The other day I was traveling on an online taxi from my school to home when the driver asked me, “What do you do?” I told him that I was doing A-Levels and his perplexed facial reaction signified his confusion. After assessing my appearance again, he asked me, “How is it any different from FS.C?” This question depicts the confusion prevailing in our nations’ mind. O Levels is a secondary school degree offered by the University of Cambridge and is equivalent to Matriculation offered in Pakistan. Consequently, A-Levels is a higher secondary school degree equal to the intermediate offered here, in Pakistan. A regular answer which is often given to this question is that O/A Levels are more ‘conceptual’ as compared to the local courses. Though this is not incorrect, there are other things that distinguish the two systems. I believe that the most important one is the mentality of the students. A-levels and an intermediate student might be of the same age but mentally, the A levels student is much more mature. This is partly because of the coursework of the British education system and partly because of the difference in the environment of A levels and intermediate college. As an A levels student, this thing is instilled into your mind that you must become independent and should not merely rely on your parents for your undergraduate program. It is highly recommended to start a job or do some kind of entrepreneurship before getting into university. Whereas, in the case of our local system, the situation is almost the opposite, where rather than encouraging them to become independent, students are told that their parents are not only going to pay for their undergraduate program but also for their post-graduate studies. Another misconception that often prevails in the minds of intermediate students is that they must complete at least their Master’s degree in order to attain a good job, which is totally untrue. The method of teaching as well as learning also varies amongst the two systems. Indeed the O/A Levels are more conceptual, which means that this system does not merely require students to memorize their textbooks. Rather, the main objective is to ensure that the students understand what they read, for which they are tested in a way where not only the bookish knowledge is implied, but the students analyze the situation using their personal opinions. The Matriculation and Intermediate system are far behind in this regard, as it believes in what is commonly known as ‘ratta’ or a rote learning system, where the ultimate objective is to repeat something so many times that the student begins to memorize it. Thus the exam only requires students to re-produce what they have memorized. This explains why some people who are from SSC and HSC backgrounds do not have enough knowledge despite completing their Bachelors’s. Sadly, our education system has massive loopholes and one example of that is that the education system being followed in the institution determines its quality. Therefore, all institutions that offer O/A Levels are considered to be prestigious and charge a premium price for their services and claim to groom their students into completely civilized people. Though this is not necessarily true, one thing is for sure, a student from the so-called ‘top schools’ is definitely more confident than a student from a government school. What is even more disheartening is that the top private schools of Pakistan, have all opened a subsidiary to cater the low and middle-income group as well as pro matriculation and intermediate audiences, and their dual standards are exposed when they offer top-notch services to their flagship project students whereas the students at their subsidiaries are not given the same treatment. This signifies how education has become a business in our society where schools operate as private profit-making enterprises and compete with each other to earn the highest profits. I believe that despite the education system being followed, the standard of education must be the same across the board. The purpose of this article is not to mock our local education system but is a wakeup call to the authorities. They must revamp our national education system and bring it up to the level of other systems so that our country has a unified education system. A failure to do this would result in devastating outcomes. Pakistan already has an unequal distribution of wealth, if all students of our country are not on one page, then we must prepare ourselves for an upcoming socio-economic crisis. The writer is a student of A-levels at LGS, JT.