25% of all GCSE A-levels are awarded an A grade.
GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. GCSE A-level examinations are taken by 19 years old in the UK, as the de facto entrance examination for universities. The equivalent examination in Hong Kong is the HK A-Level, or Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination.
Less than 4% of HK A-Levels are awarded an A grade.
Are the UK students 6 times better than their HK counterparts? Of course not. An UK study has shown that a C in the HKAL is on a par with an A in the GCSE A-Level.
In the UK, grade inflation is making it difficult for elite universities to choose their students. Cambridge has been said to turn away 5,000 students with straight A’s each year.
In HK, the As are so hard to get that the really good students (with multiple As) are self evident. The problems come at the lower ranges.
And when Hong Kong students try to apply to overseas universities, that’s when they are really disadvantaged. Most admissions officers at overseas universities are unaware of the great discrepancies among the standards of different education systems.