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The terms “general” and “ordinary” are often used interchangeably when referring to the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Ordinary Level (O-Level) qualification. However, there is a subtle difference between the two terms.

The term “general” refers to the fact that the O-Level is a broad qualification that covers a wide range of subjects. Students can choose to study up to 10 subjects at O-Level, and the subjects can be from a variety of different disciplines, such as the arts, sciences, humanities, and languages.



The term “ordinary” refers to the level of difficulty of the O-Level exams. The O-Levels are designed to be challenging, but they are not as difficult as the Advanced Level (A-Level) exams. This makes the O-Levels a good starting point for students who are interested in pursuing further education at university.

In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, the O-Levels have been replaced by the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). However, the O-Levels are still used in many other countries, such as Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.

Here is a table that summarizes the key differences between the general and ordinary levels of the GCE O-Level qualification:

FeatureGeneral LevelOrdinary Level
Subject rangeWideWide
Subject difficultyLess difficultMore difficult
Intended audienceStudents who are interested in further educationStudents who are interested in a broad range of subjects
Current useUsed in some countriesStill used in many countries

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.