A Level students must come to grips with the fact that the decisions they make now will determine their careers, and it’s important to make the right choices at this early stage.
That said, while it may seem like it’s do or die, a little perspective can make all the difference in ensuring you can make confident, calculated decisions. To help students make the most of this time, we’ve curated this guide to help you get a good idea of the possible paths that you could take, as well as provide some general advice if you’re unsure about what you want to study.
We’ll also talk about the best A Levels to choose from, as well as the various subjects that are popular at universities. Cambridge Home School Online is a leading online school UK providing Cambridge education to students throughout the world. Our A Level/Sixth Form subjects, coupled with unrivalled support throughout the course year, ensure our students get top grades and get into the university of their dreams.
So, without further ado, let’s get to the bottom of what subjects you should take into consideration (and some to avoid).
How Many A Levels Should You Take
For the best universities, you should take three A Levels, excluding General Studies. Students looking to stand out during university applications may also choose to take on additional subjects, giving them five A Levels. That said, A Levels can easily become overwhelming, so there’s no shame in pacing yourself accordingly.
For most students, three subjects are enough to open themselves to a multitude of opportunities. It’s best to talk to your teachers about the courses that you can realistically manage.
Many students also take four AS level subjects to get a feel for what they want to study further, with one of these being dropped at A2. Optional fifth AS or even A2 General Studies is not counted towards university admissions, though it doesn’t require much extra study.
Pro-tip: courses that are too similar to one another should be avoided. For instance, if you want to demonstrate a wider range of skills and knowledge, you should take more courses in complementary fields such as Chemistry and Biology.
The Best Subjects for Specific Majors
In this section, we’ll talk about the various recommended A Level subjects that you should take for those who already know what they want to study.
Universities typically have a distinct approach when it comes to choosing subjects. They typically classify them into two categories: those essential for the course and those merely useful.
Here are some popular degrees with helpful subjects you can consider for your A Level education:
If you’re planning on studying Classics, you should consider taking A Levels in History. Although these are typically required in most courses, some conventional schools do not offer these subjects at A Level. This is why many students turn to Online A Level education to study from experienced teachers. Other universities also provide ab initio programs for those who have not studied classical languages before.
Classics courses often feature an element of archaeology and history, so grounding in the basics can be beneficial if you plan on studying this subject.
Liberal arts degree programs in politics typically do not have entrance requirements. A combination of sciences and humanities courses will provide you with a solid foundation.
A wide variety of music degrees have components that include composition, performance, history, and theory. A good A Level program in music will provide you with a solid foundation in these areas.
Aside from music, you should also consider taking other subjects such as mathematics and essay writing because any music theory graduate will tell you how important analytical skills are when composing music.
Although philosophy doesn’t usually have specific requirements at university, a combination of science and arts subjects can be beneficial. An arts-based discipline can help develop one’s reasoning and logic, while a science one can help build one’s understanding of history. If your school does offer this subject, it would be worth taking it, even if it won’t be an advantage in the admissions process.
The majority of universities do not require applicants to take A Level Geography to enter their programs. This wide-ranging discipline can be used to study various aspects of the world, such as people, demographics, and Earth processes. Although it isn’t usually a requirement, taking it at A Level will help you make sure that you’re interested in studying this subject.
Engineering programs typically require A Levels in at least one of the following subjects: physics, mathematics, or chemistry. Further mathematics is not typically required, though it is highly desirable if you are planning on studying this subject at a degree level. Some universities also favour technology subjects.
Economics is a complex subject that requires a lot of maths and further mathematics in order to be successful in university. Taking this at A Level is helpful if your school doesn’t provide it, and Business Studies is also a good alternative.
The holy grail for all A Level students looking to study physics at university is getting A*s in Physics, Mathematics, and Chemistry. Although further mathematics isn’t usually a requirement, it’s recommended for students who want to make their transition to undergraduate studies smoother.
For most medical programs, chemistry is typically required. However, it is also recommended to have at least one other science subject, such as physics or biology. Ideally, students should have multiple science subjects, which gives them an advantage over those who only have two.
Although no specific requirements are required, you’ll need at least a science A Level to pursue psychology in further studies. This can be done through courses such as mathematics or biology. In addition to these, other subjects like humanities and social sciences can also provide helpful background. If your school offers psychology, you should take it to see if it’s something you want to pursue further.
Although you don’t usually need to know anything about programming to take a Computer Science degree, Mathematics is preferred. Many students think that Information Communication Technology would be beneficial, though it surprisingly has many distinctions from the former.
Although architecture doesn’t usually require specific A Levels, it does require a work portfolio, which is typically done through an A Level that requires you to produce coursework such as Art & Design. Some courses in this field also require Mathematics. If you prefer a particular university or course, make sure that you consider this when deciding on your A Level subjects.
What to Do If You’re Unsure
You’d be surprised at how many of your peers are confused about what they want to study at University. There are some things that you can do to make sure that you’re keeping your options open.
First things first, one of the most important factors that you should consider when it comes to choosing your A Level subjects is whether or not you enjoy the subject. Doing well in these subjects will allow you to get better grades and increase your chances of getting into university.
It’s also important to consider the transferable skills that you can gain from taking different courses.
History, English Literature, and Science are some of the essay-based subjects that can demonstrate critical thinking and analytical skills. On the other hand, practical subjects such as Music or Art can show off creative thinking and self-discipline.
You should consider taking a wide range of subjects, as this will give you the best possible chance of getting into a reputed university. Doing well in these fields will allow you to demonstrate your potential in various areas.
Subjects To Avoid
Traditional A Level subjects such as History, English, and Science will typically give you more chances to get into university than newer A Level courses. The entrance requirements for certain universities don’t always say it, though there are certain topics that are rarely looked at favourably.
If you’re planning on applying to a prominent university, you should avoid non-traditional A Level subjects unless you’re taking a fourth or fifth AS or A Level alongside traditional choices. These types of courses do not typically develop or demonstrate the scholarly and academic skills that are required to succeed in college.
Most schools and colleges require students to take general studies, though this isn’t likely to count towards the minimum number of A Levels that you’re required to complete in order to get into university. Art, Design, and Media is also a good option if you’re planning on studying film or media studies.
Making The Final Choice
Before you make the final call, it’s important that you talk to your teachers about the various courses that you’re interested in. You can also check out the library’s course books and texts to get a glimpse of what each discipline will be like. This will allow you to make an informed decision and improve your chances of getting into university.
The Cambridge A Levels are regarded as the gold standard in advanced education. They are accepted and adored in most countries around the world. With these high levels of education, students can expect to succeed in the global economy.
At Cambridge Home School Online, students from all over the world have the opportunity to receive a world-class education from some of the best teachers based in the UK. In addition to exceptional teachers and top grades, our students also receive career advice and interview techniques that will help them get ahead in their chosen fields.
The advantages of being a part of Cambridge Home School Online are very valuable to those who are looking to study at the very best universities. Our students are able to do so because our teachers are some of the most highly qualified in the world, with each holding MA/MSc/PhD degree in their respective fields.
To secure a place in one of the most prestigious universities in the world, students need to perform well in their A-Level examinations. At Cambridge High School Online, our subject specialist teachers are highly trained and experienced in providing exceptional education to students.
During this academic year, students must develop their personal and academic skills. We also provide them with opportunities to broaden their soft skills, such as time management, stress management, and work ethic. These skills help them become more disciplined and confident in their studies.
In addition, we provide students with a wide range of audio-visual resources to ensure they stay ahead of the curve and have all the opportunities to receive stellar grades. This includes recorded lectures, up-to-date coursebooks, and our eLibrary.
Due to the limited number of places in the Sixth Form, the school only chooses the best candidates each year. To ensure that you get the best possible chance to join the school, motivated, English-speaking students are encouraged to submit their applications today.
How Many A Levels Should One Ideally Take?
While the best universities often recommend taking three A Levels, students looking to distinguish themselves might opt for up to five. However, it’s important to manage the workload and consult teachers to determine the number of subjects you can realistically handle.
What Factors Should Be Considered When Choosing A Level Subjects?
It’s crucial to consider your interests, as excelling in subjects you enjoy will help improve your university admission chances. You should also look into the transferable skills that different courses can offer, such as critical thinking in History and creative thinking in Art.
Are There Any A Level Subjects That Are Best Avoided?
While traditional subjects like History, English, and Science usually offer more opportunities for university admission, non-traditional A Level subjects should generally be avoided unless they are taken as a fourth or fifth subject alongside traditional ones.
What Resources Are Available for Cambridge Home School Online Students?
Cambridge Home School Online provides a plethora of resources including recorded lectures, up-to-date course books, and an eLibrary. The school also offers career advice, interview techniques, and soft skills development opportunities.
How Can One Secure a Place in Sixth Form at Cambridge Home School Online?
Due to limited availability, the school selects the best candidates each year. Motivated, English-speaking students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to improve their chances of admission.