General Certificate of Education
In 1951 two levels of public examinations were introduced: the GCE Ordinary Level and the GCE Advanced Level (A level). The former was designed as a school‐leaving examination to replace the School Certificate. It remained in place through the raising of the school‐leaving age to 16, until it was replaced in turn by the General Certificate of Secondary Education in 1988. The GCE A level, however, remains the ‘gold standard’ examination for 18‐year‐old school‐leavers, and still fulfils its original purpose as a preparation, and a means of selection, for university and other types of higher education, although it now constitutes one of several routes into higher education for 18‐ and 19‐year‐olds since the introduction of Vocational A Levels and diplomas.