Is A-Levels Hard?

Many pre-university programs exist in Malaysia, like foundation courses and the STPM examinations. One of the pre-university programs popular amongst Malaysian students after the SPM examinations and the IGCSE examinations is Advanced Level Qualifications, often referred to as A-Levels. 

A-Levels are based on the UK education system and are divided into the Advanced Subsidiary (AS) and A2 levels. Students who enrol in the A-Level program tend to complete their education within 18 to 24 months.

Are A-Levels hard to pass?

The question of whether or not an examination is hard to pass is subjective as it depends on the student’s academic ability and their understanding of each subject that they are taking. It is definitely possible for students to pass their A-Levels, but they need to work hard and persevere.

Are A-Levels hard compared to GCSEs?

Yes, A-Levels are harder compared to GCSEs. This is because of the difference in the content covered between these programs. The examinations of the A-Levels course are more complicated as it is equivalent to university courses. 

It requires students to understand complex concepts and apply them to everyday life situations. This is unlike the GCSEs, which only need the student to understand each topic at a basic level, and there are minimal questions which require students to apply real-life situations.

How hard is university compared to A-Levels?

A-Levels are generally comparable to university-level courses. This is because the scope and range of content are similar, and many universities across the globe highly regard A-Levels. In addition, most universities in the United States, Canada and Europe give credit to students who take A-Levels, so students can waive their first year of university courses and enter into their second year.

Why are A-Levels so hard?

Here are some reasons why students find A-Levels to be a tough program:

  • Many students find A-Levels hard because they sit for the GCSE exams beforehand. As mentioned above, GCSEs tend to be easier than A-Levels. Students often find it hard to adjust to the jump in difficulty between the GCSEs and A-Levels.
  • The GCSE syllabus did not introduce certain topics in the A-Levels syllabus, so students need to understand those topics on a deeper level. GCSEs merely require students to answer questions based on what they have learned, while A-Levels have complex questions and need students to apply their knowledge to situations asked in the questions. 
  • The A-Levels syllabus covers triple the amount of GCSE contents, requiring students to put in lots of effort to do well.
  • A-Levels are marked with a higher standard, and answers are meant to be complete and comprehensive. Good grammar and vocabulary and accurate explanations for answers given are all required for one to score in the exam. 
  • A-Levels require the students to be able to study independently, and there is little student-teacher interaction. Some students may find this challenging as they depend on frequent communication with their teachers to understand the content better.

What are the hardest A-Levels subjects?

Some of the hardest A-Levels subjects include:

  • Further maths: Students who are not already capable of standard mathematics will find further maths significantly more challenging since the content covered is heavier and more complicated than A Level maths.
  • History: This subject, like most other A-Levels subjects, requires students to master the content and develop critical thinking skills to answer the questions.
  • Modern foreign languages: For these subjects, students will be tested both in their written work and their ability to speak and pronounce the language well.
  • Physics: The content covered is challenging, and students need to comprehend A-Levels maths and A-Levels further maths to do well in this subject.
  • Computer programming: The subject will introduce students to new subjects, like coding, and there are a lot of theoretical concepts required to be understood.
  • Psychology: This subject revolves around maths and science, so students struggling with those two subjects may find psychology challenging. Students would need to understand data and calculate percentages for observational studies.
  • English literature: A-Levels English literature provokes students to think at a deeper level than GCSEs.
  • Chemistry: Students need to learn about physical, organic, and inorganic chemistry. These three topics are heavy and contain diverse information for students to learn about.
  • Biology: There are plenty of new vocabulary and concepts to learn since A-Levels biology is a massive jump from GCSEs.
  • Art: It can be time-consuming and requires students to put in a lot of effort in doing their artwork. Plus, there is the need to analyse art pieces in many essays.
  • Music: There are a lot of technical concepts that students need to understand, and they need to be able to perform their musical instruments well.

Is A-Level Maths hard?

For A-Levels maths, students will focus on Pure Maths, Mechanics and Statistics. The questions are hard as the students are not given any equations or explanations of the context for the questions, like what usually happens with GCSE exams. However, with lots of practice and revision, students would be able to pass.

Is A-Level Economics hard?

Economics is a subject that is quite content-heavy, but it is relatively easier compared to the other A-Levels subjects. The maths required is similar to what is taught at the GCSE level. It is essential to understand how to write the essay answers according to what is expected by the examiners and to apply the mathematical concepts correctly.

Is A-Level Accounting hard?

Accounting is usually graded based on coursework and examinations. Taking complementary A-Level classes like economics, business studies, and mathematics can teach students relevant skills needed in accounting. While accounting can be content-heavy, putting effort into the coursework and preparing for the examination means students are highly likely to pass.

Is A-Level Business hard?

A-Level business is not that challenging in comparison to the other subjects. The concepts are easy-to-understand, but since there is a lot to memorise, students must still put in a significant amount of effort. Writing essays and interpreting data are some components of A-Level business as well.

Is A-Level law hard?

Law is considered moderately complex because of the extensive syllabus since there is a lot of content to memorise, and there is the need to have analytical skills. However, it is not like science and mathematics subjects, so it becomes considerably easier with enough practice in answering the questions.

How to do well in A-Levels?

To do well in A-Levels, students need to study and revise the various concepts they learn consistently. Should students face any confusion during their learning, they should immediately try to clarify it by browsing the internet or asking their teachers. 

Also, due to how complex and detailed the exam is, it is crucial that students don’t wait until the last minute to study. Practising doing exam papers from the past years is also a recommended practice. 

If you’re looking for a college or university to start your A-Levels, one of the best places to do so would be at UOW Malaysia KDU. Besides the factors mentioned above to do well in your A-Levels, good, experienced lecturers who are passionate about what they do also play a role. 


A-Levels can be challenging, especially due to how complex and in-depth the content is. The program offers a wide range of subjects, some harder than others. However, with focus and determination, students can definitely pass these exams. Should you have any queries, visit UOW Malaysia KDU and talk to one of our counsellors today. 

For more a comprehensive guide to A-Levels, read ‘What Are A-Levels?’ and if you’ve finished your A-Levels and wondering what to do next? Read ‘What To Do After A-Levels?’


19 May 2022