Choosing A Levels

Deciding upon which A Level courses to follow is rarely an easy task. On the one hand it is important that you choose subjects you enjoy. Sixth Form study can be hard work and you are far more likely to put the effort into a subject that you find interesting.

On the other hand you need to choose subjects that will enable you to follow the career you want or get to read the degree of your choice.

And, of course, you need to select the subjects that you are best at and enjoy the most.

Some degree courses, such as Medicine, have guidelines about what subjects are required. In the case of Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science, Chemistry is essential and most universities would also like students to have Biology.

Other popular degree courses with specific requirements include Engineering (Maths and Physics are usually required) and Economics (Maths is often preferred).

Some degree courses are more general, so, for example some university Law degrees would like students to have an A Level in English, History or PRE but a wide range of other subjects is often permitted.

The Sixth Form team and the Headmaster are able to advise students and their parents on the most suitable subject combinations for A Level study.

There is no better way of finding out exactly which subjects universities prefer than by going onto their websites or the UCAS website.

You also need to consider the grades you might be able to attain at the end of the course. If you are looking at Oxford or Cambridge you will need to achieve A Level grades ranging from A*A*A to A*AA. For Medicine, Veterinary Science and Dentistry you will need to achieve AAA or above.

It is really important that you are realistic. If you would really like to read Medicine, but do not have a sizeable number of A* grades at GCSE, you will find it difficult to receive a course offer from a university. As a general rule, the highly competitive-entry universities are looking for students who have seven A* grades at GCSE or more, although there are exceptions.

If you are thinking of studying an A Level subject that you have not done at GCSE, it is really important to find out as much as you can. Ask existing students, speak to teachers, have a look at the textbooks and the exam papers.

One of the most important aspects of choosing A Levels is to acquire as much information beforehand as you can.

Changes to A Level

You are probably aware that A and AS Levels are changing. These changes are part of the government’s reforms and apply to all schools and all A Level subjects. Essentially the change is from a modular to a linear course. 

Some A Level subjects changed in September 2015 (e.g. Art, Business Studies, Biology, Chemistry, English, Economics, History, Physics and Psychology).

Others are changing in September 2016 (e.g. Drama and Theatre Studies, Spanish, Music, French, German, Geography, PE and PRE).

While others are not changing until 2017 (e.g. DT, Maths, Russian).