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Biology or Chemistry for A-levels

I'm in yr11 and cant decide if I want to do 3 or 4 A-levels. I want to do English Lit, Psychology, Biology and Chemistry however I don't know if I will be able to handle the work load. If I do chose to drop one I cant decide between Biology and Chemistry as Biology links with psychology but chemistry interests me to pursue maybe in uni. If I do drop one which should it be?
Reply 1
Original post by haozen
I'm in yr11 and cant decide if I want to do 3 or 4 A-levels. I want to do English Lit, Psychology, Biology and Chemistry however I don't know if I will be able to handle the work load. If I do chose to drop one I cant decide between Biology and Chemistry as Biology links with psychology but chemistry interests me to pursue maybe in uni. If I do drop one which should it be?

General advice is to never take 3 A levels, especially with subjects that have heavy content. I study psychology and have friends who study psychology and biology, chemistry and biology and some who study all three plus a fourth A level. My advice is to look at the course requirements at different universities. As someone who started off with English Language and Literature and knows people who currently study English Literature, I can tell you that getting a high grade is hard, so you'll have to put a lot of work in. Depending on your exam board, the grade boundaries could be as high as 29/30 for an A*. You may also have a coursework element, so this is something to consider. What I've gathered from my friends is that generally biology tends to be easier to understand and get a good grade in. Both chemistry and biology are nothing like what they are at GCSE, so I would look into your sixth form or college's A level specification and see which topics interest you. If you want to study chemistry at university, you'll need chemistry A level, and it's the same for biology. As a psychology student, there is some overlap between psychology and biology in the topic biopsychology, but it doesn't cover much biology and is focused only in explaining human behaviour. If you're interested in disease and plant biology, none of that will be covered in biopsychology, so I suggest picking biology. If you know you want to study something STEM related at university, I would recommend dropping English and sticking to biology, chemistry and psychology. This will leave your options open as psychology is still regarded as an essay based subject, so if you change your mind and want to go into humanities or social sciences, you won't be majorly disadvantaged.

I hope this has helped and if you have any questions about psychology or any other subjects (I also study politics and philosophy) I'd be happy to answer them :smile:
Original post by haozen
I'm in yr11 and cant decide if I want to do 3 or 4 A-levels. I want to do English Lit, Psychology, Biology and Chemistry however I don't know if I will be able to handle the work load. If I do chose to drop one I cant decide between Biology and Chemistry as Biology links with psychology but chemistry interests me to pursue maybe in uni. If I do drop one which should it be?

Are you sure you want to take English with the other A Levels as the other 3 links together when applying to uni but English doesn't, if you're planning to apply to a uni course to with medicine, dentistry etc English wouldn't help you that much comparing to biology, chemistry and psychology
Reply 3
I do bio, chem and history (and I did English for a week but the work load was too much lmao)

I would say wait until you actually start Y12 before deciding which one to drop - I was in a similar dilemma in Y11 and couldn't choose whether to drop English or chem. Although, at my school at least, chem starts relatively easy and gets harder, whilst biology starts difficult and stays difficult, so keep this in mind.

I have couple of friends who do psych, and it seems like the only real overlap at A-level is in neurones and synapses, which is basically two lessons. However, I'd image there might be a much greater overlap at uni, and I'm not sure if unis would prefer if you had bio.

I would say, of you are considering chem at uni, then stick with that, and drop bio. I'm not sure how set you are on English at A- level bit perhaps a solution could be to consider dropping that?
Reply 4
Original post by yogo1o
I do bio, chem and history (and I did English for a week but the work load was too much lmao)
I would say wait until you actually start Y12 before deciding which one to drop - I was in a similar dilemma in Y11 and couldn't choose whether to drop English or chem. Although, at my school at least, chem starts relatively easy and gets harder, whilst biology starts difficult and stays difficult, so keep this in mind.
I have couple of friends who do psych, and it seems like the only real overlap at A-level is in neurones and synapses, which is basically two lessons. However, I'd image there might be a much greater overlap at uni, and I'm not sure if unis would prefer if you had bio.
I would say, of you are considering chem at uni, then stick with that, and drop bio. I'm not sure how set you are on English at A- level bit perhaps a solution could be to consider dropping that?

I currently do psychology at GCSE and the overlap with biology is also small so I may drop that. English does seem like the most logical thing to drop but its my favourite subject and I'm really passionate about it unlike the sciences.
Thank you for your advice.👍️
Reply 5
Original post by AsadAlsaied
Are you sure you want to take English with the other A Levels as the other 3 links together when applying to uni but English doesn't, if you're planning to apply to a uni course to with medicine, dentistry etc English wouldn't help you that much comparing to biology, chemistry and psychology

I've been thinking about going for a degree in pharmacology specially not medicine, which does usually need both biology and chemistry. So even though English doesn't specifically correlate it's my favourite subject and I don't think I need 2 sciences for pharmacology (pls correct me if I'm wrong).
Reply 6
Original post by haozen
I currently do psychology at GCSE and the overlap with biology is also small so I may drop that. English does seem like the most logical thing to drop but its my favourite subject and I'm really passionate about it unlike the sciences.
Thank you for your advice.👍️

If you're passionate about English why bother with sciences? I wouldn't advice taking STEM subjects unless you need them, you're good at them and enjoy them or you're very unsure about what you want to study and want to keep your options open. Don't make life harder on yourself, because as a non-STEM student, I can easily tell you that studying chemistry and biology is not fun at all from what I've seen.
Reply 7
Original post by haozen
I've been thinking about going for a degree in pharmacology specially not medicine, which does usually need both biology and chemistry. So even though English doesn't specifically correlate it's my favourite subject and I don't think I need 2 sciences for pharmacology (pls correct me if I'm wrong).

Ignore my last post - you'll need chemistry and another science for pharmacology.
Reply 8
Original post by bibachu
General advice is to never take 3 A levels, especially with subjects that have heavy content. I study psychology and have friends who study psychology and biology, chemistry and biology and some who study all three plus a fourth A level. My advice is to look at the course requirements at different universities. As someone who started off with English Language and Literature and knows people who currently study English Literature, I can tell you that getting a high grade is hard, so you'll have to put a lot of work in. Depending on your exam board, the grade boundaries could be as high as 29/30 for an A*. You may also have a coursework element, so this is something to consider. What I've gathered from my friends is that generally biology tends to be easier to understand and get a good grade in. Both chemistry and biology are nothing like what they are at GCSE, so I would look into your sixth form or college's A level specification and see which topics interest you. If you want to study chemistry at university, you'll need chemistry A level, and it's the same for biology. As a psychology student, there is some overlap between psychology and biology in the topic biopsychology, but it doesn't cover much biology and is focused only in explaining human behaviour. If you're interested in disease and plant biology, none of that will be covered in biopsychology, so I suggest picking biology. If you know you want to study something STEM related at university, I would recommend dropping English and sticking to biology, chemistry and psychology. This will leave your options open as psychology is still regarded as an essay based subject, so if you change your mind and want to go into humanities or social sciences, you won't be majorly disadvantaged.
I hope this has helped and if you have any questions about psychology or any other subjects (I also study politics and philosophy) I'd be happy to answer them :smile:

Biology isn't really something I'm set on as I'm only interested in the human aspect of it not plant and while it would be good because it can help with psychology, if there isn't much overlap I might not stick with it. English is a subject I've always loved so even if its hard work I'd prefer to stick with it despite it not really linking into my other subjects. At university I've been looking into pharmacology and then maybe going onto a psychopharmacology masters, so both chemistry and psychology will be preferred for me to take. My school doesn't do AS levels so I would have taken biology only for AS if I could've but I have to either drop it or complete the full course. I have heard the opposite about the difficulty for biology however as most people I know say it's harder than chemistry due to the longer written questions. So I will probably drop biology and do chemistry English and psychology.

Thank you for your advice, I currently do both psychology and sociology at gcse so I don't want to fully commit to social sciences again at Alevel.
Original post by haozen
I've been thinking about going for a degree in pharmacology specially not medicine, which does usually need both biology and chemistry. So even though English doesn't specifically correlate it's my favourite subject and I don't think I need 2 sciences for pharmacology (pls correct me if I'm wrong).


Pharmacology in most unis requires both biology and chemistry, and any third Alevel, so if you think you will be so good in English a level than other a level then I suggest you to take it, as having higher grades will support you to get into higher rank unis
Original post by haozen
Biology isn't really something I'm set on as I'm only interested in the human aspect of it not plant and while it would be good because it can help with psychology, if there isn't much overlap I might not stick with it. English is a subject I've always loved so even if its hard work I'd prefer to stick with it despite it not really linking into my other subjects. At university I've been looking into pharmacology and then maybe going onto a psychopharmacology masters, so both chemistry and psychology will be preferred for me to take. My school doesn't do AS levels so I would have taken biology only for AS if I could've but I have to either drop it or complete the full course. I have heard the opposite about the difficulty for biology however as most people I know say it's harder than chemistry due to the longer written questions. So I will probably drop biology and do chemistry English and psychology.
Thank you for your advice, I currently do both psychology and sociology at gcse so I don't want to fully commit to social sciences again at Alevel.

No worries! This seems like a smart plan, but your options might be slightly limited by not taking biology. There are still lots of good universities that accept chemistry and a science related subject for pharmacology (e.g. University of Manchester), so if you think this combination will make you happiest then its always best to follow your passion. Psychology is very interesting, but has a lot of content. I also once intended to take it with chemistry (my GCSEs did not work out the way I'd hoped) and although there isn't much overlap, you'll learn about drug treatments for psychological disorders which may interest you since you want to study pharmacology. If you're doing social sciences at GCSE then it makes sense to not commit fully to them at A level.
Original post by haozen
I'm in yr11 and cant decide if I want to do 3 or 4 A-levels. I want to do English Lit, Psychology, Biology and Chemistry however I don't know if I will be able to handle the work load. If I do chose to drop one I cant decide between Biology and Chemistry as Biology links with psychology but chemistry interests me to pursue maybe in uni. If I do drop one which should it be?
I do English Literature and Biology (as well as Geography). I was wondering if your school offers the Extended Project Qualification? I'm doing Biology because I couldn't do Psychology and am consequently doing a Psychology topic for my EPQ. However, as you are concerned about the workload, I wouldn't recommend it if you aren't someone who can't cope with a lot of work. Biology has A LOT of content, but I cope since I have a lot of resources.

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