Comprehensive Guide to GCE O’Levels

September 15, 2020 | intermediate students | 0 comments

O-Level stands for Ordinary Level. It is the first part of GCE (General Certificate of Education) that students have to go through to complete their schooling. The second part is the A-Level. O’Level in the final certification for secondary school, to be taken in the fifth form or year 11 at approximate age 17 (or age group 14-16). Students who have completed their O’levels can opt for A-Levels, Foundation, diploma courses, or can simply leave school.

Cambridge International Examination (CIE) is an American Council for Higher Education and Edexel International and it offers O-levels. Most schools in the UK have replaced GCSE with O’Level but it is still used in many Commonwealth countries. Initially, O’levels were the only exam based on no proper classes, which was beneficial for students who worked part-time or evening classes. However, this approach was often criticized by educationists as it could not analyze the students completely and fairly.


Cambridge O Level

Cambridge O’Level is an internationally recognized qualification equivalent to Cambridge IGCSE and the UK GCSE. It is specially designed for foreign students or students who want to study abroad. The curriculum is designed to provide the needs of all students, particularly those whose first language is not English. 

In some parts of the world, schools use O’level as an international alternative to the local board examinations. 



There are more than 40 subjects available in any combination to provide the building blocks of creating your own curriculum. Students normally take 7-9 subjects in the O’Level exams, with maximum allowable 14 subjects. The categories include subjects from; English Language and Literature, Mathematics, Sciences, Languages, Humanities & Social Sciences, and Business, Technical & Creative.

There are about 130 hours allocated for one Cambridge subject, but the hours that a school offers depends on various factors. The course overview is provided but it solely depends on the school on how they teach the students. Some students have the option to choose more than 6 or 7 subjects and some only choose the minimum required. In order to follow a broad and balanced curriculum, most candidates take courses from each of the five Cambridge O’Level. It usually takes two years to complete the O’level and the exam happens at the end of the two-year session.



There are different methods and ways through which students are assessed. These include written, oral and practical tests. The results come out in the form of grades (A*- E) instead of numbers or marks. Grade U (Ungraded) is commonly regarded as failures.

There are two exam sessions held in a year, one in June and the other in November.



The students who have done O’Levels are usually preferred in international universities for degree programs and other opportunities because it provides a curriculum that already compatible. Countries like the UK and USA will admit students in their universities on the basis of their O’Level grades, Grade C in Cambridge O’Level English Language satisfies the English proficiency requirements.


Difference between Cambridge IGCSE and O’Levels


Features of Cambridge IGCSE
  • The grades awarded are from A*-G.·        
  • Uses a variety of techniques to test students    
  • Students are supposed to follow proper coursework·        
  • Candidates are rewarded on the basis on how well they perform
Features of Cambridge O Level

Cambridge O’Level shares some of these features, but the following differences should be noted:

  • Candidates are only awarded grades from A* to E, where A* is the highest achievable grade.
  • Less coursework is involved in schooling       
  • Students are assessed mostly on the basis of written and oral tasks.        
  • There are more restricted practical test options in Cambridge O’Level sciences.

The British Council and CIE are the ones to conduct their examination in Pakistan. O’Level qualification is equivalent to the matriculation system that is being offered by the Government of Pakistan. Due to the high costs associated with O’Level qualifications, their reach is limited to middle to elite class families. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *