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UK Education System

Understand the education system of the UK


GCSE is a two-year programme. Students study GCSE in Year 10 to 11 to prepare for the exam, which is similar to Form 4 and 5 students studying for HKCEE in Hong Kong’s old education system. Students who score 5Cs or above are eligible for A-Levels. With this certificate, they can also apply for the foundation programme in the UK.


Many overseas students see Year 10 as the beginning of their overseas studies, without considering their needs to adapt to the new environment and education system. All these while trying hard to meet the requirements of the first year programme. This may have a negative impact on their academic results. Instead, if students start in Year 9, they can spend a year to adapt to the new environment and at the same time improving their language skills, which helps them to perform better throughout the programme.

Compulsory Subjects:

Choice of 2 or 3 science subjects

Common Electives:


Most of the students in UK enter universities after completing A-Level. It is a two-year programme similar to the curriculum in Form 6 and 7 in Hong Kong’s old education system. They can choose subjects according to their future study preferences as there is no restriction on the choice of liberal arts or science subjects. In general, students take 3 to 4 subjects and they can already be eligible to enter UK universities.


Some UK private colleges, sixth form colleges and international boarding schools provide A-Level programmes with higher flexibility. It is designed for international students with better English language skills and academic performances to complete their studies within a shorter period of time, i.e. three to five semesters. Students in the one-year programme generally study 3 subjects while students in the five-semester programme can study 3 to 4 subjects depending on their abilities.

Common Electives:


International Baccalaureate(IB) is a curriculum recognised globally by international universities. The two-year IB Diploma programme is another option besides A-Level. Some international and private schools in Hong Kong also adapt this curriculum.


Compare to A-Level, IB provides more extensive knowledge. Apart from studying major subjects from six categories, students must complete other compulsory courses such as Extended Essay. In addition to the knowledge provided in textbooks, this programme aims to equip students with better writing skills, logical thinking and time management skills.

Core Subjects:
6 Subject Groups:

Common Electives:

Group 1
Language & Literature

Group 2
Language Acquisition

Group 3
Individuals & Societies

Group 4

Group 5

Group 6
The Arts or Elective

Students must choose one subject from each of the six categories. Every subjects have higher level (HL) and standard level (SL).


Students must choose a minimum of 3 subjects at higher level. The highest score is 7 in each subject.


BTEC National Diploma contains 7 levels. Equivalent to A-Level, the third level of the diploma is a two-year programme, one subject of high level BTEC is even equivalent to three A-Level subjects.


BTEC is approved by more than 200 universities globally including most of the universities in Hong Kong. This curriculum focuses on imparting practical knowledge and skills. Different from traditional disciplines, it contains subjects including business, design, and tourism. Its assessment method is mainly based on coursework and projects, with lesser focus on examinations. After completing the diploma, students will receive their UCAS score for applying for universities or work.

Common Electives: