How do I choose my A-Levels
Internationality runs like a red thread through her biography. Viola Wiegand attended the bilingual branch of the Felix-Klein-Gymnasium in Göttingen. She went to Texas for a year abroad. Today she studies English linguistics in Hong Kong. It was useful that her school also offered the International Baccalaureate (IB) in addition to the Abitur. Because with this degree she received a full scholarship from the Chinese university.
International school-leaving qualifications are becoming increasingly interesting for German students. This applies to those who, like Viola Wiegand, are contemplating studying abroad. But also for those who are constrained by the German school system, says Mirjam Auweiler, boarding school advisor at the Carl Duisberg Center in Cologne. After the shortening of the upper level, it is no longer so easy for the students to take a break abroad. "The uncertainty as to whether the achievements at the host school will be recognized for the Abitur makes the parents nail their heads: The children then directly graduate abroad."
In Germany just 49 schools offer the "International Baccalaureate" (IB), 31 of which are boarding schools or international schools and 18 are normal grammar schools. Often times, when students move to boarding school abroad, they can choose between the IB and UK "A-Levels". The degrees differ significantly in terms of content, structure and subsequent study options.
The IB comprises a two-year program similar to the German upper level. The students take six subjects: three of them with 150 hours for the "Standard Level" and three with 240 hours for the "Higher Level". Similar to the Abitur, compulsory areas must be covered. The IB has five: language and literature, foreign languages, natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, and social sciences. The sixth subject is freely selectable. In contrast to the Abitur, all subjects are weighted equally in the exam. Students collect a maximum of 45 points. At 24 they passed.
The A-Levels, the school-leaving qualification that British students bring with them for university studies, work very differently from the German system. "If I have passed a German Abitur, I can use it to study medicine, but also to become a music teacher," says Mirjam Auweiler. British students, on the other hand, knew early on which subject they wanted to take at the university. Accordingly, they choose their focus at the A-Levels. In the "Lower Sixth Form" you can choose between four to five freely selectable courses in which you will be examined after one year. Then they set three of them in the "Upper Sixth", in which they want to complete the "Advanced Levels", or A-Levels for short. In a fourth subject, they take the less demanding examination at the "Advanced Subsidiary Level" (AS level).
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