Confused about which pre-university programme to pick? Not sure which one is best? Everyone has a point of view. We’re sure you’ve heard that one qualification might be more rigorous, more prestigious and more recognised than the next. But which one will maximise your chances of getting into your top choice university? And most importantly, which one is best for you? Here a few key points to consider when deciding:

  • Duration
  • Depth
  • Difficulty
  • Recognition
  • Flexibility
  • Method of assessment
  • Cost

The Big Picture

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What you need to know

A-Levels: The Traditional Route All universities in the UK accept A-Level qualifications. Leading British universities (Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Imperial College) and Medicine undergraduate admissions place a greater emphasis on A-Levels. What are the drawbacks? If you’re coming from overseas, you will probably need a strong command of the English language as the course material can get pretty tough, pretty quickly. Failure rates are relatively higher than Foundation failure rates. However, compared to the IB, there are opportunities to re-take specific exam modules. International Baccalaureate: A Well-Rounded Route Inspired by a famous French education named Marie-Thérèse Maurette, the IB will be celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2018. The IB is the most diverse pre-university programme available, offering students 6 subjects. It encourages an inquiry-based approach to education and aims to make graduates of the diploma more well-rounded, globally minded. However, the IB may not be a good fit for everyone. The IB requires students to take subjects within the following 6 disciplines:

  1. Language and Literature
  2. Language acquisition
  3. Individuals and Socities
  4. Sciences
  5. Mathematics
  6. Arts and Electives

The breadth may not be a good fit if you’re thinking about focusing on one study area (e.g. Business or Art) and looking for a more streamlined route to university. It is also considered a difficult programme, and it can be tough to get the high grades required by many top universities.

The Foundation: Getting there quicker

Foundation courses are shorter in length (one-year-long instead of two) and allow students to focus on their desired study area from across a wide range of academic disciplines. This is ideal for students who are ready and excited to jump into the subject they wish to study at university. In fact, many universities offer foundation programmes that prepare their students for the undergraduate degree. For instance, you could pursue a Foundation in Engineering before starting the BA/BSc in Engineering at a particular university. There are drawbacks, however. Foundations are most recognised in the UK and are not accepted by a handful top universities including Oxford and Cambridge. However, if you’re set on a particular university programme in the UK, then Foundation might be the best option for you.

Planning your Study Route

Ultimately, whichever you pick, there are no tricks around studying hard for success to get into your top university. But taking the time to think through your decision can make that journey a little easier! 

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