CAPE isn’t for everybody. It’s a long, rigourous process with a system of regular testing that might fill some of us with intense stage fright. CAPE might also not be necessary for you to pursue your dream career. Shocking, right?

So, when can you happily opt out of sixth form?

When you know exactly what you want to do, but CAPE’s just getting in your way

Let’s think big here: Maybe all you’ve ever wanted was to become a prima ballerina. You’ve put in the time and work for years, and you’re ready to be the next Michaela DePrince. Sixth form could quickly become those pesky two years you wasted studying something completely unrelated to your dream.

When you’ve got your eye on American universities

Caribbean universities are actually the only instances in which CAPE is absolutely necessary. If you’re 100 percent sure you want to study in the United States, you might be able to skip sixth form altogether. It’ll be much smarter to focus your time and energy on the SATs, the prerequisite to get into any American university. The International School of Port of Spain (ISPS) also offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses and an American high school diploma — curricula that will up your attractiveness to admissions departments in U.S. schools.

When you’ve got your eye on Canadian universities

Canadian universities accept CAPE scores, but they’re not necessary for entry. Maple Leaf International School offers an exam-free route to Canadian universities through the Ontario Secondary School Diploma for study completed up to Grade 12. ISPS and Maple Leaf both offer programmes for students who’ve successfully completed five years of secondary education and who are looking to go north.

When you’ve got your eye on British universities

Schools in the U.K. will accept both CAPE and Cambridge A Level students. While most traditional Trinidadian schools are mandated to teach CAPE, Cambridge A Levels are still offered through the British Academy to students with solid Form 5 examination results. There are also several private instructors who prepare students for the Cambridge GCSEs. Bonus point: With private classes, you can still study the same subjects you would have studied for CAPE, without ever having to don a school uniform again.

When your chosen career path doesn’t require an A Level education

I once had a friend in university who decided to pursue her BFA in Ceramics. The usefulness factor of sixth form in this situation: zero. If you’re interested in a non-academic career path, look for specialist institutions, such as the Hospitality and Tourism Institute, where you can get hands-on, applied training in non-traditional areas of study.

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