How to choose A-Levels

It's important to choose A-levels that will keep your options open. Picture: Getty Images

It's important to choose A-levels that will keep your options open. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Choosing A-level courses for some is easy if you know what you want to do at university or for a career, but for others who are less decisive about their future path, it’s important to choose subjects that will keep options open.

If you think you may want to go to university it's best to select a smart mix of the most commonly asked for subjects from university entry requirements, such as the sciences, English, maths, geography, history and languages.

These subjects will ensure that you have a wider choice of university courses available to you.

Some university courses will ask for specific A-level subjects. For example, a pharmacy course will demand chemistry or maths, whereas an economics course will require a maths A-level but not necessarily an economics A-level.

Some universities have a list of 'non-preferred' subjects too, so it's best to check these out if you have a particular university in mind.

However, there are plenty of courses that will consider students regardless of their A-level choices. Courses that don't normally have essential subject requirements are areas such as marketing, media studies, travel and tourism, theology, sociology, television, public relations and psychology.

According to, students should not only consider their choices carefully, but they also need to be prepared for a big jump in the level of difficulty.

The website advises: "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.

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"Either way, be prepared for a big jump in the level of difficulty when you shift from GCSE to A-level and any other advanced level qualification for that matter."

How many A-levels?

The minimum requirement for most universities is that you take three A-levels (excluding general studies). There's also the option to take on additional AS or A-level subjects, making a total of four or five A-levels.

Generally, you won't be at a disadvantage for only taking three, expect perhaps for some Oxbridge colleges. According to most educational experts, it's more beneficial to get good results in three A-levels than to take on more and get poor results because it's too much to handle.

It's important for students to think about what they can realistically manage. It's also a good idea to talk to teachers about the amount of work you can expect from the subject you want to study.

Five things to consider before choosing A-levels:

1. Some university courses require specific A-levels.

2. Some A-levels (such as core subjects) will open up more options.

3. A-levels are a lot more difficult than GCSEs.

4. Some universities will specify subjects they don't accept.

5. Many universities will consider you whatever you choose.