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Calling all British and US students: A-levels vs AP

  1. Jun 14, 2006 #1
    Are A-levels or AP exam(s) is/are more difficult?

    Would someone do a honest comparison A-levels and AP courses.

    Is there a differnce in what covered in the Physics, other sciences, Maths, English, Forgein Language, History, Geography,Psychology, and Philosophy?http://www.cie.org.uk/CIE/WebSite/WorkingWithCIE/regional/US/index1.jsp

    Go to A-level section
    Biology
    www.exam.net
    Syllabi
    2006 Syllabus download PDF
    2007 Syllabus download PDF
    2008 Syllabus download PDF
    Physics
    here
    Syllabi
    2006 Syllabus download PDF
    2007 Syllabus download PDF
    2008 Syllabus download PDF
    Psychology
    Syllabi
    2006 Syllabus download PDF
    2007 Syllabus download PDF
    2008 Syllabus download PDF
    Question Papers
    2004 Question Paper 1 download PDF
    2004 Question Paper 2 download PDF
    2004 Question Paper 3 download PDF
    A & AS Level History 9697
    Syllabi
    2006 Syllabus download PDF
    2007 Syllabus download PDF
    2008 Syllabus download PDF
    Question Papers
    2004 Paper 1 download PDF
    2004 Paper 3 download PDF
    2004 Paper 5 download PDF
    2004 Paper 6 download PDF
    Resource List

    Mathematics
    2006 Syllabus download PDF
    2007 Syllabus download PDF
    2008 Syllabus download PDF
    Mathematics (Further)
    2006 Syllabus download PDF
    2007 Syllabus download PDF
    2008 Syllabus download PDF
    Mathematics (Higher)
    2005 Syllabus download PDF


    http://www.edexcel.org.uk/home/
    Biology (Human)
    T2 Exemplars (Individual Studies) - No 5
    Investigating the effect of IAA on the elongation of oat coleoptiles PDF (1 MB)
    01/09/2002
    French
    QCA Consultation of GCE AS/A level subject criteria for Modern Foreign
    PDF (17 KB)
    20/04/2006
    History
    Coursework and Teachers' Guide (Issue 4)
    Issue 4 of the GCE in History Coursework and Teachers' Guide PDF (1 MB)
    23/03/2006
    Specimen papers and mark scheme - part 2
    PDF (2 MB)
    05/10/2005
    Mathematics:
    AS GCE in Mathematics (8450)
    C3 Answers PDF (50 KB)
    04/04/2006
    Advanced GCE in Mathematics (9450)
    Final Specification
    This file contains the new Advanced Subsidiary/Advanced Level GCE PDF (1 MB)
    27/10/2004
    AS GCE in Pure Mathematics (8452)
    Final Specification
    This file contains the new Advanced Subsidiary/Advanced Level GCE
    Advanced GCE in Pure Mathematics (9452)
    Final Specification
    This file contains the new Advanced Subsidiary/Advanced Level GCE
    AS GCE in Statistics (8453)
    Specification PDF (711 KB)
    01/09/2002
    Advanced GCE in Statistics (9453)
    Mathematics Information Booklet 5
    Spring 2006 PDF (85 KB)
    04/01/2006
    AS GCE in Applied Mathematics (8455)
    PDF (2 MB)
    03/12/2002
    AS GCE in Discrete Mathematics (8456)
    Specimen Papers and Mark Schemes (Part 2)
    Part 2 of 4: Key to marking and Pure Maths mark scheme PDF (1 MB)
    03/12/2002

    http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 14, 2006 #2

    brewnog

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    That link was just for the edexcel website. That's just one of the boards which controls A level curricula.
     
  4. Jun 14, 2006 #3
    brewnog I know that ,but, they also ofer International exams that was the reason I used them.
     
  5. Jun 15, 2006 #4

    Chi Meson

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    I found a syllabus outline of A Level physics at http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/2003/syll.htm . According to this, I can say that A Level covers more material than AP. I'd estimate it's about 20% more "breadth," but I can't tell from the outline how the "depth" compares.

    A Level is equvalent to the IB "higher level" curriculum (I teach both AP and IB, BTW). IB-HL and A Level are different only in small degrees. I can't compare the difficulty of the testing since I have never seen an A Level sample.
     
  6. Jun 15, 2006 #5
    Almost off topic, why the HELL are hyperbolic functions not on the AP Calc AB test???????????

    AP classes make the teacher teach for the test. I now know this first hand :(
     
  7. Jun 15, 2006 #6
  8. Jun 15, 2006 #7

    Chi Meson

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    I would say, looking at some of the sample questions, that the A Level examinations are quite a bit tougher than the AP. Especially given that you need to get about 80% on an AP test to score a 5 (which is the highest score).

    These seems to be exactly on par with the questions you see on the IB exams and written in precisely the same style. In fact some of the questions are the same as those I've seen on IB tests so I am assuming that there is some association among the writers of the two entities.

    But, to your question: hands down, the AP is no match for the A Level papers.
     
  9. Jun 16, 2006 #8
    Chi Meson and all others would be for something more like the A-levels exams/papers?
     
  10. Jun 16, 2006 #9
    I did A-Level Maths, Physics, Chemistry, back in the 90's I then went on to Bsc Maths and Physics, and after a year swapped to BEng Mechanical Engineer (and then ended up in the IT industry but anyway long story) What I studied for A-Level overlapped with what I covered in my first year at University.
     
  11. Jun 16, 2006 #10

    Chi Meson

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    I had one student who did the AP curriculum and got a 5 on the AP test (if they gave out 6's he would've gotten that). He subsequently went to MIT where they do not accept AP scores for credit. He visited me near the end of the first year to tell me that he had learned almost nothing new in his first year of physics (I assured him that the "almost" was very important here).

    Another student who got a 6 on the IB-HL exam reported the same thing for her first year of Physics at BU.

    So there you go. both (or I should say "all three") advanced curriculae are worthwile, challenging, and valid. As long as there is a teacher who can handle it.

    Are you trying to make a decision on the matter?
     
  12. Jun 16, 2006 #11

    Chi Meson

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    Hyperbolic functions are not usually taught during a first-year college calculus course. I did not get to hyperbolic functions in my math course until the fourth semester (unfortunately, we were using them in my Physics class during the third semester.... that's still an open wound!).

    AP does a pretty good job in surveying colleges and universities to find out what is the standard curriculum. When colleges start introducing hyperbolic functions during the first two semesters, I'm sure it will then be included in the AP curriculum.
    "Teaching to the test" has become a perjorative buzzword. Sometimes it is not a bad thing to teach "following a prescribed curriculum." There is so much in a standard introductory college physics textbook and there is no way to cover the book co pletely in one year.

    Any teacher who is able to cover the full AP curriculum during a single year is doing a fantastic job; there is a lot to cover and it is not perfectly spelled out either, leaving much to teacher to decide.

    There is a limit to the number of days available, right? In my advanced physics class (AP and IB together) the students have already had one year of physics, so I have the luxury of going farther than the AP and IB curriculum. Still, I do not have time for everything. So what's left out? FOr me it's stress/strain, rotational dynamics, AC electricity, astrophysics (and that was my major!), and the deeper halves of quantum and nuclear. I could decide to include one of these topics, but then I'd lose Special Relativity. Then somebody would complain.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2006
  13. Jun 24, 2006 #12
    Do you find it interesting looking at different curriculum countries in the world?
     
  14. Jun 24, 2006 #13
    I'd say difficulty wise it goes generally along the lines of : AS level=IB standard/AP/IB higher/A levels.
    The reason is that most people only ever do 3 A levels for three years.
     
  15. Jun 25, 2006 #14
    It two years no three.
     
  16. Jun 26, 2006 #15
    Well, I'm not British or American and I'm not a student, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. I'm going to go with the AP exam. The questions are more difficult because they more thoroughly explore your knowledge of the subject.
     
  17. Jun 26, 2006 #16

    Chi Meson

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    Holiday Inn Express? Holy Cow! I don't know how some people manage all the things they do. Tell us, did you get the little bars of soap? (Oh MAN!)
     
  18. Jun 26, 2006 #17
    No, it was Holiday Inn Express.


    Yeah, I always get them and feed them to my goldfish. She's been tied up in my basement so long, she'll eat anything.
     
  19. Jun 26, 2006 #18
    Teecher
    Did you even look the A-level exam questions and compare them to the AP exam?
    Why do you think the AP is more thorough than A-level?
     
  20. Jun 26, 2006 #19
    can't speak for the AP but A-levels suck :P. the only maths in the entire physics syllabus was the exponential function (for capacitors and radioactive decay) and some other bits and bobs, arithmetic etc. didn't even have to know how to derive them....just rote learning. fluid flow and a decent comprehension of thermodynamics isn't touched upon full stop.

    thankfully had an enthusiastic teacher who taught us everything under the sun.
     
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