Advanced Level General Certificate of Education (A Levels)

If you are considering what's your next step after secondary school, here's what you need to know about Advanced Level General Certificate of Education (A Levels)!
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Jaideep Patel
Publisher for the Malaysia and Singapore offices of GTI Media Asia.


The A Levels was first introduced in 1951 as a standard requirement for entry into universities in the UK. Over the years it has become a globally recognised pre-university qualification.

In Malaysia, A Levels courses are offered by private universities. If you decide to undergo the programme, you will have the option of taking a minimum of 3 subjects out of a total of 60 subjects. With technically no limit to the number of subjects you can take, it is easy to get overwhelmed but remember that most universities only require a minimum of 3 subjects for entry.


The duration of an A Levels course can be anywhere between 15 months to 24 months. This depends on where you take the course.


There are multiple intakes for the A Levels course each year, depending on the college or university of your choice. Most private institutions typically offer intakes in January, March, July and/or September.

Structure & assessment

The A Levels is further broken down into 2 parts, starting with the Advanced Subsidiary (AS level) which is akin to the foundation level of the A Levels. 

This is followed by the A2 level which is the second (and more complex) part of the A Levels syllabus.

There are major exams at the end of each level. In a nutshell, 50%of your total scores come from your AS level, while the remaining 50%comes from your A2 level.


The A Levels is 100% exam-based. While generally viewed as a difficult course, the truth is that the A levels syllabus is a little more comprehensive than some of the other pre-university courses you can take. Focusing on your A Levels can actually prepare you for what’s ahead which is your degree course.

Expert tips

  • Research on the many private universities that offer the A levels!
  • Ask yourself if you are ready because the A levels is a difficult course!
  • Look at other pre-university courses if exams aren’t your thing!

It is RIGHT for you if…

  • You like exam-based learning
  • You want to focus on just a few core subjects of interest
  • You want to prepare yourself for competitive degrees such as medicine or law
  • You want a good chance of entering a respected overseas university 

It is WRONG for you if…

  • You prefer to be assessed based on coursework, projects or presentations
  • You want to go for practical or hands-on courses such as the creative arts, architecture or hospitality
  • You feel that you are not academically-gifted in the traditional sense