Chapter 3 – A-Level Alternatives

A-Levels are not the only post 16 option. The main academic alternatives are the IB and Pre-U.

A-Levels are still by far the most popular choice, but the IB and Pre-U are increasing in popularity, and are more favourably marked by the UCAS tariff, as they are generally seen to be more academically challenging.

Check out our curriculum guides to IB and Pre-U for more information, but here are some of the main differences between them to consider:

IB Pre-U
Greater breadth

The IB requires students to take 6 subjects (3 to Higher Level), and has requirements on which subjects students must take to ensure true well-roundedness.

Additional elements

The IB requires students to write an Extended Essay, take a kind-of philosophy course called Theory of Knowledge, and complete 150 hours of extracurricular activities over 2 years.

Entirely linear

All exams are taken at the end of 2 years, but this is now less of a differentiating factor between A-Levels.

Certain subjects not available

The main subjects which are available for A-Level are also available for IB, but some of the more specific ones, such as Film Studies and Sociology are not available.

Greater breadth

On top of 3 main subjects studied in Pre-U, students study 2 supplementary subjects. Like with A-Levels (and contrary to IB) there are no restricted subject combinations.

Additional elements

The Pre-U requires students to write an Independent Research Report and take a course called Global Perspectives.

Entirely linear

All exams are taken at the end of 2 years, but this is now less of a differentiating factor between A-Levels.

Certain subjects not available

There is more subject choice than with IB, but still less choice than A-Levels.