Thursday, 7 April 2016

Choosing your ‘A’ Levels? Here are 6 things you should know:

1. Certain university courses will be looking for specific A-levels
You won’t be able to apply to some courses without having taken some specific A-levels (and scored the right grades in them too, of course).
For more info, see this list of uni subjects and their typical A-level requirements. If you already know what you want to study, check out the full entry requirement details for a handful of courses at different unis to make sure you’re ticking all the boxes with your subject choices.
2. Taking certain A-levels will open up more university course options
Think you probably want to go to uni but don’t know what you want to study yet? You won’t be the only one! You can keep your options wide open when choosing your A-levels by selecting a smart mix of the most commonly asked-for subjects in university entry requirements, known as ‘facilitating’ subjects. Take your pick from:
  • biology
  • chemistry
  • english
  • geography
  • history
  • maths
  • modern and classical languages
  • physics
The more of these you choose, the more courses at university will be open to you. Additionally, if you have a talent for art, design or music and think it could be an avenue you’ll pursue, taking the relevant A-levels will help that to happen.

Some universities 
openly discourage students from taking certain combinations of A-level subjects, particularly when subjects are very similar like business studies and economics, so bear this in mind when you're making your choices.
3. A-levels are a lot tougher than GCSEs
The reason you take a particular subject is usually one (or more) of these three scenarios: you need it to pursue a particular career; it’s a subject you enjoy and are good at; or it’s a subject you’ve not studied before but you think will suit you.

Either way, be prepared for a big jump in the level of difficulty when you transition from GCSE to A-level. You’ll also see differences in the way you’re taught and in what is expected of you.
4. Some courses and unis have lists of subjects they don’t accept
Particular courses – take, for instance, an architecture course at the University of Bath – will view certain A-levels as less effective preparation for university studies than others. Similarly, some universities – such as the University of Sheffield – list which A-level subjects they prefer. Others, like the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), have ‘non-preferred’ subject lists.

If your subject choices don’t match up, you shouldn’t necessarily discount the course, or be put off from taking a creative or vocational A-level subject you’re really interested in.

5. Know myth from reality
Don’t take everything you hear at face value – the reality might be quite different.

Say you’ve heard that you have no chance of getting on to an ultra-competitive law course at the University of Durham because it doesn’t accept psychology A-level. Is that really the case? A university may view you differently from another candidate based on other factors such as extra-curricular interests or your portfolio. It’s best not to rely on pre-conceived assumptions or what you hear through someone else from their experience - there are ways to double check your facts.

6. Many unis and courses will consider you whatever you choose
Question: Accountancy, anthropology, archaeology, banking, business studies, classical civilisations, hospitality, information science, law, management, marketing, media studies, philosophy, politics, psychology, public relations, religious studies/theology, retail management, social work, sociology, surveying, television, travel and tourism… What do these subjects have in common?

Answer: They will all consider a very wide range of A-level choices and do not normally have essential subject requirements!
If you already know what you want to study at University, take a look at this list of A Level requirements:

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