Get advice on choosing your A-Level subjects - from opting for a new subject to how many to study

Choosing your A-Level Subjects

Choosing your A-Level subjects is a pivotal moment in your academic journey, laying the foundation for your future studies and career. The decisions you make can impact not only your immediate learning experience but also your university options and, eventually, your professional path. In this article, we’ll explore how to navigate the process of choosing A-Level subjects, whether considering a subject you haven’t studied before, deciding on the number of subjects to take, understanding the impact on UCAS points, and evaluating the option of mixing A-Levels and BTECs.

Choosing a Subject You Haven’t Studied Before:

  • Assess Your Interests: Begin by reflecting on your interests and potential career paths. If there’s a subject that aligns with your aspirations but you haven’t studied it before, don’t let that deter you. Passion and curiosity can be powerful motivators.
  • Research the Subject: Conduct thorough research into the new subject. Explore the syllabus, understand the coursework requirements, and consider any prerequisites for university courses you may be interested in.
  • Speak with Teachers and Advisors: Seek guidance from teachers and academic advisors. They can provide insights into the demands of the subject, potential challenges, and the skills required for success.

Deciding How Many Subjects to Take:

  • Consider University Requirements: Research the university courses you are interested in and check their entry requirements. Some courses may have specific subject prerequisites, while others may prefer a certain number of A-Levels.
  • Balance and Manageability: While it’s important to meet university entry requirements, also consider your ability to manage the workload. Taking on too many subjects may lead to burnout, affecting your overall performance.
  • Personal Aspirations: Align the number of A-Levels with your long-term goals. Some students thrive with three A-Levels, while others may find success with a more focused approach, choosing two subjects and a complementary qualification like an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) or BTEC.

Impact on UCAS Points and University Applications:

  • Understand UCAS Tariff Points: Familiarize yourself with the UCAS tariff points associated with each grade in your A-Level subjects. Different universities and courses may have specific entry requirements, and understanding the points system is crucial for making informed decisions.
  • Consider Course Requirements: Some courses may have specific subject requirements, while others may be more flexible. Ensure your A-Level choices align with the courses you wish to pursue.

Mixing Hard Subjects and Easier Ones:

  • Balance and Well-Roundedness: Striking a balance between challenging subjects and those you find more manageable is a common approach. Combining ‘hard’ and ‘easier’ subjects can demonstrate a well-rounded skill set and a capacity for diverse learning experiences.
  • Consider Your Strengths: Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. While it’s beneficial to challenge yourself, choosing subjects you are passionate about and excel in can contribute to overall academic success.

Mixing A-Levels and BTECs:

  • Assess Your Learning Style: Consider your preferred learning style. A-Levels are traditionally academically focused, while BTECs offer a more vocational and practical approach. Mixing the two can provide a well-rounded skill set.
  • Research University Acceptance: Research university acceptance policies for mixed qualifications. Some universities may prefer a combination of A-Levels and BTECs, while others may have specific requirements.
  • Explore Career Pathways: Consider the career pathways associated with A-Levels and BTECs. Certain professions may value the practical skills gained through BTECs, while others may prioritize the theoretical knowledge provided by A-Levels.


Choosing your A-Level subjects is a significant decision that requires careful consideration of your interests, goals, and academic strengths. Whether exploring a new subject, deciding on the number of subjects to take, understanding the impact on UCAS points, or evaluating the mix of A-Levels and BTECs, it’s crucial to approach the process with a thoughtful and informed mindset. Seek guidance from teachers, research thoroughly, and remember that your A-Level choices are a stepping stone towards your future academic and professional success.

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