Recognition of the General Certificate of Education (GCE) in Germany

<< The requirements

Last update: May 2018

1. The GCE as a subject-restricted university entrance qualification

The GCE is accepted in Germany under certain conditions as a direct subject-restricted university entrance qualification. These conditions are defined in the “Evaluation Proposal of the United Kingdom” (in German) and can be found in the anabin database, which is the database of the Central Office for Foreign Education in Germany.

Under certain conditions, the “General Certificate of Education” (GCE) can lead to a direct but strictly subject-specific university entrance qualification in Germany. Binding decisions regarding access to higher education institutions are always taken by the responsible certification authorities.

In Great Britain and at British “international schools”, the GCE examinations are typically administered during the last two years of secondary school: the GCE Advanced Subsidiary (GCE AS) examination after one year, and the GCE Advanced Level (GCE AL) after two years. The subject combination and the number of examinations can be freely selected on an individual basis. Three to four GCE examination subjects are typical. British universities individually decide on the admission of each applicant.

This information, prepared together with the Central Office for Foreign Education  (Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen, ZAB), is based on the evaluation proposals of the Standing Conference of Education Ministers (Kultusministerkonferenz) with regard to the GCE from the United Kingdom, published in the anabin database of the ZAB. The evaluation proposals serve the respective certification authorities as the basis for deciding which international school diplomas can lead to access of the higher education system in Germany. The information that is found on the DAAD website serves as an orientation for international students, but it is not binding for the certification authorities.”

Examinations that count towards the acquisition of a “General Certificate of Education” can also be part of secondary school leaving certificates from countries in which the school system is based on the British school system due to historical reasons. For these countries, other conditions may apply for university admission in Germany. Thus, the assessment proposals for the respective country must always be checked. More information can be found in the anabin database (in German) of the Central Office for Foreign Education.

Certificates from recognised institutions that administer examinations in Great Britain (“awarding bodies”) must always be submitted to the accreditation authorities for review. The certificates from the respective schools are not sufficient. The awarding bodies currently include the following: Pearson (formerly known as Edexcel), Cambridge Assessment International Education (formerly known as Cambridge International Examinations), OCR, AQA, WJEC (for Wales), and CCEA (for Northern Ireland).

2. Recognition of the GCE in Germany

In order for the GCE to be recognised, the following conditions apply:

a) Basic requirements

Regardless of the degree programme that is chosen, three basic conditions exist:

  • In order for the GCE to be recognised, you must provide evidence of four examination subjects that are independent of one another and have general education (non-vocational) content.
  • These subjects must include a) a language and b) mathematics or one of the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, or physics).
  • A minimum of three of the four examination subjects must have been passed on the level of GCE AL. The level GCE AS is sufficient for the fourth examination subject.

b) Subject-specific requirements for individual study areas

Based on the desired course of study, the following additional prerequisites must be fulfilled:

  • If you intend to study humanities, law, social sciences, economics, or art, you must a) show evidence of a subject in the GCE AL that corresponds to the chosen field of study, and b) have a GCE AL in mathematics for a course of study involving economics and social sciences.
  • If you intend to study a subject related to natural science, you must demonstrate a total of two GCE AL examinations in the subjects of mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics.
  • For technical studies and mathematics, a GCE AL in mathematics and a GCE AL in biology, chemistry, physics, or computer science are required.
  • If your desired course of study is in the field of medicine (medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, or pharmacy), you must have completed three of the following GCE AL subjects: mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics.

c) Additional requirements

Additional requirements that do not replace the requirements according to 2.b:

  • Two subjects on the level of GCE AS can be included in the assessment in place of one GCE AL.
  • Evidence of GCE AS/AL examination subjects that are vocational in nature can only be accepted in individual cases. The “GCE Applied A Level” introduced in the United Kingdom in 2005/2006 will not qualify an applicant for university access in Germany under any circumstances.
  • Proof of an applicant’s “key skills” will not be taken into account for university access in Germany.
  • A language examination in English that has not been taken as part of the GCE AL/AS examinations cannot be substituted for a subject in GCE AL/AS.
  • Provided that the awarding bodies or examination centres document the preliminary results of the examinations as "Statement of Results" or “Candidate Statement of Provisional Results”, these results can be used as the basis for the decision of a higher education entrance qualification. Nonetheless, as an applicant, you are required to submit the official certificates by the beginning of the second semester of your studies.
  • During the course of your application process, it is assumed that you have completed a total of twelve consecutive years of schooling. If you do not meet this requirement, the United Kingdom evaluation proposals specify more detailed conditions for equivalency, which can be found in the anabin database (in German) of the Central Office for Foreign Education.

3. Other British secondary school certificates

International Advanced Level

Regarding university entrance in Germany, International Advanced Level/International Advanced Subsidiary Level, which are offered by some British international schools, are considered equivalent to GCE AL/GCE AS.

Cambridge Pre-U

The Cambridge Pre-U is a British secondary school diploma that is accepted as a university entrance qualification in the United Kingdom. For applicants with a Cambridge Pre-U qualification to be accepted into a university programme in Germany, the above-mentioned basic requirements (see “Recognition of the GCE in Germany” – “Basic Requirements”) and the subject-specific requirements (see “Recognition of the GCE in Germany” – “Subject-Specific Requirements for Individual Areas of Study”) remain unchanged for individual study areas. A Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subject is considered to be equivalent to a GCE AL, and a Cambridge Pre-U Short Course is considered to be equivalent to a GCE AS. The Cambridge Pre-U-subject Global Perspectives and Independent Research can replace a GCE AS if a Cambridge Pre-U Diploma is demonstrated and the basic requirements (see “Recognition of the GCE in Germany” – “Basic Requirements”) and the subject-specific requirements (see “Recognition of the GCE in Germany” – “Subject-Specific Requirements for Individual Areas of Study”) have already been fulfilled by the other subjects.

(International) General Certificate of Secondary Education and GCE Ordinary Level

The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), the International GCSE, and the GCE Ordinary Level (GCE O Level) certificates, which are conferred in the United Kingdom and at British international schools, will be regarded as a school leaving certificate from a German “Hauptschule” (a school that offers Lower Secondary Education) or as a “Mittlere Reife” (an intermediate school-leaving certificate that is usually awarded after ten years of schooling in Germany) and will NOT be taken into consideration for university entrance in Germany.