FAQs about choosing A Levels

We often get questions from students making their A Level choices.

  • Here are a few of the questions we've received in the past.
  • If you have a question about A level subjects, or anything to do with going to university, please Ask CUG.
  • Research your options by searching for courses that interest you (and their entry requirements), or reading our university subject guides.
letter Q  I've just taken my AS levels and I want to study Business Economics at university. I've only studied economics as an AS, and not A2. I am studying English language, sociology, and law and moving on to A2 with them. Would I need to have economics for this course?
letter A © Piotr Pawinski 

You need to check entry requirements for the course and ensure you have accurate information. Find relevant courses on our course chooser, or visit the UCAS website. Click on a few courses and drill down to entry requirements. It's quick and easy.

  • For example, Cardiff University states AAB typical offer; specific subjects excluded for entry General Studies and Critical Thinking and Citizenship Studies.
  • University of East Anglia states ABB typical offer; specific subjects excluded for entry General Studies.
  • University of Leeds states AAA typical offer; general information on subjects/grades required for entry AAA from any subject; specific subjects excluded for entry: General Studies and Critical Thinking.
You could contact a few universities for more information but it appears that your A level choice will be OK. Check the GCSE requirements. Did you get an A in Maths? Again, the requirements are listed and you must check that you meet them.


letter Q  I have high Bs in maths, economics, sociology, and history. I enjoy sociology more than history. I want to drop one subject in my second year A2. Will I still get into a Russell Group university if I study maths, economics and sociology? Is there any difference between sociology and history?
letter A © Piotr Pawinski 
You have a few things to think about.
  • The Russell Group produces a guide called Informed Choices. (Amongst other reading, look at the section on page 37 about economics.)
  • Don't rely solely on this document. You must check the entry requirements and advice given by individual universities. Use our course search initially, or visit UCAS. Click on a few courses and the entry requirements will be displayed. It is quick and easy to do this search.
University of Birmingham states:
  • GCE A level
  • AAA typical offer
  • General information on subjects/grades required for entry: AAA or AABB (if offering 4 A levels)
  • Specific subjects excluded for entry: General Studies and Critical Thinking.
  • Information: A good performance in General Studies or Critical Thinking may be taken into account if you fail to meet the conditions of the offer.
University of Bristol states:
  • GCE A Level
  • A*AA Typical offer
  • General information on subjects/grades required for entry: A*AA including Mathematics
  • Specific subjects excluded for entry: Use of Mathematics and General Studies and Critical Thinking
  • Information: contextual offer: AAB including A in Mathematics. We may make a contextual offer to applicants who attend low-performing schools or who have been in care. Applicants taking economics would also be expected to achieve A-level grade A (or equivalent).
It is true that sociology is regarded as a soft subject compared with history, so carefully check to see if preferences are stated. Maths is treated as essential and an A in maths should be your main aim. If your chances of getting a higher grade are greater by taking sociology than history, and you meet entry requirements with sociology, then it may be prudent to drop history. But you must do your homework and be sure of your facts before dropping history.
letter Q  My AS results were an A (Business), B (Maths) and C (Economics, Geography), although the Cs were 1 UMS mark off a B. I had planned to drop business at A2 as I enjoy this subject the least, however as I gained my highest grade in this subject I'm having second thoughts. I've read that doing both Business and Economics at A2 is not liked by universities so I would have to drop one of these subjects. However I am hoping to do economics at university so it may seem strange to universities for me to be applying for an economics degree even though I've just dropped it. Any suggestions on what subject I should drop?
letter A © Piotr Pawinski  You need to do some research. Check the entry requirements for economics courses at various universities. Use our Course Chooser, or visit the UCAS website.
  • Maths is the most important subject.
  • Talk to your teachers and take their advice. I think it is probably most important to guarantee the best chance of getting the highest grades, providing it is in allowable subjects.
  • Have you considered dual degrees, the BA rather than the BSc? Your options are very wide and you need to read up before making subject choices.