International GCSE, A-Levels, AS-Levels – What Do They All Mean?

06  International Gcse A Levels As Levels What Do They All Mean
Posted on: 18 Feb 2020

When it comes to qualifications, these are 3 of the most recognised you’re likely to come across, and with good reason.

High school education isn’t what it used to be. That is to say that the possibilities open to a hard-working student are nothing short of global, and all it takes is the right qualification. 

And when it comes to qualifications, these are 3 of the most recognised you’re likely to come across, and with good reason.


First of all, it stands for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education. It is generally a two-year programme leading to externally set, marked and certificated examinations. Any student who takes an IGCSE subject will be gaining a qualification that is recognised globally, however, in most cases the GCSE is equivalent to grades 10 and 11, and not 12 which would be considered a ‘school leaving’ qualification.  


The A-Level (Advanced Level) is a subject-based qualification which forms part of the General Certificate of Education, as well as a ‘school leaving’ qualification offered to students completing secondary or pre-university education. 

A-Levels are recognised globally as one of the leading qualifications for university admissions, meaning if a student is looking to further their education abroad, an international A-Level qualification is highly advisable. 


Advanced Subsidiary Level represents the first component of an A-Level qualification and would be best described as a precursor to A-Level qualification. 

So, what exactly is the main difference between A-Levels and AS-Levels? They are taught in a similar way, but A-Levels are more advanced and take longer to complete with AS-Levels being similar to the first year of an A-Level course. 

The benefit of this is it means keeping your options open about which subjects to study as a full A-Level further down the line.

In South Africa, AS-Level qualification is regarded as very similar to a standard Matric. 

You might now be asking yourself, “But which is better, is there a real difference, and which should one look at to keep the most opportunities open?”


Well, while there are many factors that can, should, and will influence the decision on which qualification to pursue, possibly the most telling would be time, outlook and capability. 

Time is a factor, because it is possible through some institutions to gain a certain qualification quicker than others and therefore allows a student to move on with their tertiary studies in a more timely manner. 

Outlook when seen as the path a student wishes to take in their future endeavors, as well as the tertiary studies required for such plans is very important because many universities will have acceptance requirements which a student should be gearing themselves towards and that comes first as the correct qualifications for acceptance.

Capability is a bit more of an internal understanding of what a student may or may not be able to handle at their current level. Some students simply don’t have the passion for studious behaviour and while a good education is always vital and encouraged, the path of least resistance can often prove to be the most fulfilling for an individual learner. 

What does a student want to achieve? Where do they want to go with their education and how much time are they hoping to spend getting to their milestones? Answering these will help define the qualifications needed for any student.  

It’s worth noting that many institutions today (Valenture included) offer a Junior High qualification. This is best defined as a school intermediate between an elementary school and a high school, generally for children in the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades of ages between 12 and 15. 

A solid junior high framework forms an important base for a much more rewarding and opportunity-filled senior high school experience. 

Junior High should be seen as the stepping stone to successful International GCSE, A-Levels, AS-Levels qualifications.

Valenture Institute is a private online high school offering a curriculum recognised by the world's leading universities. Our students experience a highly engaging, inclusive and socially rich learning environment which is supported by expert teachers and mentors. 

Our unique approach includes integration with worldwide sustainability objectives and encourages the holistic development of every student towards their purposeful and impactful future.

Contact us at

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