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University Admission with the International A Levels


University entrance is something that’s on the mind of most students around the world. But universities around the world often have vastly different and confusing standards of admission. Luckily, students have access to a globally recognized curriculum called Edexcel International A Levels through Crimson Global Academy (CGA) - the first registered online school in New Zealand. Studying International A Levels will streamline your educational experience, helping you get into some of the world’s top universities like Harvard, Stanford and Cambridge that Crimson alumni are currently studying at. 


In this blog, we will cover how Edexcel/Cambridge International A Levels can be used to satisfy university entrance requirements in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand. 


If you want to learn more about what Edexcel/Cambridge A Levels are and how they can give you the best preparation for university and professional life, check out our blog post explaining the ins and outs of International A Levels here.

UK university entrance requirements:

  • Minimum 3 A Levels completed in the same year, some degrees allow 4 to be considered

  • Meeting minimum requirements does not guarantee admission

  • Some degrees have specific subject and grade requirements

  • Sometimes degrees require interview

  • Some degrees at certain universities require separate entrance examinations


Since the International A Levels closely resemble the British national curriculum, admissions to UK universities is relatively straightforward under the UCAS application system. Each university will have a document on their website that outlines the specific requirements of each degree program. 


Typically, you will use your best three A Levels to satisfy the requirements. A minimum requirement (e.g A*AA) for these subjects will be quoted along with any specifications of what those subjects must be. Note, satisfying the minimum requirements does guarantee admission. You must also nail the interview as well as any university specific assessments they require. Competitive programs may allow 4 A Levels to be considered for admission. 

One thing to note is that requirements differ a lot between universities and even between individual degree programs. So it’s always a good idea to check out the university’s website of exactly what those requirements are. For example, to study medicine at Oxford, the three A Level grades you use for admission must all come from the same year. 


To help with this, you can take extra Edexcel International A Levels with CGA to supplement the A Levels that you are taking at school to meet the minimum 3 A Levels in one academic year to apply to UK universities.

US university entrance requirements:

  • Minimum high school graduate equivalent (3 A Levels over the course of high school) but having more will help application

  • Academics only one of many factors considered in admissions

  • No subject or grade requirements

  • Requires interview

  • Requires standardized testing (SAT or ACT)

US universities tend to have no specific requirements or cutoff in terms of what or how many AS or A Levels you take. The number you take, the grades you achieve in them, and their relevance to your intended major are all important factors in the holistic admissions process practiced by US universities. 


For example, by the end of high school, I had completed 6 A Level subjects and 1 AS Level subject, obtaining A* in all my A Levels and >90% grade in my AS subject. But that did not guarantee me admission into any US universities, nor did it mean that I will definitely get accepted over another student who got all A* in 5 A Level subjects due to that holistic admissions process. 


Other things that US admissions officers look for besides academics:

  • Extracurricular activities

  • Demonstrated leadership

  • Authentic narrative - a unique story/meaning behind your life and your accomplishments

  • Intellectual vitality and curiosity

  • Unusual talent/ability 


Taking more and more A Levels and doing well in them is impressive to an extent to US admissions officers. However, someone who’s done 9 A Level isn’t a whole lot more impressive than someone who’s done 7. The person that did 7 A Levels probably was able to dedicate more time building up interesting and unique extracurricular activities and leadership experiences that make them a better applicant overall. 


Even though US admissions officers will consider all the A Levels you take (unlike UK/Australia/NZ where you only submit your top 3), you should still be aiming for quality over quantity. Doing 7 A Levels and getting 4 A* grades, 2 A grades and a B grade is potentially less favorable than doing 5 A Levels and nailing them all since those lower grades might make admissions officers concerned about your academic consistency.


Think you might want to have a go at taking International AS or A Levels? Luckily, with Crimson Online Academy, you can now study and sit International AS or A Levels online from anywhere. CGA offers both full-time and part-time enrolment options, so whether you want to stay enrolled in your current school and supplement your core studies with additional Pearson Edexcel International AS or A Levels, or you’re looking to join a school where you can take unlimited International A-Levels and can accelerate your learning far beyond your peers, we have an option for you. 


With dedicated teaching staff averaging 20+ years of teaching experience and a streamlined online learning platform, CGA will give you all the resources you need to (ed)EXCEL in your schooling. Download our prospectus to find out more about all the IGCSE subjects that CGA has to offer, and talk to us today about whether CGA could be right for you!

If you enjoyed reading this, check out our other blog explaining the ins and outs of Edexcel and Cambridge International GCSEs. Comment below to let us know what you’d like us to talk about next in our blog series!



About the Author

Ben Zhang is a member of the Crimson Global Academy Marketing team and a third year student at Harvard University studying Molecular and Cellular Biology with Statistics. He studied Cambridge A Levels at Macleans College in Auckland, New Zealand, where he was Dux two years in a row, achieving top in New Zealand marks for AS Level Physics, A Level Chemistry and English Literature and top in the world for A Level Biology, along with the "Best Across Three Cambridge International A Levels in New Zealand" award from the Association of Cambridge Schools in New Zealand (ACSNZ). Ben was a NZQA Premier Scholar in the NZQA Scholarship Examinations two years in a row with Top Scholar awards in Chemistry and Physics. Ben also represented New Zealand at the International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) and International Biology Olympiad (IBO), winning a Bronze Medal in IChO and a Gold Medal in IBO. You can reach Ben at b.zhang@crimsoneducation.orgfor any questions or feedback about this blog.

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