Pre-U: My A-levels Experience.
Hello there! This post will be all about my experience with A-levels, and hopefully it’ll help you decide if its the right pre-university course for you. I’ve listed all the main points (that came to my mind at least) below to make it easier for you to read through them. If I’ve left out anything or if you have any questions, comment down below or get in touch!
- In Malaysia, for A-levels, you can typically choose to study 3 or 4 subjects. I chose 4, and they were Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. Of course, 4 subjects meant more work, but it proved to be a great advantage. Not only will you have more choices of undergraduate courses, but the extra subject can help you stand out from the hundreds of students applying. Most colleges in Malaysia have a range of subjects to choose from, including Law, Accountancy, and English Literature, depending on your interests and future plans. In my case, I wanted to do Biomedical Sciences, and so taking the 3 Sciences and Maths was an obvious choice.
- The course is divided into 2 main examinations across a year and a half (18 months) in Malaysia, most of the time. The first part of the course is called the AS Level, short for Advanced Subsidiary, and the second part is the A2 Level, short for Advanced Level. Your overall grade will be 50% from AS and 50% from A2, AS being the easier part of the course. Therefore, its very important that you really focus and do well in AS, because it’ll help you score a good overall grade. Speaking of grades, the final result isn’t a CGPA, rather A’s, B’s, or C’s etc. The exams occur twice a year, simultaneously all over the world; its an international course. So you have the May-June exams and the October-November exams.
- Depending on the subject, you’ll have 2 to 3 papers to sit for in the exams. The Sciences have 3 papers each in AS, and it was 2 for Maths. For A2, it was 2 papers for the Sciences and again 2 for Maths. If you take Maths, you’ll study general Maths and a choice of either Statistics or Mechanics. 4 subjects may seem little, but the divisions of papers is anything but little.
- Nobody tells you this when you’re applying for A-levels, but its difficult. A-levels really demands your time, hard work and undivided focus. I’m not saying this to scare you, rather to prepare you. I wish someone would have done the same when I started. Is it impossible? No. Will it challenge you? Definitely. It will take up every minute you have, it will frustrate you and will drive you crazy. But here’s the thing: I wouldn’t have done anything else. As much as I suffered, I would do it all over again. Throughout that year and a half, every minute I had was spent studying. Anyone who’s done A-levels, and done it well, will tell you this. Literally half of the whole intake left the course after AS. If you’re sure this is what you want, get ready to commit to the course.
- All that being said, I found that I learned a lot during A-levels. I don’t mean just studying to pass the exams, because really, that won’t work with A-levels. Rather, really gaining information and knowledge. Most of the topics we covered were really interesting, including those we learnt in Physics (which is surprising, really).
- The college that I went to was the best college I could have been to. The lecturers were the best teachers I’ve ever, ever had. They really put in all their time and energy to providing you with most things you’ll need to study the topics. They were extremely helpful, and made A-levels that bit better for me. I really can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done.
This is a pretty general compilation, as I’m not sure if there’ll be loads of you who’ll be interested in taking up this course. Again, do let me know if you’d like to know more or ask questions. Good luck with your studies!