Which subjects should I choose?

Choosing your A levels needs careful research. But it needn’t be stressful!

'I like all the sciences and might apply for a physics degree but don’t know whether I should take English A level as well, to give me a broader range?' Tim, year 11 student from Brighton.

  • Take advice from your school careers advisor and university admissions departments so you can make an informed decision, based on accurate up-to-date information.
  • It is worth asking questions and researching entry requirements for courses at various universities to get a good idea of the subjects you should take.

Things to consider when choosing your subjects

  • A levels are a big step up from GCSEs. Your career or degree ideas may change so make sure you choose subjects which you like, and can do well in.
  • If you are taking a science A level, you should consider whether you need to look at taking another science or maths, particularly if you are interested in scientific careers or higher education courses.

Don’t assume you will like the subject at A Level just because you liked it at GCSE – it could be really different! Ask your teachers for advice.

  • Do be careful with your combination choices – some universities might not like a combination of subjects that they feel are too similar, such as Business and Economics for example.
  • Don’t take all new subjects – having 3 or 4 new areas of study could be asking for trouble.
  • Don’t take English and maths at A level because you think this is what employers want, or because they are good subjects to fall back on – take them if you are good at them and really interested in studying them further. Most employers are happy with English and maths  at GCSE level.
  • Don’t take A levels because you need them for your chosen career if you don’t really like the subject, or it is not one of your stronger subjects.

Remember – choose subjects

  • You will enjoy.
  • You believe that you will do well in.
  • That will help you get to where you want to go in the future.

Consider taking at least one (preferably two) facilitating subjects (also called 'informed choices') if you are planning on studying at a highly selective or academic university – this will keep your options open.