From O-Level & A-Level Results to Studying in Canada

CIC News
Published: September 2, 2015

Over the last few weeks millions of students around the world have received GCSE O-Level and A-Level results. With this highly sought-after credential in hand, a large number of ambitious students are seeking to continue on to higher education, with many looking abroad for the best opportunities.

Canada, as ever, presents some unique advantages. For individuals interested in studying in Canada in 2016, the big question is how to best leverage their O- or A-Level results for entry into a quality Canadian college or university.

Canadian Education: A Primer

Generally speaking, successful university admission in Canada is predicated on only two things: evidence of high school (secondary school) completion and a specific combination of classes in a candidate’s final two years. The first is evidenced by a Canadian high school diploma, while the second is established through a student’s academic records, called transcripts. There are no national university exams, such as the SAT or ACT.

Receiving schools will check both these required courses (called provincially-examinable subjects) and establish a GPA (grade point average). This forms the basis of admission for nearly all post-secondary schools in Canada.

Direct Entry to a Canadian College or University with a combination of O- and A-Level Results

At a minimum, successful completion of the GCE with five O-Level subjects plus a minimum of two A-Levels are required to determine a student’s admission average for direct entry to a Canadian college or university.  For students with AS-Levels, four of these are required in the absence of the two A-Levels.

O-Level Results and what they mean for Admission

O-Levels, in and of themselves, will not qualify a student for entry into a Canadian college or university, because the GCSE O-Level is roughly equivalent to Grade 11 (and the Canadian secondary system finishes with the successful completion of Grade 12).

There are, however, certain advantages for those seeking to enter the Canadian education system with O-Levels. For example, instead of remaining in their home countries and completing a full two-year cycle of A-Levels, eligible graduates often receive credit towards Grade 11, and many complete just one year of remaining equivalent studies before entry to a competitive Canadian post-secondary institution.  For those looking at these options, there are also accelerated “high-school” completion programs at participating colleges.

A-Level Results and what they mean for Admission

Students who have taken A-Levels have historically done very well on Canadian campuses. The simple reason is that A-Levels, when completed, put the student at a higher academic level to their Canadian counterparts. Moreover, individuals who have completed A-Levels are usually slightly older. Not surprisingly, many schools across Canada give some transfer credit (for first year university) to A-Level subject groups.

Students who have recently received their A-Level results should play this to their full advantage, advocating, if possible, for any transfer credits. The savings are worth both time and money, and it’s best to cover this sooner — before these classes are repeated at greater expense.

Things to Remember:

  1. Many universities and nearly all public colleges have January intakes. The deadlines begin as early as the end of September, 2015, so all candidates should begin the research and discovery process immediately.
  2. International students will have wait for acceptance letters arrive before applying for a study permit, which can take considerable processing time (depending on the visa office).
  3. In addition to general admissions requirements, each faculty (Science, Arts, Business, for example) will have its own specific entrance averages and on occasion, supplemental requirements, such as essays or an interview.
  4. For families investing in private A-Level boarding school education in their home countries, it may be more sensible financially to fast-track an entry to Canadian post-secondary through one of a number of high school completion programs.
  5. Language Proficiency:  GCSE O-Level English (or GCSE English Language B) is commonly used to meet the English language requirement.
  6. Always submit certified true copies when perfecting your application. However, many schools will accept PDF scans for the basis of initial acceptance, so students should start with those.
  7. Canada presents some unique post-graduation advantages over other developed countries, including the three-year post-graduation open work permit and options for permanent immigration. Click here to learn more.
  8. Each institution may chose to arbitrate foreign credentials differently. Schools will be the final arbiter of what’s accepted for credit in Canada.
  9. Within Canada there are regional differences in the delivery of education. Notably, Quebec uses its own Senior Secondary and College/Pre-University system, while each of the other provinces has slight variations on the delivery of senior secondary coursework. For that reason, students and their families are encouraged to get in touch with Eligo to find out what their specific options are, particularly if they are comparing more than one location.

An important life decision

“To all the motivated and highly intelligent people who received their O- and A-Level results over the summer, I offer my full congratulations. Completing a level of education is no easy task, especially British Patterned Education, which is noted for placing strong demands on students I order to bring out their full potential,” says Attorney David Cohen.

“Students who are interested in continuing on to higher education abroad face an important life decision. The connections that can be made at this time, both on- and off-campus, can shape one’s life and career path.

“Not only does Canada offer internationally-renowned higher education institutions in some of the world’s most dynamic cities and environments, but Canada also wants its cohort of international students — the best and brightest — to establish their lives here permanently. With the right perspective and tools – and a bit of expert guidance – this exciting journey can be navigated with increased clarity and ease.” 

Visit Eligo Education to learn more about gaining admission to a Canadian college or university.


Eligo Education is a new, Canadian-owned and operated student placement and settlement service. As the official education agency of CanadaVisa.com, Eligo supports its students at all levels of the research and decision-making process, including practical advice and counsel before and after arrival to Canada. This enables our students and their families to get the best fit for their unique situations, while preserving all future options.

© 2015 CICnews All Rights Reserved


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