Choosing A-Levels : What to Consider

Discover the best tips for choosing A levels wisely. Make informed decisions for your academic future with our expert guidance.

Beginning your A Levels marks a significant milestone in your academic journey, and choosing your subjects can influence many aspects of your future—especially educational and career opportunities. This choice requires careful consideration and strategic planning. After all, the subjects you select will lay the groundwork for higher education and open specific career paths down the road.


Tips on Choosing Your Subjects

The first step is evaluating your personal interests and strengths, as well as identifying areas where you may need improvement. This self-reflection allows you to align your subject choices with your natural inclinations and capabilities. 

Seeking advice from teachers, career counselors, and professionals already working in fields you’re considering can also provide invaluable insights. These experts can offer practical advice and firsthand experiences that can guide your decision-making process. 

You may also want to consider taking aptitude and interest assessments. These tools offer a detailed analysis of your skills and preferences, which can help you make informed choices that suit both who you are now and who you aspire to become. 


If You Have a Career of Future Degree in Mind

If you already have a career path or specific degree in mind, you can align your A Level choices with the requirements of that plan. For example, some recommended subjects for five popular career paths include: 

  • Medicine: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Maths
  • Engineering: Maths, Further Maths, Physics, and Chemistry
  • Law: English Literature, History, Sociology, and Law
  • Computer Science: Maths, Further Maths, Computer Science, and Physics
  • Psychology: Psychology, Biology, Maths, and Sociology

After identifying the relevant courses, look into the subject prerequisites for your desired degree by researching university course requirements. This will ensure that your A Level choices are tailored to your academic goals and help you spend your time on top-priority subjects. 

Engaging in extracurricular activities and internships related to your field is another way to focus in. Programs like Take Action Lab offer immersive learning experiences that bolster your resume—and provide real-world experience. This can make your university and job applications stand out. 

Connecting with professionals already working in your intended field can offer priceless insights and advice. Networking with these individuals can provide mentorship and even opportunities to shadow them, helping to confirm or refine your career direction.


If You Do Not Have a Career or Degree in Mind

Choosing A Levels without a specific career in mind can feel a little more overwhelming, but it also opens up other possibilities. You can consider a generalist versus specialist approach to your studies. A generalist path keeps your future options open by combining a broad range of subjects such as English Literature, Maths, and Sciences. This is great for diverse interests and developing a varied skill set. 

On the other hand, a specialist approach means focusing on a specific area, such as all sciences or humanities. This can be beneficial if you later decide to pursue a field that requires deep, specialized knowledge.  To maintain flexibility in your future choices, opt for versatile subject combinations. If you aren’t sure what that looks like, utilize online career exploration tools and attend career fairs for inspiration. 

Programs like Take Action Lab are particularly beneficial for students unsure of their direction. The curriculum is designed to help young people discover their passions and strengths. This provides practical experiences and insights into various fields, which can help you determine the direction you want to take. 

Scheduling informational interviews with professionals from different areas can provide additional insights. These conversations can illuminate potential career paths and help you understand the day-to-day realities of various professions, aiding in making an informed decision about your A Level choices and future career.

Erik Oline, a Tilting Futures program participant

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How Many A Levels Can I Take?

The typical number of A Levels taken by students is three, primarily due to the rigorous workload and academic demands associated with these courses. While some students may choose to take on four A Levels, this is less common and should only be done if you have carefully considered your own capacity and extracurricular commitments. 

Another thing to remember is other types of courses to potentially pursue, such as BTEC. Unlike A Levels, which are traditionally exam-based and cover more theoretical content, BTEC qualifications are more vocational and assessment-based, focusing on practical learning within specific industries. BTECs can sometimes be an alternative to A Levels, depending on your career goals and learning preferences. 

If you are wondering how many A Levels to take or whether to consider BTEC options, remember to consult with teachers, academic advisors, and even other experienced students. Their insights can guide you in making a decision that best fits your educational and personal goals. 


What Are the Hardest and Easiest A Levels?

The difficulty of A-level subjects differs for each student, but one way to gauge their difficulty is to consider the proportion of students who achieve the highest grades in each subject. This means that the courses with the highest proportion of A grades are generally considered easier. 

Of course, this isn’t always the case. High achievement rates in certain subjects do not always equal ease and can be influenced by everything from the method of examination to the specific content of that year’s exams. 

Even though some subjects might appear easier due to higher grades, the best way to measure the difficulty of the subject depends on individual skills and interests. Often, students perform best in the subjects that they are particularly interested or adept in. This means that, ultimately, the easiest A Levels for any student are those they find most engaging and are naturally skilled in—and those that they are least interested in are most likely going to be harder. 


A Few Dos and Don’ts When Choosing A Levels

The best thing to do when choosing your A Levels is to approach it with a strategic mindset. For instance, do:

  • Conduct thorough research into each subject’s content and relevance to your potential career paths. 
  • Engage in self-reflection to assess your strengths and interests, then align your choices with long-term goals. 
  • Seek advice from various sources, including teachers and students who have recently completed their A Levels. 
  • Balance your workload by choosing a mix of subjects that are challenging yet manageable. This will contribute to a well-rounded education and keep you engaged.


However, don’t:

  • Follow trends blindly or succumb to peer pressure. It’s essential to prioritize your personal interests and aptitudes over popular choices or what your friends are studying. 

Remember to stay flexible and open to revising your choices. Many schools offer a grace period, typically within the first two weeks of the term, so you can change your subjects if you find they don’t suit your interests or abilities as expected.


Making Informed Choices for Your Future

Choosing the right A Levels is a significant decision since it acts as the foundation for your educational and professional future. As you align your subjects with personal interests and academic capabilities, you can be confident in your choices. It’s essential to reflect on what excites and motivates you, as well as the subjects where you naturally excel. Remember that flexibility is vital. You’re not locking into a decision if your initial choices don’t meet your expectations. 

Programs like those offered by Tilting Futures can be instrumental in this process. The experiences you have during these opportunities can help you build a strong resume and gain a deeper understanding of your passions. By participating in such programs, you can gain clarity and confidence in your academic and career paths. 

If you’re looking to make the most informed and strategic A Level choices, explore your potential by applying to Tilting Futures.



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