Do I Need A-Levels to Study Abroad?


A-Levels or NCUK’s International Foundation Year: Which is Best?

If you’re looking to study at university abroad, you need to choose the right pathway to get you there. There are many options available to international students, but two of the most popular are A-Levels and the NCUK International Foundation Year. Here we’ll compare them to help you make the right decision for you.

Who Are They Designed For?

A-levels are designed primarily for UK students, while NCUK International Foundation Year is exclusively designed for international students who have completed their local high school qualifications such as IGCSE, WASSC in Nigeria, or Gao Kao in China. If you’re looking for the ideal fast-track route to top universities worldwide with no compromise on the quality of your education, the NCUK qualification is probably the one for you.

What Subjects Do They Offer?

For A-levels, you would pick three to four modules from a wide range of specific subjects. With the NCUK International Foundation Year, you select three subject modules from a list of options that includes Art & Design, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Economics, Further Mathematics, Global Studies, Mathematics (Business), Mathematics (Engineering), Mathematics (Science), Physics, and Sociology. Students also benefit from NCUK’s English for Academic Purposes (EAP) module – equivalent to IELTS – eliminating the need for further English proficiency proof.

comparison table

How Are They Assessed?

The assessment of A-level exams tends to be spread out across several days, adding up to 5-6 hours. The NCUK International Foundation Year offers a more balanced approach, with exams taking less than three hours and subject modules being assessed by a mixture of coursework and exam, both contributing to the final grade. This is similar to the assessment model used at universities.

How Long Do They Take to Complete?

The NCUK International Foundation Year can be completed in just 9 months, allowing a faster route to university without compromising education quality. In some cases, the qualification can even be completed in 6 months, depending on Study Centre availability. In contrast, A-levels take two academic years to complete.

What are the University Progression Options?

With A-levels, students have a broad range of universities to choose from. NCUK guarantees* entry to an NCUK University Partner on completion of the International Foundation Year, and 90% of NCUK students progress to their first-choice university, with 80% graduating with a first or second-class degree.

What Support Services are Provided?

Both NCUK Study Centres and A-level delivery centres provide university application support services. However, NCUK give you a dedicated Student Support team and a Student Counsellor to guide you through processes such as writing personal statements, providing guidance about courses and university progression options, and much more.

A-Levels vs NCUK

If you’re looking for a faster route and guaranteed entry to a leading university and a balanced assessment model, the NCUK International Foundation Year is the right choice for you.

For more details on how to study with NCUK, simply click here. And you can *check out our University Entry Guarantee here.