15 FEB 2023
Many of CGA’s full-time and part-time students choose to take the International GCSE and A-Level offerings, which are recognized around the world as being extremely rigorous and university-preparatory. A-Level courses allow students to focus on their best subjects; with no mandatory course choices, students are able to take the subjects that they enjoy, not ones that are imposed on them.
A great way for students to supplement their development is to simultaneously take Collegeboard’s Advanced Placement courses alongside their International GCSE and A-Level courses. Advanced Placement (“AP”) courses are the predominant university-preparatory courses in the United States. These courses enjoy many of the same advantages and worldwide recognition as the A-Levels do. They are rigorous, mirroring the difficulty and content of a first-year university course. They are also assessed through an exam at the end of the course, with consistent grading standards for students all over the world.
Academics are the most important piece of university admissions around the world, and elite universities admit students based on their proven academic capabilities. One of the best ways to showcase academic excellence is to maximize your opportunities by taking the most rigorous courses available to you, and by taking more university preparatory courses. By combining Edexcel (IG + AL) courses and APs, students can go above and beyond while also exploring a multitude of different subject areas. This not only benefits them for university admissions, but allows them to deeply explore all of their academic interests without having to make sacrifices when selecting subjects.
Consider the example of a full-time student studying A-Levels, who is deeply interested in the nexus of business, entrepreneurship, and technology. As a student taking solely A-Levels, this student would select a combination of subjects such as Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics, and Economics. By taking an additional 1 or 2 AP courses, this student could further demonstrate their interest in technology by taking AP Computer Science A, where they could learn about algorithms, programming methodology, and Java. In this way, this student would have an incredibly rigorous preparation in mathematics (from AL Math and Further Math) while also exploring their interests in business (AL Economics) and programming (AP Computer Science A). This student would have an additional qualification beyond all students taking just 4 ALs, demonstrating their intellectual curiosity.
For students who are very interested in universities in the US, we always recommend a strong foundation of math and science subjects throughout high school. An A-Level student who is taking Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and Psychology could supplement their course load by taking AP English Literature or Language, demonstrating their proficiency in STEM and humanities subjects in order to stand out. The liberal arts based curriculum in the US favors students who are well prepared in core disciplines but can confidently read, write, and communicate with others. AP English Literature or Language would mean that this student has a much stronger academic foundation when heading into university.
For part-time students, taking an additional AP course is a great way to achieve additional depth or breadth from their course choices. International Baccalaureate students are typically restricted to taking only Mathematics + 2 Sciences in their course choices. An IB student who is especially passionate about the sciences could choose to take the 3rd science as an AP course with CGA. Other examples include students taking subjects beyond subject limits at their primary high schools - AP courses are very flexible in this regard, and allow students to learn a subject at a very high level in only a year.
Finally, one great benefit of taking AP courses is that they can count for credit towards graduation or advanced standing at many universities in the US and around the world. As AP courses are seen as rigorous, first-year equivalent difficulty (alongside A-Levels and IBHL courses), students who take these courses can feel like their achievement in high school is helping them in an extremely tangible way for their future university studies. University credit can shorten the time it takes students to graduate, or allow them to pass out of basic requirements in mathematics, english, sciences, etc. so that they can focus on high level courses in the specific areas that are relevant to their major and career interests.