The TSR A-level options discussion thread Watch

Toastiekid
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Hello and welcome to the...
:woo:TSR A-Level Options Discussion Thread:woo:
Choosing A-Levels is hard, we know that:yep: and that's why we're here to help:rave:
Post the subjects you're considering doing for A-Levels below and any questions you've got regarding the subjects.

Our trusty advice:
For choosing the subjects:
1. Pick subjects you love.
If you have a passion for the subject then you'll find yourself doing wider reading etc without even thinking about it, which will help you massively.

2. If you already know which course you want to do, look at the A-Level requirements.
Certain subjects at uni always require you have some specific subjects in your A-Level combo. E.g. medicine requires biology and chemistry.
Also, make sure to check if a uni you know you'd like to go to will accept your A-Levels, this informed choices guide may help you with that:yep:

3. Pick the A-Levels for you, not a teacher, not parents and not friends.
Essentially, don't let people pressure you into taking A-Levels you don't actually want to take!

4. Remember, the decisions you submit on your sixth form application aren't final.
Most sixth forms are reasonably flexible about changing a-level options especially before you actually start:grin: and you'll likely be able to change your subjects a few weeks in if you end up not enjoying it anyway:yep:

5. Consider subjects/skills you're strong/weak at
For example, if you don't enjoy essay writing or you're not great at it consider whether you'd actually enjoy or be willing to put the effort in for an essay based subject

For deciding whether to move schools or not:
1. Weigh up the pros and cons of going to sixth form/college.
This may help you decide that one place will be better suited to you e.g: college X has lots of teacher contact time but doesn't offer an Oxbridge support program whilst college Y has great enrichment but is a trek.

2. Ask lots of questions at any open events.
You want to get a feel for the place where you may be spending the next two years:yes:

3. Think about what is actually best for you, not what sounds fun
It may sound attractive to go to a college with a lot more freedom, but will you be self motivated enough to work with more freedom or would more structure be better for you?

The jump between GCSE and A-Level
One of the reasons the GCSEs had a massive change was to prepare us for A-Levels:yes: so some AS content was moved into higher GCSE maths, for example. Obviously, the jump will differ depending on the nature of the subject but you might find that easing into the subject isn't that awful at all! Please don't be stressed over this 'jump'; if you do really enjoy a subject and want to pursue it further than go for it- and your teachers are there to support you:thumbsup:

If you’re worried about choosing a ‘soft’ subject:
‘Soft’ and ‘hard’ subjects are grossly exaggerated online. Whilst some subjects are more traditional than others, you should ultimately choose A-Level subjects that are best for you and your future career path. In the end, it matters more about excelling in the subjects due to your passion, rather than struggling in a subject that you chose due to how good it looks on paper.
It’s also important to mention that many students recommend taking at least 1 ‘facilitating’ subject. These are subjects which are the most commonly required for higher education courses, which, according to the Russell Group website include:
English Literature; History; Modern and classical languages; Geography; Biology; Chemistry; Physics; Maths and Further Maths.

However, as mentioned previously, take subjects you know are relevant to you, not having any facilitating subjects doesn’t mean you’ll get rejected by higher education institutions, it simply means that your opportunities to do different courses are much more open. 🙂


Unsure whether to do 3 or 4 A-Levels?
Whilst you may feel you’re capable of taking 4 A-Levels, it’s key to remember that most universities only require 3. In fact, it’s only in situations where competitive courses are faced with applicants of the same calibre, does a 4th a-level play to your advantage and even then, it should be at the same standard as your other grades.

If you aren't sure about your subjects, some schools will let you start with 4 and drop 1 fairly quickly...try not to delay this decision too long if you know you don't want to do 4 full A levels though! Also, if you want to take maths and further maths, many schools will suggest you at least start with 4 so you can have a bit more variety (and a very limited number of universities won't accept further maths as a third A level for a number of courses).

Remember, it’s better to receive 3 fantastic A-Level grades than 4 mediocre ones. In fact, it may be better to consider undertaking the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) as it’s a year-long course which can lower your entry requirements at certain universities should you do well.

Unsure on your subject choices? Read some advice in this thread

Got more questions about this? Ask away below :yep:

Spoiler:
Show

if you haven't got a response yet on for specific subject advice tag one of us
Toastiekid fm, maths, economics and physics
Sinnoh fm, maths, history and physics
CinnamonSmol english lit and lang, history, graphics + epq
entertainmyfaith english lit, maths and psychology
Mikos physics, english lit, biology and history
this isn't an exhaustive list of users and there'll usually be someone else hanging around this thread to help.
Last edited by entertainmyfaith; 1 year ago
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nyxnko_
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prsom.. wish I had this advice when choosing A-levels.. literally picked my 4 best subjects but it's okay, I ended up really liking all 4
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Infinite Series
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Thanks Toastiekid!

There's recently been a lot of threads regarding A-Level options, but now there's a place for me to refer students to
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laurawatt
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thanks toastie!
this is really helpful :yep:
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RazzzBerries
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Thanks!
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Sinnoh
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I second this. Top advice :thumbsup:
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Mcahill
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(Original post by Toastiekid)
Hello and welcome to the...
:woo:TSR A-Level Options Discussion Thread:woo:
Choosing A-Levels is hard, we know that:yep: and that's why we're here to help:rave:
Post the subjects you're considering doing for A-Levels below and any questions you've got regarding the subjects.

Our trusty advice:
For choosing the subjects:
1. Pick subjects you love.
If you have a passion for the subject then you'll find yourself doing wider reading etc without even thinking about it, which will help you massively.

2. If you already know which course you want to do, look at the A-Level requirements.
Certain subjects at uni always require you have some specific subjects in your A-Level combo. E.g. medicine requires biology and chemistry.
Also, make sure to check if a uni you know you'd like to go to will accept your A-Levels, this informed choices guide may help you with that:yep:

3. Pick the A-Levels for you, not a teacher, not parents and not friends.
Essentially, don't let people pressure you into taking A-Levels you don't actually want to take!

4. Remember, the decisions you submit on your sixth form application aren't final.
Most sixth forms are reasonably flexible about changing a-level options especially before you actually start:grin: and you'll likely be able to change your subjects a few weeks in if you end up not enjoying it anyway:yep:

5. Consider subjects/skills you're strong/weak at
For example, if you don't enjoy essay writing or you're not great at it consider whether you'd actually enjoy or be willing to put the effort in for an essay based subject

For deciding whether to move schools or not:
1. Weigh up the pros and cons of going to sixth form/college.
This may help you decide that one place will be better suited to you e.g: college X has lots of teacher contact time but doesn't offer an Oxbridge support program whilst college Y has great enrichment but is a trek.

2. Ask lots of questions at any open events.
You want to get a feel for the place where you may be spending the next two years:yes:

3. Think about what is actually best for you, not what sounds fun
It may sound attractive to go to a college with a lot more freedom, but will you be self motivated enough to work with more freedom or would more structure be better for you?

The jump between GCSE and A-Level
One of the reasons the GCSEs had a massive change was to prepare us for A-Levels:yes: so some AS content was moved into higher GCSE maths, for example. Obviously, the jump will differ depending on the nature of the subject but you might find that easing into the subject isn't that awful at all! Please don't be stressed over this 'jump'; if you do really enjoy a subject and want to pursue it further than go for it- and your teachers are there to support you:thumbsup:

If you’re worried about choosing a ‘soft’ subject:
‘Soft’ and ‘hard’ subjects are grossly exaggerated online. Whilst some subjects are more traditional than others, you should ultimately choose A-Level subjects that are best for you and your future career path. In the end, it matters more about excelling in the subjects due to your passion, rather than struggling in a subject that you chose due to how good it looks on paper.
It’s also important to mention that many students recommend taking at least 1 ‘facilitating’ subject. These are subjects which are the most commonly required for higher education courses, which, according to the Russell Group website include:
English Literature; History; Modern and classical languages; Geography; Biology; Chemistry; Physics; Maths and Further Maths.

However, as mentioned previously, take subjects you know are relevant to you, not having any facilitating subjects doesn’t mean you’ll get rejected by higher education institutions, it simply means that your opportunities to do different courses are much more open. 🙂


Unsure whether to do 3 or 4 A-Levels?
Whilst you may feel you’re capable of taking 4 A-Levels, it’s key to remember that most universities only require 3. In fact, it’s only in situations where competitive courses are faced with applicants of the same calibre, does a 4th a-level play to your advantage and even then, it should be at the same standard as your other grades.

If you aren't sure about your subjects, some schools will let you start with 4 and drop 1 fairly quickly...try not to delay this decision too long if you know you don't want to do 4 full A levels though! Also, if you want to take maths and further maths, many schools will suggest you at least start with 4 so you can have a bit more variety (and a very limited number of universities won't accept further maths as a third A level for a number of courses).

Remember, it’s better to receive 3 fantastic A-Level grades than 4 mediocre ones. In fact, it may be better to consider undertaking the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) as it’s a year-long course which can lower your entry requirements at certain universities should you do well.

Unsure on your subject choices? Read some advice in this thread

Got more questions about this? Ask away below :yep:
hey,, would I still be able to get into a russell group uni with geography economics and textiles?? obviously if I got the grades though
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hxnnxh4476
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Thanks for the advice

Thinking of doing four just because I really can’t decide between them and I want to keep my options open, my teachers say I can do it and if it gets too much I can just drop one.

I’m thinking of doing geography, Spanish, history and economics, do you think that would be a good combination? Anyone who took four similar a levels, what was the workload like? Are any of those a levels bad choices?
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Mikos
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Choosing A-levels can be a daunting task! Just putting it out there that if any of you reading this are considering physics, biology, english lit or history and would like some honest opinions/experiences on these subjects, let me know! Hopefully I can offer some insight which can help you make your decisons.

And, Toastie, what an excellent and informative thread! Awesome work Hope your A-levels are going well!
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tyna123
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(Original post by Mikos)
Choosing A-levels can be a daunting task! Just putting it out there that if any of you reading this are considering physics, biology, english lit or history and would like some honest opinions/experiences on these subjects, let me know! Hopefully I can offer some insight which can help you make your decisons.

And, Toastie, what an excellent and informative thread! Awesome work Hope your A-levels are going well!
hey im considering phyics,chemisty,biology and history and it would be usful if you share your insight.
Thank you
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Mikos
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(Original post by tyna123)
hey im considering phyics,chemisty,biology and history and it would be usful if you share your insight.
Thank you
Hi! I do physics, biology and history out of the 4 you're considering. Is there anything in particular you'd like to know about my experience with them?
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Mcahill)
hey,, would I still be able to get into a russell group uni with geography economics and textiles?? obviously if I got the grades though
What does 'russell group' mean to you? Why do you want to go? You haven't even said what subject you would want to read for your degree!
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tyna123
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(Original post by Mikos)
Hi! I do physics, biology and history out of the 4 you're considering. Is there anything in particular you'd like to know about my experience with them?
hey,just genral stuff about the subjects ,enjoyment,workload.also how are you finding physics without doing a level maths as thats one of my worries,thanks x
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Purplebottle
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This is so helpful! Thankyou!
I’m think of doing physics, maths and chemistry and want to get into (civil) engineering (not sure which one yet) but I’m worried that me not taking further maths lowers my chances?

But yeah, if anyone takes these subjects how are they going and just anything really ahaha don’t have any specific questions
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CinnamonSmol
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If anyone wants to discuss EPQ, art-based subjects or about whether they should take English Lit or Lang (or both) then I'm happy to help!
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reqgeargaergs
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idk if wat to im thinking economics and maths for sure and the 3rd im not too sure maybe further maths n someone told me to do psychology to open it up as I might get bored of maths things by the end. I'm thinking most likely something to do with finance(banking?)
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Mikos
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(Original post by tyna123)
hey,just genral stuff about the subjects ,enjoyment,workload.also how are you finding physics without doing a level maths as thats one of my worries,thanks x
History is definitely a step up from GCSE in terms of what's expected from you in essays. It is harder to craft essays and get into the top bands than at GCSE, but it should definitely improve with lots of practice!

Biology is a lot more detailed than at GCSE (GCSE content literally scratches the surface) but it's a reasonably similar format in that it's the "content-based" science. Workload is rather large for biology given that there's a lot to learn so really be prepared to work if you want good grades!

Physics is widely regarded to be one of, if not the most difficult A-level. For me personally, it takes time to get my head around certain topics, but with persistence you will get there. Having said that, be prepared to set quite a bit of time aside to practise topics you're unfamiliar with, so the workload is larger for certain.
In terms of maths content, so far it's not been bad at all. Most the maths is at a GCSE standard, but there is some A-level maths content within there, although I haven't found it difficult at the level we're doing (e.g. logarithms, which, at the standard we're doing, is basically just punching numbers into a calculator without having to think about it all that much). Having said that, though, there is an awful lot of maths in physics, as physics is, at its core, applied maths. You can therefore expect more maths in A-level physics than GCSE. I don't think maths A-level is necessary for physics at all, especially provided the teachers you are willing to support you as someone who doesn't do maths, and you can get amazing grades without it. However, if you really really despise anything having or to do with maths, I wouldn't really recommend physics.

Enjoyment is pretty subjective, but I would say that yes, I'm enjoying each of the subjects I've chosen for sure! I think as long as you keep on top of things and don't allow yourself to get stressed out by falling behind, you'll enjoy these subjects too.

Is there anything else you'd be interested in knowing?
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PepeTheFroggi
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I'm thinking of taking English lit for a levels but i don't really know how its set up at a levels, is it the same as GCSE?
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tyna123
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(Original post by Mikos)
History is definitely a step up from GCSE in terms of what's expected from you in essays. It is harder to craft essays and get into the top bands than at GCSE, but it should definitely improve with lots of practice!

Biology is a lot more detailed than at GCSE (GCSE content literally scratches the surface) but it's a reasonably similar format in that it's the "content-based" science. Workload is rather large for biology given that there's a lot to learn so really be prepared to work if you want good grades!

Physics is widely regarded to be one of, if not the most difficult A-level. For me personally, it takes time to get my head around certain topics, but with persistence you will get there. Having said that, be prepared to set quite a bit of time aside to practise topics you're unfamiliar with, so the workload is larger for certain.
In terms of maths content, so far it's not been bad at all. Most the maths is at a GCSE standard, but there is some A-level maths content within there, although I haven't found it difficult at the level we're doing (e.g. logarithms, which, at the standard we're doing, is basically just punching numbers into a calculator without having to think about it all that much). Having said that, though, there is an awful lot of maths in physics, as physics is, at its core, applied maths. You can therefore expect more maths in A-level physics than GCSE. I don't think maths A-level is necessary for physics at all, especially provided the teachers you are willing to support you as someone who doesn't do maths, and you can get amazing grades without it. However, if you really really despise anything having or to do with maths, I wouldn't really recommend physics.

Enjoyment is pretty subjective, but I would say that yes, I'm enjoying each of the subjects I've chosen for sure! I think as long as you keep on top of things and don't allow yourself to get stressed out by falling behind, you'll enjoy these subjects too.

Is there anything else you'd be interested in knowing?
awww thank you soooo much for sharing it really has answered a lot of my questions and yess im going to think about physics .
Thank you again so much x
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ZdYnm8vuNR
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As a y12, one thing I would like to note is that the "jump" is not really that big at all. For example, in maths, there was barely any jump it was more of just a continuation of GCSE, physics, not really either, just more depth in familiar topics (We started with particle physics), in computing, not much has changed either.

There's not really that much of a jump, it's quite gradual actually.
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