Definition of O level in English:

O level


  • 1mass noun (in the UK except Scotland) a qualification in a specific subject formerly taken by school students aged 14–16, at a level below A level. It was replaced in 1988 by the GCSE.

    • ‘I myself did not know much about the People's Charter until I studied for my O level economic and social history examination.’
    • ‘We have heard of cases where the mother qualified for ERC, but hasn't kept her O-level certificates all these years.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, my O-level French is a distant memory.’
    • ‘As someone who has taken both the old O-level maths and the GCSE version he is also one of the few people who can pass judgment on whether exams really have got easier.’
    • ‘David left school with one O level after failing his 11-plus.’
    • ‘It was 40 years ago today that I got my GCE O-level results.’
    • ‘‘My only academic achievement after leaving school was in 1969, when I gained an O level in English at Shipley College at the age of 23,’ said Mr Walsh.’
    • ‘I attended the British School of Paris and studied art as an O-level subject.’
    • ‘One by one and in alphabetical order the pupils at the fictional King's School were called up to a school stage lined with their teachers, to learn their O-level results in front of a hall filled with their parents and fellow pupils.’
    • ‘Aged 20, Kay decided to go to Liverpool University, telling the administrators that he had A-Levels in psychology and English literature, when the only qualification he had was O-level art.’
    • ‘Where was that knowledge in 1974 when I managed to get just 1 O level from the 9 I took.’
    • ‘Mr Rosenberg was my O-level Physics teacher at comprehensive school.’
    • ‘Maybe I'm wrong - I did fail my maths O level in 1975, but since then I have learned to use a calculator.’
    • ‘They will get their GCSE results today, but their O-level results are being kept secret until the end of the five episodes on September 2.’
    • ‘I'm going to spread a tale that he failed his O-level arithmetic.’
    • ‘Geraldton Grammar is one of only two schools in WA, undertaking the O level design and communications course set by Cambridge University.’
    • ‘Everyone must follow an academic curriculum and write O level in four years.’
    • ‘The Nuffield O level syllabus covered this in year 9, along with lots of optics, including reflection, refraction, diffraction and telescopes.’
    • ‘I'm sure that I saw Jack put a black beret and a striped jumper into his overnight bag and he's been brushing up his O-level French.’
    • ‘It offers A-level and O-level courses as an alternative to the Leaving Cert.’
    1. 1.1count noun An O-level exam or pass.
      • ‘When GCSEs were introduced, the O-level pass was phased out and replaced by a ‘near miss’ score, grade N. Grade F was also replaced by a grade U (ungraded).’
      • ‘It requires three GCE O-level passes in one sitting.’
      • ‘From a technical point of view my sole qualification for covering this shoot is an O level in photography (grade C) which I passed over 20 years ago.’
      • ‘The fourth is Enhanced Child Relief for a working mother with 3 GCE O level passes in one sitting.’


1940s: short for ordinary level.


O level