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Television [Saturday 19 Mar 2011 at 11:46 pm]
Watching Skins, I wonder. Do Brits usually leave secondary school at seventeen and attend a special A-levels "college" school for two years? Then do they apply to university for three or four years to pick up a bachelor degree? Is that the only way into university? And do they usually have to pay tuition to these two-year programs?

In The USA, most kids headed for higher education proceed at seventeen or eighteen to university right from free four year high school programs. Very few universities prefer or require achievement or aptitude tests like A-levels, though, and fewer yet take them seriously. The very idea of an important national test is very strange to me.


I watched the Korean production J.S.A. - Joint Security Area (공동경비구역 JSA). I thought it was going to be an action movie, but it wasn't. It was the ultimate bromance flick. Soldiers from the DPRK (North Korea) and RoK (South Korea) who man a closed border post (they're all closed border posts) hang out together smoking and drinking and playing games through long guard shifts out in the DMZ. Awkward political moments crop up pretty often as they must but the magical power of guys just hanging out together overcomes all troubles. Of course it's all purely hetero tough guy stuff with none of that 'subtext' I've heard about on eljay. Finally, as in real Korea life, politics asserts itself and you cry at the end.


Inscrutible foreign lands, Brittanica and Korea. I'd like to visit but it's too much trouble to pick up the languages. What's the difference between peckish, pissed, and knackered again?

[User Picture]From: stormwreath
Sunday 20 Mar 2011 at 11:06 am (UTC)
The official school leaving age is 16, but about half the population take 'A' levels as well. Others take various vocational or job-related qualifications - 'A' levels are academic rather than practical, aimed at getting you ready for university entry. As a rule, 'A' levels are offered by secondary schools, the more practical and vocational courses by specialist colleges, but there are exceptions.

You normally take 3 - 5 'A' levels in specific subjects (history, physics, French, etc); one criticism of the system is that it gives pupils too narrow a focus, and a broader-based unitary qualification like the French Baccalaureat would be better.

Education up to 18 is free, so there's no charge for the two-year 'A' level course. Pupils would be aged 16/17 in the first year and 17/18 in the second year.

Most first degree courses in the UK are for three years, unless you take a year out for a work placement course. Universities usually offer places based on the grades you get at 'A' level plus an interview - for example, you might need an A and two Bs. Other qualifications might be accepted, or places can be given purely on interview to, for example, mature students, but 'A' levels is the usual route.

I've heard it said that the reason British degrees are only 3 years instead of 4 is because the 'A' level course has already covered the more elementary levels of the degree syllabus, and so the university can begin teaching at what in the US would be a 200-level course to first-year students. But I don't know how true that is. :)

"Peckish" means "kind of hungry", not "ravenously hungry". It implies you want to peck at food like a bird.
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[User Picture]From: owenthurman
Tuesday 22 Mar 2011 at 12:01 am (UTC)
That's funny. The studies seem similar but the ages at which a student moves on from school to school are all different. In the USA it's considered unseemly and dangerous for the 18 year olds, who are full adults, to be mixing always with the 14-15-16-17 year olds who are children and cannot be considered reaponsible for themselves in any way. We separate them quite sharply at that age.
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