The General Certificate of Education (GCE) is a subject specific family of academic qualifications that
awarding bodies in
Crown dependencies and a few
Commonwealth countries, notably
Singapore, confer on students. (The
Scottish education system is distinctly different from those in the other countries of the United Kingdom).
The GCE is composed of three levels; they are, in increasing order of difficulty:
In the past, a
Scholarship / Special / "S-Level" /
Advanced Extension Award (AEA) existed; an Advanced Supplementary Level (designated "AS Level" but not to be confused with the modern-day AS Level, which is lower than the A Level) qualification was also formerly available.
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.
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
 or may opt to take A Level examinations in British
international schools or as private candidates. Standardized tests, such as the
SAT Subject Tests or the
ACT, may also be considered.
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.
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.