Difference between A-Levels and University Studies
In terms of academics, the transition to University from A-Levels was largely smooth for me. This somewhatowed to the subject combination I had in A-Levels. I study Accounting and Finance and the combination of ‘Accounting’, ‘Economics’ and ‘Mathematics’ in my A-Levels proved really relevant. There were so many things in my first year that I had already studied in my A-Levels. However, there were other modules that were completely new and this made it more interesting.I will try to analyze a few key aspects like Method, Difficulty level, and Examinations that can help you compare University with A-Levels.
Firstly, at A-Levels, people usually study three subjects. Some might opt for four. Or even five! At University, there are 10 modules (subjects) a year and 8 for finalists. As daunting as it sounds, it isn’t! The ten modules in my first year were spread over five for each Term 1 and Term 2. Term 3 was all about Revision and Exams. As I mentioned, five modules for each term works in a way that you are burdened appropriately. It is not a 2 year A-Level course that they expect you to master in a 10-week term. There are usually two lectures and a seminar each week for every module.
Secondly, for me, most of the exams worked in the typical A-Levels way. Accumulate all year and then face the wrath of summer examinations. The weightage of summer exam depends on the module. Some modules base the summer exam on a 100% weightage. Others for instance might just be weighing summer examinations on 60%. In that case, the rest 40% is made up from tests or group projects or essays earlier in the year. You may even be done with a module in January as some have early exams. I was done with a Term 1 module- FOB in Jan as it had a 90% essay due in Jan and a 10% assignment earlier in December. But as I said it all depends on modules and also the course you are doing.
In my first year, as I mentioned earlier, I felt the difficulty level was nearly alright. There were of course certain parts of the course which required a lot of concentration. However, the difficulty level never soared to a point where I felt demotivated due to it. And as I keep saying, the motivation level depends on your interest. Comparing it with A-Levels, in the first year, in terms of content, the difficulty level was largely consistent or narrowly higher.
This is nothing to brag about but just to back my argument that I never got any grade below an A in A-Levels. This showed that I did excel there. Coming to University though, I heard so many people saying University is easy. You just need to relax there all day. All I can say for that is University is not easy, if you want to make it easy, there will be of course negligible supervision unlike A-Levels. But be warned, you get what you give. I did relax a bit with academics and ended up with a 2:1 (65%) overall. This is not exactly bad but I also just pulled it off due to the sudden realization I had in Term 3 and the efforts I put in then. I still think that this is not excelling. I could have excelled if I had scored a ‘first’. To do that, you need to put a consistent effort all year. By effort, I never mean that you stop going out, shut everything and be boring. The most I ask is to do the seminar work. At University, for a moment I lost the thought that success always comes with hard work. I did realize in the end but if I had put in an effort all year, my first year would have been a perfect story. Because apart from academics, I was very satisfied with the range of extra circulars I got involved in.
Generally, it also can depend on how passionate you are for your course that determines your academic success. I believe that you can be on an advantage with a course-relevant subject combination earlier in A-Levels/ IB. However,it may just smoothen the journey for a short period because after a while everything is new. And from then on, it is just your interest that will lead the way!! Hope that helped. J
P.S: All of this is based on my First Year experiences from University as I cannot confidently evaluate second year until I am done with it and get the results.