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Cambridge Pre-U: What is the structure of the course and how is it assessed?

What is the structure of the course?

Cambridge Pre-U is offered at two levels: Certificate and Diploma
Cambridge Pre-U Certificate

This is available in 27 individual Principal Subjects, certificated separately, and the core component Global Perspectives and Research, also certificated separately as a stand alone qualification. Students may take a number of subjects. The courses last two years (380 guided learning hours for Principal Subjects compared to 360 for A Level) reflecting the fact that as a linear qualification more time is freed up for productive study. Candidates sit their exams in one series, at the end of the two-year course.

In the early years it is quite likely that schools will adopt Cambridge Pre-U in a number of subjects, alongside A-Level courses in other subjects, in what might be thought of as a ‘mixed economy’.

Short courses (one year) are available in Modern Foreign Languages. These are different programmes of study and the results do not count towards a Principal Subject qualification. Short courses are intended to allow candidates to broaden their programmes beyond their major subject specialisms.

Cambridge Pre-U Diploma

To qualify for the full Diploma award, a candidate studies at least three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects as academic specialisms, together with two core components. Students qualify for the Diploma with:

  • Three Principal Subjects* (any combination allowed with a minimum requirement of one Principal Subject plus two other level 3 subjects i.e. A Levels).
  • Global Perspectives and Research (a guarantee of breadth and an opportunity for greater depth).

*There is of course no limit on the number of Principal Subjects (minimum of one) a candidate may actually take; they simply need to pass in three in order to be eligible for the Diploma award. All subjects are reported separately, so candidates will receive credit for the full extent of their academic programmes. If the student studies more than three Principal Subjects, the best achievement in three Principal Subjects will be counted towards the Diploma award.

What is the method of assessment? 

Cambridge Pre-U courses are linear, meaning that they are assessed via examinations at the end of the two year course. Achievement is reported on a scale of nine grades: D1 (Distinction 1), D2, D3, M1 (Merit 1), M2, M3, P1 (Pass 1), P2, P3. The grade D1 reports achievement above the new A* grade. The intention is to differentiate more finely and extend reporting at the top end, while keeping the grading scale accessible to the full range of ability currently achieving passes at Cambridge International A Level. Specimen papers are available on our website.

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