How to Choose A-Levels Subjects

The A-Levels are a U.K subject based qualification, typically taken after GCSE O-Levels. While A-Levels are a British system, they are recognized by colleges and universities worldwide as a requirement for admission.

Due to this global recognition, they are also offered at schools worldwide. Most higher education institutions, like colleges and universities, typically require a passing grade in at least 3 A-Levels subjects. 


Unlike the GCSE’s, there are no required subjects for A-Levels, with students having complete freedom to choose whatever they want. This choice can be dependent on what form of higher education and career they want to pursue, or they can simply choose whatever interests them most, and shape their future plans around that.

A-Levels offers a vast array of different subjects, so it is important to check beforehand if the school you’re going to offers the ones you want, as these vary from school to school.

Some of the subjects offered in A-Levels are English Language & Literature, French, Maths, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, History, Geography, Psychology, Economics, Art, Information Technology and Foreign Languages such as French, German, and Spanish. 

Most students pick 3 subjects as that us typically the minimum requirement for most higher education institutions. With how a big a step up in difficulty A-Levels are compared to what comes before, it is generally a good idea to pick just 3, and focus on doing as well as possible in them, rather than taking on too many courses for you to handle.

The flexibility of A-Levels allows students to pick subjects they are good at, and drop ones they struggle with. 

How to Choose

Now, picking your A-Levels subjects is a huge decision. It can have a big impact on your future, mostly with regards to college or university admissions. Consult family, friends and teachers, and otherwise educate yourself on what subjects would be best for you, so you can make an informed decision, based on accurate up-to-date information.

Do keep in mind, however, that the final decision is yours, and yours alone, as you are the one who will have to put in the hard work, and you are the one who best knows your own capabilities. 

  • What to do if You Have a Career in Mind

This monumental decision can be made much easier if you already have a future career in mind. If you have decided, for example, to pursue a career in engineering, you should look at taking courses that are most likely to equip you with the skills you will need in that field.

You should also look at college or university engineering programs, and find out what A-Levels they require. Some higher education programs can be very relaxed and flexible in what A-Levels they require, while others require highly specific ones, so looking this up beforehand will help you better prepare for the future. 

  • What to do if You Do Not Have a Career in Mind

On the other hand, this decision can be made much harder by not having a goal in mind. If you do not know what you want to do later on, you should pick a combination of subjects that will allow you to pursue a wide range of options in higher education.

You may even want to consider pursuing a different qualification, if A-Levels isn’t quite offering what you want. Some subjects, known as “facilitating subjects”, are almost universally accepted by colleges and universities, and these include Maths, English, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, History, Geography or a Foreign Language. 

It may also be pertinent to pick out a few degrees you may wish to pursue, and call the college or university to enquire on what subjects you would need for admission into the program. This can help you narrow down your options, and make it easier to progress, even without having your future fully planned out.

General Tips

Regardless of whether or not you have a future career picked out, there are a few things everyone should consider before making this monumental decision. 

  1. Research the Subject

Carefully research the subjects you’re thinking about taking. Talk to parents, teachers, classmates, and senior students to get a better idea of what to expect when choosing a specific subject.

Don’t assume the subject will be easy for you if it was easy at GCSE level, as the difficulty curve can be quite steep when making the step up to A-Levels. 

  1. Be Careful with Combinations

Pick and choose your combination of subjects very carefully, as some colleges and universities may not like a combination with very similar subjects, such as economics and business.

It’s also important to keep in mind that, while not necessarily a bad idea, picking new subjects may pose a challenge. Be especially mindful to not pick multiple new subjects, as it can be quite difficult to learn multiple entirely new things, at such a high level. 

  1. Pick Something Fun

Don’t base your subject choices purely on what type of degree or career you wish to pursue. If these subjects are not enjoyable to you, or aren’t your strong suit, it might be best to pick something that is your strength, or which you enjoy, and shape your future decisions around those subjects.

While this is an important decision, keep in mind that getting it wrong is not the end of the world. There will be plenty of time later on to get yourself back on track, if you find that the subjects you ended up picking weren’t right for you.

The purpose of this guide is to ensure that readers are able to make an informed, well-educated decision, so be sure to think about it very carefully, and go out and ace your A-Levels.

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