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A good education acts as a path leading to the finer opportunities of life, but before embarking on a long and winding journey of secondary education, students must ask themselves the most important question: Intermediate or A Levels? Relevancy of the two is one of the most common debates that occur among the masses, and there are numerous opinions and pre-conceived notions regarding it.

Being an A Level student

Being a student who has lived out their entire school life under the influence of Cambridge International Examinations (CIEs), I can proudly say that I have personally experienced the benefits of A Levels. Firstly and most importantly, A Levels do not encourage rote learning, which is actually quite good because it polishes a student’s thinking skills, whereas in Intermediate, the main focus is on rote learning the subject without really understanding it. This occurs because it is commonly believed that the more pages you fill during the exam, the better grade you will receive.  In A Levels, the students do not have to memorize pages and pages of details; instead, learning just the relevant facts and figures and conveying the information in their own words would suffice. This is a very effective approach as it allows them to be creative with words and broadens their horizons. The student’s mind starts working and develops good analytical skills which are very useful for professional life. Therefore as far as, Intermediate Or A Levels question is concerned, I will go for A levels in terms of learning.

Another great aspect of A Levels is that, it offers a wider range of subjects to the students, for example French. The syllabuses are also regularly updated over the years and because of that, students get to learn new things and benefit from the fact that they do not have to learn the irrelevant stuff. They therefore have a better scope of understanding any concept given to them. In Intermediate, there is no change AT ALL in the syllabus. Whatever syllabus the students of the said education system are currently studying, has been studied by the previous generations. So much so that the same books are being used which were used almost twenty years ago. The local board of education should realize that students must be aware of the new theories and ideologies that have been introduced throughout the years.

But Intermediate Or A Levels in Pakistan?

Although the structure of A Levels is comparatively better, however, in Pakistan-a country which is economically weak Intermediate is the better choice. First of all, from a financial point of view, it is very affordable. The entire process costs roughly around Rs 5000, give or take a few, whereas the fee for ONE subject of O Level costs around Rs 8000-9000 (depending on the exchange rate of pounds into rupees) and the students have to pass the exams of minimum five subjects to be considered eligible for A Levels . Intermediate enables a huge part of the Pakistani population to actually afford an education. It may not be the best educational system, but it is still better than nothing.

Most importantly, since our government owns the various boards of education, the national universities of Pakistan are based on the core concepts of Intermediate, especially for fields like Engineering and Medical. This is where the students of CIEs face a huge disadvantage. For an A Level student to even apply for a government university, they have to provide an equivalence certificate which converts their A Levels marks into the HSC percentage. After the conversion, the over-all percentage deteriorates, and it is really unfair to the CIE students because all the As that they earned after a lot of emotional struggle and hard work, basically turns into a lower grade for the equivalence. To prevent this from happening, most students are forced to switch to Inter after their O Levels, if they wish to pursue a career in either engineering or medical. There are also students who prefer to carry on with A levels, but when the time comes for them to apply in a competitive and a recognized government university, they have to go through the entire Intermediate syllabus as the entrance test is based on those concepts. So, paying around more than Rs 60000 for CIEs, only to end up studying Intermediate, that too just to pass the entrance test of a reputable government university, is so not worth it.

Therefore, if the student is confused between Intermediate Or A Levels ans wishes to build a career in Pakistan, then Intermediate is the best choice for them. However, it must be stressed that the system of Intermediate should be updated and the students should be encouraged to not be dependent on rote learning.

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About The Author

Naureen Salim

Writer is a social sciences student at SZABIST and is passionate about Art, Literature and Greek Mythology.

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