Six things you need to know before making your final A-level choices
Whether you already know which A-levels you want to take or if you're struggling to decide, here are six pieces of advice to help you make the right choices.
Already have some subjects in mind? See where they could take you with our A-level explorer, including possible degree and career paths.
What A-levels should you take?
The subjects you choose at A-level could impact what you can do in the future – like which courses you can apply to at university – so it's worth putting some time into considering your options.
Even if you don't know what you want to do after college, you can still make choices that could help you get you on the right path. Here are six things to think about when you're deciding which A-levels to take.
- Read more on The Student Room: what can you do after A-levels?
1. Certain A-level subjects may help with university course options
For some university degrees, you'll need to have studied specific subjects at A-level (or equivalent). Put the A-levels you're considering into our explorer tool and you'll see which degree and career options could be a good match for you.
If you're not sure about university yet, you can keep your options open by choosing a range of A-levels. Some universities may discourage students from taking certain combinations of subjects, particulary if they're very similiar – like business studies and economics.
- Read more: what are university entry requirements?
2. A-levels are a lot tougher than GCSEs
Here are three of the most common reasons for choosing to study an A-level subject:
- you need it to pursue a particular career
- it’s a subject you enjoy and are good at
- it’s a subject you’ve not studied before but you think will suit you
Whatever made you choose the subject, just bear in mind that A-levels are more difficult than GCSEs and it can take time to get up to speed with the ways you're taught and what's expected of you.
So don't worry if you initially struggle with the step-up – there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to adjust to the workload.
3. Certain uni courses will look for specific A-levels
If you're eyeing up a degree, it's a good idea to research if they require any specific A-levels – you may not be able to take the course otherwise.
Here are a few examples of which A-levels you could need for certain courses:
- A pharmacy degree must have: chemistry, plus at least one from biology, maths and physics
- An English literature or language degree must have: usually either English Literature or English Language – sometimes both
- A geology or earth sciences degree must have: at least two from maths, physics, chemistry and biology
- An economics degree will sometimes need: maths
For more guidance on which A-levels are needed for particular degrees, see our full list of uni subjects for more information about their typical A-level requirements.
It's also worth checking the full entry requirement details for a handful of courses across different unis to make sure you’re ticking all the boxes within your subject – you can find a course's entry requirements on The Uni Guide.
4. Some courses and unis have lists of subjects they don’t accept
Particular courses view certain A-levels as 'less effective preparation' for university studies than others, meaning that the subject area of the A-level is too far removed from the focus of the degree.
For example, London School of Economics and Political Science has a list of ‘non-preferred’ subjects. While some universities (such as the University of Sheffield) list which A-level subjects they prefer.
Don't let this put you off taking a creative or vocational A-level subject though – just make sure the other subjects you choose meet the entry requirements.
Are there easy A-levels?
Unfortunately, there's no such thing as an easy A-level. But if you lean into subjects that you're good at, then they might seem easier to you than they do to other people – the same way that some students might seem better at subjects that you struggle with.
Also – you'll probably find it easier to stay motivated for a subject that you have a genuine interest in, which could lead to better grades.
As we mentioned earlier, some universities and courses have subjects they require and those they don't accept. Keep this in mind, but focus on studying subjects you like.
5. Know myth from reality
You might be told different things about universities depending on who you ask – it's always worth doing research to reach your own conclusions.
For example, some universities may still consider your application even if your grades are slightly lower than their entry requirements – but you'll likely need a strong personal statement or portfolio to do this.
There's no harm in getting in touch with a university and asking what they'll consider.
6. Many unis and courses will consider you whatever you choose
There are plenty of degrees that have no specific subject requirements – you can apply to study them with any combination of A-levels. These courses include business studies, law and marketing as well as philosophy, politics and psychology.
Even though some courses have strict subject requirements, you'll still have plenty of options no matter which A-levels you decide to take.
If you want a better idea of which degrees could be suitable for the A-levels you're interested in, use our explorer tool.