A-Levels: how to choose the right subjects for your future

As the gateway to your dream degree or the access point to your ideal apprenticeship, A-Levels have the power to prevent you from accessing the career you want. We are told to both ensure we’ve picked the subjects required for future study whilst also not limiting ourselves to 1 career. It can be a stressful decision to make, so read on for some help on what to look out for as you choose.

Course requisites

For some degrees and apprenticeships, there are of course specified subjects that are compulsory requirements. A-Level English literature or language to enter into English study for example; or two sciences to study Chemistry. It’s important to look at the small print here: are they counting psychology, geography, geology as sciences? Or is it strictly biology, chemistry, maths and physics? Will they accept English language instead of literature, or are both equally valued?

Soft subjects

There are a lot of he-said, she-said stories surrounding the ‘facilitating’ or ‘hard’ subjects; Maths, English, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography, History, Philosophy, and Languages vs the ‘soft’ subjects of Psychology, English language, and business studies, to name a few.

You should pick at least ‘two’ facilitating subjects if you want to progress to University. Some Universities like Sheffield and Bath have general lists of preferred subjects. If you are applying to traditional universities; Oxford, Cambridge, Durham in particular, then it would be smart to select two of such subjects; economics over business studies for example.

However, this is not the case across all institutions. Many Russel Group Universities like Exeter and Manchester welcome a variety of subjects that are of increasing value in today’s times. Exeter, for example, lists B-Techs in their course requirements from Business and management through to Law.

Picking subjects you enjoy

The most important thing is to pick the subjects you enjoy. There will be a step up to A-Levels that require a motivation that can only come from enjoying your subject. The stigmas surround studies subjects – business studies, film studies, media studies – say they are increasingly less influential. However, you should ignore these criticisms if you are truly passionate about the subject.

If you can justify the A-Levels’ usefulness to your future, then you are on the right lines. Choose the subjects you love within the bounds of course requirements and you will be fine. If you’re still unsure, let WHICH do the hard work for you. Their A-Level calculator can help you see where your combinations could lead you.


Written by Anna M.

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