Choosing your A-Level subjects
This hub is mainly focused on the United Kingdom (any any other country that use the same system) educational system, if you from other countries then some of the specific information may differ for you.
Your A-level choices are important, really important. It is the first time in your education you have real freedom to only do subjects that you want and arn't required to study certain subjects by law. This is the start of your educational independence. Don't waste this opportunity. In this hub I aim to give you some advice to help you choose what A-levels to take to make sure you don't regret the choices you make.
There are other options to A-levels
Firstly chose whether you want to do A-levels or take a different route. If you have a specific passion or want to go into a certain area do some research on how you can get there, sometimes A-levels may not be the best choice and vocational courses or apprenticeships may get you where you want faster. If you want to go down this route then go and speak to your schools careers advisor as they often will have many contacts with companies who offer apprenticeships. This website HERE whilst designed for students who have finished A-levels to find apprenticeship has many contacts and ideas for those looking for an alternative to A-levels.
Why are your choices Important?
If you are looking to go to university then your A-level choices are crucial, and even if you arn't looking at going to university then A-levels might be the last education qualification that you can put on your CV, that will be important to employers. Many courses at universities require specific subjects to be taken at A-level. You don't want to find your perfect course but then find you won't be accepted for it because you don't have for example an A-level in Biology. Here are a few examples of the most common courses and what subjects they generally requirefor entry into an average university.
- Engineering: Requires maths and physics
- Law: Prefer you to have English and History
- Computing: Generally require maths
- Psychology: Prefer you to have a selection from Psychology, Sociology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography, Mathematics, Statistics, Anthropology, Economics, Politics and Philosophy
A lot of university courses don't recognize General Studies or Critical Thinking as full A-levels in their offers, so this is important to take into account if you are thinking of choosing these.
Research is Key
If you have decided that you are going to do A-levels it is important that you look into what career you want to take, agreed it seems a long way off however your career ambitions may rely on your university degree which in turn rely on A-levels. If you are struggling with thinking of a whole career then take a smaller step and go and take a look at a university on an open day (Comprehensive list of open days is HERE). Walk around lots of subject area's, pick up a prospectus and see if anything jumps out at you. The UCAS website is also a very useful resource, it allows you to search all courses from all universities in the United Kingdom and for each of these courses gives an outline of the course and its typical specific entry requirements.
Also when researching look around at apprenticeships because for many careers training can be given that way on the job rather than at university and thus avoiding costly tuition fees. Now there are lots of schemes meaning that for jobs you previously needed to go to university to qualify for now you don't.
Additionally go and look round Sixth Forms in your area, don't necessarily just stick to your schools sixth form. By going and having a look at sixth forms you get to see subjects you may not have seen before plus by speaking to current students at these sixth forms about their experiences you can gain an insiders view, these may provide invaluable in making a decision.
Choosing Balanced Subjects
When choosing your subjects its important to include a certain amount of variety in your subjects. Unless you are intending to apply for subjects such as medicine or veterinary at university which are very specific over what subjects they want (This is why its important to look at the entry requirements for individual courses.). It is also recommended to include at least one "respected" A-level, these are generally the more academic and traditional subjects. This guide (LINK) is written by Trinity College at Cambridge and outlines their views on what subjects are the most "suitable", its important to remember however that this is for one of the top universities in the UK and is only a guide.
Beware of Bad advice
There are certain people whose advice you should be wary of, don't by any means ignore them completely however just don't hang off their every word. Teachers whilst often may give good advice however they can be bias towards their subject and their sixth form, I was told many lies by my maths teacher to try and convince me to stay at my schools sixth form for example. Also don't allow your parents or friends to influence your decision in a bad way. Your A-level choices are your future, don't try and please someone else by taking the path they want you to take.
The Most Important Piece Of Advice
Take subjects you enjoy and are interested in, these 2 years will be the hardest you have worked in your life so far. It can also be the most fun you have had. To make it fun however you need to take subjects that you want to be going to the lessons for and are motivated to work in.
Hope you found this hub useful and good luck with your choices.