GCE Advanced Level in Sri Lanka

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The Sri Lankan Advanced Level (A-level), is a General Certificate of Education (GCE) qualification in Sri Lanka, conducted by the Department of Examinations of the Ministry of Education. Similar to the British Advanced Level. It is usually taken by students during the optional final two years of Collegiate level (Grades 12 & 13 or external (non-school) candidate, after they have completed GCE Ordinary Level exams. The majority of candidates enter the exams via their respective schools, while candidates who have finished school education can also apply as a private applicant. The qualification is also used as an entrance exam for Sri Lankan state universities. The exams are held in three mediums: Sinhala, Tamil and English.

Fields of Study[edit]

The students should study for 2 years at collegiate level before taking the examination. The examination diversifies over 5 major fields of study,

  1. Physical Science Stream (Combined mathematics, Physics and Chemistry/information technology )
  2. Biological Science Stream (Biology (Botany and Zoology), Physics and Chemistry)
  3. Commerce Stream
  4. Arts Stream
  5. Technology Stream (The subjects include Engineering Technology, Bio-system Technology, Science for Technology and a category subject)

In each stream, students should face 3 subjects . Additionally there would be a General English test and a Common General test. Although the result of the General English test is not taken into account for the University Entrance selection criteria, students are expected to obtain a pass mark for the Common General test.

Exam procedure[edit]

The exams are conducted each year in August, in selected national schools across the country. Invigilators and supervisors are appointed by the Department of examinations and they are typically qualified teachers of the local school system. The students are allowed to sit for the exam 3 times to qualify for a state university, i.e. the student can attempt 3 times in 3 years. Students can sit for the examination any number of times inorder to qualify for private courses or any other job requirements. If a student fails to gain entrance to a state university or a desired course in his/her first attempt, he/she has two more opportunities to attempt again and gain the required marks to make up for his desired course/university. The test assessments are carried out by marking panels usually consisting of qualified and experienced school teachers in service who are guided by supervisers(usually university lecturers). It takes about 4-5 months for the final results of this islandwide examination to be released and students have to wait for around one year to enter a local university, depending on the university and the course/field of study.

Physical Science Stream[edit]

Physical Science Stream is also known as Maths Stream. Mathematics Stream has four main subjects: Combined Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Under the newest syllabus students can choose between either Chemistry or ICT as subjects, though Combined Mathematics and Physics are mandatory. Combined Mathematics is a combination of Pure Mathematics and Applied Mathematics. Previously, the students had to follow these two subjects separately; by introducing Combined Mathematics syllabi, the two separate subjects were appended and redrafted.

The curriculum also consists of practical experiments that students are expected to participate in school laboratories.

Biological Science Stream[edit]

Biological Science Stream consists of three subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Agricultural Science as an optional subject. Students can choose either Physics or Agricultural Science.

Commerce Stream[edit]

Commerce Stream has three main subjects. They are Accounting, Business Studies and Economics. Students do have the option of selecting either Business Studies or Business Statistics and Economics or Information Technology (IT)

Technology Stream[edit]

This is the newly introduced stream for the examination. The subjects include Engineering Technology, Bio-system Technology, Science for Technology and ICT or any other subject from the category. Also students can choose either Engineering Technology or Bio-system Technology to study. Science for Technology is a compulsory subject for both Engineering & Bio-system students. But number of schools is limited or null to some areas for those who want to study those subjects. â

Arts Stream[edit]

Arts Stream consists of Arts, Languages, Logic and Aesthetic subjects.


It has been noted that in recent years the exam has become extremely competitive and even traumatic for most high school students in Sri Lanka. For the academic year of 2013, out of 144,816 students who met the minimum requirements for university admission, only 16.5% were able to gain access to the state universities through the University Grants Commission (UGC).[1] Due to the intimidating nature of the exam most students get severely depressed if they fail to achieve desired results. Many cases of suicide have been linked to the exam due to family pressure and social stigma resulting from the exam results.[2]


  1. ^ "Academic Year 2013/2014" (PDF). University Grants Commission - Sri Lanka. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  2. ^ "Student who failed A/L's commits suicide". Hiru News. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 

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