Advanced Level, which is an international degree, is equivalent to the F.A (Faculty of Arts) or F.Sc. (Faculty of Science) Degrees established by the Punjab Board or the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE). Having said so, the foremost difference between an Advanced Level degree and the completion of intermediate level is that the Advanced Level degree, awarded by the Cambridge International Examination committee is internationally recognized by numerous countries across the world whereas intermediate in Pakistan is only recognized by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan. However, this does not imply that students who have completed their intermediate cannot apply for universities abroad. Their inter results can be converted into internationally recognized scores and after taking certain English Language tests like TOEFL or IELTS, they are considered eligible for admission. For students taking the Advanced Level, there are no such complications but some universities may still press for a standardized English language test.
Advanced Level and F.A degrees are normally awarded after two years of intermediate education. However, students taking A levels are given the liberty to opt for all elective courses and are this time spared from taking compulsory courses. Furthermore, the courses opted for must not be linked to each other and students can choose them based upon conditions in the job market or inpidual interests although if courses are chosen cleverly, they will all be complementing one another. For students doing inter with the BISE, but elective courses and optional ones are selected simultaneously. The compulsory courses are; English, Urdu, Pakistan Studies and Islamic Studies for both FA and FSc degrees. However, the elective courses differ for both branches with FA offering three groups of courses namely Arts I, Arts II and Arts III, which must be taken together. The range of courses include Economics, Mathematics, Psychology, and Home Economics to name a few. To attain an FSc degree students must take the compulsory courses mentioned above along with either pre-engineering, or pre-medical courses depending upon their area of interest.
A Level students can select up to six courses at a time at school and as many as they want if they are appearing as a private candidate depending upon their academic abilities and other factors but inter students are limited to only three optional courses with compulsory courses to study too.
Talking about the fee structure for both examinations, A Level, being an international degree is relatively more expensive as compared to inter with students paying a specific amount for each course they take, the amount being specified in pounds. The amount students must pay to the British Council in order to be eligible for taking the Cambridge International Examinations depends upon the exchange rate and is often a five digit figure. In addition, students who are enrolled in registered institutions to prepare for the exams must be a private fee to the institute as well which is also, comparatively very costly. Both the institutions fee as well as the fee for taking an inter examination is comparatively less and so, students from less privileged households prefer to study for inter instead.
A Level courses require brainstorming, with numerous presentations which students are required to make and present throughout the course, this allows students to practice their cognitive abilities and equip themselves with the necessary skills that will allow them to go out in the world and seek opportunities for themselves. Inter students are used to reading and learning by the book, and any outside knowledge or references are usually not welcomed. No marks are given for innovation for inter students.
The differences do not end here. After completion of the A level and inter degrees, students from both backgrounds have different job opportunities and study options available for them. Advanced Level students, well versed in English and holding an international degree have a competitive edge along with perse study options. They can easily apply abroad without equivalence certificates, and are spared other tedious formalities. In the job market, having specialized in only particular fields of study, they are more aware about the job, about what they are required to do, and what they intend to achieve out of it. Even side jobs are easy to find and offer good money such as content writing, working at a call center, conducting interviews, since these jobs require an inherent personality and confidence which has been developed over the years though knowledge imparted by learned teachers and being amongst a pleasant study environment.
Finally, it would be fair to say that A Level students are better off, in terms of their career and also in terms of study options. The higher fees and tedious study hours are worth the benefits students can acquire later on. Inter students too can secure a good future if they consistently get good grades, and also, prepare well for their entry tests into medical and engineering colleges.