subject, prepared by Brillantmont School in Lausanne, for students and their parents.

If you have the slightest inkling that your child may be more suited to the A-Level programme, or just simply want to find our more about it, you are strongly advised to come along to this special event, which will be hosted at the British School of Geneva, on 28 January between 1800 and 19h30. There will be a question and answer session at the end of the evening.

A-Level Programme Information Evening
British School of Geneva,
Av. de Châtelaine 95A
1219 Châtelaine

Tuesday 28 January 2014
18h00 to 19h30
Click here to download flyer