GCE A Levels (General Certificate of Education Advanced Level), more commonly known as A Levels, are a type of high school class in the UK. They are similar in many ways to Advanced Placement courses many American high-schoolers take. These challenging classes culminate in written and standardized tests at the end of the year and those grades are submitted to universities. If the student passes (the highest passing grade being an A*), that school will allow them to skip entry-level courses in that subject and move straight to more advanced university courses. A Levels often carry a lot of significance, as a student usually only takes 3 or 4 which determine the path of their college career. In many places they are even considered equivalent to an American high school diploma. Because of how challenging these tests are, they are usually taken by 17 or 18-year-old students in their last year of school before university.
Christopher and A Levels
As we learn throughout the play, Christopher is a very gifted mathematician. He plays with numbers and patterns and can quickly solve difficult equations in his head. Another measure of his ability is through his completion of his Maths A Levels (British people use the plural “maths” rather than the singular, “math”). At only 15, he passes the test with the highest grade possible, an A*. A Levels are very challenging and are usually only offered to students in their last couple years of high school, so for Christopher to take the test so early is quite impressive. He also doesn’t seem to have taken the year-long course in preparation for the test, yet he aces it!