How to choose your A-levels

group of students working

Choosing your A-levels can feel pretty daunting when you start to think about it. How do I choose my whole future when I haven’t even done my GCSEs? What if I make the wrong decision? What do I want to do at uni? WHAT DO I CHOOSE?

Well, never fear. The question has been asked so many times on TSR that we decided to collect all the helpful information that was floating around, and put it in one easy to read package. So without further ado, here's how to choose your A-levels.

Take subjects you enjoy

If you don’t know what you want to do in terms of a career, picking subjects you enjoy is a good start, as they logically lead to a career that you really like. 


TSR member S.carter agrees that it’s important to pick subjects you enjoy, as you’re going to be studying them for two years.

School is about revision and putting the work it, so you shouldn’t choose subjects based on difficulty but if you’ll enjoy them – if you like them you’ll be motivated to do well.

S.carter

Take subjects you’re good at

This often goes hand-in-hand with the point above, as generally people enjoy what they're good at. You’re more likely to get good grades if you take a subject you’re passionate about.

This point is especially useful if you're struggling to pick your last A level choice - just pick something you know you're good at. 


As TSR member thoque says:

Remember to choose subjects that interest you, but also ones that you find naturally easier and don’t have innate problems with. This will enable you to excel in your chosen subjects as you’ll be more invested in them.

thoque

Think about your future - but not too much

If you have an idea of a career or a subject at uni, having a look at entry requirements for that course at different universities is a good idea. However, most universities for most courses do not have strict entry requirements – for example most Law or Economics degrees do not require study of those subjects at A-level.

Picking A-levels for your future is particularly important if you’re thinking about medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine – they have very strict entry requirements. 

Help on uni applications

But in general it's important not to restrict yourself while choosing A-levels – after all, by the end of two years you may have changed your mind about what you want to do. However, it’s not the end of the world if you do – there's always a path leading to what you want to do. 

Don't worry if you don't have a long-term plan yet, says TSR member Quirky Object:

You certainly don't need to be 100% set on a degree and career at this point, but having an idea of what areas interest you and what skills you might need to pursue degrees or jobs in these areas will help. Many university courses will list recommended A-levels on their requirements pages, so it might be useful to browse through course catalogues on university websites and check which A-levels are required or recommended for any courses which sound attractive. Equally, it's important to bear in mind that most jobs do not require specific degree subjects, let alone specific A-levels, so don't feel obliged to choose A-level economics just because you think you might want to go into finance, for example.

Quirky Object

Don't forget to have a look through degree entry requirements

If you know what subject you'd like to study, it's worth taking a look at what the entry requirements are. 

if you're planning to go to uni, check the subject requirements for the program you want to go for, or if you aren't sure about your major, then select 'flexible' A-levels (maths, English literature etc). If you want to enter a professional stream directly, pick A-levels related to it. Also, if you'd like to study something like law at uni where you don't necessarily need law at A-level, it's a good idea to have subjects that allow you to apply for other courses, so if you change your mind you have something to fall back on.

W_sohail

Unis are very transparent about their entry requirements. It's not a guessing game, you can just look on their websites. If in doubt, contact the uni admissions directly by email and ask them

Harrysbar

And finally, some general advice from criticalem:

If you've got a really good idea of what you want to do at uni, look at the entry requirement for the courses at different unis. A-levels aren't always the be all and end all when it comes to career choices so just do what you enjoy because you need the motivation and enjoyment in order to complete the workload.

criticalem

More advice on preparing for A-levels

Choosing A-levels – watch Manisha's story for advice on picking your subjects

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