Picking A-Level Subjects

One of the biggest decisions that a student must make in their early academic career is what subjects they will choose to specialise in when it comes to their A-Level exams. Up to this point, plenty of people have had most subject choices dictated to them by the school. However, what A-Level subjects you choose will have a significant impact on the subjects you are eligible to apply for at university.

Different subject choices will portray very different representations of your abilities. Some of the advice, on the face of it, sounds like it ought to be very common sense. However, many students do not heed the advice and come to regret the choices they made when it comes to filling out their UCAS applications.

What would you like to study at university?

The first thing to do is to have an idea of what areas you would wish to study at university. This is not to say that you should have one particular subject which you should be firmly set on, though some people do. However, most people know what their strengths and weaknesses are at this point.

For example, if you wish to have a career in a care environment, Biology is probably going to serve you very well. By contrast, a student who wishes to study something along the lines of Business should hope to develop numerical competency. The single biggest mistake that people make is to merely take the recommendations of teachers, family and friends. Though they can serve a crucial body of information, they are not mind readers.

Only you, the applicant, can be certain that this is a discipline you want to pursue. The UCAS Course Search is a fantastic resource which can make students aware of subjects that they did not even know existed.

Consider what your first-choice university is looking for.

The second thing which it is vital to check is the way in which your subject choices are regarded by the university. There is a very important list which was published by the Russell Group (reported on by the Daily Telegraph here) which provides an indicator as to how certain subjects are viewed by admissions departments.

There are many distinctions which are made, but the most important one is between hard subjects and soft subjects. Unless you are applying for a course which specifically relies on a soft subject (or wish to go into vocational training like an apprenticeship) it is worth avoiding soft subjects. This is true even if you will be better at the soft subject. Though a generalisation, in the majority of cases a B in History is better regarded than an A in Photography.

It’s important to enjoy the subjects you’re choosing for A Levels.

The final aspect in deciding what are good and bad subject choices to help with your application, it is important to go back to basics. Make sure that the subjects you choose are ones which you are passionate about.

There is no point trying to force a subject if you have no academic passion for it. Only the very clever will do this with any academic success, and even they will find it to have been unfulfilling. Education, and preparing for a degree, is a chance to make sure that you are learning more about the topics you care about. Do not feel stigma around your passion. You are more likely to succeed in life if you excel in one subject as opposed to struggling in another.

If you are struggling to make a decision on subject choices, do not hesitate to contact us and we would be more than happy to see if we are able to help.