A level Options


    In the UK A levels are a qualification usually started straight after your GCSEs. Most Independent schools in the UK have a sixth form that will offer A levels to pupils who wish to continue their education. There are also Independent sixth form colleges available.

  • 5 grade C's at GCSE is the usual minimum entry requirement for studying your A levels

  • There are 3 main examining boards for A levels in the UK are AQA, Edexcel and OCR. these vary between schools

  • If you are thinking of applying to university, then it's better to do three or four A levels and achieve better results, rather than do 5 and risk lower grades. Quality not quantity is what is important.

  • Your school will provide guides to the subjects on offer which should give you an outline of the content and skills needed, and details of how the subject is assessed. It should also tell you whether there are any restrictions on subject combinations which you need to bear in mind.

    Whether you have specific educational and career ambitions, or you are still trying to decide on a particular path, there are many things to think about.


    • It is important you do what you think is best for you, listen to your parents' advice on which subjects to do, but don't let them make your choices for you. Accept responsibility for your decisions

    • Don't choose a subject just because your favourite teacher teaches it or because your subject teacher expects you to take it and you feel you should to please them.

    • Do not choose subjects just because your friends are doing them. Most of the time you will find there is at least one person you will be able to talk to and get along with, and you will be able to concentrate and do well in lessons without the disruption of your friends.

    • It is important to choose subjects that you enjoy, you will then approach them confidently and do well in them

    • Play to your strengths

    • Take into account workload. How much coursework is involved? How many exams are there? Are there practical assessments?

    • Ask for careers advice - You do not want to reach the end of your A levels and discover you haven't taken the correct subjects for what you want to study at university.

    • For new subjects only available at A level, find out what exam board your school/college uses for these subjects, and download the syllabus to get an understanding about what it involves. Try to talk to students who are already on the course, and the teacher that runs it.

    Certain A-level subjects are essential for various popular degree courses. Examples include:

    • Chemistry A level is essential or very useful for Medicine, Veterinary Science, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Biology

    • Medicine - Chemistry is essential, plus 2 other A levels, one of which should be a science. Biology is not essential, but it is useful

    • Business Studies degree - No essential A level subjects, though Maths is useful and you will need a good Maths result at GCSE. Business Studies or Economics A levels are helpful.

    • European Business Studies - generally requires a European Language.

    • Law degree - No essential subjects, though they like you to have subjects which show logical ability and the ability to write (eg: a mixture of Arts and Science subjects).

    • Psychology - No essential subjects, a mix of Arts and Science subjects is good. You will need GCSE Maths.

    • Computing - No essential subjects for most courses. Maths A level is essential for a few Universities and useful for all.

    • Engineering - Maths and Physics are generally essential (though you can apply without them and do an extra Foundation year). Chemistry is essential for most Chemical Engineering degrees.

    • Top academic degree courses will generally expect three 'academic' A levels