Course Pathways

Tanglin is unique amongst international schools in Singapore in offering a choice of A Levels or the International Baccaulareate (IB) in Sixth Form (Years 12&13, ages 16-18 years), both of which yield consistently outstanding academic results to complement our excellent results at (I)GCSE.

We believe this choice of pathway enables us to tailor our students’ education more effectively and we take great care to ensure students and parents understand the difference between the two qualifications.

A Levels

A Levels facilitate intensive, specialist study of three or four subjects. A Level students must take the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and must participate in the school's Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) programme.

The majority of A level courses are linear, meaning that they are assessed at the end of two years’ study. AS levels, which used to contribute to a full A level and were sat at the end of Year 12, are gradually being phased out by the UK government.

Most students in Year 12 opt to study three subjects at A Level and all students then continue with these three subjects to Year 13. Students with a strong academic profile can request to take four subjects: to be considered for this, we would expect an (I)GCSE grade A or 8 profile across the board and an excellent track record in terms of effort and work ethic. Current Tanglin students make option choices in Year 11. Students who are new to Tanglin will, if possible, indicate option choices in Term 2 of Year 11.

IB Diploma

More than simply a qualification, the IB provides a distinctive educational experience. It allows students to study a wide range of subjects throughout their Sixth Form, while giving them the freedom to choose which subjects to study in greater depth.

A number of opportunities exist for students to develop specialised knowledge and skills in topics that interest them the most. While these opportunities are certainly the best preparation for university education, IB students also develop the ability to take on new ideas from across the disciplines throughout their lives.

The IB offers a broad, balanced programme of study across six subjects; three at higher level and three at standard level, which must include a language and a science. Students select the six subjects by choosing one from each of the following groups:

  • Group 1, First Language - English Language and Literature, English Literature or school supported self-study of the literature course
  • Group 2, Second Language – Mandarin, Spanish, French or Classical Languages Latin
  • Group 3, Individuals and Society – Business Management, Economics, Geography, History, Global Politics, Philosophy or Psychology
  • Group 4, Experimental Sciences – Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Systems and Societies, Physics or Computer Science
  • Group 5, Mathematics – Mathematics
  • Group 6, Arts and Electives – Film Studies, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, Economics or Chemistry.

Please note that if your son or daughter is planning on taking the IB Diploma as a pathway to a European university then it is important that your family is aware of specific country/university requirements regarding the diploma. You can find this information here.


In summary, A Levels facilitate intensive, specialist study of, usually, three subjects, whereas the IB offers a broad, balanced programme of study across six subjects; three at higher level, three at standard level, which must include a language and a science.

Regardless of pathway, all students follow the Tanglin Core:

  • A Level students follow the Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) programme and take the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)
  • IB students follow the Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) programme, prepare an Extended Essay and take the Theory of Knowledge course.

In order to support students and parents as they make the decision about whether to follow the IB or A level programme, we have devised a series of “Pathways” talks. These begin with a single session in Year 9 and then there are several sessions in Year 11 as the final decision gets closer. We also run an Options Fair, for both parents and students. We aim to ensure families feel well-informed of the intricacies of both pathways before students make their final decisions.