How to choose your A-level subjects! *Including links to subject guides* Watch

jonathanjames
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Hey guys gonna choose a levels soon, have decided i want to do PPE so am choosing Maths, Ecnomics, however NEED to choose 2 more, have narrowed it down to either:
Eng lit
RS
Geography
FM
was wondering is somebody could outline the difficulty of these subjects and respectability, thanks
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stephsmhb
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(Original post by Izzy003)
Im torn between doing history or geography. I enjoy both equally.
I want 2 do an economics degree.
Im doing maths and psychology but i cant decide on the 3rd
(Original post by jonathanjames)
Hey guys gonna choose a levels soon, have decided i want to do PPE so am choosing Maths, Ecnomics, however NEED to choose 2 more, have narrowed it down to either:
Eng lit
RS
Geography
FM
was wondering is somebody could outline the difficulty of these subjects and respectability, thanks
Out of that list i would say RS is way less respected than the others and that Furtner maths seems to be the hardest. If i was in your situation i would pick Maths, Econ, Geo and eng lit. My reasoning for this is Geography is the most complementary subject to econ other than maths. I would also suggest for PPE having a essay subject and RS is not respected , econ and geo do have essays but not enough for it to be considered an essay subject. Therefore based on you going to a top uni for the PPE course i would do Maths, econ, geo and Lit. However if in your heart you want to do something else do it. As many people told me to take chemistry (it is more respected,it complements my subjects more it is facilitating, opens up lots of doors including medicine, i am getting consistent 9;s in it, the chemistry teachers in my school are excellent, there are many resources for it). Every arrow pointed me towards chemistry yet in my heart i had to take econ even though I am not particuarly interested in an economics degree i chose it.
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santya_19
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im in year 11 and i want to do an EPQ topic that is related to the subject of architecture. i realised that you can do a 1000 word essay a design/model of something rather than a 5000 word essay alone. so i really need help on topic options that can: be interesting, have good information and relate to a building model that i can make. if you have any suggestions, please reply ASAP.
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summerC
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Wait r u allowed to take 5 a levels?? :confused: i though ur only allowed 3 or 4. Is it different for diffrrent places? Im in the uk in london
(Original post by Quirky Object)
Hi!

I've been seeing a lot of threads lately about A-level options, and as a current Year 12 who was pretty stuck myself this time last year, I thought I'd put together a few tips on how you might like to go about making these all-important choices. Don't hesitate to ask whatever questions you'd like to below, or PM me! I eventually settled on maths, further maths, English literature, French and Latin, in case you have questions about what it's like to study those particular subjects.

1) Choose subjects you love.
You probably hear this a lot from your teachers, but it is without a doubt the most important piece of advice you could receive. If you choose subjects you're not that interested in, having many more hours per week than you're used to of those subjects is going to make your school day pretty tiresome. This is why it's really important to make sure you can see yourself going into much more depth in the subject areas you choose! Even if you're not particularly passionate about anything, if certain topics or skills within a subject interest you or you don't think you'd mind studying that subject for several hours per week, it might be a good idea to choose it.

2) Make sure your subjects complement each other.
That doesn't mean they all have to be sciences or all have to be humanities, but studying subjects which help with each other or which show a varied but complementary set of skills will look good and also make your life easier. For example, if you're interested in politics, choosing multiple essay subjects like history and English will show that you have the skill set you need and give you lots of opportunity to practise those skills, but you might want to show that you're more versatile by picking something like maths alongside your essay subjects. Generally, only one A-level should be contrasting so that you don't lose focus, unless you want to go into quite a diverse field (you could do psychology with biology, chemistry, history and English for instance). Also, since the sciences (inc. maths) are so interlinked, choosing just one science probably isn't the best option.

3) Think about careers and uni.
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. The skills you learn from your A-levels are, in many cases, more important than the actual content.

4) Do your research.
This doesn't just have to involve looking up the A-level specifications and content of the subjects you're interested in, although this is a good thing to do. It could mean talking to students who are studying or have studied a subject you're considering, talking to your subject teachers about the course content, even sitting in on lessons and borrowing textbooks if your teachers let you. If you can't decide, narrowing your choices down to a list of possibilities, thinking about which combinations of these possibilities would complement each other and finding out as much about them as you possibly can will certainly help (lists of pros and cons are also extremely useful!).

5) Interested in too much?
So was I! To give you an idea of just how confused I was, my list of possibilities at the start of year 11 was maths, further maths, physics, chemistry, French, German, Latin, English literature and philosophy. I ended up hurriedly changing German to Latin two months after the options deadline and having a huge physics vs. English dilemma for several months - and it all worked out in the end! If you like too many subjects, try to work out what you like about each one and make sure your final choices include all of those aspects so that you don't end up missing a dropped subject too much. Don't be afraid to change your choices later if you have a sudden realisation; usually, schools and colleges will be quite accommodating.

6) If all else fails...
Here are some versatile, well-regarded subjects to mix and match if you really have no idea!
  • Maths - goes with absolutely everything.
  • English literature - a core subject like maths, particularly useful in combination with humanities but also a good contrasting subject for science students.
  • A "traditional" science: biology, chemistry or physics. These should be taken with at least one other science (traditional or otherwise) and/or maths.
  • A foreign language (ancient or modern); these are useful and go with any other subject combination, but they are a lot of work!
  • A "traditional" humanities subject: history or geography. History is a good subject for people taking English, languages or other essay subjects, while geography complements the sciences and economics quite well; both work well as contrasting subjects.


Subject GuidesTo help you make the decision, we've put together a series of threads which answer some of the most common questions you might like to consider before taking the course.

In each thread there is information about the GCSE and A level syllabus (including for core subjects), and if you have any other questions then you can ask on the thread

[field defaultattr=]More guides will be added as they are made [/field]
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stephsmhb
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#45
It depends on the sixth form/college how many you are allowed to do
(Original post by summerC)
Wait r u allowed to take 5 a levels?? :confused: i though ur only allowed 3 or 4. Is it different for diffrrent places? Im in the uk in london
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blackvoid17
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(Original post by summerC)
Wait r u allowed to take 5 a levels?? :confused: i though ur only allowed 3 or 4. Is it different for diffrrent places? Im in the uk in london
You are allowed in some sixth forms but I wouldn't recommend it because each subject is very intense
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blackvoid17
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(Original post by santya_19)
im in year 11 and i want to do an EPQ topic that is related to the subject of architecture. i realised that you can do a 1000 word essay a design/model of something rather than a 5000 word essay alone. so i really need help on topic options that can: be interesting, have good information and relate to a building model that i can make. if you have any suggestions, please reply ASAP.
Maybe you could link it to sustainable architecture and how that could help with climate change etc
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santya_19
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thank you
(Original post by blackvoid17)
Maybe you could link it to sustainable architecture and how that could help with climate change etc
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joelmathew
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(Original post by santya_19)
im in year 11 and i want to do an EPQ topic that is related to the subject of architecture. i realised that you can do a 1000 word essay a design/model of something rather than a 5000 word essay alone. so i really need help on topic options that can: be interesting, have good information and relate to a building model that i can make. if you have any suggestions, please reply ASAP.
Same position as you rn here are some ideas i had earlier, they're just rough ideas from which I would generate a question but anyways:

1. Green living and other sustainable practices within architecture, eg space saving, green roofing.
2. Case study of Rotterdam and the importance of these buildings in terms of how they reflect upon the current architectural field as it changes as well as how it will be changing. ( Probably bs now I look at it)
5. Disaster relief/poor regions temporary housing innovations? eg 3d printing, local materials.
6. Will the portable tiny /shipping container homes become more popular due to the rising house prices (this probably links to the one below tbh)

7. Role of architecture and urban planning in resolving the UK housing crisis, you could look at that east village case study if you did geography or the work of the architect Bjarke Ingels maybe
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Flowrate
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This is great advice!! Huge help!
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alyssaww
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#51
This was really helpful, thank you so much! I'm choosing my A levels this year and so far I've chosen economics, history and psychology and I need one more. It's a tie between Photography, DT: Graphics, Maths and Biology. Any suggestions/ideas?
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jodiechung
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(Original post by Quirky Object)
Hi!

I've been seeing a lot of threads lately about A-level options, and as a current Year 12 who was pretty stuck myself this time last year, I thought I'd put together a few tips on how you might like to go about making these all-important choices. Don't hesitate to ask whatever questions you'd like to below, or PM me! I eventually settled on maths, further maths, English literature, French and Latin, in case you have questions about what it's like to study those particular subjects.

1) Choose subjects you love.
You probably hear this a lot from your teachers, but it is without a doubt the most important piece of advice you could receive. If you choose subjects you're not that interested in, having many more hours per week than you're used to of those subjects is going to make your school day pretty tiresome. This is why it's really important to make sure you can see yourself going into much more depth in the subject areas you choose! Even if you're not particularly passionate about anything, if certain topics or skills within a subject interest you or you don't think you'd mind studying that subject for several hours per week, it might be a good idea to choose it.

2) Make sure your subjects complement each other.
That doesn't mean they all have to be sciences or all have to be humanities, but studying subjects which help with each other or which show a varied but complementary set of skills will look good and also make your life easier. For example, if you're interested in politics, choosing multiple essay subjects like history and English will show that you have the skill set you need and give you lots of opportunity to practise those skills, but you might want to show that you're more versatile by picking something like maths alongside your essay subjects. Generally, only one A-level should be contrasting so that you don't lose focus, unless you want to go into quite a diverse field (you could do psychology with biology, chemistry, history and English for instance). Also, since the sciences (inc. maths) are so interlinked, choosing just one science probably isn't the best option.

3) Think about careers and uni.
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. The skills you learn from your A-levels are, in many cases, more important than the actual content.

4) Do your research.
This doesn't just have to involve looking up the A-level specifications and content of the subjects you're interested in, although this is a good thing to do. It could mean talking to students who are studying or have studied a subject you're considering, talking to your subject teachers about the course content, even sitting in on lessons and borrowing textbooks if your teachers let you. If you can't decide, narrowing your choices down to a list of possibilities, thinking about which combinations of these possibilities would complement each other and finding out as much about them as you possibly can will certainly help (lists of pros and cons are also extremely useful!).

5) Interested in too much?
So was I! To give you an idea of just how confused I was, my list of possibilities at the start of year 11 was maths, further maths, physics, chemistry, French, German, Latin, English literature and philosophy. I ended up hurriedly changing German to Latin two months after the options deadline and having a huge physics vs. English dilemma for several months - and it all worked out in the end! If you like too many subjects, try to work out what you like about each one and make sure your final choices include all of those aspects so that you don't end up missing a dropped subject too much. Don't be afraid to change your choices later if you have a sudden realisation; usually, schools and colleges will be quite accommodating.

6) If all else fails...
Here are some versatile, well-regarded subjects to mix and match if you really have no idea!
  • Maths - goes with absolutely everything.
  • English literature - a core subject like maths, particularly useful in combination with humanities but also a good contrasting subject for science students.
  • A "traditional" science: biology, chemistry or physics. These should be taken with at least one other science (traditional or otherwise) and/or maths.
  • A foreign language (ancient or modern); these are useful and go with any other subject combination, but they are a lot of work!
  • A "traditional" humanities subject: history or geography. History is a good subject for people taking English, languages or other essay subjects, while geography complements the sciences and economics quite well; both work well as contrasting subjects.


Subject GuidesTo help you make the decision, we've put together a series of threads which answer some of the most common questions you might like to consider before taking the course.

In each thread there is information about the GCSE and A level syllabus (including for core subjects), and if you have any other questions then you can ask on the thread

undefinedMore guides will be added as they are made
Hi,
I'm in the midst of looking for colleges and what to do for a Level thank you for this!
I'm thinking of taking psychology, graphic design, core maths and english but im not sure on what english to take. What would you recommend?
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ameliactaylor
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#53
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not sure which a levels to choose. i think i want to do politics, or PPE, but ideally at oxford for PPE. i know i want to take history and politics as a levels. i also want to take 4, and then drop one. i’m pretty sure maths would be a good option.i’m not sure if i should do economics or french. i’m good at french at gcse, and i know a language is really useful as a general skill. would economics be more useful, or useless if i’m already doing maths?
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johnackerly
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(Original post by ameliactaylor)
not sure which a levels to choose. i think i want to do politics, or PPE, but ideally at oxford for PPE. i know i want to take history and politics as a levels. i also want to take 4, and then drop one. i’m pretty sure maths would be a good option.i’m not sure if i should do economics or french. i’m good at french at gcse, and i know a language is really useful as a general skill. would economics be more useful, or useless if i’m already doing maths?
Hey ! I’m applying for PPE in year 13 now. I would defo say take maths a level if you are sure you can get an A (or A*) in it. Honestly maths is the most key subject I would say when applying for PPE, you need it to be considered for offers at lse, ucl, Durham, Edinburgh and oxford definitely prefer students who have done maths. Other than that, just choose two other facilitating subjects, history is good for PPE and french is useful generally. You can take politics and economics if you want but it’s not necessary for any uni, they just want to see potential not that you have studied PPE subjects before. Also for oxford you need AAA and generally for other good unis you need A*AA which is high compared to other course requirements, plus PPE is so competitive. I wouldn’t recommend starting with 4 subjects then dropping unless you’re really not sure what you want to take. The most important thing is you get the best possible grades in 3 subjects so there’s not much point in giving yourself extra work for a year but idk it’s your decision obviously . However if you aren’t good enough to take maths to A2, you can take it for year 12 and take the AS exam then drop it as this increases your chances of getting into oxford as opposed to not having taken maths at all.
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ameliactaylor
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(Original post by johnackerly)
Hey ! I’m applying for PPE in year 13 now. I would defo say take maths a level if you are sure you can get an A (or A*) in it. Honestly maths is the most key subject I would say when applying for PPE, you need it to be considered for offers at lse, ucl, Durham, Edinburgh and oxford definitely prefer students who have done maths. Other than that, just choose two other facilitating subjects, history is good for PPE and french is useful generally. You can take politics and economics if you want but it’s not necessary for any uni, they just want to see potential not that you have studied PPE subjects before. Also for oxford you need AAA and generally for other good unis you need A*AA which is high compared to other course requirements, plus PPE is so competitive. I wouldn’t recommend starting with 4 subjects then dropping unless you’re really not sure what you want to take. The most important thing is you get the best possible grades in 3 subjects so there’s not much point in giving yourself extra work for a year but idk it’s your decision obviously . However if you aren’t good enough to take maths to A2, you can take it for year 12 and take the AS exam then drop it as this increases your chances of getting into oxford as opposed to not having taken maths at all.
thanks ! i know i’ll be good enough for maths, i’m pretty much guaranteed a 9 in it, same in history. i’ve decided i’m not doing french, so i’ve planned to politics, economics, history and maths, but my sixth form aren’t sure i’ll be able to do politics and economics. which is going to be the most useful out of the two if i have to choose?
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johnackerly
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(Original post by ameliactaylor)
thanks ! i know i’ll be good enough for maths, i’m pretty much guaranteed a 9 in it, same in history. i’ve decided i’m not doing french, so i’ve planned to politics, economics, history and maths, but my sixth form aren’t sure i’ll be able to do politics and economics. which is going to be the most useful out of the two if i have to choose?
maybe economics because I feel like politics is easier to pick up and you can easily engage with politics without studying it
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