Are you intimidated by the thought of A-level selection? Perhaps you’re unsure about what your next step should be. Or are you considering getting back into studying after taking an absence?

We know this can be a tricky decision to make. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on everything you need to know about choosing A-level subjects.

From entry requirements to key considerations, this guide will help you make an informed decision on the A-levels which align with your career goals and aspirations. Let's take a look.

Why should I choose A-levels?

A-levels are a prerequisite for entering higher education, so if you have aspirations to go to university, you’ll need at least two or three of them. This isn’t the case for all subjects, though, so be sure to research entry requirements before opting for a certain qualification.

Remember, though, that A-levels aren’t just a gateway to university. They’re also looked at favourably by employers, so if you’re not sure if university is right for you, having an A-level or two under your belt could help clinch a fantastic career opportunity.

Studying a levels

What to consider when choosing A-levels

If you decide A-levels are right for you, the next challenge is choosing the subjects you want to study. Aside from personal interest and enjoyment, there’s a lot to consider here, which is why we’ve put together some practical advice for choosing the right A-levels below.

First, there are three main points to keep in mind when deciding on which A-level courses to study. These are:

  1. Your enjoyment of the subject – if you don’t enjoy studying a subject, it goes without saying that you won’t enjoy a career in it either. Personal enjoyment may seem like a soft consideration, but it should be at the heart of your decision-making process.
  2. How good you are at a subject – as touched on earlier, A-levels are tough, so you’ll need to pick subjects you’re good at to come out with respectable grades. This might sound like common sense, but it’s something worth remembering to guarantee study success.
  3. How the subject will help your career – enjoyment and aptitude in a subject are one thing, but it’s important to think long-term too. How will your A-level choices support your career aspirations? And how will they help propel you to the next rung of the ladder?

So, these are the three main points to bear in mind when choosing A-levels, but what else should you consider? Let’s take a look.

What other courses are out there?

A-levels also have equivalents; if you can’t find an A-level course in a subject you want, it may be available as part of another qualification. BTEC Nationals are closest to A-levels (awarding you a Level 3 qualification), and cover a variety of subjects, from beauty therapy and electrical engineering to music technology, applied sciences, and horticulture.

Have a specific university course in mind? Get to know entry requirements

If you aspire to study at university and are fortunate enough to have a clear vision of your future career path, it pays to plan ahead and check entry requirements at your preferred institutions. That way, you can gauge just how much work and study will be required to secure a place based on your A-level grades.

Remember though, there may be alternative paths you can take, especially if the worst happens and you don't get the grades you hoped for

Friends studying a levels

The same goes for your future career too

What do employers in your chosen field want to see on job applications? And do they mention any specific A-levels? Researching job specifications at this early stage might sound like overkill, but it’s the perfect way to align your skillset with a particular industry, boosting your chances of success later down the line.

Unsure what you want to do? Consider a mix of subjects – and qualifications

Many school leavers are unsure of what they want to do as a career, and this isn’t something to panic about. If you’re keen to sit A-levels but have no steer on the subjects to choose, consider points one and two above: your enjoyment of a subject and how good you are at it

If you enjoy a subject, there’s a strong possibility that you’ll also like the career that stems from it. Better still, being good at a subject is an indicator that you’ll ace the subsequent A-level, setting yourself up for a successful career.

Remember, too, that there are other routes into higher education and the workplace than A-levels. For example, some students choose to sit A-levels alongside a BTEC National in a vocational subject, effectively increasing the number of routes available to them as they look towards the next step in their education and career.

Do’s and Don’ts of A-level selection

Choosing A-levels can feel like a hugely daunting decision, particularly if you’re a school leaver who’s unsure of what to do with life. To help steer you towards the right decision, here are a few simple do’s and don’ts to consider as you move forward:

  • Do…research all the options. Even if you’re sure of your career path, weigh up the options, do lots of research, and talk to tutors and advisors about the appropriate path for you.
  • Don’t…always assume that you need to study maths or English at A-level. Unless they’re required in your chosen field, most employers in other sectors will be content with a GCSE or equivalent in maths and English.
  • Do…be careful about choosing new subjects to study at A-level. There’s a chance you may not enjoy them, or you may not be as strong in them as you are in other subjects.
  • Don’t…choose overly similar A-levels. For example, there’s a lot of crossover between certain subjects, like economics and business studies, which can weaken your skillset and make employers think twice.
  • Do…be mindful that A-levels are much, much tougher than GCSEs. They require genuine hard work, organisation, time and effort to complete to a high standard, so make sure you know what you’re committing to before starting.

What are the entry requirements for studying A-levels?

If you want to study towards an A-level (or Scottish Higher), you’ll need a minimum of five GCSEs (N5s in Scotland) at grade 4-9 (A-C in Scotland), including maths and English. If you fail to hit the grade in maths at GCSE level, you’ll need to re-sit the course while studying towards your A-levels.

We hope this guide helps steer you towards the right A-level courses that will help you fulfil your career aspirations. At Oxbridge, we offer a range of A-level qualifications which you can study as part of a flexible distance-learning course. Browse our full range of courses or call us today and speak to one of our friendly learning advisers on 0121 630 3000.