Choosing Your A Level Subjects


Are you about to pick your A Level Subjects? Are you thinking about where certain combinations of subjects might lead you?

A Levels are really different from GCSEs, as subjects are no longer compulsory, and you’re expected to study a much smaller range of subjects. Because of this, it’s really important to think about what you’d like to study, and the options that those subjects will give you when it comes to applying for jobs and universities.

Here are some things to think about while you’re thinking about your decision:

  • Do you meet your school or college's grade requirements to start certain A-Level courses? This will be the quickest way to narrow down your initial set of choices.

  • It’s important to think about picking the subjects you like, as well as ones which will help you get on to the university course or job you want to do.

  • What subjects are you studying at the moment?

  • What subjects do you really love? What interests you the most?

  • Do you know what career you’d like to have? Would certain A Level subjects be better suited to helping you get there?

  • What sort of things are you good at? Are you good at reading? Leading discussions? Giving presentations? Would certain A Levels allow you to develop these skills?

  • And what sort of things are you not so good at? Are they things you can develop over time and that you’d like to improve, or are they things that you’d hate to have to keep doing?

  • What are your motivations for doing A Levels?

There is no ‘right’ answer when picking A Levels, but if you want to do certain university courses, it’s really important to look at the entrance requirements for the course. The combinations of A Levels needed to make a successful application to study English Literature, for example, are very different from those needed to apply for Medicine!

Talking to other people about this stuff can be really helpful - friends, teachers, or parents. It can be really interesting to see what other people think you’re good at or might be suited to! That said, picking a university subject should be your choice, not someone else’s. Hearing other opinions can be super useful, but it’s really a decision which is yours to make. It’s worth taking the time to pick carefully!

Best of luck!

Ellen B. Brewster is a doctoral student researching eighteenth-century literature. She blogs about doing a PhD (DPhil) at Oxford on Instagram @_ellenbrewster

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