“Students who have studied Cambridge International AS and A Levels have a real depth of understanding of the subject matter.“

Stuart Schmill, Dean of Admissions, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA

Introducing BIS-NY Upper

“Students who have studied Cambridge International AS and A Levels have a real depth of understanding of the subject matter.“

Stuart Schmill, Dean of Admissions, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA

The program at BIS-NY Upper is built around the respected and rigorous Cambridge International Examinations courses of study leading to International General Certificates of Secondary Education (IGCSE) at 16 and Advanced Level Examinations (A Level) at 18. These courses are taken by over a million students in more than 160 countries around the world and are highly regarded by universities in the USA, UK and internationally.  Successful completion of A Levels not only meets the entrance requirements of universities in the US, but can even qualify students for up to one year’s credit at some of America’s leading institutions. More information can be found at and below.

Our Upper program continues to provide an exceptional academic program which will equip students with the knowledge, skills and intellectual enthusiasm to thrive at university and beyond.  Alongside this robust and inspiring curriculum, there is a thorough guidance and counselling system to support students through these critical years. 

The school will also continue to support students and families to explore and consider senior and high school placements in other schools in the city and beyond, and remains committed to helping each individual secure a place in the right school for them.

For more information on the application process please click here and select 'Upper', or contact the school directly on 212 481 2700.

Our approach and ethos at BIS-NY Upper

At BIS-NY Upper our ethos and approach are built around the statements below, to ensure that you and your family are provided with the best academic and globally-minded education in the city.

An ambitious academic education which equips students with the knowledge, skills and drive to succeed at university and beyond.

A student-centered education which provides challenge, guidance and support tailored to the needs and passions of each individual.

A community ​which values scholarship and endeavor and which is based on personal responsibility and mutual respect.

An international, inclusive and outward-looking education which provides opportunities for leadership, engagement and service.

More about Cambridge International Examinations and the approach to learning

Cambridge International Examinations are designed by the Cambridge International Assessment body, the not for profit, non-teaching department of the University of Cambridge in England.

The vision of CIE is to work with top schools around the world to give students the best education for life. CIE are are recognised by leading universities and employers around the world as evidence of academic ability and Cambridge currently works with over 10,000 schools in 160 countries in the world. The courses are regarded as some of the most rigorous and inspiring secondary courses and examinations available globally.  

Philosophically,  the Cambridge curriculum does not start with exams, but works to develop and informed curiosity and a passion for learning.

It is designed to inspire and reward learning, motivating students as they study and works to encourage the Cambridge Learner Attributes across the school. These include being responsible, confident, engaged, reflective and innovative, and encourage all students to attain a solid foundation for achieving high levels of academic and personal attainment.


What does the Upper Curriculum Offer?

In addition to building on the successful features of the curriculum and approach already in place at The British International School of New York, the Upper curriculum offers students the following:

  • A broad curriculum with lots of opportunities for more in-depth investigation and learning.
  • The opportunity to develop strong analytical skills and critical thinking.
  • A flexible and student-centred model.
  • International recognition and portability.
  • A path to completion of highly regarded and independent examinations, not currently offered by any other educational institution in the  NYC area.
  • A robust and competitive foundation for further study and employment.

Course Structure

Upper students will follow a course of study culminating in the Cambridge International Examinations. The examinations are organised at two levels:

IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) which are sat in the summer of Year 11 (10th Grade).

A (Advanced) Level exams which are sat in the summer of Year 13 (12th Grade).

An introduction to IGCSEs

IGCSEs are most widely taken end of secondary school qualifications around the world and recognized as providing a strong base for further study.  Cambridge has been a registered public examination board since 1858, offering IGCSEs since 1988.

The aim of IGCSEs is to ensure all students have secured a good level of education across a broad range of subjects.

BIS-NY Upper students will have a choice of two pathways at IGCSE- Foundation and Extension. 

This offers an additional element of choice for students and families to build the type of programme they want in Years 10-11.

In addition to the academic programme, all Upper students would also be allocated to an advisor and have ongoing pastoral and guidance support as they progress through the prorgamme.

The level of co-curricular participation would depend on the choice of the Foundation or Extension Pathway.

Foundation Pathway:

All Upper students will take IGCSE courses in:

  • English
  • English Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Science (Dual Award for Biology, Chemistry and Physics) 
  • Global Perspectives

This would give all students a minimum of 6 IGCSES (this is often viewed as US High School equivalency and in itself would satisfy entry requirements for Associate Degrees and some colleges).

Extension Pathway

Upper students on the Extension Pathway would take all the Foundation level course and an additional 3-4 subjects from the list below.

  • History / Geography
  • French / Spanish
  • Additional Mathematics
  • Music / Art or Physical Education

This would give students 9-10 IGCSEs and would also secure the ICE (International Certificate of Education (ICE) which requires students to complete courses across six broad academic disciplines.

Year 10 & 11 Wider Programme

Extension Pathway students will have access to a full programme of pastoral support and guidance as well as co-curricular activities, delivered by a combination of in-school opportunities and through our partnerships with our external partners and programmes.


An introduction to A-Levels

The aim of A Levels is to enable students to take examinations at a higher level in a small number of subjects to equip them with the knowledge, skills and qualifications to succeed at university.

Upper students will generally take 3 A Level subjects and an enrichment course in Global Perspectives which could also lead to a 4th A Level.  Some students may also be able to take a 4th A Level within their main programme.

The precise range of subjects offered at A Level will partly be determined by the individual choices of students. One of the strengths of A Levels that they enable students to construct a curriculum around their particular academic passions and /or university needs.

Subjects will include those offered at IGCSE as well as a number of others popular at this level, such as Economics, Psychology, Politics and Classical Civilization.

A Level Wider Programme

All A Level students will be enrolled full time and will have access to a programme of
pastoral support and guidance with college and careers guidance as major areas of focus.

A wider co-curricular and placement programme will also be offered to students to
ensure breadth of opportunity and also to enable individuals to put together strong
applications for university in the US, UK or elsewhere.

A-Levels are recognized worldwide for university admissions and ‘good passes’ can earn
up to one year’s credit at many of the leading colleges in the US.

“Students who have studied Cambridge International AS and A Levels have a real depth of understanding of the subject matter.“

Stuart Schmill, Dean of Admissions, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA
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