A Levels or IB - a comparison
Comparing A Levels, American High School and IB

A Levels or IB?

Brillantmont is one of the only schools in the Lake Geneva area which teaches British A Levels. Many schools offer the IB (International Baccalauréat), however, here at Brillantmont, we feel strongly that IB is not the best programme for everyone. We have decades of experience in preparing students to succeed at A Level. We feel that A Levels are a great choice because:

A Levels offer students flexibility and choice.
In the IB, the programme is fixed and students have to study a range of subjects, including those which they may not enjoy. With A Levels, students get to choose three, four or even five subjects, which they can study in depth. They can focus on subjects they like and enjoy and not be pulled down by having to study subjects they don't want to study.

A Levels prepare students for university
A Levels are recognised all over the world. Universities will specify the grades and the subjects required to enrol in their degree programmes. A Levels are so highly regarded that in the USA, good A Level grades will mean students get credit and can directly enter the 2nd year of study. The depth of study and the autonomy that students take for their learning, prepare them for university study.

Still got questions?

How do A Levels work?
An A Level is comprised of two parts - AS and A2. Students usually take the AS exams at the end of Grade 11 and continue to take the A2 exams at the end of Grade 12. The final A Level grade combines the scores from AS and A2. Sometimes, a student may take their AS and A2 exams in the same session.

What about Community Service?
Many people like the IB because of the Service Learning it offers. However, at Brillantmont, students can get fully involved in Service Learning and it is a choice, not something imposed upon them. They can choose to join Habitat for Humanity, which involves building a house for a family in need, or they can participate in the weekly Soup Kitchen in Lausanne, where our students volunteer and get involved with fundraising events throughout the school.

Are A Levels recognised everywhere?
Yes, A Levels are recognised in Universities worldwide. Each University will specify the required grades and criteria to enter its courses. Universities like students who come with A Levels because  “Our experience is that Cambridge Advanced qualifications such as Cambridge International AS & A Levels are consistently robust and reliable, and prepare students very well for higher education.” (Admissions Officer, University of Newcastle, UK)

Can students enter Swiss universities with A Levels?
Yes, because A Levels are recognised worldwide. In Switzerland, specific subjects are required and French or German are required depending on the location, so careful planning is crucial to ensure students make the right subject choices.

What does the evidence say?
Recent data in the USA shows that:

-Students with A Levels are more likely to be offered places at College (higher % than the national US average).
-At the end of the first year, students having completed A Levels have a higher Grade point average (GPA) than those who entered College with IB.
-Students are less likely to drop out of College if they have taken A Levels or AP, rather than the IB.
-Students who took A Levels are more likely to finish their Degrees on time (compared to other examinations).

Learn more about A Levels here:

A video explaining the value of A Levels

A video explaining how universities consider Cambridge International A Levels

What about the American High School Diploma?
The American High School Diploma works on continual assessment for the High School Years, Grades 9-12. Students must work hard all year to pass their year and earn a credit. A credit is given for a class which is successfully completed over the school year. Brillantmont requires a certain number of credits to be able to graduate, in addition to other tests.

PSAT, SAT and SAT Subject Tests are US based examinations. They are required in order to graduate from High School and at Brillantmont, students are prepared for these tests, which are taken locally.

Which is best for my child - A Levels or American High School?
This question is discussed at the Admissions stage and depends partly on the student's academic profile to date but also their objectives with regard to future choice of study. Some students at Brillantmont take a combination of British A Level classes and SATs, graduating in both programmes.