Cambridge Centre for Sixth Form Studies – HOW TO PICK YOUR A-LEVELS – SPECIALISATION OR BREADTH?

Choosing your A-Levels can be a bit of a challenge. If you are thinking about taking A-Levels you will need to choose subjects that you will enjoy, that you believe you will do well in, and which will help you get to where you want to be in the future. If you choose the wrong A-Level subjects or subjects where you don’t get the best grades, it could mean that you will lose out on a place at university.

You may be one of the lucky ones who already knows exactly the career path they want to follow and the degree course you want to study. If this is the case, the first thing to do would be to look up your proposed degree course on and click on the course entry requirements to see the grades and subjects required. Some university courses will look for specific A-Levels, so this is an important thing to consider if you have a certain degree in mind: for example, Earth sciences and Geology must have at least two of Maths, Chemistry, Physics and Biology A-Levels.

Many students have no clear idea what they want to do at university or know their career goals when they head into higher education. If this is you, then don’t panic! If you have not yet decided which career you would like in the future, the best advice would be to choose a wide range of subjects – for example, a Humanities subject (English or History) an Arts subject (Foreign Languages or Art and Design) and Science (Biology or Mathematics). By choosing a variety of different subjects you are opening up your options to a wide range of career paths. If you choose the subjects where you are expected to get good GCSE grades it’s likely that you will do well in these subjects at A-level too. This will give you a better choice of options when it comes to applying for a university placement. Think also about transferable skills that you can bring from different subjects: for example, essay-based subjects like History and English which both require analytical skills and critical thinking.

Students will usually choose three A-Levels to study for the two year course, but at CCSS it is still possible to study for four, which many students choose to do in their first year of the sixth form. Taking A-level subjects such as English, History and Science subjects is viewed more positively by some universities than the newer subjects like Media Studies and Home Economics, as they consider these subjects do not demonstrate to the same extent the academic skills required to succeed at undergraduate level. To help you make the final choices on your A-level subjects, speak to your teacher or careers advisor, read up about each of the courses you are interested in. You can also research online and look at course books so you can get a feel of what it will be like; all to help you when making the final decision when choosing your A-levels.

CCSS – Cambridge Centre for Sixth Form Studies, Cambridgeshire

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