I recently read an article on the following:
“A-levels leave students unprepared for university.
The report, from the awarding body Cambridge Assessment, which runs the OCR exam board, found that many academics thought undergraduates arrived unprepared for the demands of a degree course. Three in five lecturers said their universities ran catch-up classes.
It found that lecturers were concerned there was insufficient “independent thinking” in A-levels. They wanted “less predictable” A-level exams, fewer resits and questions that are more open-ended and which would make pupils think for themselves.
The study showed that more than half of lecturers believed that newly arrived students had weaknesses in academic writing, self-directed study and independent thinking, and support classes often focused on writing and independent learning skills. Pupils had been guided too much by schools to get the highest grades but were unable to think more deeply about the subject, the study found.”
Having taught both A levels and IB (International Baccalaureate) I would have to agree with this from my subject specific point of view. My A level historians were very well taught (or drilled?) to answer very specific questions, whereas my IB historians had much wider questions to answer that involved a lot more thought. For example: Using examples from three different continents assert whether you feel that civil wars are caused mainly by economic difficulties.
This sort of question is much more like a university model and is one reason why universities actually positively favour the IB and IB students. The breadth of subjects studied at IB also goes in its favour when it comes to a full education.
We are fortunate to be in an area where we have several IB schools offering a great education. Many of these schools also offer A levels – so you don’t have to choose now. For a full list of UK schools offering the IB visit their website: http://www.ibo.org/school/search/index.cfm?programmes=DIPLOMA&country=GB®ion=&find_schools=Find
Of the schools we regularly feed: Malvern College, Oakham School, & St Edwards Oxford all do the IB.