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Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Riyadh, Jeddah – Students’ dilemma

Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Riyadh, Jeddah – Students’ dilemma
Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Riyadh, Jeddah – Students’ dilemma
A Levels or IB

Students in the Middle East are facing a challenging decision: to undertake A Levels or to select IB diploma. Although, it may not be fair to compare one pre-university programme with another when their objectives and philosophies may widely differ. But the fact remains, the implications of this decision can have a direct impact on future admissions in universities, courses for undergraduate degrees and careers of students.

To make the correct choice the following factors are important to consider:


Historically, in the Middle East most of the schools offered either A Levels or IB Diploma. However, this is now changing. GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis (WSO) has now been accredited to offer A levels, the IB Diploma Programme and the IB Career-related Programme. The implication of this changing trend would mean that parents & students will not have to choose schools in Sharjah or Jeddah based on whether they offer A levels or IB rather the choice of pre-university qualification could be decided after the admission in the school.

A Levels

A level is the official high school qualification in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, where students normally take three or four subjects. Edexcel and Cambridge Assessment International Examinations (CAIE) also offer international versions of the British A Levels in the United Kingdom and worldwide. A levels are a well-established qualification and have been around for over a century, giving students flexibility to choose from a range of subjects. A Levels are offered in 160 countries of the world.


The IBDP is a two-year programme for 16 to 19-year-olds. According to the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) 3,293 schools in 153 countries offered the IBDP programme. The number of IBDP’s offered worldwide between 2012 and 2017 has grown by a staggering 39.3 percent. Compared to A levels, IB has 06 subjects. One point parents normally raise is the factor of price as IB diploma is perceived to be more expensive. Major areas of strength for IBDP students include: encouraging independent inquiry, nurturing an open mind, and developing a global outlook.

4 subjects of A Levels vs 6 Subjects of IB.
In-depth expertise vs Global Perspective

The debate of which is the better programme for students will continue as both have different objectives and different ways of disseminating knowledge.

In some ways students who really focus on particular subjects at undergraduate degree at University then perhaps A levels would be more advisable while students who want to have a more general undergraduate degree at university perhaps should consider IB Diploma.

Universities’ preference

Universities in Europe in countries like Holland, Germany etc. are becoming more and more global and are encouraging students with IB qualifications to apply. Universities in United Kingdom led by Oxbridge do usually take more students who have done A levels. In the United States acceptance of IB Diploma in universities is on the rise. However, in leading Universities especially for degrees in pure sciences, A levels is highly respected.

Final word
The above mentioned factors have been discussed to assist students in Qatar, UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia to make the right choice for the pre university qualification which can then help them in attaining their life goals.