FAQs about Edexcel IALs for international centres

Find answers to the most commonly asked questions about our International Advanced Levels. 

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General background information

No. Edexcel International Advanced Level qualifications are not available to centres in the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Additionally, British Armed Forces schools based overseas are not able to make entries for these qualifications. 

  Edexcel A levels Edexcel International Advanced Levels
Structure

Modular structure until 2015. A linear structure will apply from first teaching in 2015 with all exams taken at the end of the two-year A level courses in some subjects.

AS will become a standalone qualification from 2015.

AS can be used as a stage on the way to completing an Edexcel International Advanced Level or as a stand-alone qualification.
Assessment
  • Mix of coursework and examinations until 2015.
  • June examinations only.
  • No coursework (100% examination).
  • January and June examinations.
Recognised by universities? Yes. Yes.
Regulator Regulated by Ofqual. Regulated by Pearson.

The UK government and Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in England) announced the following changes to A levels for awarding organisations in England:

From 2013 onwards

  • The January examination series will be immediately removed from all Ofqual-regulated A levels, including Edexcel A level qualifications. Edexcel A level examinations can now only be taken in June of each year.
  • Edexcel A level specifications and assessment remain unchanged.

From 2015 onwards

  • New A levels are to be redeveloped for first teaching in September 2015 in the facilitating subjects* (except Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Geography and languages), along with six additional subjects:
Facilitating subjects to be redeveloped for September 2015: Additional subjects to be redeveloped for September 2015:
English (Language, Literature and Language and Literature) Psychology
Physics Art and Design
Chemistry Sociology
Biology Business Studies
History Economics
  Computer Science
  • The new A levels will be linear, with examinations taken only at the end of the course.

  • Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Geography and languages require more fundamental work and will be developed for first teaching from September 2016.

  • AS levels will be stand-alone qualifications from September 2015 onwards and will no longer contribute towards an A level grade.

While our revised Edexcel A level qualifications will continue to be offered around the world, we recognise that requirements applied to A level qualifications delivered in England may not suit the needs of all students around the world. This is why we’ve developed a new suite of Edexcel International Advanced Levels qualifications that are of a comparable standard to the Edexcel A level.

These qualifications are only offered outside of the UK, and give our international customers the choice to take exams in both January and June. We launched these qualifications globally in September 2013, with the first examinations taking place in January 2014.

(*The Russell Group of leading UK universities define facilitating subjects as English (language, literature and language and literature), mathematics and further mathematics, languages (classical and modern), physics, chemistry, biology, history and geography.)

Textbooks used for the current Edexcel A levels can also be used for Edexcel International Advanced Levels. There is no need to purchase additional textbooks.

We offer International Advanced Level qualifications in eight popular subjects: Mathematics, Economics, Business Studies, Accounting, Law, Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

How changes to Edexcel GCE A levels in England will affect international centres and students

Yes. The UK government has asked all awarding organisations in England to remove the January examination window for all A level subjects. Ofqual has advised us that this applies to all centres teaching Ofqual-regulated A level qualifications, wherever they are in the world. 

There are now no January examinations for A level qualifications. Students who started studying the current Edexcel A levels from 2012 will now only be able to sit exams in June.

In response to this, we developed our new Edexcel International Advanced Levels, a new suite of A level qualifications specifically for international centres, which have both January and June examinations.

Yes, if the student is studying one of the following Edexcel International Advanced Level subjects:

  • Mathematics
  • Business Studies
  • Economics
  • Accounting
  • Biology, Chemistry, Physics (100% written exam specification).

Students who have banked completed A level units before June 2013 will be able to combine these with the new IAL units up to June 2015. They will be awarded an Edexcel International Advanced Level at the end of the course.

Yes, in most subjects, although this doesn’t include those qualifications that are not available in the UK and therefore are not regulated by Ofqual. Students sitting examinations in the following subjects will be awarded an Edexcel International Advanced Level qualification instead of an Edexcel A level:

  • Accounting
  • Law
  • Biology, Chemistry, Physics (100% written exam specification).

Yes. These qualifications will continue to include practical coursework and will now only have examinations in June of each year.

International students who have completed the assessment for units 1, 2, 4 or 5 of the A level science specifications can have these results put towards an A level qualification. However, they will have to complete the coursework requirements for both AS and A2 (units 3 and 6) of the A level science specifications. Students will need to be registered for these coursework units so that external moderation can be arranged.

Our new Edexcel International Advanced Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Physics are assessed through 100% written examination instead of coursework, with exams in January and June of each year. 

The existing Edexcel A level specifications in Biology, Chemistry and Physics (with 100% written examination instead of coursework), Law and Accounting are being moved into our new suite of Edexcel International Advanced Levels. Other than the name of the qualification, there is no change to the content or assessment of these specifications. The only change you will find is to the specification covers, which have been updated to reflect the new qualification titles. 

Yes, the new International Advanced Level specifications are available to download from the subject pages on our website, accessible from the International Advanced Level homepage.

We’ve also produced mapping documents for Business Studies, Mathematics and Economics to outline the changes in content between Edexcel A level and Edexcel International Advanced Level specifications. Mapping guides can be found in the course materials for each subject.

Resitting, results and progression

Edexcel International Advanced Level qualifications are already recognised by many leading universities in the UK and internationally. You can find the growing list of universities accepting these qualifications on our Edexcel IAL university recognition list and our Edexcel IAL university recognition guide

Yes. Where an International Advanced Level unit is taken more than once by a student, the better result of the last two attempts will be used for the qualification award. A level units from 2013 or before will not be counted.

Yes. The new Edexcel International Advanced Level will have an AS/A2 split, which means AS can either be taken as a stand-alone qualification or used as a stage on the way to completing an Advanced Level. 

Students with results achieved in or before June 2013 for Edexcel A level units in Mathematics, Business Studies, Economics, Accounting, Biology, Chemistry and Physics (100% written exam specification) will be able to combine these with the new IAL units for an Edexcel International Advanced Level qualification.

A level unit results from awarding organisations other than Pearson can only be transferred to an Edexcel International Advanced Level in specific circumstances. These arrangements are designed for individual candidates who need to transfer to complete their A level studies. Learn more about transfer of credit arrangements here.

Results for International Advanced Level units cannot be put towards an A level qualification.

No. Edexcel International Advanced Level qualifications are not available to centres in the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. If you wish to complete an A level in the UK, you'll need to sit examinations for the Edexcel GCE A level. Unfortunately, Edexcel International Advanced Level unit credit cannot be transferred to our GCE A level qualifications.

Find out more about our GCE A levels.

Edexcel IALs in science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics)

Edexcel A level Biology, Chemistry and Physics

All A level science specifications offered in England must comply with the A level subject criteria for science issued by Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in England).

The subject criteria for A level science state that:

“In the six-unit GCE A level science subjects, one of the assessment units at AS and one of the assessment units at A2 must be internally assessed. Each of the internally assessed units at AS and A2 must include the assessment of practical skills.”

Edexcel A level qualifications in Biology, Chemistry and Physics have been developed in accordance with these criteria and approved by Ofqual. These qualifications are available in the UK and internationally.

International alternative Edexcel A level Biology, Chemistry and Physics (with 100% written exam)

As A level science’s internal assessment of practical tasks and external moderation was not suitable for some of our international customers, particularly private candidates and those entering exams through the British Council, we have offered an alternative for several years.

Our 100% exam version of the specifications ensured that international students had access to an alternative specification for each of the sciences, testing the same content, but assessing students’ knowledge and understanding of experimental techniques through a written examination at both AS and A2.

This alternative version of A level science for international customers does not fully comply with the Ofqual subject criteria with regard to the internal assessment of practical skills, so it cannot be offered in England. However, it has been accepted by universities throughout the world as part of students’ applications for higher education study.

As Edexcel A level science specifications with no internally assessed coursework are only available outside of the UK, they are now part of our Edexcel International Advanced Level suite of qualifications. Only the name of the qualification has changed. The content and assessment methodology are the same as the current international version of the Edexcel A level (100% written exam version).

No, they cannot. International alternative written papers can only be put towards International Advanced Level qualifications. Edexcel A level qualifications require the completion of a coursework unit for both AS and A2, and exams can only be taken annually in June. 

Yes, that’s correct. For logistical reasons international private candidates, including all centres entering candidates via the British Council, are not permitted to enter candidates for internal assessment and therefore must take the alternative written papers. They will be awarded an International Advanced Level at the end of their course. 

Edexcel International Advanced Level qualifications are already recognised by many leading universities in the UK and internationally. You can find the growing list of universities accepting these qualifications in these documents.

Universities accepting Edexcel International Advanced Levels

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These universities have confirmed that they will accept the full suite of International Advanced Level qualifications, including science. Universities that have accepted the international versions of our science A levels in the past should have no reason to change their policy now, as the qualification remains unchanged.

Students interested in applying to universities that are not on this list should contact them directly to confirm which qualifications they will accept for entry. For further advice and guidance, please contact our Progression and Recognition team at progression@pearson.com.

The content of the Edexcel International Advanced Level and Edexcel GCE A levels in science are identical. The international version of the A level has always expected students to develop experimental skills, and a knowledge and understanding of experimental techniques, by carrying out a range of practical experiments and investigations before sitting the written exams. The only difference is how these aspects are assessed for the qualification.

Students who have completed the assessment for units 1, 2, 4 or 5 of the A level science specifications can have these results contribute to the Edexcel International Advanced Level or GCE A level. However, in order to be awarded a GCE A level science qualification, students will have to complete the coursework requirements for both AS and A2 (units 3 and 6) of the GCE A level science specifications. Students will need to be registered for these coursework units so that external moderation can be arranged.

Results achieved for the written alternative papers in 2013 or before - 6BI07 and 6BI08 (Biology), 6CH07 and 6CH08 (Chemistry), 6PH07 and 6PH08 (Physics) - can from 2014 only contribute towards an International Advanced Level qualification. Results for these papers cannot now be put towards an A level qualification. 

Contact the science subject advisor team at TeachingScience@pearson.com as soon as possible and we can try to resolve this for you.

Candidates with a combination of A level and International Advanced Level units will only be awarded an A level if both of the following conditions are met:

  • all of the units were taken in a June sitting
  • the units include coursework and not written alternative papers.

If these conditions are not met, the student can only be awarded an International Advanced Level.