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Cambridge University’s new Pre U qualification, developed as a tough alternative to A Levels, is gaining popularity in both independent and state schools, writes Graeme Paton in the Telegraph. He listed Charterhouse, Dulwich, Epsom, Eton, Leweston, Sherborne, Rugby, Shrewsbury, Walthamstow Hall and Winchester as some of the well known independent schools offering the exam. In the state sector, there is similar enthusiasm; with King Edward VI, Stratford-upon-Avon, Coloma Convent Girl’s School, Croydon and Wimbledon College leading the way.

Whilst ministers introduced an A* rating to the A level examination in September 2008, many leading educationalists feel that this is not enough and the Government has “dumbed down” the exam, trying to fulfil its pledge for more school leavers to be able to gain entry to university. They feel that the Pre U requirement to answer essay-based questions at the end of a rigorous two year course will provide a far more suitable examination for bright sixth formers. Fifteen state schools and thirty private schools have offered the Pre U for the first time in September with another 100 confirming they will run the courses within the next three years.

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