Students who decide to stay on in the sixth form (or attend a sixth form college) to sit their A levels need to choose wisely, as their choice of A levels will impact them for years to come. What factors should you consider when choosing A level subjects?
Impartial Careers Advice
It is important to receive impartial careers advice from your head of sixth form or from college tutors to help you decide which subjects to choose at A level. If you have a good idea of the career you would like to pursue, obtaining careers advice can help you to choose the right subjects at A level.
Some sixth formers reach the end of their course only to discover that the subjects they took at A level do not correspond with their chosen pathway at university. It is not essential to have your whole life mapped out at age 16, but it is important to have some idea of the direction in which you are going.
Choose Subjects You Enjoy
If you choose subjects that you find dry and boring, sixth form or college will be more of a chore than an exciting adventure, as you will have to deal with the drudgery of attending lessons you do not enjoy and struggling to keep up. However, if you choose subjects that you particularly enjoy, you will look forward to your lessons, which in turn will motivate you to do your very best.
Research Available Courses
A levels offer a broader range of subjects than the core subjects available at GCSE. Look into subjects that are of interest that you did not have an opportunity to study for at GCSE, but make sure you do your homework before committing to any subjects. It is easy to settle for subjects that sound exciting, but then facing disappointment when the subjects do not live up to your expectations. Download the syllabus for these subjects and learn more about what is expected. If possible, speak to teachers and students who are already registered on these courses.
How Will Your Choices Impact Your University Application?
Another important point to bear in mind is how your choices will impact your university application. Will you opt for traditional (i.e. English, Mathematics, Chemistry, Geography) or non-traditional subjects (i.e. Dance, Drama, Photography) at A level?
Some of the UK’s top universities have blacklisted some non-traditional A level subjects that they consider too “soft” and therefore “less effective” as students prepare for degree level study. If you plan to apply to Oxbridge, check into their entry requirements to see whether your choice of A levels will be considered acceptable in your university application.
There is a great deal to consider before you commit yourself to certain A level subjects. Obtain impartial careers advice at school or college, choose subjects you enjoy and do your research into subjects you are considering pursuing. Do not overlook the fact that some non-traditional A level subjects are not approved by some of the UK’s top universities.
Choosing your A levels