Mojza Blog

A’ levels vs FSc

A guide for pre-medical students

by NABEEHA SHAKEEL | 03 September 2023

doctors, medicine, medical

Are you undecided about choosing an education system after your O’ levels?  Is this thought getting to your head and causing you to go through a dilemma? A’ levels or FSc, what is the correct answer? As most of us are done with our exams, the prolonged feeling of getting everything figured out is messing with our heads. Questions like ‘What should I do after my O’ levels?’ and ‘Maryam Api did this to get into medicine so I must also do that,’ are causing us immense pain. Through this blog, we will try to put the ground reality in front of you; so that you can gear up against all your worries and figure out if Maryam Api was right.

Why should you opt for A’ levels?

A’ Levels are an advanced level qualification operating worldwide as a pre-university requirement by the British Council. It is a subject-based qualification with 3 compulsory subjects of your own choice, along with as many extra subjects as one can tackle; this factor adds up as a plus point for many students hoping to put all of their focus on 3 or 4 subjects of their interest. It is an educational design recognized worldwide, and it works in the favour of students that want to apply abroad for higher education, as they can get admission to universities abroad. A’ level is based on conceptual learning rather than memorization of every detail in the book — which frightens many students ahead of the big decision to choose A’ levels or FSc. In the end, many give in to their fears and choose FSc. Which sometimes is not the right approach for them.

Why should you opt for FSC

FSc (faculty of science) is an intermediate degree held across Pakistan, conducted by boards of intermediate and secondary education (BISE) after matriculation, with predominantly 2 branches: premedical and pre-engineering. In pre-medical, the major courses are biology, physics and chemistry; in pre-engineering, the major courses are maths, physics, and chemistry. In both branches, Islamic studies, Pakistan studies, Urdu and English are compulsory. Memorization is key in FSc, as most exams are based on detailed topics mentioned in the course books. FSc is conducted by a local board, so students can easily get admission to universities locally; moreover, FSC is financially a better choice for parents, as in comparison to A’ levels, the cost of taking the exam and studying for it is quite cheaper.

What should you opt for as a pre-med student?

Pre-med students in Pakistan must take the MDCAT to get into a medical college in Pakistan; it takes place around August-September each year all across the country. The syllabus of the test is mostly based on FSc books, due to which A’ levels students are at a slight disadvantage. They have to study the entire FSc syllabus for MDCAT about 2 months before the exams. Whereas their FSc peers have already covered the entire syllabus comprehensively in the previous 2 years. However, this isn’t as big of a disadvantage as it seems because A’ levels course in itself is quite vast, and most of the concepts are the same as in FSc. Moreover, since A’ level develops on the problem-solving skills too, MDCAT, which is an aptitude test, becomes somewhat easier as well.

A’ level students suffer slightly in the affair of equivalence too, as it’s a common factor that the marks of O/A’ levels students are reduced when their grades are changed into marks to form merit, so that they can apply to a medical college. However, in 2021, the British Council introduced a new equivalence system which has benefited A’ levels students while getting into a university in Pakistan as now they can get around 93% for an A*. This is beneficial for A’ levels students as they have more of a chance to get into a government medical college. Not only that, but the equivalence criteria has been revised thoroughly in the wake of the introduction of grading systems in the Matric/FSc stream. The equivalence is now more lenient than ever for A’ level students, with little to no disadvantage to the A’ levels students now. Want to see for yourself? 

  1. A* Equivalent Marks of A-Levels for Examination Session 2023
  2. A* Equivalent Marks of O-Levels for Examination Session 2023
  3. Example for Calculating A-Levels Equivalence

As mentioned above, A’ levels students used to suffer due to the equivalence factor that led them to get into private colleges, which are tremendously expensive; compared to government colleges but in recent times this situation has gotten better due to the equivalence. 

MDCAT is an MCQ-based, analytical exam, and it tests your profound memory and discipline; for its comprehensive study is required, this might give FSc students an upper hand. However, the MCQ solving techniques inculcated in A’ level exams are quite beneficial in solving MDCAT MCQs. 

In the end, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. The choice is yours. You should ponder upon the facts discussed above and align the pros and cons of each education system with your situation and abilities. It is true that doing FSc used to be the best option for medical, but times have changed now and you should thoroughly think over this decision, given the changes in the equivalence criteria alongside the SLO-based curriculum and grading criteria changes in FSc which have brought A’ levels students right on par with the FSc students. And even previously, it was also true that several students got into renowned medical colleges after doing their A’ levels in Pakistan.

Everyone has a different situation that challenges them and urges them to take different steps in their journey to achieve their goals, so it’s up to you to choose your path. Maybe Maryam Api is not right. At the end of the day, for MDCAT, whether you choose FSc or A’ levels, repeat memorisation and discipline are key, so you can check out our blog for tips on forming a daily schedule for MDCAT to attain discipline and work in the right direction to achieve your goals. For more such guides and a wealth of tips and tricks, check out Mojza’s library of blogs to keep upskilling, with a designated blog upload each week!

A’ levels or FSc, they both are going to be a completely new experience. It’s going to be difficult regardless of what you choose. Nothing is going to be a piece of cake, and that is the bitter reality; however, you must set your mind straight and work towards your goals. I am sure that with immense hard work and consistency, everything would work out in the end, and you would get into a medical college of your choice!


Author: Nabeeha Shakeel
Proofreaders: Syed Muhammad Shaheer Ali, Abeer Ansari, Sarim Ismail


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Published: 03 Septemeber 2023
Last Updated: 03 September 2023
Written by Nabeeha Shakeel