The General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (GCE A Levels) is an entry qualification for universities in the United Kingdom and worldwide. The US equivalent for that purpose would be the High School Diploma. However, in England and Wales, the high school diploma is considered to be at the level of the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), which is awarded at Year 11. For college and university admissions, the high school diploma may be accepted in lieu of the GCSE if an average grade of C is obtained in subjects with a GCSE counterpart.
As the more academically rigorous A Levels awarded at Year 13 are expected for university admission, the high school diploma alone is generally not considered to meet university requirements. Students who wish to study in the United Kingdom may additionally participate in the Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, which are considered to be at the level of the A Level qualifications and earn points on the UCAS Tariff, or may opt to take A Level examinations in British international schools or as private candidates. Standardized tests, such as the College Board's SAT and SAT Subject Tests or the ACT, may also be considered.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) recommends that in addition to a high school diploma, grades of 3 or above in at least two, or ideally three, Advanced Placement exams may be considered as meeting general entry requirements for admission. The IB Diploma may also be accepted. For College Board tests, a minimum score of 600 or higher in all sections of the SAT or a minimum score of 26 or higher in all sections of the ACT along with a minimum score of 600 in relevant SAT Subject Tests may be considered as meeting general entry requirements for admission.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a constitutional union of three kingdoms, each of which remains a separate legal, educational and ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Thus England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have distinct education systems. Wales was politically subsumed into England during the Tudur era in the sixteenth century and only re-emerged as a political jurisdiction with the establishment of the Welsh Assembly in 1997, hence the term "England and Wales".