The Student Room Group

I need help deciding my A levels

I'm currently near the end of year 11 and have picked English Lit, Geography and Politics/History along with an EPQ.

In terms of English I am probably going to get a 9 9 at it despite not really working too hard or being too much of an avid book reader which I've heard are both important at A levels, however I do read a lot online and have a good knowledge of the English language. However can someone let me know why it would be worth taking English Lang or combined Lit/Lang instead of Lit as someone has suggested it to me.

I'm also not sure whether to take politics or not, I have interest in it currently and I keep very up to date with things, and I hope to do something to do with politics in the future. However, I've heard that it is not a traditional a level subject and may not particularly help me get into a Russel Group Uni, my aim. Would I be better off picking history as I have fairly good historical knowledge and interest in it.

In terms of EPQs I'd just like to know whether they are really worth taking my time up for in the first year of six form as I've heard that they can reduce grades needed at uni however many on this website seem to think that it isn't worth it due to the amount of time that it takes up.
Reply 1
Original post by eliasm0041
I'm currently near the end of year 11 and have picked English Lit, Geography and Politics/History along with an EPQ.
In terms of English I am probably going to get a 9 9 at it despite not really working too hard or being too much of an avid book reader which I've heard are both important at A levels, however I do read a lot online and have a good knowledge of the English language. However can someone let me know why it would be worth taking English Lang or combined Lit/Lang instead of Lit as someone has suggested it to me.
I'm also not sure whether to take politics or not, I have interest in it currently and I keep very up to date with things, and I hope to do something to do with politics in the future. However, I've heard that it is not a traditional a level subject and may not particularly help me get into a Russel Group Uni, my aim. Would I be better off picking history as I have fairly good historical knowledge and interest in it.
In terms of EPQs I'd just like to know whether they are really worth taking my time up for in the first year of six form as I've heard that they can reduce grades needed at uni however many on this website seem to think that it isn't worth it due to the amount of time that it takes up.

Just to clarify, I can still change all of my subjects despite 'picking' them, I have just picked them at a preliminary stage, I can still switch easily if I want to.
The idea of 'facilitating' subjects was dumped by RG Unis over a decade ago. As a result of marketing legislation, ALL Unis now have to be totally upfront and honest about what A levels they require or prefer for all courses, and this most be clearly stated on their course pages. So, if a Unis states 'essay subject preferred', 'must include Chemistry' that is what they mean - there are no secrets and no information that only 'special people' know.

EPQs are worth doing if you can manage the time - most people take it in Y12 so that they can focus only on their main A level subjects in Y13. It gives you experience of what 'research' is, of pursuing your own ideas, organising your time and resources etc etc- and it gives you an obvious 'I'm interested in' topic to discuss in your PS and any interview. Many Unis give reduced offers for a high EPQ grade - 'AAB or ABB with A in EPQ' etc - which gives you more flexibility in meeting an offer. Btw, there is nothing to stop you starting an EPQ and then dropping it if you find you don't enjoy it or that its taking up too much time.

What degree subject are you aiming at?
im doing history, politics (+ French) and EPQ! ive enjoyed them
Reply 4
Original post by erin11
im doing history, politics (+ French) and EPQ! ive enjoyed them

how easy has it been to manage the EPQ on top of everything else? and how much of an advantage is it to have a good knowledge of politics and current affairs in your politics a levels? also what degree are you planning to take, if you have one? sorry for all the questions lmao thank you for replying
Reply 5
Original post by McGinger
The idea of 'facilitating' subjects was dumped by RG Unis over a decade ago. As a result of marketing legislation, ALL Unis now have to be totally upfront and honest about what A levels they require or prefer for all courses, and this most be clearly stated on their course pages. So, if a Unis states 'essay subject preferred', 'must include Chemistry' that is what they mean - there are no secrets and no information that only 'special people' know.
EPQs are worth doing if you can manage the time - most people take it in Y12 so that they can focus only on their main A level subjects in Y13. It gives you experience of what 'research' is, of pursuing your own ideas, organising your time and resources etc etc- and it gives you an obvious 'I'm interested in' topic to discuss in your PS and any interview. Many Unis give reduced offers for a high EPQ grade - 'AAB or ABB with A in EPQ' etc - which gives you more flexibility in meeting an offer. Btw, there is nothing to stop you starting an EPQ and then dropping it if you find you don't enjoy it or that its taking up too much time.
What degree subject are you aiming at?

Thank you for replying, that's really helpful. The degree that I am aiming for is probably politics/international relations. I've checked a few unis' websites and my a level choices:tongue:olitics, English lit and geography all seem to be preferred a level subjects so that's good.
Original post by eliasm0041
how easy has it been to manage the EPQ on top of everything else? and how much of an advantage is it to have a good knowledge of politics and current affairs in your politics a levels? also what degree are you planning to take, if you have one? sorry for all the questions lmao thank you for replying

doing the EPQ has been mostly alright, you just need to stick to any key deadlines. definitely helps to know current affairs as you can use these things for your examples to set your answers apart from the rest of the cohort rather than relying solely on examples from the text book. im planning to study international politics and French at uni!
Reply 7
Original post by erin11
doing the EPQ has been mostly alright, you just need to stick to any key deadlines. definitely helps to know current affairs as you can use these things for your examples to set your answers apart from the rest of the cohort rather than relying solely on examples from the text book. im planning to study international politics and French at uni!

Cool, thanks a lot. Hope everything flows nicely for you and you get the qualifications you need.
Original post by eliasm0041
Cool, thanks a lot. Hope everything flows nicely for you and you get the qualifications you need.

You’re welcome, feel free to pm for help at any time! Best of luck to you too
Original post by eliasm0041
I'm currently near the end of year 11 and have picked English Lit, Geography and Politics/History along with an EPQ.
In terms of English I am probably going to get a 9 9 at it despite not really working too hard or being too much of an avid book reader which I've heard are both important at A levels, however I do read a lot online and have a good knowledge of the English language. However can someone let me know why it would be worth taking English Lang or combined Lit/Lang instead of Lit as someone has suggested it to me.
I'm also not sure whether to take politics or not, I have interest in it currently and I keep very up to date with things, and I hope to do something to do with politics in the future. However, I've heard that it is not a traditional a level subject and may not particularly help me get into a Russel Group Uni, my aim. Would I be better off picking history as I have fairly good historical knowledge and interest in it.
In terms of EPQs I'd just like to know whether they are really worth taking my time up for in the first year of six form as I've heard that they can reduce grades needed at uni however many on this website seem to think that it isn't worth it due to the amount of time that it takes up.

Hi,

First off good luck in your exams, it's a stressful time but you'll get through it.

Advice from a master's graduate.

Onto your question, for the most part so long as you chose an A-level topic that is academic in nature and not vocational then you can have more options.

When I chose my A-levels I knew I was going to do Applied Business and Geography. It was a matter of my 3rd I was struggling with. Unfortunately I didn't get enough GCSE points required by my school to take a 4th AS my options were more restricted, despite achieving 3 A's, 5 B's 2 C's in my GCSE's (2015). As such I was weighing up Music and Politics. On the advice of my Music teacher I chose Music as she convinced me I would do well in it... This wasn't the case as come results day and uni offers I was sitting on ABD (Business, Geography, and the D was Music).

I should've went with my gut because like you I loved Politics and knew it would be an easy A, which I achieved after deciding to repeat the year, so my 3 A-Level's are AAB now, no uni cares if you have a 4th and in fact if you have a 4th and you under perform vs achieve what you need in your other 3 this can cost you a place on competitive courses.

EPQ' s I'm not sure what they are they're not an option here in N.I.

My advice would be chose 2 subjects that have academic rigour but you can perform well in, and a 3rd you love and will be you're easy A and ease pressure come uni offers day.

regret doing Applied because it ruled me out of applying to Irish universities in the republic because it wasn't as academically rigorous as standard Business Studies, but I could still apply for UK and N.Ireland uni's.
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 10
Original post by derryboy98
Hi,
First off good luck in your exams, it's a stressful time but you'll get through it.
Advice from a master's graduate.
Onto your question, for the most part so long as you chose an A-level topic that is academic in nature and not vocational then you can have more options.
When I chose my A-levels I knew I was going to do Applied Business and Geography. It was a matter of my 3rd I was struggling with. Unfortunately I didn't get enough GCSE points required by my school to take a 4th AS my options were more restricted, despite achieving 3 A's, 5 B's 2 C's in my GCSE's (2015). As such I was weighing up Music and Politics. On the advice of my Music teacher I chose Music as she convinced me I would do well in it... This wasn't the case as come results day and uni offers I was sitting on ABD (Business, Geography, and the D was Music).
I should've went with my gut because like you I loved Politics and knew it would be an easy A, which I achieved after deciding to repeat the year, so my 3 A-Level's are AAB now, no uni cares if you have a 4th and in fact if you have a 4th and you under perform vs achieve what you need in your other 3 this can cost you a place on competitive courses.
EPQ' s I'm not sure what they are they're not an option here in N.I.
My advice would be chose 2 subjects that have academic rigour but you can perform well in, and a 3rd you love and will be you're easy A and ease pressure come uni offers day.
regret doing Applied because it ruled me out of applying to Irish universities in the republic because it wasn't as academically rigorous as standard Business Studies, but I could still apply for UK and N.Ireland uni's.
That’s really helpful, thanks, and congratulations on your masters that’s amazing. Your comment and others have helped me decide that at least for the time being I should stick to my original plan of politics, English and geography, with an EPQ maybe.

With politics, what sort of skills did you find particularly useful? I would say that I’m certainly into politics and a good debater with decent knowledge of current issues, and I enjoy writing essays. Are those sort of skills all as applicable as I think they are in politics? Or is it not quite what I expect?
Original post by eliasm0041
That’s really helpful, thanks, and congratulations on your masters that’s amazing. Your comment and others have helped me decide that at least for the time being I should stick to my original plan of politics, English and geography, with an EPQ maybe.
With politics, what sort of skills did you find particularly useful? I would say that I’m certainly into politics and a good debater with decent knowledge of current issues, and I enjoy writing essays. Are those sort of skills all as applicable as I think they are in politics? Or is it not quite what I expect?

Honestly for politics just get your exam technique nailed down well in advance. Now I’m not sure which nation your doing your A-Level in but in N.I our modules were: Northern Irish Politics, British Politics, US/UK Comparative Study, and Political Power (Elitism, Pluralism, Marxism, Feminism etc).

Make sure your addressing theory for every question but fill and I mean fill your answers with examples for every single point your making and obviously evaluations. Debating etc isn’t relevant unless your doing it as extracurricular. OH AND KEEP A BANK OF EXAMPLES YOU CAN USE JN YOUR EXAM THROUGHOUT THE YEAR AS THE MORE RECENT THE BETTER. Though historical examples work, all be it less better too.
Reply 12
Original post by derryboy98
Honestly for politics just get your exam technique nailed down well in advance. Now I’m not sure which nation your doing your A-Level in but in N.I our modules were: Northern Irish Politics, British Politics, US/UK Comparative Study, and Political Power (Elitism, Pluralism, Marxism, Feminism etc).
Make sure your addressing theory for every question but fill and I mean fill your answers with examples for every single point your making and obviously evaluations. Debating etc isn’t relevant unless your doing it as extracurricular. OH AND KEEP A BANK OF EXAMPLES YOU CAN USE JN YOUR EXAM THROUGHOUT THE YEAR AS THE MORE RECENT THE BETTER. Though historical examples work, all be it less better too.
Amazing, I'll try and form a bank of examples from the start of Y12. Our modules are pretty similar except we do not study Northern Irish politics being a school in England. You've really helped make it obvious to me that politics is the right subject for me, thanks a lot.
Reply 13
Original post by eliasm0041
I'm currently near the end of year 11 and have picked English Lit, Geography and Politics/History along with an EPQ.
In terms of English I am probably going to get a 9 9 at it despite not really working too hard or being too much of an avid book reader which I've heard are both important at A levels, however I do read a lot online and have a good knowledge of the English language. However can someone let me know why it would be worth taking English Lang or combined Lit/Lang instead of Lit as someone has suggested it to me.
I'm also not sure whether to take politics or not, I have interest in it currently and I keep very up to date with things, and I hope to do something to do with politics in the future. However, I've heard that it is not a traditional a level subject and may not particularly help me get into a Russel Group Uni, my aim. Would I be better off picking history as I have fairly good historical knowledge and interest in it.
In terms of EPQs I'd just like to know whether they are really worth taking my time up for in the first year of six form as I've heard that they can reduce grades needed at uni however many on this website seem to think that it isn't worth it due to the amount of time that it takes up.

Hiya, just thought I'd offer some advice on taking the EPQ - as long as you enjoy it and get the majority done in Year 12 you should be okay. I'd just be wary as both geography and English (+ history) are likely to have NEAs which will probably begin to take up more of your time by the end of the year and into year 13. Just wanted to mention this briefly as a year 13 who was going to do an EPQ but didn't because all their subjects had an NEA (English, geog and history)
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 14
Original post by IvyEl8
Hiya, just thought I'd offer some advice on taking the EPQ - as long as you enjoy it and get the majority done in Year 12 you should be okay. I'd just be wary as both geography and English (+ history) are likely to have NEAs which will probably begin to take up more of your time by the end of the year and into year 13. Just wanted to mention this briefly as a year 13 who was going to do an EPQ but didn't because all their subjects had an NEA (English, geog and history)

I’m think only my geography has an nea. We are aqa I think.

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