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Start of A Level

Good evening Forum people.. First time posting on online forums. and I wonder what would be a good combination of A -Levels? I am Yr12 and already started my course for 2 weeks.

I currently have 4 subjects: Math, Further Math, Economics and Physics. I felt a bit pressured, maybe because people around me have like 5 hours of free sessions whereas I have only 2 from 4-5pm per week; or it might be due the fact that I quite a sleepy person that the transition between 10+hrs of sleep to less than 8hrs is making quite a difference.

Don't really have a preference in University courses yet. Only doing math related stuff because I am a international student and my essay writing skills are not good enough to get me A stars in A levels
Original post by Kizksakura
Good evening Forum people.. First time posting on online forums. and I wonder what would be a good combination of A -Levels? I am Yr12 and already started my course for 2 weeks.

I currently have 4 subjects: Math, Further Math, Economics and Physics. I felt a bit pressured, maybe because people around me have like 5 hours of free sessions whereas I have only 2 from 4-5pm per week; or it might be due the fact that I quite a sleepy person that the transition between 10+hrs of sleep to less than 8hrs is making quite a difference.

Don't really have a preference in University courses yet. Only doing math related stuff because I am a international student and my essay writing skills are not good enough to get me A stars in A levels

I'd say your combination is pretty good. However, I'd say you would be limiting yourself to the quantitative degrees or degrees that accept any A Levels i.e. you are not likely going to get into specific life science/healthcare degrees.

To me, the ideal combination would be all 3 sciences + maths, since it would offer you the most choices in degrees. However, not everyone can stomach the bio+chem combination, and it's not necessary for a number of degrees outside of life sciences. The sort of quantitative degrees you would be leaving out would be in chem engineering and bioengineering.

I would also check whether you need a specific degree for the career you want (or the sort of career you want), either in the UK or in your home country. If you do, the requirements for that degree takes precedence over any recommendations or comments that anyone has in the Forum.
If you're still not sure what sort of degree or career you want, it might help if you list or give a rough outline of what you expect to be doing in the degree or career.

Economics is also not a required subject, so you can do economics as a degree with maths + your other subjects should you wish to drop A Level Economics.
Reply 2
Why do you need 4 A Levels, Unis only ask for 3 and some drop the 4th for you.
My friend got a Grade 9 in maths at GCSE and Headgirl and went on to take further maths, within 6 months she dropped it as was far too hard. Many drop out of it quite soon after taking it - depends on yourself and how good your maths is.
Which Uni would you shortlist out of the 5 possible?
Further Maths is extremely hard for sure and unless doing a maths based career is best dropped so its not so stressful.
You need to make a decision soon so forget the subjects and think of what career you want.

Do you want office based work?
Would you prefer to work with animals or people?
Do you prefers arts type subjects or just academic?
Really need to think more about you first and the subjects come after.
Reply 3
Original post by Googley2
Why do you need 4 A Levels, Unis only ask for 3 and some drop the 4th for you.
My friend got a Grade 9 in maths at GCSE and Headgirl and went on to take further maths, within 6 months she dropped it as was far too hard. Many drop out of it quite soon after taking it - depends on yourself and how good your maths is.
Which Uni would you shortlist out of the 5 possible?
Further Maths is extremely hard for sure and unless doing a maths based career is best dropped so its not so stressful.
You need to make a decision soon so forget the subjects and think of what career you want.

Do you want office based work?
Would you prefer to work with animals or people?
Do you prefers arts type subjects or just academic?
Really need to think more about you first and the subjects come after.

Hey, Thanks for the feed back.
I don't really have a choice for Unis my self
My parent will force me to choose Oxford Cambridge LSE UCL and Imperial. Otherwise they will stop paying school fee for me....
The whole school had to do at least 4 subjects, I initiallly chose 5 including Chemistry but the head of academic study dropped it for me thinking I won't be able to cope with those.
Reply 4
Original post by MindMax2000
I'd say your combination is pretty good. However, I'd say you would be limiting yourself to the quantitative degrees or degrees that accept any A Levels i.e. you are not likely going to get into specific life science/healthcare degrees.

To me, the ideal combination would be all 3 sciences + maths, since it would offer you the most choices in degrees. However, not everyone can stomach the bio+chem combination, and it's not necessary for a number of degrees outside of life sciences. The sort of quantitative degrees you would be leaving out would be in chem engineering and bioengineering.

I would also check whether you need a specific degree for the career you want (or the sort of career you want), either in the UK or in your home country. If you do, the requirements for that degree takes precedence over any recommendations or comments that anyone has in the Forum.
If you're still not sure what sort of degree or career you want, it might help if you list or give a rough outline of what you expect to be doing in the degree or career.

Economics is also not a required subject, so you can do economics as a degree with maths + your other subjects should you wish to drop A Level Economics.

bio is just too much of a killer. My brother did Bio for high school and a classic example was that he had to work so hard that basically for every month he will faint at least once in middle of class.....
Original post by Kizksakura
bio is just too much of a killer. My brother did Bio for high school and a classic example was that he had to work so hard that basically for every month he will faint at least once in middle of class.....


A bit of an exaggeration. I know of various people who did biology and none of them fainted.
Don't get me wrong; there's usually a lot of material to memorise, but that doesn't mean you go to lengths so extreme that it compromises your health.

Having said that, much of the life science degrees tend to be content heavy anyway. If you would struggle with biology, then you're likely going to struggle with medicine, biomed, etc.

Still, I would need to have some kind of idea of what you intend to do in your ideal career/degree before I can vouch whether your subject combination is appropriate.

Original post by Kizksakura
Hey, Thanks for the feed back.
I don't really have a choice for Unis my self
My parent will force me to choose Oxford Cambridge LSE UCL and Imperial. Otherwise they will stop paying school fee for me....
The whole school had to do at least 4 subjects, I initiallly chose 5 including Chemistry but the head of academic study dropped it for me thinking I won't be able to cope with those.


That's a bit narcissistic. I get parents want you to do well, but I somehow get the feeling that they want you to get into those unis for the wrong reasons. If you want to get into those unis yourself, then that's fine though.

Leave the choice in unis aside and focus on why you want to study a specific subject, since that's what the above unis would be judging your application on anyway. If you don't have a passion or very good reasons for picking the degree, then it matters little even if you managed to get straight A*s
Reply 6
Original post by MindMax2000
A bit of an exaggeration. I know of various people who did biology and none of them fainted.
Don't get me wrong; there's usually a lot of material to memorise, but that doesn't mean you go to lengths so extreme that it compromises your health.

Having said that, much of the life science degrees tend to be content heavy anyway. If you would struggle with biology, then you're likely going to struggle with medicine, biomed, etc.

Still, I would need to have some kind of idea of what you intend to do in your ideal career/degree before I can vouch whether your subject combination is appropriate.



That's a bit narcissistic. I get parents want you to do well, but I somehow get the feeling that they want you to get into those unis for the wrong reasons. If you want to get into those unis yourself, then that's fine though.

Leave the choice in unis aside and focus on why you want to study a specific subject, since that's what the above unis would be judging your application on anyway. If you don't have a passion or very good reasons for picking the degree, then it matters little even if you managed to get straight A*s

Ok got it. So I actually don't have to worry about the choices themselves, instead I need a good reason in PS explaining why I chose them and what career will they lead towards to.
Plus it was not exaggerated though, this guy worked on US AP system and Chinese High school exam at the same time doing like 15 subjects from day to night... Still remember the days visiting him in hospital and his very first response was to go back and do his preps. Ended up in PSU with full scholarship btw. (That is how insane this dude is, still Bio was his life-time struggle)
Original post by Kizksakura
Ok got it. So I actually don't have to worry about the choices themselves, instead I need a good reason in PS explaining why I chose them and what career will they lead towards to.
Plus it was not exaggerated though, this guy worked on US AP system and Chinese High school exam at the same time doing like 15 subjects from day to night... Still remember the days visiting him in hospital and his very first response was to go back and do his preps. Ended up in PSU with full scholarship btw. (That is how insane this dude is, still Bio was his life-time struggle)

Still haven't answered any of my questions. Oh well.

A note about the AP system: these are normally intensive, so having a Chinese High School exam at the same time is like 3x the workload of A Levels. Don't you think this is a bit skewed in how he opines about his biology studies? A Levels are not the same as the APs or Chinese High School exams; for one, A Levels go at education differently to APs and Chinese HS exams - you need different skills and study strategies.
Still, if you don't want to do biology (or even chemistry), then it wouldn't matter anyway.
Reply 8
Original post by Kizksakura
Hey, Thanks for the feed back.
I don't really have a choice for Unis my self
My parent will force me to choose Oxford Cambridge LSE UCL and Imperial. Otherwise they will stop paying school fee for me....
The whole school had to do at least 4 subjects, I initiallly chose 5 including Chemistry but the head of academic study dropped it for me thinking I won't be able to cope with those.


You also cant pick Oxford and Cambridge its not allowed, you may only select one of them and if you try two they kick your application out of both - they do compare names for sure.

I do biology A Level and finds it really easy while struggle but working hard on Chemistry to get an A there as well.

The real options can only be sorted when you have an idea of what career you would like.
The Chinese education system is very very intense to the UK System.
If you do come here you will find it much more relaxing - we beieve in a work/life balance and not just studying ever hour awake.
International student fees start around £30,000 plus visa, flights, accommodation and other costs your parents are probably going to be spending around £60,000 a year on your education as a minimum. It may be their way of showing love as its all that they know as they probably went through the same thing.
(edited 8 months ago)
Do you know what you would like to study at uni?
Reply 10
Original post by MindMax2000
Still haven't answered any of my questions. Oh well.

A note about the AP system: these are normally intensive, so having a Chinese High School exam at the same time is like 3x the workload of A Levels. Don't you think this is a bit skewed in how he opines about his biology studies? A Levels are not the same as the APs or Chinese High School exams; for one, A Levels go at education differently to APs and Chinese HS exams - you need different skills and study strategies.
Still, if you don't want to do biology (or even chemistry), then it wouldn't matter anyway.

Sorry I was a bit off-topic. Ultimately I am the guy who is applying for university not my brother who is already doing his master. I still have slight uncertainty with my courses but it will definitely be between Pure Math: Economics : Nuclear Physics
Original post by Kizksakura
Sorry I was a bit off-topic. Ultimately I am the guy who is applying for university not my brother who is already doing his master. I still have slight uncertainty with my courses but it will definitely be between Pure Math: Economics : Nuclear Physics


I think your four A Levels are a good choice for your interests, and bear in mind that Further Maths is typically taken as a fourth A Level anyways (and is essential for Maths and Econ courses at top universities). As someone who did four A Levels in the first year, it really wasn’t too bad.
Original post by Kizksakura
Sorry I was a bit off-topic. Ultimately I am the guy who is applying for university not my brother who is already doing his master. I still have slight uncertainty with my courses but it will definitely be between Pure Math: Economics : Nuclear Physics


OK. Well you definitely need maths for all of them. FM is strongly recommended to keep your application competitive for the top unis that you want to apply for. Physics is needed for nuclear physics, so your essential A Levels are Maths, FM, and Physics. Again, economics is not a required A Level, even for economics degrees. If you need to drop a subject, I would recommend dropping economics.

Why those subjects in particular? I can understand doing nuclear physics if you intend to become a nuclear physicist (might require an ATAS cert if you are from outside of the UK), but why pure maths (instead of regular or applied maths) and economics?
Economics is helpful if you intend to become an economist, but you're likely required to study at least to master's level and it's strictly not essential depending on the country that you want to work in.
Maths is a very versatile degree that pretty much allows you to go into any quantitiative field as well as tech (you can do the same with the physics degree), but why pure maths as a standalone subject? Maths at degree level tend to be about producing proofs more than solving applied problems; if you want applied maths then you're looking at either a very quantitative economics degree (with very mathematical modules) or nuclear physics.

If you want to have an idea of what the maths would be like in the economics and possibly physics degrees, let me know.

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