Take your time choosing your A-levels
It is important to take your time before making a final decision and do some thorough research into what each course has to offer. Have a look at our open day page for more information on how you can ask key questions in person. Meanwhile, here are some tips on how to choose the right A-level subjects for you.
1: What do you enjoy?
The first thing to do is ask a really obvious but very important question: “What you do you enjoy studying?” If you enjoy a subject, then you are likely to be more motivated and succeed. If you are successful, then you are more likely to enjoy the subject. Remember that A-levels and BTECs are fairly intensive and you really need you to be hooked on the subject for the next two years. A full list of the subjects available at LVS Ascot are detailed in our Sixth Form Choices book.
However, there is also the opportunity to experience a range of new subjects that were not available at GCSE such as politics, economics, textiles or criminology. You will need to take time to investigate these new subjects by talking to teachers and students at open days.
2: Have your end goals in mind
Many university courses require qualifications in particular subjects and will need you to achieve specific grades before they accept you. If you have a clear idea about your career path then check the degree course requirements. Some of these requirements could surprise – for example you may not need an A-level in Economics to study Economics but you will probably need an A-level in Maths.
You can look up university course requirements on the UCAS website.
The Which? University guide also provides information on the subjects needed to study particular degree courses.
3: Play the percentages
If you’re unsure about what you want to study at university or choose as a career, then it is a good idea to keep your options open by selecting “facilitating” A-levels. These are subjects that generally keep more university courses open to you when you make your UCAS application and include Biology, Chemistry, English Literature, Geography, History, Mathematics, Languages and Physics. Choosing one or two facilitating subjects allows you to keep your options open. Also, you may need to avoid having a narrow combination of similar subjects such as Business Studies and Economics or History and Government & Politics as these are sometimes viewed negatively by certain universities.
4: To BTEC or not to BTEC
It’s not all about A-levels in the Sixth Form – don’t forget the vocational subjects. BTEC Sport or Media qualifications are vocational subjects that tend to have a greater emphasis on practical elements. The nature of the courses helps to develop independent study, self-organisation and time management. They are equivalent to A-levels (depending on the number of units you complete) and they are recognised by most universities including those in the Russell Group.
5: Avoid misinformation
There is a lot of misinformation about which A-levels particular universities will and won’t accept. Check the university websites and make contact with admissions officers if you are unsure – they are usually very helpful. Furthermore, your UCAS application will allow you to write a personal statement which gives you the opportunity to present yourself as an individual and demonstrate all the co-curricular activities you have undertaken during your time in the Sixth Form. Many universities will consider you if you have an interesting yet truthful personal statement regardless of the A-level combinations you select. Projects like the Duke of Edinburgh scheme always help LVS Ascot students stand out so make the most of your Sixth Form opportunities.
6: And finally…
Sixth Forms in schools and colleges will usually need your choices before April in order to start planning their timetables. However, remember that these choices may have to change following your GCSE results so it is important to be flexible and make sure you communicate any changes to your school.
Seek independent advice by making an appointment to talk to our careers adviser. Sophie Biggs will meet with you and write a personalised action plan.
The most important element in your decision is You. Choose your courses for yourself, not what your friends are doing, not because you’ve heard that something might be ‘easier’. A Levels stay with you for all of your working life. It is a big decision and one that only you can make. We can help with advice and information but the final choice is yours. At LVS, whatever your courses, we are here to teach, encourage, enthuse and help you to succeed.