3cutecats
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Hi,
I am meant to be picking my A levels in early February but I am struggling to narrow it down to 3. I was wondering whether taking 4 A-levels would be too much or if the work load would be horrendous (I am currently thinking about taking English Literature, Politics, History and biology so I don’t know whether there would be a huge amount of essay writing as there would be 3 humanities). I don’t really have a career path in mind and want to keep my options as open as possible.
I was wondering whether anyone has done 4 A-levels and whether it is just too much work or whether taking 3 and and EPQ is better. I currently get 7-9 in all my GCSEs and I don’t want 4 average a levels when I may have been able to get higher grades with 3.
My school encourages us to take 3 A-levels and an EPQ but I am not sure whether and EPQ is really helpful or will make you stand out as a Uni candidate??
I guess I am just really asking is taking 4 too many. If any one has would you/would you not?? Is an EPQ better?
Thanks
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Thomasjh17
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I understand wanting to do a fourth A level, (I really considered it too - I wanted to do everything haha) but I would only recommend it if you know you are good under pressure/a lot of stress (which I am not) are incredibly organised (which I am definitely not). There are three loose categories of people who take four A levels (I made this list up but I did a lot of thinking about taking a fourth A-Level and I think this is somewhat accurate)

a) Bilinguals - e.g. I have a Spanish friend who takes Spanish A-Level, she describes it as more difficult than what English Language GCSE would have been for us, but not as hard as another A-Level; for bilinguals apparently it's somewhere in between.
b) Academics who want to push themselves - students who have no problem being organised, and are good under pressure, can deal with a lot of work without getting stressed and don't have a problem spending most of their free time on work.
c) Dreamers - People who want to study lots of things, and might be clever but aren't necessarily ready for the work doing 4 A-Levels makes you do, or they do lots of extra-curricular stuff and find they don't have the time for everything anymore. Usually, if they can't keep up, they end up dropping their 4th A-Level and have wasted time that could've been spent on an EPQ.

I fell into the third category and realised this right before I was about to sign up to take Biology as a fourth A-Level, so I did EPQ in the end. If you feel you fit into category b/a (or b/a as well as c etc...) go for it, but don't underestimate how much work it is. Personally, I would recommend against it and say do EPQ/core maths or something else your school might offer, but I don't know you, you do what you think is best if you know you are capable and it is something you really want. At the end of the day, no uni will expect you to have four A levels; they'll only take your three highest grades. I hope this helps
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cactussalad
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biology is also quite a have workload

I did an EPQ and it was amazing - it can go really well with humanities as you're going into a lot more depth. Some unis lower offers but not all - you'd have to check.
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Qxi.xli
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My personal opinion: dont do an EPQ. it isnt that useful unless ur looking for lower grade requirements.

that being said im only in yr 12 so dont take my word as bible but from what i've heard thats the conclusion ive reached. Do your A-levels and do them really well.
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thrwawy
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There isn't much advantage of taking more than 3 unless you're going to attempt to get into a top 5 university. EPQ is only really helpful to get lower entry requirements but can be something to talk about in your personal statement.
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Thomasjh17
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(Original post by 3cutecats)
Hi,
I am meant to be picking my A levels in early February but I am struggling to narrow it down to 3. I was wondering whether taking 4 A-levels would be too much or if the work load would be horrendous (I am currently thinking about taking English Literature, Politics, History and biology so I don’t know whether there would be a huge amount of essay writing as there would be 3 humanities). I don’t really have a career path in mind and want to keep my options as open as possible.
I was wondering whether anyone has done 4 A-levels and whether it is just too much work or whether taking 3 and and EPQ is better. I currently get 7-9 in all my GCSEs and I don’t want 4 average a levels when I may have been able to get higher grades with 3.
My school encourages us to take 3 A-levels and an EPQ but I am not sure whether and EPQ is really helpful or will make you stand out as a Uni candidate??
I guess I am just really asking is taking 4 too many. If any one has would you/would you not?? Is an EPQ better?
Thanks
Also, I was thinking about doing the same A levels! I ended up doing Drama instead of Politics because I love it and I'm applying for Politics/IR at uni anyway. I did EPQ instead of biology because I thought it'd be too much work but I nearly took it. I love writing essays so I really enjoy History and Eng Lit (and Drama) - they're great A Levels. I've heard Politics is tough but also great - if it were me I'd do Eng Lit, Politics, History and then do something biological/science-related for EPQ because those three A levels work really well together (although I don't know how important Biology is to you/if you want a career in something related to science - if so it's fine to do one A level that doesn't match the others much). EPQ is great and unis love it; some will lower their grade requirements for you if you get predicted an A/A* in it - however, you have to be on it with organisation/planning; it's not as much work as a fourth A-Level (and doesn't take two years giving you more free time to revise in year two) but you can fall behind quite quickly if you aren't organised. But it's great, sounds like you had more of an idea than I did at this point haha
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Qxi.xli
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(Original post by yeye21)
is that you in the profile pic?
why does it matter
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username5235322
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I think take all 4 alevels then within the first few months see if you can handle and enjoy biology, if so then don’t do an EPQ. If you don’t like it then drop it and do an EPQ. But this means you should start with all the alevels and EPQ in year 12. In my college we did the EPQ at year 13 tho
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Qxi.xli
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(Original post by SparkleFace)
I think take all 4 alevels then within the first few months see if you can handle and enjoy biology, if so then don’t do an EPQ. If you don’t like it then drop it and do an EPQ. But this means you should start with all the alevels and EPQ in year 12. In my college we did the EPQ at year 13 tho
yup i agree with this
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Thomasjh17
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(Original post by vix.xvi)
My personal opinion: dont do an EPQ. it isnt that useful unless ur looking for lower grade requirements.

that being said im only in yr 12 so dont take my word as bible but from what i've heard thats the conclusion ive reached. Do your A-levels and do them really well.
Some unis like EPQ, and it can be interesting - plus it helps prep you for uni-style work. Also I am a year 13 and thus I am much wiser. Lol but no I think EPQ has it's pros and cons - I did it and it was really hard to get through and it was a lot of work but I managed to scrape an A in the end - which actually helps your uni application quite a bit (top universities care less - but it's still good experience)
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Qxi.xli
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(Original post by Thomasjh17)
Some unis like EPQ, and it can be interesting - plus it helps prep you for uni-style work. Also I am a year 13 and thus I am much wiser. Lol but no I think EPQ has it's pros and cons - I did it and it was really hard to get through and it was a lot of work but I managed to scrape an A in the end - which actually helps your uni application quite a bit (top universities care less - but it's still good experience)
Lol ok
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Thomasjh17
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(Original post by thrwawy)
There isn't much advantage of taking more than 3 unless you're going to attempt to get into a top 5 university. EPQ is only really helpful to get lower entry requirements but can be something to talk about in your personal statement.
yeah I agree although even the top five universities don't that much
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tinygirl96
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do the epq
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04MR17
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If you're interested in university in the future, the EPQ is by far your better option here. University would much rather you have 3 A Levels at Higher Grades than 4 slightly more average ones. EPQ also allows you to practice your research skills before doing your degree - particularly valuable for social science courses.
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username5173262
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(Original post by vix.xvi)
My personal opinion: dont do an EPQ. it isnt that useful unless ur looking for lower grade requirements.

that being said im only in yr 12 so dont take my word as bible but from what i've heard thats the conclusion ive reached. Do your A-levels and do them really well.
I disagree, I think 3 A-Levs and an EPQ would be the better choice, much easier on the time management and once it's done it's done - unlike a fourth A-Level which adds stress and workload all throughout the year.
And hey, can't go wrong with a grade requirement drop
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etohin
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(Original post by 3cutecats)
Hi,
I am meant to be picking my A levels in early February but I am struggling to narrow it down to 3. I was wondering whether taking 4 A-levels would be too much or if the work load would be horrendous (I am currently thinking about taking English Literature, Politics, History and biology so I don’t know whether there would be a huge amount of essay writing as there would be 3 humanities). I don’t really have a career path in mind and want to keep my options as open as possible.
I was wondering whether anyone has done 4 A-levels and whether it is just too much work or whether taking 3 and and EPQ is better. I currently get 7-9 in all my GCSEs and I don’t want 4 average a levels when I may have been able to get higher grades with 3.
My school encourages us to take 3 A-levels and an EPQ but I am not sure whether and EPQ is really helpful or will make you stand out as a Uni candidate??
I guess I am just really asking is taking 4 too many. If any one has would you/would you not?? Is an EPQ better?
Thanks
just gonna put my own experience in here: i did four a levels and an epq. i think that it partly depends on the time frame you're given for the epq, so i finished mine at the end of y12 summer, so i could focus on my a levels in year 13, which was good. if you have to do the epq alongside the harder a level topics i perhaps wouldn't do it.

as for workload, it was a lot. i would spend my week working on schoolwork and the weekends on my epq; i had some free time but i would probably take maybe two nights off from work a week. i ended up get good predicted grades, but they could have definitely been better had i not done the epq.

having said that, i really enjoyed the topic of the project; the research and the writing i did never felt boring, and, thus, i never minded not having much free time. it also helped me somewhat figure out what i was interested in and what i wanted to do at university.

but, as a comment above said, universities much prefer 3 great predicted grades than 4 less great ones. history, politics and english - to my understanding - are all quite essay heavy, while biology is content heavy. it would be a lot of work. an advantage for me doing an epq was to develop my essay writing skills as i didn't do essay based subjects (biology, maths, chemistry and latin), but this wouldn't really apply to you. maybe begin with four a levels and an epq and if its too much, drop one.
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gcse2021wasajoke
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(Original post by 3cutecats)
Hi,
I am meant to be picking my A levels in early February but I am struggling to narrow it down to 3. I was wondering whether taking 4 A-levels would be too much or if the work load would be horrendous (I am currently thinking about taking English Literature, Politics, History and biology so I don’t know whether there would be a huge amount of essay writing as there would be 3 humanities). I don’t really have a career path in mind and want to keep my options as open as possible.
I was wondering whether anyone has done 4 A-levels and whether it is just too much work or whether taking 3 and and EPQ is better. I currently get 7-9 in all my GCSEs and I don’t want 4 average a levels when I may have been able to get higher grades with 3.
My school encourages us to take 3 A-levels and an EPQ but I am not sure whether and EPQ is really helpful or will make you stand out as a Uni candidate??
I guess I am just really asking is taking 4 too many. If any one has would you/would you not?? Is an EPQ better?
Thanks
idk you buddy but all im saying is iam in year11 too and was going to choose similar a levels to you but thankfully i was slapped in the face by reality. take my word on this, humanities a levels are useless in mine and many other peoples opinions, unless you want be a politician, lawyer, etc BUT if you want to keep your options opened do bio chem and maybe a humanities a level to balance it out, that would allow you to do 95% of degrees. also i think an EPQ is better.
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Emma:-)
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(Original post by 3cutecats)
Hi,
I am meant to be picking my A levels in early February but I am struggling to narrow it down to 3. I was wondering whether taking 4 A-levels would be too much or if the work load would be horrendous (I am currently thinking about taking English Literature, Politics, History and biology so I don’t know whether there would be a huge amount of essay writing as there would be 3 humanities). I don’t really have a career path in mind and want to keep my options as open as possible.
I was wondering whether anyone has done 4 A-levels and whether it is just too much work or whether taking 3 and and EPQ is better. I currently get 7-9 in all my GCSEs and I don’t want 4 average a levels when I may have been able to get higher grades with 3.
My school encourages us to take 3 A-levels and an EPQ but I am not sure whether and EPQ is really helpful or will make you stand out as a Uni candidate??
I guess I am just really asking is taking 4 too many. If any one has would you/would you not?? Is an EPQ better?
Thanks
Could you not start with 4 to see how you go, at least for the first couple of weeks or so. Then depending on how you go you could drop one.
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anon1401
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(Original post by 3cutecats)
Hi,
I am meant to be picking my A levels in early February but I am struggling to narrow it down to 3. I was wondering whether taking 4 A-levels would be too much or if the work load would be horrendous (I am currently thinking about taking English Literature, Politics, History and biology so I don’t know whether there would be a huge amount of essay writing as there would be 3 humanities). I don’t really have a career path in mind and want to keep my options as open as possible.
I was wondering whether anyone has done 4 A-levels and whether it is just too much work or whether taking 3 and and EPQ is better. I currently get 7-9 in all my GCSEs and I don’t want 4 average a levels when I may have been able to get higher grades with 3.
My school encourages us to take 3 A-levels and an EPQ but I am not sure whether and EPQ is really helpful or will make you stand out as a Uni candidate??
I guess I am just really asking is taking 4 too many. If any one has would you/would you not?? Is an EPQ better?
Thanks
I'd go for the EPQ! Less work than a full fourth a level (which doesn't offer you an advantage anyway, especially if it lowers your grades). An EPQ shows that you have the motivation to study independently and independent study will make up most of your uni hours!

I did 4 and ended up with abbb as AS level. After I dropped one I had so much more time from free periods and ended up with A*A*A whilst doing less work at home and working at weekends. (I did quite my job a couple of months before A2 exams though.) Good luck!

If you are set of keeping your options open then I'd drop Politics (I study Politics at uni and love it but most people didn't do it at A level). Although it may be worth baring in mind that you might not be able to study Biology at uni with those A levels as some universities will require (or prefer) 2 sciences for example. If you don't think you'll want to study anything science-y later on, I'd drop Bio as 3 essay subjects can be a heavy workload but do compliment each other in the sense that you'll have great essay skills by the end.
Last edited by anon1401; 6 months ago
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