GCE Ordinary Level

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This article is about the secondary school leaving exam once taken in the United Kingdom. For the equivalent exam in Sri Lanka, see GCE Ordinary Level in Sri Lanka. For the CIE O Levels taken in Singapore, see Singapore-Cambridge GCE Ordinary Level.
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The O Level (Ordinary Level) is a subject-based qualification conferred as part of the General Certificate of Education. It was introduced as part of British educational reform in the 1950s alongside the more in-depth and academically rigorous A-level (official title of qualification: General Certificate of Education - Advanced Level) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Those three jurisdictions replaced O Levels gradually with General Certificate of Secondary Education and International General Certificate of Secondary Education exams over time. The Scottish equivalent was the O-grade (replaced by the Standard Grade). The O Level qualification is still awarded by CIE Cambridge International Examinations, the international counterpart of the British examination Board OCR (Oxford, Cambridge & Royal Society of Arts),[1] in select locations, instead of or alongside the International General Certificate of Secondary Education qualifications. Both CIE and OCR have Cambridge Assessment as their parent organization.[1] The Cambridge O Level has already been phased out, however, and is no longer available in certain administrative regions.[2]

Current usage[edit]

Brunei[edit]

In Brunei, the O Level qualification is offered, with examinations conducted by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE).

A number of subjects, including English Language, Bahasa Melayu, Malay Literature, Islamic Religious Knowledge, Ulum al-Quran, Hafaz al-Quran, Tafsir al-Quran (Asas), History, Geography, Arabic, Art and Design, offer exam papers and syllabuses unique to Brunei. Additionally, the Mathematics (Syllabus E) subject previously offered an exam paper and a syllabus unique to Brunei, but this has since been retired and the regular syllabus used worldwide is offered. This is equivalent to secondary education now.

Malaysia[edit]

In Malaysia, the O Level qualification is offered (SPM), with examinations conducted by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE). The English Language subject was previously offered with an exam paper and a syllabus unique to Malaysia, but this Malaysia-specific qualification has since expired, and the regular English Language exam paper and syllabus used worldwide is now used within the country.

Mauritius[edit]

In Mauritius, the O Level qualification is awarded as part of the School Certificate, which is awarded upon successful completion of Form V in secondary school. The O Level examinations are jointly conducted by the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate and the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES). The International General Certificate of Secondary Education from Edexcel is also offered as an equivalent alternative qualification, for which exam registration may be done through the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate.

A number of subjects, including English Language, English Language (Syllabus B), History, Mathematics (Syllabus A), Mathematics (Syllabus D), offer exam papers and syllabuses unique to Mauritius. Additionally, the subject of Art and Design, the offering of which is restricted to a limited geographic region, is available in Mauritius.

Seychelles[edit]

In Seychelles, the O Level qualification is offered, with examinations conducted by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE). Some subjects are unique to Seychelles or have a format, curriculum, or syllabus that is unique to Seychelles.

Singapore[edit]

In Singapore, the O Level qualification is offered jointly by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) and the Singapore Ministry of Education. The examinations are mainly conducted by CIE, with select subject examinations conducted by the Singapore Ministry of Education, including select mother tongue subjects, such as Chinese, Malay, and Tamil, and also the Combined Humanities (Social Studies) subject.

A number of subjects, including Arabic, Arabic as a Third Language, Art, Art (with Coursework), Bahasa Indonesia as a Third Language, Bengali, Burmese, Business Studies, Combined Humanities, Design and Technology, Drama, English Language, Food and Nutrition, German, Gujarati, Higher Art, Higher Music, Hindi, Japanese, Mathematics, Music, Panjabi, Physical Education, Principles of Accounts, Religious Studies (Bible Knowledge), Thai, and Urdu, offer exam papers and syllabuses unique to Singapore. Additionally a number of subjects, including Additional Mathematics, Biology, Biology (with Coursework), Chemistry, Chemistry (with Coursework), Commerce, Computer Studies, Economics, Geography, History, History (World Affairs 1917 - 1991), Literature in English, Physics, Physics (with Coursework), Science (Chemistry, Biology), Science (Physics, Biology), Science (Physics, Chemistry), previously offered exam papers and syllabuses unique to Singapore, but these have since been retired or planned to be phased out.

Pakistan[edit]

The GCE O Level qualification is offered in Pakistan by the CIE and conducted by the British Council. O Level qualification has become a replacement for the matriculation qualification offered by the Government boards of education. Due to the high costs associated with O Level qualifications, their reach is limited to middle to elite class families. It is common knowledge that the CIE qualification are more rigorous than their alternatives that exist in the country.

Zimbabwe[edit]

The GCE Ordinary Level qualification is offered by the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC), with the first localised Ordinary Level examinations being written in 1990 and full localisation of this particular qualification being completed in 1995.[3] Before, this qualification was jointly offered by Cambridge International Examinations and the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture in Zimbabwe.

Former usage[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

The GCE O Level qualification originated in the United Kingdom, where it was awarded as the secondary school-leaving qualification. It was primarily an examinations-based qualification, with a grading system that changed over the years. In the United Kingdom, the O Level qualifications were replaced with the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).

Caribbean[edit]

The O Level qualification was previously awarded in the Caribbean. However, many Caribbean countries have now switched to awarding Caribbean Secondary Education Certification (CSEC) qualifications based on successful completion of examinations administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).

Hong Kong[edit]

The O Level qualification was previously awarded in Hong Kong, along with the Hong Kong version of the A Level qualification. However, this was replaced with the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) which was then replaced with the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE). The HKCEE was previously benchmarked against the O Levels for comparable subjects, but with the introduction of the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) qualification the Hong Kong equivalent qualification was then benchmarked against the IGCSE.

See also[edit]

References[edit]