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Applied College of Commerce and Language
About GCE
  The General Certificate of Education or GCE is a secondary-level academic qualification that examination boards in the United Kingdom confer to students. The GCE traditionally comprised two levels: the Ordinary level (O-level) and the Advaced level (A Level). More recently examination boards also offer an intermediate third GCE level, the Advanced Subsidiary level (AS Level).

The GCE was originally introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 1951, replacing the older School Certificate (SC) and Higher School Certificate (HSC). It was intended to cater for the increased range of subjects available to pupils since the raising of the school leaving age from 14 to 15 in 1947. The examinations were graded into ordinary level for 16-year-olds, and advanced level for 18-year-olds. There was also an intermediate level alternative ordinary level (AO-level) and a higher special paper (S-level). In 1988, GCE O-Levels were phased out in favour of the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). GCE A Levels were retained.

Worldwide use

In Hong Kong, students who wish to attend university in the United Kingdom usually take part in the British examinations in addition to Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) and Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE), despite the equivalent gradings granted by UK universities between the two sets of examinations, for grades attained in the British examination tend to be better. The English Schools Foundation in Hong Kong runs schools that follow the British patterned education, and students take GCSE in Years 10–11 and AS/A Level exams in Years 12–13, although the schools are transitioning to the IB Diploma.

Recognition and Equivalence
  • Grade E or above in all HKALE A-level and AS-level subjects is recongnized as equivalent to an A-level pass and an AS-level pass repectively in a British International GCE.
  • Grade C or above in most HKCEE subjects is recognized as the equivalence of an O-level pass in a British International GCE.
  • Given below is an equivalence table between HKCEE 2007 language subject(i.e. English Language and Chinese language) and British IGCSE.
    HKCEE levels 5* 5 4 3
    IGCSE grades A* A B C
  • British GCSE, IGCSE and International GCE O-level are internationally recognized as being equivalent in standard in principle.
  • In general, it is for individual users of qualifications to define their own thershold levels of performance for admission/recruitment purposes. As far as the HKEAA is concerned, for the purpose of meeting the HKALE entry requirements, a grade D or above in GCE O-level/GCSE/IGCSE is considered as satisfying the corresponding subject result requirement at grade E/Level 2 in the HKCEE subjects.
Examination Body

The HKEAA Administers GCE, IGCSE and GCSE on behalf Edexcel International (



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