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Originally posted on 17/7/11

I vaguely remember i promised to write about it a long time go, and by long time ago i mean probably a year and a half ago. It’s been 6 months since i graduated from A levels at Methodist College Kuala Lumpur, a little background story for those of you who don’t know me, i took A levels, and was in the arts stream. I took Accounts, Business studies and English Literature and these three subjects took about 1 and a half years to complete. This is the EDEXCEL A levels by the way.

Personally, if you ask me, the reason i took A levels was because i really, really didn’t know what i wanted to do. During my preperation for SPM i was going through this phase where i was just thinking about life, what it meant to me, what i wanted to do with my life and these sort of things. Very normal, and yeah, it’s not fun really, being confused and uncertain about everything. So A levels was like a buffer for me, to give me some time to figure things out (an oh so common phrase we hear in movies these days). I choose the subjects that i was familliar with and at first i took law too, but after a few months of it and the impending doom of the coming trial tests, i decided to drop it.

The idea of dropping this subject was a unique experience which i think i should share. I was contemplating and feeling very heavy hearted about law, it just didn’t seem to fit me, plus i was taking eng lit too so that’s double the amount of reading! The work piled up and as i said i was afraid of the coming test where i was expected to memorise all the stuff we learnt so far and write an essay in and hour. Sounds easy but really, you should know by now, just because it sounds easy doesn’t mean it is. And with that i began to feel really upset and unhappy. So one night as i was just thinking about it and praying too for God to show me what to do and to lift that heavy burden, this idea came to me, and yes, i believe it is from God as it was genius and i never would have thought of it myself. I just felt that i had to drop law. Then as i thought about it more, i realised that was why i was feeling all upset and doing the math, i realised that if i dropped this subject i could graduate 6 months earlier. Looking back at this decision now, i feel it was the best decision ever. I could focus more on the subject that i had and well i am really happy with the results i got. Plus, i hear from my friends who stayed back that it wasn’t really a nice semester as the last 3 had been, different. Not that i am saying they made a bad decision, it’s just that i wouldn’t have gotten to do the many things i did if i had stayed on. Conclusion, God knows what’s best for us.

I feel that i should tell everyone considering A levels this: There are subjects universities, especially the top ones see as “Strong” subjects and “Weak” subjects. Strong subjects include all the sciences, bio, chem and physics, maths, english literature and economics. Weak subjects would be subjects like accounts, business studies, psychology and the rest, i only write about the subjects offered in MCKL though. So as you can see, i wasn’t aware of this until later on, and based on the subjects i took, only one counts as a strong subject, eng lit. I personally feel it is very unfair to categorise subjects in such a way, but alas, they are.

With that note, i personally really didn’t like A levels at first, partly because it was a totally different system and the gap between A levels and SPM is huge. SPM is all memorise and regurgitate during the exam. A levels, especially for the arts subject, there’s the grey area, where there’s not fixed answer. You can say bye bye to MCQ’s basically, they give you a chance for some subjects in the beginning units, AS level but the A levels papers it’s essay all the way. If you look at the marking scheme it’s all very general answers and it is up to the examiners discretion when they mark. So if you write something that sounds like the answer printed then you get the mark. What i’m trying to say is that it’s really open ended, that’s what they say lah, personally i think that the examiners are really strict in giving marks, so you’ve got to be really precise and clear when you give your answer. They really train you to think out of the box, think about both sides and evaluate the situation. This, i feel is really valuable especially in real life, it totally applies and in the course of going though A levels your thinking really matures. Now i really don’t like MCQ’s and see them as punishment honestly, who knew i would be saying this, haha. It is also a lot like school, you study in class, get homework and do exercises in class, you have a heavy bag but with thicker books, more/smaller words and less pictures.

I also feel that the things i learnt in A levels are really useful in life, where i can apply them, as we are constantly given real life situations to evaluate in papers, ex. Business paper unit 4, we are given a real company to evaluate. English literature was a huge challenge for me as in SPM it was really basic and mostly memorising, sad to say. Here, the lecturer just gave us a poem and said “Evaluate and intepret”. A real shock for me and i was scratching my head on how to go about it, and some of the students in the class made it look so easy. But sure enough, the lecturer coached us and we learnt how to intepret poems and literary texts, taught us about the basics of literature and in the end we all wrote our own paper on whichever text we liked, open topic! I enjoyed my time learning Business and Accounts, i think it’s just something that’s in my blood? I had to switch all my accounts knowledge from BM to english, but that’s what you get for being under the malaysian education system. However, it was an advantage as i could grasp the topics faster than those who had no basic knowledge. Furthermore, instead of just debiting and crediting, we learnt how to intepret accounts and really tell a story by just looking at figures and doing some calculations. I was really fascinated by this part. Business was more theoretic and definately a lot of memorising, but it’s ok, once you learn to understand the topic instead of just memorising it. One VERY important thing you will pick up on when you take A levels.

That’s just a brief overview of the subjects that i took, i don’t really know much about the other subjects sadly, but overall Arts subjects have 4 units under the EDEXCEL board. And one paper can cost about 250 plus.
special subjects: acounts is 300 plus as there are one 2 units. Law is about 600 plus i think per paper (2 units too). [All in Malaysian ringgit]
You are allowed to retake, but take note, some papers are only available in certain sittings, ex law only available in the May/June sitting. You can re-mark too if you are unsatisfied with your results, and if you get a higher mark, they will refund you your money (a certain amount, it’s better to check with them first), and of course they use the higher marks. If you get a lower mark or the same marks, then no refund and they take the remark marks as your final marks.

If you’re wondering why i didn’t write about MCKL specifically, well there’s too much to write about, and lots of things have changed since the day i stepped into MCKL and the day i left, so i think i wouldn’t be able to give a good picture of the current situation now. But if you don’t mind me just ranbling down memory lane, then ok, that’ll be another post. I made loads of good and close friends there, had loads of fun and did many things i never thought i would have done. If you ask me if you should go to MCKL to study A levels, i definately say yes, because the lecturers there make sure you work, and A levels is no stroll in the park, if you don’t give it enough time and effort you’re just wasting your time doing this course. If you ask me, which kind fo pre-u program you should do, my answer is, where do you want to go? A levels does open many doors, but you have to personally think of what you want to do in the future, i learnt that to know which program you want to take, you’ve got to know where you’ve headed, or at least don’t change your mind so many times like i did, because if you do then there’s all the regrets you’ll feel (like me). Once you know your pathway then it’ll be easy. But if you’re like me and you want to keep your options open then A levels is alright, science opens many more doors of course, compared to an Arts student, but again, if so many doors are open, i tell you, it makes the choosing part much harder too later on. And if you choose to take a 6 month break after SPM like me, then everything else, starting Uni and all will be much later than others, so don’t be surprised if some people finish their degrees at least 2 years before you. Like i said before, at first i really didn’t like A levels, but now after going through it, i feel i accomplished something and that feels really good, hehe.