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What to consider when choosing your A-levels

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

Before you start Year 12, you must choose your A levels and many students find this difficult. When choosing your A levels, there are a few things you should consider:

What would you like to study at university? What are your future prospects?

It is important to consider what your future prospects are when choosing your A levels. If you are considering studying Medicine, Chemistry is often a compulsory subject and sometimes Biology. Whereas if you are hoping to study English, English will be mandatory. Alternatively, if you are hoping to undertake an apprenticeship, you will need to look at what A levels and grades that they expect.

If you have a specific career or degree in mind:

  • Check to see if you will need specific A Level subjects. The best site to look at the huge range of jobs out there is

  • Check the entry requirements on the UCAS website or on individual university websites. Check out the Target website's Degree Subject Guides which will show which A levels are needed for different degree courses. 

If you do not have a degree or career in mind:

  • You can choose a combination of subjects that will keep your preferred options open.

  • Some schools and colleges offer both A levels and BTEC qualifications. You may like to consider a combination of qualifications as this might suit your learning and/or assessment style. 

  • Some A Level subjects are regarded by pretty much all universities as being acceptable. These are sometimes known as ‘facilitating‘ subjects such as Maths, English, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, History, Geography or a Foreign language. Some universities are stricter than others on this issue - the Informed Choices site is a good source of information to help you choose.

  • You can email or call the universities during Year 11 to ask for their advice about the A Level subjects required for the course you are interested in. You'll find their email or telephone details on the university's website.

What are you good at?

Choose A level subjects that you are good at and know you will achieve good grades in! This is important because ultimately, most universities require Bs and above for admission (As and above for Russell Group). Pick subjects that you are good at (and probably also enjoy) as it will ease some of the burden on your Sixth Form experience. Look at what your GCSE grades were and use them to make informed decisions.

How many do you want to take?

I advise taking 3 A levels as this is what universities expect from applicants during the admissions process. However, an EPQ or an extra A level can serve to show that you are capable of a great workload and an EPQ can add points onto your UCAS application.

I took 4 A levels: Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Maths – as I was not 100% sure if I wanted to study medicine from as early as Year 11 and had an interest in science and maths so wanted to keep my options open.

This YouTube video is a great resource to help you choose:

More information can be found on this helpful page

Good luck!

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