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Cambridge A Level ( equivalent to H.S.C in Bangladesh)

The A Level (Advanced Level) is a U.K subject-based qualification for students aged 16 and above conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education, as well as a school leaving qualification offered by the educational bodies in the United Kingdom and the educational authorities of British Crown dependencies to students completing secondary or pre-university education. They were introduced in England and Wales in 1951 to replace the Higher School Certificate. Obtaining an A Level, or equivalent qualifications, is generally required for university entrance, with universities granting offers based on grades achieved. Most higher education institutes require a minimum of 3 subjects.

A Levels are generally worked towards over two years. Normally, students take three or four A Level courses in their first year of sixth form, and most taking four cut back to three in their second year. This is because university offers are normally based on three A Level grades, and taking a fourth can have an impact on grades. Unlike other level-3 qualifications, such as the International Baccalaureate, A Levels have no specific subject requirements, so students have the opportunity to combine any subjects they wish to take. However, students normally pick their courses based on the degree they wish to pursue at university: most degrees require specific A Levels for entry.

A Levels are split into two parts, with students within their first year of study pursuing an Advanced Subsidiary (A’S) qualification, commonly referred to as an AS or AS Level, which can either serve as an independent qualification or contribute 50% of the marks towards a full A Level award. The second part is known as an A2 or A2 Level, which is generally more in-depth and academically rigorous than the AS. The AS and A2 marks are combined for a full A Level award. The A2 Level is not a qualification on its own, and must be accompanied with an AS Level in the same subject for certification. Due to the fact that AS Levels are considered less academically rigorous, the A* grade is reserved for those taking the subject to A2 standard, so only A2 units contribute to this grade.

In Bangladesh, the GCE AS and A Level are offered by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CIE) after completion of GCE O-Level or IGCSE (CIE), and is conducted by the British Council. GCE Advanced Level qualifications are offered by some of the private, public and international schools as an alternative to HSC (Higher Secondary School Certificate) offered by the Governments Board of Education. It has become a popular choice among students, but due to financial implications, its reach is limited to the middle and upper classes in major cities such as Dhaka and Chittagong.