Steven Gist (USA)

A-levels and U.S. University Credit

by Steven Gist | February 14, 2012 | Steven Gist (USA) 0 Comments

A_Level_TrainingWhen I work with students from countries that follow the British educational system, I’m frequently asked if U.S. universities give university-level credit for qualifying GCE Advanced Levels (A-level) results.  The simple answer is yes.  Most U.S. colleges and universities will offer university-level credit for A-levels.  This is also the case for Malaysian STPM results, Sri Lankan A-levels, and other A-level equivalents from around the world.

Two inevitable follow up questions are, “How much credit is given?”, and “What do students have to do to have their A-level work recognized by a U.S. university?”.  The answers to these questions are a bit more complicated since they vary from university to university.

How Much Credit?

The amount of credit offered usually depends on the A-level subject studied, and the grade earned on the subject exam.  The most common policy is to give students six credit hours for subjects without labs (e.g. math, economics, etc.) and eight credits for subjects with labs (e.g. chemistry, physics, etc.).  Students typically have to earn a “C” or higher to receive this much credit, though some schools require a “B” or higher.  Some universities will offer half of the above-mentioned credit for non-failing grades lower than a “C” (or “B” depending on the school’s criteria for offering full credit). Some universities will not award any credit for grades lower than “C”.

For those unfamiliar with the credit system in the U.S., students must pass 128 credit hours (give or take a few hours) to earn a bachelor’s degree.  To graduate in four years, students must earn at least thirty-two credits per year, or sixteen credits per semester (there are typically two semesters in one academic year).

With this in mind, let’s take, as an example, a student who studies history, economics, chemistry and physics as A-level subjects and scores two As and two Bs, respectively, on the exams.  At most U.S. universities, this student would earn six credits for the economics and history classes, and eight credits each for chemistry and physics.  The total number of credits earned would then be 28, which is just shy of a year’s worth of university credits n the U.S. (See Table 1 below).  The most credits I’ve seen awarded for A-levels in my ten years of working with international students is 32.

Table 1

A-level Subject Grade Earned U.S. Credits Earned
Economics A 6
History A 6
Chemistry B 8
Physics B 8

Total Number of U.S. Credits


How Do I Get Credit for My A-levels?

In the same way that credit awarded for A-levels differs from university to university, the way in which A-level work is evaluated for credit can differ from university to university, as well.  Some universities, for example, require students to have their A-level results evaluated by a third-party credential evaluation service.  The most commonly used are World Education Service (WES) and Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE).  (As a side note, if a university requires you to get an evaluation, and ECE is an approved evaluator, I would definitely go with ECE.  They are easy to work with, and the process tends to take less time, and be less expensive than using WES).

Some universities will do their own evaluation, and will ask students to provide the syllabi for the A-level subjects they studied along with the A-level score report.  Other universities have worked with A-levels enough that they will have a chart or table on their website which lists the subjects they will accept, and how many credits they will give for each subject along with the qualifying grade.

In Summary

U.S. universities will award university-level credit for GCE A-levels and similar qualifications from around the world.  The amount of credits awarded, and how the credits are evaluated differ from university to university.

Our Partners

All of our partner universities offer credit for A-levels results.  Contact us to find out what you’ll need to do to have your A-levels recognized by these universities.

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