Difference Between O'level, A'level and SSCE (Results) - SCHOOLCONTENTS.info

Difference Between O'level, A'level and SSCE (Results)

I've once briefly answered this question of whether there is any difference between SSCE and O'level in the post, "SSCE Results: 5 Credits Needed, Combinations and Where D7, E8 or F9 Accepted". 

And for those who may not know about A'level programmes/results, I think my post, "IJMB, JUPEB, NABTEB, and Cambridge: No UTME To 200 Level Admissions" might have solved the dilemma.

However, there is a need to go in-depth and show what the differences could be among the three - SSCE, O'level, and A'level.

Especially while studying the JAMB brochure or reading the admission requirements of a school, candidates are thrown into confusion when the terms O'level, SSC(E), and A'level are used without further explanation.

This post will share side by side overview of what you need to understand about each to get the differences more clearly.

What Are O'level Programmes/Results?

If you're hearing of O'level programmes, these are exams that are slated to be held at the end of secondary school studies marking the landmark of academic success after this academic journey. O'level is the short for Ordinary Level.

At the end of the senior class (i.e. SS 3) which is the final class of the second phase of secondary school education (i.e. SS 1 to SS 3), you're expected to sit for any of the following exams in Nigeria (for example).

  1. West African Examination Council (WAEC)
  2. National Examination Council (NECO)
  3. National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB)
  4. General Certificate of Education (GCE)
  5. National Board for Arabic and Islamic Studies (NBAIS)

Of course, a candidate, before the final class (i.e. at SS 1 or SS 2) can as well write any of these exams in order to possess O'level results too.


While the internal (school candidates series of) WAEC, NECO, NABTEB, and NBAIS are meant for those who are just completing their final classes, the external (private candidates series of) generally referred to as GCE -  General Certificate of Education is meant for those who had done with the internal exams but have some deficiencies to make up for.

However, candidates in their SS1, 2 or 3 can equally sit for the GCE be it NECO, WAEC or NABTEB.

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What Are SSCE Programmes/Results?

As a matter of fact, O'level is the same as SSCE. In full, the acronym SSCE means Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.

The term O'level is usually used interchangeably for SSCE and vice versa.

Therefore, if a school uses either of the two words/terms, it's still referring to the school candidates or the private candidate exams/results believed to have been possessed before, during, or after your final year in secondary school.

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What Are A'level Programmes/Results?

These are programmes attended usually after you must have got your O'level/SSCE. They are advanced post-secondary school courses, whose results are used to measure the academic success of the courses/subjects undertaken.

The term A'level is short for Advanced Level.

After you're done with secondary school, a few institutions and study centres give you a chance to obtain these programmes/forms to prepare you for university. For example,

  1. University of Lagos Foundation Programme, 
  2. Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) JUPEB programme,
  3. University of Ilorin (UNILORIN JUPEB programme,
  4. University of Ibadan (UI) Cambridge Programme, 
  5. Osun State University IJMB/JUPEB programme and 
  6. very many others

The programmes usually run for one year in theory. Candidates are expected to be at approved study centres or universities, within this period, attending lectures and at the end of the courses, partake in the joint national or international exams.

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Whereas, candidates who undergo A'level courses and pass are expected to seek admission into universities of choice for the 200 level of their courses of interest. That's unlike candidates with O'level/SSCE who can only gain admission to the 100 level of their courses of interest.

Popular A'level Programmes include:

  1. Joint Universities Preliminary Examinations Board (JUPEB)
  2. Interim Joint Matriculation Board (IJMB)
  3. National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) A'level (no longer accepted for 200-level Direct Entry admissions)
  4. General Certificate of Education (GCE) A'level
  5. The University of Cambridge A'level

If you take note, NABTEB and GCE have Advanced Level versions of the O'level examinations.

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Understanding Admission Expressions Regards O'level, SSC(E), and A'level

These terms are usually mentioned in the JAMB brochure very often. And while you're reading admission adverts or pages of certain schools, they can mention these terms (without further elaboration) as if you've got them.

So, what should be in your mind when you come across these terms.

  1. O'level is also talking about SSCE which may include WAEC, NECO, GCE, and NABTEB. NBAIS is not acceptable by all schools yet and those who are accepting it (e.g. UNILORIN, ABU, NDA etc) are only for a few related courses such as Islamic or Shariah law, Arabic Studies, etc.
  2. O'level or SSCE refers to candidates who are seeking 100-level admission through JAMB UTME. It may also refer to candidates who wish to go for programmes, such as Schools of Nursing, Part-time courses, pre-degree, college of health technology, etc
  3. A'level refers to candidates who must have completed those advanced courses and may also include OND, HND, or any other diploma.
  4. A'level refers to candidates who are to obtain the JAMB Direct Entry (DE) form to process the 200-level admissions.

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  1. Can any of the A levels be used as a foundation course in the UK?

    1. Not any to best of my understanding. Majorly, Cambridge is acceptable A'level is acceptable in UK.

  2. Precious Emmanuel21 March 2022 at 19:37

    Please sir,can i gain admission to university using my gce and o level results....and please what are the subjects I should write for political science?

    1. Five (5) SSC credit passes in Government or History, English Language and three (3) other subjects. A pass in Mathematics is required by universities such as OAU

  3. Please can one combine Nabteb and Waec result for nysc?

    1. Yes. Although, you won't gain admission without SSCE which may be a combination of NABTB and WAEC, NYSC may not ask you for SSCE result going to service.

  4. Is there a distinction between a WAEC certificate and a WASSCE SC? Which one is higher, and which one qualifies a student for higher education? Finally, are seven subjects taken adequate for university admissions?

    1. They both means the same. It's just an extension of names or acronyms. WAEC is West African Examinations Council. West African Senior School Certificate Examination. Yes, 7 subjects are enough. In fact, you only need 5 subjects related to the course being proposed out of all.

  5. What if someone wrote waec and neco only can they call that an 'o' level

    1. Yes, they're both O'level. So also GCE nd NABTEB

  6. Hello, about that GCE A’level can someone who have not written GCE exam enroll for the program, Pls how does it work?

  7. I'm not getting it,, you said GCE A'level.... Does that means one can write just GCE and use it for UK undergraduate? Is it equivalent to their A level?

    1. Yes but not your regular GCE for WAEC, NECO or NABTEB.


  8. Sir I apply for my pre admission screening at Kwasu and they requested for school certificate can I use my o level result instead

  9. 1. Please can someone who have D7 in math study political science?
    2. Does UI DLC accept A level result?
    3. Is monotechnic result also called A level result? Thanks

    1. For the question q, I already covered courses accepting D7 in Maths in the post with the link below. Check.

      For the question 2, see the list of UI DLC courses through the below and what they ask for each course.


      For the question 3, the posts below state difference between A'level and monotechnic.


  10. Please I got pass in my ond certificate can register for jamb direct entry

  11. Can a certificate in community health ( jchew) give one direct entry into any higher institution.

  12. Can it serve as an O Level to enable me take A Level exam.

  13. Sir
    Can sisomeo just register two subjects alone in GCE to combine with the other credit he made in Waec to gain an admission??

  14. Pls sir what if ur WAEC results is not gud can u still go for an A levels

  15. Pls sir can a person gain admission without going through Alevel


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