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These are the 10 most popular A-levels

What’s the number one subject taken by A-level students who go on to uni? Find out what came first as we count down the top 10...

We've done some number-crunching to find the answer. Can you guess what topped the list?

Jump down below and see if you’re right, as we count down the A-level subjects with the most students, from ten through to one...

Remember, if you are choosing A-level subjects...

Give a thought to what you may want to do next. 28% of the students we spoke to back in February 2016 wished they had taken different A-levels once they began applying to university, while ​41% would have given more thought to which A-levels would have helped them get into uni.

While our countdown below highlights the most popular subjects uni students took, your own passions and future goals should ultimately be at the heart of your decision.

Try our A-level Explorer tool to check where your choices will take you, and perhaps provide you with a few fresh ideas.

OK, on to the countdown...

10. Business studies

Business Studies at A-level

What could you study next? Business and management studies, marketing

Business studies at A-level should provide you with an understanding of how any modern business or organisation functions, knowledge which you can use throughout your working life. 

Topics covered at A-level include business ethics, digital technology and globalisation.


9. Geography

Geography at A-level

What could you study next? Geography, environmental science

Geography at A-level can be split into two distinct areas, human and physical. The subject is often praised by students for its relevance to the world around them, helping them to understand key issues such as global warming, climate change, weather hazards and gentrification. 

Plus, there's a good chance you'll get to escape the classroom and go on field trips...

8. General studies

General Studies at A-level

Note, many universities do not accept general studies at A-level as part of their entry requirements.

General studies – as the name suggests – covers a very broad range of topics such as politics, culture, literature and science, plus many more.

While general studies does sit in the top 10, the subject has now been scrapped as part of the A-level reforms. From 2017, it will no longer be available to students and 2018 will be the final year of exams.


7. Physics


What could you study next? Physicsmechanical engineering

Physics at A-level provides a real appreciation of the processes which lie beneath the surface of (and yet power) all kinds of devices, machines and systems we use daily, from cars to tin-openers.

The course covers particles and radiation, mechanics and materials, and nuclear physics. Meanwhile there is room to choose from the likes of astrophysics and electronics, depending on what you want to study next.


6. English literature

English Literature at A-level

What could you study next? English language and literature, creative writing

If you enjoyed reading and analysing prose and poetry at GCSE, English literature at A-level is worth considering. The subject allows you to sharpen many of the core skills which employers seek out.

These include being able to communicate thoughts effectively (orally and in writing), dissect complex texts and demonstrate stellar spelling, punctuation and grammar. 



5. Psychology

Psychology at A-level

What could you study next? Psychology, social work

Psychology is concerned with human behaviour and why we do the things we do. This, combined with the opportunity to conduct experiments with real people and study fascinating case studies, makes it a popular A-level subject.

You may be surprised to learn just how much science and maths, specifically statistics, is actually involved (particularly in the research end of things). You can expect to study areas like cognitive psychology and biological psychology.


4. History

History at A-level

What could you study next? Historyarchaeology

A-level history is a popular entry way into the social science and history fields at university. The writing and analytical skills you develop here will only benefit you when it comes to tougher degree-level assignments, regardless of what you study.

Covering eras from medieval through to modern, you'll be working on both an in-depth and a broad breadth of material at the same time.


3. Chemistry

Chemistry at A-level

What could you study next? Chemistrymedicine (with another science A-level – check the required A-levels in our guide)

Chemistry at A-level really takes apart what you learned at GCSE, delving into it with a far greater level of detail to offer a new take on what you thought you knew. There's also a bit of maths and physics thrown in, too!

The course covers foundation chemistry through to energetic, redox and inorganic chemistry.


2. Biology

What could you study next? Biologymicrobiology

Biology at A-level sets you on the path to a wide variety of possible degree subjects involving the natural world around us. However, it also presents the opportunity to sharpen a number of skills which can be applied in non-science contexts too; these include a critical awareness of social and environmental issues, plus analytical and evaluative skills.

Areas you can expect to study include disease, living organisms and cells. 

And finally, no. 1. Drum roll please…


1. Mathematics

Maths at A-level

What could you study next? Maths, economics

A-level maths is the most popular A-level taken by students who go on to university. The subject sharpens many key skills, namely the ability to get to grips with problems, something that lies at the centre of many fields.

You can study topics such as algebra and functions, coordinate geography and exponentials. 

Choosing your A-levels?

Watch this quick video tips to making the right decision.

Watch now: Choosing your A-levels

Read our full guide to choosing A-levels.

Data source: Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), A-level subjects taken by UK students who went on to university in the academic years 2012/13 and 2013/14.

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