Applying to university with IGCSE and A Levels

Whether you are enrolled with an international online school like CambriLearn or a top South African high school, you may be wondering whether or not applying to university with IGCSE is not only possible, but will gain you entry into university. 

In this article, we will provide you with information about the IGCSE and A-levels qualifications, how to apply to a university with an A-level qualification, and the equivalency of the IGCSE and A-levels in South Africa. We will discuss some guidelines for applying to universities and take a look at some of the admission criteria for South African universities and their application processes for A-level students.

What are IGCSE and A-levels? 

The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) is a two-year international curriculum offered to students between the ages of 14 and 16 years old. It is recognised worldwide by universities and employers, and is designed to prepare students to further their academic studies by completing their A-levels.

Advance level qualifications, or A-levels, are internationally recognised qualifications that are required for entry into many university courses and professional training opportunities. A-level qualifications in any given subject usually take two years to complete. The first year is devoted to AS (Advanced Subsidiary) studies and the second year consists of A2 level work, the combination of these two courses comprise an A-level qualification. Students typically study A-levels between the ages of 17 and 18 years old.

What is the IGCSE and A-level equivalent in South Africa?

In South Africa, IGCSE is equivalent to Grade 11. IGCSE is internationally recognised as being equivalent to the GCSE in the United Kingdom and also the replacement for O-levels in many countries. The first year of A-levels (AS or Advanced Subsidiary level) in a given subject, is considered to be equivalent to a South African matric or Grade 12. However, students will need to complete both years of their A-levels in order to apply for a university programme

Can A-levels students apply for university in South Africa?

A-levels students can definitely apply for university programmes in South Africa. They will usually apply for degree courses during the year before they sit their A-level exams, much like traditionally-schooled Grade 11 learners. Students are then given offers on condition that they achieve certain grades at A-level. Once students have passed their A-levels with the required grades, they will receive a final acceptance from the university.

Which South African universities accept A-levels?

Most South African universities accept AS level qualifications as an initial application, as it is an internationally recognised qualification. However, students will need to pass their final A-level exams with the required grades in order to finalise their acceptance.

Most of the top universities in South Africa, including the University of Cape Town, the University of the Witwatersrand, and Stellenbosch University, accept A-levels provided the combination of subjects chosen conform to the university’s admission requirements and criteria. These can vary depending on the programme and the university you wish to apply to, and students may need to meet additional requirements beyond their A-levels qualification.

So, do your research into the specific admission requirements for the universities and programmes that you are interested in and aim to meet those requirements accordingly. This may include taking additional exams or meeting language proficiency requirements, depending on the university and programme. 

It is important for students and parents to research as much as they can about the university and the programme that they wish to enrol with, in order to fully understand the application requirements for their unique choice.

A-level requirements for universities in South Africa

Whilst the A-level qualification is recognised by universities and colleges worldwide and prepares students for further academic study, the admission requirements and criteria for universities and colleges can vary depending on the institution and the location. Therefore, it is essential for students to research and understand the specific admission requirements for their desired university and programme. 

As a minimum, most South African universities require four AS level subjects and one IGCSE subject. However, some additional requirements over and above A-level qualifications may include taking specific subject packages, writing additional exams or meeting language proficiency requirements. So, remember to do your research for the specific university and programme you want to apply to.

Applying to university with A-levels

Here are some general steps that may be involved in the university application process:

  • Research the universities and programmes: Research universities and programs that interest you and determine the admission requirements, deadlines, and procedures.
  • Meet the admission requirements: Ensure that you have met all of the admission requirements, which may include specific A-level subjects, grades, language proficiency requirements, and other criteria.
  • Submit an application: Submit an application to the university of your choice. The application may require personal information, academic transcripts, essays, and other supporting documents.
  • Pay application fees: Some universities may require an application fee, which varies depending on the institution and the programme.
  • Wait for a decision: After submitting your application, you will need to wait for a decision from the university, which may take several weeks or even months. If you are accepted, you may need to submit additional documents such as financial statements or health records.

Attending a university is definitely a rite of passage into adulthood for many young adults, but the process can be daunting and sometimes even overwhelming. We hope that we have been able to give you some clarity when it comes to  applying to university with IGCSE and A-levels, as well as on the next steps in your journey to make entering the next phase of your life just a little bit easier.

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