What A Levels will be best for me?
Choosing your A Levels after your GCSEs can be difficult. Part of the decision will be made by what your results are, as well as whether you have a clear idea of the kind of University degree or career that you may want to have.
It can be hard to separate out the combination of A Levels that you want to take, while factoring in the importance of a single year AS Level. It’s worth looking at different courses outside of your school, and considering taking specialist options through A levels. Looking at some general subject areas, it’s possible to narrow down some of the best choices.
Choosing your A-levels: The choices
If you want to study humanities, it’s probably because you did well at them at GCSE, and want to carry on with a favourite subject, and perhaps turn it into a degree course?
Criticism of doing ‘soft’ A Levels in subjects like Media Studies should be ignored, as Humanities subjects are challenging, just in a different way from Science or Maths A Levels. English Literature at A Level is typically the core subject for a Humanities course, which can represent a big step up from GCSE in terms of detail.
For a broader set of Humanities A Levels, you may want to consider doing History and Politics, as well as Law or Film Studies. Art and Design can also work well if you want to do more practical subjects. Social sciences can also be explored through Geography and Sociology. Colleges can typically offer a wider range of subjects than Sixth Forms in School, and particularly for Philosophy and Politics subjects.
Medical and Sciences
Doing a set of science A Levels is most commonly the best route to doing a science degree, or getting onto a medical course. This doesn’t, however, necessarily mean that you have to do Biology, Physics, and Chemistry, as well as Maths.
Medical degrees typically require Chemistry and Biology, as well as a third or fourth subject at A Level and AS in a science or other related subject. Taking an AS Level in a non science subject can particularly broaden your range over the two years, and make the workload a bit more diverse.
If you want to do Mathematics at A Level, it’s worth thinking about the step up in difficulty. There’s a big jump from GCSE to the AS Level, and then again to the A Level. You may want to combine Mathematics with science courses, and a humanities or language in the first year, and then decide on whether you want to continue with Mathematics into the A2.
Doing a few different languages at A Level can be a challenge, but can work well if you’ve got a natural talent for learning them. You can also do a single language as an A Level alongside other subjects. Learning or improving your French or other languages can give you an advantage when you apply for jobs, and especially if you continue to work at it after your A Levels.
The AS Level
Think carefully about which of your subjects you want to take at AS Level, where you get a result for a year’s study. You might want to use the opportunity to take on a subject that you’re interested in, and will break up an all science or all humanities set of A Levels.
Changing your mind
Remember that you can always change your mind if you start your A Levels, and then decide that you want to switch after a few weeks of lessons.
Larger colleges tend to be the most flexible in allowing you to transfer courses if there are enough places on another A Level course. The beauty of AS levels, is that you usually get to drop one after a year, so if you find you're doing a subject that you don't enjoy, you won't have to put up with it for long.