Back
x
Back

Articles

How to Choose the Right A-levels: a Guide for GCSE Students

|

554 comments


However, the decisions you make now will set you on a course that can be difficult to change, so it’s important to make the right subject choices at this early stage. The aim of this guide is to help you see things more clearly and get a good impression of the possible options, whether you have your heart set on a particular career path or not. We’ll consider the best A-levels to take for a variety of popular university subjects, and then give some more general advice if you’re not sure what it is you want to study.

 

How many A-levels should I take?

The minimum requirement even for the best universities is that you take three A-levels (excluding General Studies); these will be the basis of your offer. Some students choose to take on additional AS or full A-level subjects, giving them a total of four or five A-levels with which to apply to university. With the possible exception of the occasional Oxbridge college, you won’t be at a disadvantage for only taking three; indeed, it’s better to take three and get brilliant results in all three than it is to take on more than you can handle and get worse results because of it. Only take on what you think you can realistically manage, and talk to your teachers about the workload you can expect from the subjects you think you might want to study.

 

Placeholder

 

As a minimum, students will usually choose four AS-level subjects, one of which will be dropped at A2. General Studies is a compulsory fifth AS or even A2 subject at many schools, but will not usually count towards university admissions. It doesn’t require much extra study, however.

One general piece of advice is: don’t take courses that are too similar. For instance, Biology is very similar to Human Biology. While it’s good to be fairly focused, it’s better to demonstrate a wider breadth of knowledge and skills by picking complementary but different fields, such as Biology and Chemistry.

It’s also worth remembering that exam boards differ. For instance, OCR is reputed to be harder for Maths than AQA or Edexcel. While you probably won’t have any choice in which exam board you use unless you’re self-studying the subject in question, it’s worth looking up which exam board your school uses so you can be sure the kind of assessment you’ll receive will suit you.

 

The best A-levels for specific degree subjects

Let’s start by looking in detail at recommended A-level subjects for those who know what subject they want to take a degree in. We’ve covered the most common degree courses below.

Universities typically differentiate between subjects that are essential for studying a particular course and subjects that are merely useful. Therefore in the subject lists that follow, those in bold are generally deemed essential for studying the subject, while those in italics are often seen as useful but not necessarily required. The rest are subjects that complement the course with transferrable skills or useful background knowledge, and are suggestions based on ideas offered by a selection of university admissions pages.

Classics

A-levels in Latin and Classical Greek are highly desirable if you want to study classics. We’ve marked them as essential below, as they are a requirement for many Classics courses. However, not all schools offer these subjects at A-level, and many universities also offer ab initio courses for those who haven’t studied the classical languages before. If you choose this option, you’ll may be required to attend a summer school or get your Latin and Greek up to a minimum standard in some other way during the summer preceding the start of your university course.

– Latin

– Classical Greek

– Foreign Language, e.g. French or Italian

– Classical Civilisations

– Classics courses usually contain some element of studying the history and archaeology of the time, so a grounding in the basics will prove helpful if this option is open to you.

– History

– History of Art

 

Politics

Politics degree courses don’t usually carry any specific entrance requirements, and a mix of humanities and sciences will provide a solid foundation and good general knowledge.

– History

– Government and Politics

– Geography

– Sociology

– Psychology

– Economics

– English Literature

– Foreign Language

– Law

– Mathematics

 

Music

Many music degrees have performance, theory, history and composition components. A-level Music, along with a high standard on at least one musical instrument (with practical and theory exam grades to prove it), will be essential or highly desirable. In addition to your main instrument, Grade 5 piano is often considered desirable. If your school doesn’t offer A-level music, some universities will accept ABRSM Grade 8 Music Theory instead (note that A-level Music Technology is unlikely to be considered a suitable alternative to A-level Music). Other than music, it’s up to you what else you study; essay-based subjects are useful, and it’s often said that musicians make good mathematicians (and vice versa)!

– Music

– English Literature

– History

– Mathematics

 

Philosophy

While there are usually no set requirements for studying Philosophy at university, a mix of arts and science subjects will prove useful – an arts-based subject will give you essay-writing skills, while science subjects help develop your logic and reason. If your school offers Philosophy it would be worth taking it; though it won’t be an advantage in applying (since not many schools offer it, it would put you at an unfair advantage), it will at least give you a feel for the subject and whether it’s something you’d like to pursue.

– Philosophy

– English Literature

– English Language and Literature

– History

– Mathematics

– Physics

 

Geography

Most universities have no specific entrance requirements for Geography – not even A-level Geography! – instead favouring a mix of humanities and sciences subjects. Geography is quite a wide-ranging subject and can focus on aspects to do with people (populations, demographics and so on) or on Earth processes. Note that even though Geography A-level isn’t usually a requirement, in practice most applicants will have it, and if nothing else, studying it at A-level will at least help you make sure it’s what you want to study at university.

– Geography

– Geology

– Economics

– Sociology

– Environmental Science

– Biology

– Chemistry

– Mathematics

– Physics

– Foreign Language

 

Engineering

The study of engineering at university typically requires A-levels in Mathematics and at least one other science, usually Physics. Further Mathematics is not usually given as an entrance requirement, but it is definitely highly desirable to at least AS level, as you’re likely to struggle without if you take engineering to degree level. Technology subjects are also seen as desirable by many universities.

– Mathematics

– Physics

– Further Mathematics

– Chemistry

– Biology

– Environmental Science

– Geology

– Geography

– Computer Science

– Design and Technology

– Economics

– Statistics

 

Economics

Economists deal with a lot of numbers, so you’ll need Mathematics and ideally Further Mathematics to be able to study Economics at university. Economics at A-level is useful preparation, but don’t worry if your school doesn’t offer it; Business Studies is also seen as a good relevant A-level.

– Mathematics

– Further Mathematics

– Economics

– Business Studies

– Government and Politics

– Statistics

 

Chemistry

With Chemistry and Mathematics generally seen as essential for the study of Chemistry at undergraduate level, it’s advisable to have at least one other science and Further Mathematics. We’ve included the most traditional and respected ones here; some universities will also accept subjects such as Computing, Design and Technology and Psychology as additional science subjects.

– Chemistry

– Mathematics

– Physics

– Biology

– Human Biology

– Further Mathematics

 

Physics

Further Mathematics, while not usually part of offers, is in reality something that most students will struggle without when it comes to studying physics as an undergraduate. It’s advisable to have at least two science subjects. As above, we’ve included the most well-respected subjects here.

– Physics

– Mathematics

– Further Mathematics

– Chemistry

– Biology

– Human Biology

 

Biology

As with the other sciences, at least two science subjects at A-level are recommended for studying a Biology degree. If you want to focus on Human Biology in your degree but your school doesn’t offer Human Biology A-level, you shouldn’t be at any disadvantage. Again, only the most well-respected subjects are included here.

– Biology/Human Biology

– Mathematics

– Chemistry

– Physics

– Further Mathematics

 

Medicine

Chemistry is normally considered essential for medicine, with at least one other science subject (normally Biology or Physics). In practice, the vast majority of applicants will have three or more science subjects, which will put them at an advantage over someone with only two sciences.

– Chemistry

– Biology/Human Biology

– Physics

– Mathematics

– Psychology (note that this is unlikely to be considered for your second science subject; it might make a good AS subject or fourth A-level)

 

Mathematics

Mathematics is essential. Further Mathematics is also essential at some universities, though most will offer catch-up classes if your school doesn’t offer it. If you can take Further Mathematics, you certainly should; a third science subject will strengthen your skills in related areas. This is the one exception to the rule that you should not take courses that are too similar.

– Maths

– Further Maths

– Physics

– Chemistry

– Biology/Human Biology

– Statistics

– Computing

 

Psychology

While no specific subjects are required, you’ll usually need a science A-level to study Psychology at university, ideally Biology and/or Mathematics. Social sciences and humanities subjects can provide useful background as well, and if Psychology is offered at your school then it’s worth taking it so that you know whether it’s something you’ll find interesting enough to take to degree level.

– Psychology

– Biology/Human Biology

– Mathematics

– Chemistry

– Sociology

 

Computer Science

You don’t normally need to know any programming in order to take a Computer Science degree, but Mathematics is essential and Further Mathematics desirable. Taking at least one other science subject would also be useful. Many students think that ICT would be advantageous; in fact, it’s probably better avoided.

– Mathematics

– Further Mathematics

– Physics

– Chemistry

– Computer Science

– Electronics

– Geology

 

Architecture

Architecture doesn’t necessarily require specific A-levels; what it does require is that you present a portfolio of your work, which is mostly easily achieved by taking an A-level that requires you produce that sort of coursework, such as Art or Art and Design. A minority of Architecture courses also require Maths. Some Architecture courses are more Art-orientated and others are more Maths or Physics-orientated, so bear this in mind when choosing your A-levels if you prefer a particular course or a particular university.

– Mathematics

– Art

– Design and Technology

– Further Mathematics

– Physics

– Chemistry

– History of Art

– Geology

 

Keeping your options open

Many people have absolutely no idea what they want to do at university or for their career. That’s not a problem at all – it just means you need to keep your options open when it comes to your A-level choices. So what’s the best thing to do if you really have no idea?

Choose subjects you enjoy – you’ll do better in your studies if you have an interest in the subject!

Choose subjects in which you are predicted to get good GCSE grades – chances are you’ll do well in these subjects at A-level, too, earning you better grades and therefore more university options.

Choose a range of subjects – both humanities and science subjects. This will give you the greatest choice when it comes to applying for university. It’s also worth thinking about the transferrable skills demonstrated by different subject choices. For example:

– Essay-based subjects such as English Literature or History demonstrate analytical skills and critical thinking.

– Science subjects such as Physics or Mathematics demonstrate logic and familiarity with scientific principles.

– Practical subjects such as Art or Music demonstrate self-discipline and creative thinking.

If you pick a range of subjects across these fields, you’ll have more than enough to show your capabilities in different areas.

 

Subjects best avoided for top universities

Taking more traditional A-level subjects such as English, History or the sciences will generally open up more doors for you than some of the newer subjects. The entrance requirements don’t always say it, but there are some subjects that aren’t looked on with much respect by many universities, particularly top ones. This is because some subjects don’t necessarily develop or demonstrate the academic and scholarly skills needed to succeed at undergraduate level. If you’re thinking of applying for a respected university, non-traditional subjects such as those below are best avoided unless they’re a fourth or fifth AS or A-level sitting alongside three solid traditional choices:

General studies – this is compulsory at a lot of schools and colleges. Just bear in mind that it’s very unlikely to count towards your minimum three A-levels required for university admissions.

Critical Thinking Media Studies – unless you’re applying for a degree in media or film studies, of course!

Dance

Home Economics

‘Facilitating’ subjects

Another source you might want to take into account when choosing your A-levels is the Russell Group’s list of so-called ‘facilitating subjects’ – particularly if you’re thinking of applying to a Russell Group university. The subjects are:

– Mathematics and Further Mathematics

– English Literature

– Physics

– Biology

– Chemistry

– Geography

– History

– Languages (Classical and Modern)

These are the subjects that are most often required by top universities. It’s worth being clear it’s not an exhaustive list of ‘hard’ subjects, but instead it’s the case that picking options from this list will keep your options open. For example, taking Business Studies, Economics and Law will leave you well set for an Economics degree at most universities, but taking Mathematics, Geography and a language will be equally good preparation for an Economics degree while leaving a slew of other possibilities open to you, as well as being more respected by top universities.

If you’re aiming for Oxford or Cambridge, choosing subjects from this list is even more important; Clare College in Cambridge says that “most of our successful applicants over the last couple of years have offered facilitating subjects for most or all of their A-levels.”

So what do you do if most or all of your first choices of subject aren’t on this list? First of all, it depends on which degree you’re aiming for. If you’ve got your heart set on something like Music, Drama or Art, those subjects are more likely to form part of your A-level choices, even at top universities. Additionally, universities lower down the league tables will place less importance on your subject choices so long as they remain relevant to your course choice. But if you’re aiming for an academic subject at a Russell Group university – or a non-Russell Group university with a similar position in the league tables – you’ll need to take at least two subjects from the list above to give yourself a good chance of getting in.

 

Making the final choice

To help make your final decision, talk to your teachers and read the syllabus for each of the courses you’re potentially interested in. You could even pop to the library and take a look at some of the texts and course books you’d be expected to study. This will help you get a feel for what each subject is like, and should aid your decision-making process.

Finally, good luck – you have an exciting time ahead of you and we hope this guide has helped you!

 

Image credits: banner; In Flanders Fields; wigs; Diet of Worms; Seurat; Merida; parliament; music; busts; tornado; bridge; cars; Chemistry; nebula; frog; hospital; Maths; inkblot; binary; the Shard; sign; Clare.

 

Images: dice

Comments (554)

  1. ORA


    Comments are now closed; please download our special guide using the form below:

  2. Joshua Ray


    Hi, I am struggling to make a choice on my A-level subjects. I want to Maths, Further Maths, Geography, Economics, but also French. The problem is I’m not sure if any of the sixth forms or colleges that I am looking to apply for will be able to facilitate a student studying 5 A-levels. On top of that, I cannot decide on which subject I should drop if I just go and do 4 A-levels.
    French is a subject that I am intrigued by and also one of the facilitating subjects, so would help in getting me a place at Oxbridge. At the same time geography and economics compliment each other well, whilst Maths with Further Maths are well thought of by the top universities.
    So I have a dilemma which I hope that you can help me out with: 5 A-levels or 4 A-levels, but meaning I drop a subject that I really want to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Joshua,

      The first thing to do is to email or phone the sixth forms or colleges that you’re considering and ask if they can facilitate five subjects. If you can prove to them that you’re capable of taking on the challenge (and it sounds like you are), then they may well be willing to accommodate you.

      However, if you decide to drop a subject and proceed with four, Economics as your only non-facilitating subject is the obvious one to go for. You don’t say which subject you might be interested in studying at Oxbridge, but dropping Economics will not make the slightest bit of difference to the range of subjects that are open to you, whereas dropping any of your other proposed subjects would.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team

  3. Lauren


    Hello.
    I’m planning to study in the UK, but I live in a different European country. I want to study Film Studies. Do English, History and Geography A levels are ok for Film Studies?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Lauren,

      Yes, that is an excellent set of A-levels. However, most universities will want you to have three full A-levels and one AS-level, so you should take a fourth subject in year 12, which you will drop in year 13.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

  4. Henry


    I cannot decide what a levels to take. My aim for university is either medicine or engineering, but as I have not yet fully decided I want to keep my options open. I really enjoy biology, chemistry and physics, but HATE maths, although I am okay at it. Do I need to take it as I would prefer to take geography? Any advice would be appreciated.

  5. Nicole Bonsu


    I chose biology and chemistry philosophy and Psychology I’m not sure what I want to be maybe medicine or pharmacy. Are my subjects the right optipns. Also will chemistry be hard ? I do triple science so is it much harder

    • ORA


      Dear Nicole,

      Medicine is the most demanding degree course one can do: the longest, the hardest, the most unremittingly content-rich. Medical graduates will one day be responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of patients, and we are all grateful that the doctors who see us when we are unwell have a high level of competence and excellent personal qualities.

      If you are unable or unwilling to take Biology, Chemistry, Physics plus another serious subject and get top grades across the board without struggle, we suggest you choose another profession. Pharmacy is a good alternative, but it is intensely scientific and you need to be fully comfortable and indeed besotted with Chemistry.

      Forget A-level Philosophy and Psychology; they are not respected in general, much less in medical applications.

      Decide what it is that you really enjoy and pursue that subject at university instead of working backwards from a job you think sounds impressive but requires subjects you do not enjoy. Capable graduates find good employment regardless of their degree course, for the most part.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  6. Nad


    Hi, I have about a week left to choose my a levels. I’m planning to take either geography, maths and biology or geography, maths and accounting. But I still don’t have a clear career path. I’m also worried about maths too since I’m not quite good at it (Bs – Cs from my past exams) but I do enjoy learning it. I hope to get some advises. Thank you.

    • ORA


      Dear Nad,

      Choose Geography, Maths and Biology — it’s a far stronger set.

      Why are you only taking three A-levels instead of four?

      The ORA Team

      • Nad


        Since I’ve been chosen by the sixth form centre in our country, the other chosen ones and I will start our a levels early but only for a month. This is how it works in my country after o levels. So we will have to choose three a levels and English o level (which is compulsory) and after getting our o levels results next year, we’ll have to choose either thinking skills, eng a level, as literature in English or general paper as our forth subject. The other students who didn’t get selected will start their a levels after getting their o levels results. Hope you will understand. And thanks for the advice.

  7. Katherine


    Hi, I am currently choosing my A levels but don’t know what I would like to study at University yet. I am considering taking Maths, Further Maths, Physics and History. Could you suggest what I would be able to study at University if I took these subjects at A level?Thank you.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Katherine,

      With those subjects, you would easily be able to study Mathematics, Economics, Physics, Computer Science, Engineering, Business or Accounting – it’s a very strong combination for any of these subjects. You would also have a shot at Politics, Philosophy, History or Law, though you might find these challenging given you only have one essay subject.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

  8. Alec


    I was wondering if there were any courses at Russell Group universities that would openly accept a combination of;
    English literature possibly with english language
    Government and politics
    Psychology
    Economics
    Maths
    I am just apprehensive that these many not be conventional choices or include facilitating subjects such as further maths
    ,regarding further maths specifically i have already achieved an a* a year early but would not necessarily want to continue and whilst i am open to taking maths to support other choices i am unsure of what options this could provide me with.

    Thank you in advance, I decided to post my query here this website seems to be very responsive and my school have not been very useful in assisting me as i have had to make a level options already in moving back to the uk from abroad and now have a chance to reconsider those .

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Alec,

      First of all, we generally discourage students from taking 5 AS levels; 4 is all any university will ask for and your chances will be much better if you get great marks in 4 subjects than if you get merely good marks in 5. You should definitely stick with English Literature (English Language and Literature is not as respected) and Maths. After that, Psychology, Government and Politics, and Economics are all viewed equally, so it depends what you might be interested in studying in future. If you let me know what you are thinking of studying at university, I can advise more specifically.

      Let’s look at a few possible options.
      English Literature: you could study this at a Russell Group university if you take Government and Politics as your second essay subject, but we would recommend taking History instead.
      Law: taking English Literature, Maths, Economics and Government and Politics would leave you well prepared for Law, though again we might recommend replacing one of the latter two subjects with History.
      Maths: you should take Further Maths if you want to study Maths at university.
      Economics/Business/Accounting: Maths, Economics, English and Government and Politics would be fine for any of these subjects, though considering Further Maths is also advised.
      Psychology: you could take this with English, Maths, Psychology and either of your other two options. However, taking another science (Biology or Chemistry) is advised.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

  9. tue


    Hello, I want to study Psychology at university and then later on a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. I’m currently thinking about doing Biology, Maths, Further Maths and Psychology for A Level. I didn’t choose any English/ Essay based subjects because its not my strong point and I enjoy Maths. Are these good choices?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Tue,

      Yes, those are excellent choices!

      Best of luck with your future plans.

      The ORA Team

  10. Praise


    Hi,
    I plan on going to the University of Bath to do an undergraduate in psychology and then later on a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. I know i need an A in Maths and English Language at GCSE and offers for A levels are made for A*AA.
    I’m planning on doing Maths, Psychology, Sociology and Biology for A levels next year, are those good subjects to go for?
    I do GCSE Psychology now and i also do Statistics to as an extra GCSE.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Praise,

      Those are a reasonable set of subjects for Psychology, but for a stronger combination still, we would recommend replacing Sociology with Chemistry. Since you already know your preferred choice of university, it is worth emailing them even at this stage to ask for their recommendation.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team

  11. Joel


    Hi,
    I am looking to make my A Level choices shortly, and I am a great lover of maths. I am looking to either go to university and study Mathematics or Mathematics with business or apply for a higher level apprenticeship after 6th form. I had two questions. Would taking the following A Levels be a good choice for what I want to do?
    Mathematics
    Further Mathematics
    Physics
    Economics (probably just to AS)
    Also, I want to get good grades – probably straight A and A*’s at GCSE, A Levels are a big step up though, so I was thinking I wouldn’t get as good results at A Level. If so, and I can’t make a Russell Group University, then would taking a degree (Maths or maths with business) at UEA be a good idea, or would the UEA be looked down upon by employers as it isn’t a world renown Mathematics Uni?
    Thanks for your time,
    Joel :)

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Joel,

      That is an excellent choice of subjects for your chosen path.

      Regarding your choice of university, please remember that while we generally use ‘Russell Group’ as shorthand for ‘good university’, this is a case of correlation (most of the UK’s best universities are RG members) rather than causation (being in the RG doesn’t make a university good). The Russell Group is, after all, focused on research, not on teaching, and so RG membership will make very little difference to you as an undergraduate. This is particularly worth mentioning as for Maths, UEA currently ranks higher than RG members York, Sheffield, Queen Mary and Manchester according to the Guardian league tables.

      This is a long-winded way of saying that UEA is not going to be looked down on by employers. However, it does have a relatively low graduate employment rate, which is probably worth looking at. Leicester, for example, has the same entry requirements for Maths (AAB) but a much higher graduate employment rate (82% to UEA’s 63%).

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team

  12. Jenna Mehta


    Would Psychology, Chemistry, Law and Business be a good option for a levels? I’m not completely sure about the entry requirements needed for GCSEs to do law.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Jenna,

      I’m afraid that’s not a particularly good combination of A-levels. Thinking of what you could study, you would be limited to Psychology or Business, and for both of those there is a similar, but better combination:
      Business – Business, Maths, Law, Chemistry (this is by no means an ideal combination for Business, but I tried to retain as many of your original subjects as possible)
      Psychology – Psychology, Maths, Chemistry, Biology

      You would not be able to study Law with your suggested combination of subjects, as it requires at least one essay subject (preferably two) and in general prospective Law undergraduates are not encouraged to take Law A-level. Nor would you be able to study Chemistry, as Chemistry requires A-level Maths.

      Assuming that your choice of A-levels reflects the subjects you are considering studying at university, we would recommend the following:
      If you want to study Business, take Business or Economics (not both), Maths and any two of History, Geography, Languages and Further Maths.
      If you want to study Psychology, take Psychology, Maths, Biology and Chemistry.
      If you want to study Chemistry, take Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths and Physics.
      If you want to study Law, take English Literature, History, Maths and one of Psychology, Philosophy, Geography and Languages.

      Obviously these are simply our suggestions and there are many more possible options for each subject. However, you should certainly reconsider your current set of subjects.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  13. Dieon


    Is it okay if I did biology chemistry physics maths and history if I am to do medicine.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Dieon,

      Yes, those subjects are fine. You might wish to consider taking Physics instead of History for a really top-notch combination of subjects, but if you think that you will get better marks in History, then stick with it.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  14. Natalie Bonsu


    I’m thinking of taking psychology, philosophy, biology and french. I’m thinking of going in to a job in psychology but I just wanted to know have I got enough facilitating subjects?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Natalie,

      Most top universities want a minimum of two facilitating subjects, which you have, so you should be fine in that respect. However, if you want to give yourself more of an advantage at the start of your psychology degree, consider replacing Philosophy with Maths.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

      • Natalie Bonsu


        im not strong with maths is this neccesarily a major problem

        • ORA Admin


          Dear Natalie,

          Maths is quite important for Psychology, as it’s a science. It’s not compulsory to have Maths A-level, but expect to have to study some statistics, at the very least, over the course of your degree. You may wish to consider choosing a BA degree rather than a BSc degree, as it is likely to be less science-orientated and therefore contain less Maths. Some universities also allow you to choose whether you graduate with a BA or a BSc over the course of your degree (rather than deciding before you apply).

          We hope this helps.

          The ORA Team

  15. Rhys


    Hi,

    Just coming up to choosing my A-Levels. I originally wanted to go into Drama but realised a lot of that is a pipe-dream. I want to take English Literature and Language because I enjoy English, they keep my paths open, and are respected. I quite like the idea of being a manager n the future, and want to go a good university. What other options should I consider? (I’m not a fan of Maths or the Sciences).

    Thank you :-)

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Rhys,

      We recommend you take at least two (preferably three) of the following A-levels: English Literature (take Lang and Lit only if your school doesn’t offer pure Lit), Geography, History, Languages, Music, Philosophy and Religious Studies. You could then take one any of Creative Writing, Drama and Theatre Studies, Psychology, and Sociology. Given your ambitions and stated interests, if you would like a more specific recommendation, I suggest English Literature, History, whichever other subject from my first list you feel you would do best in, plus Drama and Theatre Studies.

      You should study a subject that you enjoy but that offers ample transferable skills for the graduate management schemes you will be aiming for – e.g. English, History or Law – but look out for good student drama societies when you are choosing your university. Cambridge Footlights is one of the best known, but Warwick and UEA also have good reputations for student drama. It is true that success in Drama is a pipe-dream for most people but there is no need to rule it out entirely just yet!

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  16. Sophie


    Hello. I am going through the process of choosing a level subjects and I was wondering if you could give me some advice. I would like to study psychology at university and then potentially further, perhaps specializing in forensic psychology. I am currently considering 4 a levels in biology, chemistry, English literature, and psychology. I am aware that maths is often recommended for psychology at undergraduate level but I feel as though I would get better grades in these four subjects – I took biology and chemistry a year early and got 2 A*s, I’m predicted an A* in English literature and an A-A* in GCSE psychology. However, I am on a B in maths and am working towards an A. I know that psychology isn’t a ‘facilitating subject’ but surely if my other three subjects are, and psychology is what I want to carry on with it’s okay? I would be extremely grateful for any changes recommended.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Sophie,

      These are strong, sensible choices for Psychology, and so we would not recommend any changes. You are right that Maths is often recommended but it is not compulsory. You might find that not having taken Maths makes some aspects of a Psychology degree (particularly statistics) more challenging than they would otherwise have been, but provided you are prepared to make the extra effort (and it sounds like you are), this shouldn’t pose too many problems.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  17. zenab


    Hi
    I’m in year 11 and I want to take biology, chemistry, psychology and politics for A levels. Is this a good range of subjects and what kind of careers will they lead to? It appears that physics and maths are more respected but I find them quite difficult and am scared I won’t do as well. I’m thinking of going into the science field but want to keep my options open

    • ORA


      Hi Zenab,

      First things first: we do hope that you mention Physics and Maths as replacements for Psychology and Politics rather than Biology and Chemistry. Physics and Maths are massively more respectable than Psychology and Politics, but are equal to Biology and Chemistry.

      There is no question that you should take Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths if you want to make your university application as strong as possible. Psychology and Politics simply are not in the same class as the other four. Universities know it; employers know it; and now that you have been told in no uncertain terms, you know it.

      For an equally strong set that avoids maths and physics, we suggest you consider replacing psychology and politics with English Literature and History. With this set you will be able to study a remarkable range of subjects at university.

      That said, if you want the easy option and choose to stick to the selection you mentioned, it will allow you to study Biology, Biochemistry, Psychology, Politics and a few other soft subjects.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  18. Hasan


    Hi I’m Hasan, and I will be giving my AS levels in the coming May-June session. I’ve currently chosen 4 subjects that are Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Biology. It was because I hadn’t decided anything about my future till now. But gradually, ive realised i have no interest in biology at all, i find it boring also a bit as a burden to me. I don’t get sufficient time to focus on my other subjects. So should i drop it? Having 3 subjects in physics, chem and bio won’t affect getting into good universities?
    And what careers could i be able to pursue with phy chem math?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Hasan,

      I’m afraid that you may be at a disadvantage in applying to universities if you don’t have a fourth AS-level, although it may be worth emailing the specific universities you are interested in to double-check. One possibility is that you may be able to pick up Further Maths as your fourth AS instead – it is probably too late in the school year to do so, but it is worth checking. Otherwise, I’m afraid you will simply have to grin and bear it with Biology.

      Physics, Chemistry and Maths is a very strong combination of A-levels. You may be able to study Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Engineering, Computer Science, Economics, Psychology or Pharmacology, with a huge variety of possible careers on graduation.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  19. Stephy Stephen


    Hello,
    I’m currently considering what A-Levels to choose for next year. I’m edging towards a career in accounting so I’m hoping to take Maths and Economics. However, I’m stuck on my third and fourth choices. Maybe a science and I would also like a subject that demonstrates some writing skills (but I’m not interested in English!). Also I would like to keep my options open just in case I change my mind. What do you think are suitable A-Level choices for me? Thank you.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Stephy,

      For Accounting, you should seriously consider taking Further Maths. You could, for instance, take Maths, Further Maths, Economics and either History or Geography – either would complement your interest in Economics, develop your writing skills and keep your options somewhat open. Alternatively, if you would rather keep your options open in the direction of the sciences, you could take Physics or Chemistry.

      Also note that A-level Economics is not compulsory for studying Economics at university, so if you were interested in keeping your options open for the sciences or Engineering, you could take Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry and keep Accounting as an option as well.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  20. kerry


    Hello,
    I’m currently study my gcse’s but I’m looking at my A Level options and I’m stuck on which fourth a level to do; I’m hoping to take English literature, Economics and potentially Mathematics but I don’t know what else would create an all round good selection. I am thinking about doing an accounting degree at university, if not accounting then a form of business,
    which other a level would you suggest I take? Thankyou:)

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Kerry,

      If you’re thinking about doing Accountancy, Mathematics is absolutely compulsory and Further Maths is highly desirable. Therefore, I would suggest Maths, Further Maths, English Literature and Economics. If the thought of 2 x Maths doesn’t appeal to you, then you should reconsider accounting. For Business, Maths without Further Maths will suffice, and you might want to consider History, Geography or languages for your fourth subject.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  21. Tammie O’Rourke


    I’m not 100% sure what I want to do in life yet. However, I really enjoy English (especially creative writing) and I’m thinking I might be good at some form of journalism (I write for the school paper and do a game review blog). However I don’t want to limit my options so I’m thinking of doing an English and history degree (at a Russell group university hopefully). I’m not totally sure what A levels to take but I’m thinking of doing English Literature, History, Maths and either English language or Creative Writing.
    I’m just wondering if you can let me know what you think or if you have any other advice? (also I’m predicted A-A* for my GCSE’s and I’m not keen on languages)

    T

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Tammie,

      You will not find that there is much difference in the range of options open to you between doing an English degree and a joint honours English and History degree. This is not to discourage you from the latter; just to let you know that if you felt you would prefer to focus solely on English, you will not limit your options by doing so.

      In general we don’t recommend taking both English Literature and English Language. You may want to consider taking a science or Geography as your fourth subject instead, to broaden your knowledge base. However, as your core three subjects are very strong, what you take for your fourth subject doesn’t matter hugely.

      The crucial thing for journalism is work experience. You are getting some of that with your school paper and your blog, but spending a week at your local newspaper would also be very healthy for your CV.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  22. pavithran


    hi I’m studying alevels right now and my subjects are business studies ,economics,history and thinking skill.And i have to know that whether i can do BBA(HONS) with these subjects metioned above and what are degrees can be done with above mentioned subjects and what are the subjects to be studied for doing BBA(HONS)

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Pavithran,

      Yes, those subjects are suitable for Business Administration, though if you have the opportunity to take Maths, I would recommend doing so.

      Other degree courses you can take with those subjects include History, Politics and Marketing.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

  23. Tenzin norden


    Hello im an As student right now taking business studies, accounts, psychology and sociology. Im studying in nepal so can you give me some suggestion what i should do

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Tenzin,

      As you’ve already chosen and started studying your A-levels, I’m not sure what suggestions you’re looking for. Popular degree courses for people studying the same A-levels as you are (in order of popularity): Psychology, Business Studies, Sociology, Accounting and Management Studies.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

  24. Pam M


    Hello I’m currently in year 11 and am starting to applying for sixth forms but I keeping thinking that I should do chemistry to replace one of my considered options which consists of English Literature, Biology, Psychology and Art. I am not completely certain on my career yet but I am interested in the study of the body both psychically and mentally I am also predicted an A* in Art and Bs for the rest of my subjects for GCSE. Do you think I should change one of my options? If so, which one?
    Thanks :)

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Pam,

      Given your stated interests, you should definitely take Biology and Chemistry. You should also seriously consider taking Maths. Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and Maths would be a very strong combination whether you wanted to study Human Biology or Psychology at university.

      However, it’s understandable that you might want a bit more variety in our options. Most people who take A-level Art end up loving it, but also end up spending a disproportionate amount of time on it; it’s a very high workload course and you will need good time management skills to maintain your grades in your other subjects while taking Art. Therefore, whether you take Art or English (or neither or both!) will depend on how much you enjoy each subject and how good your time management is; English Literature is much less time-consuming than Art.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  25. Nicole W


    Hello,
    For my A-levels I am considering taking French, History, Maths and Politics with the aim of studying either Law or Politics (and French) at university. However, I was thinking of doing English Language instead of maths. What would you suggest and are my other choices suitable? Thanks

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Nicole,

      We would advise keeping Maths; if you very much want to study English Language, replace Politics instead, as it’s not essential for any of the courses you’re interested in (yes, including Politics itself) and it’s not a facilitating subject. However, overall we would recommend keeping your A-levels as they are: French, History, Maths and Politics is an excellent combination for any of the degree subjects you’re considering.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

  26. Neesa


    At a level it want to do maths and chemistry, but I am unsure what to do for my other two options, I don’t know what career I want to pursue. Please could you give me a direction to follow! Thank you :)

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Neesa,

      Some possible alternatives:
      – Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Physics: a classic combination that would enable you to take any science-related degree.
      – Maths, Chemistry, Further Maths and Physics: still leaves many science degrees open to you, plus being strong for Engineering, Computer Science and Accounting.
      – Maths, Chemistry, History and Geography: you could take Maths or Chemistry at university, but also Politics, Law, Economics or Geography.

      Any of these would be a strong combination of A-level subjects.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  27. anum


    Hey
    I want to inquire if my subject selection is accurate for the career i would like to pursue ie MBBS . My subjects are Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Are they accepted by Oxford, Cambridge or Queen Mary?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Anum,

      Assuming that I’m correct in thinking that MBBS means Medicine, then yes, those are the ideal subjects to be taking at A2 for any Medicine course at a British university. Are you taking a fourth subject at AS? Maths is the best fourth subject to take.

      You may also be interested in our article on medical school applications.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  28. Ain


    What are the possible careers for me if i take Bio, Physics,Geography and maths? :)

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Ain,

      These subjects offer a wide variety of university options and consequently a wide variety of degree possibilities.

      Possible degrees include Biology, Physics, Maths, Geography, Environmental Science, Ecology, Geosciences, Economics, Psychology and plenty more besides. These lead to a greater variety of jobs than I really have room to list here. You could work in finance, in environmental protection, in scientific research of almost any variety, in teaching, as a psychologist, as a meteorologist, as a statistician… and you’d also be in a very strong position for any of the fields that require a good degree of any kind, such as the Civil Service, marketing and PR or management.

      In conclusion, this is an excellent set of A-level choices – well done!

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  29. ridda


    hi,
    i’m a little lost on what i wanna do in future and a level play a massive role; i have had an interest in medicine but i’m afraid of doing chemistry because that’s what i’m bad at-making me get a low result grade at the end of it all. On the other hand, i’m also interested in business because maths and business studies are really interesting but the fear of failure due to lack of knowledge and not knowing the topics in detail deters me away. I didn’t choose economics or business studies at gcse but rather triple science though I HATE it. I’m just really lost over what to do, some advice would be really useful, thank you.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Ridda,

      The bad news is that if you hate science and struggle with Chemistry, you won’t get anywhere with Medicine. The good news is that your worries about Business are entirely unfounded. You absolutely don’t need to have studied Business at A-level to study it at university, never mind GCSE – your first term of Business at university will consist of your lecturers explaining that a lot of what you learned at school was wrong or over-simplified anyway.

      So if you want to study Business, you don’t actually need to take Business Studies or Economics. We recommend taking Maths, as well as Further Maths if you’re interested in it. Take one of Economics or Business Studies (not both!) and round off with another facilitating subject, such as Geography or History, to give some breadth to your application.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  30. Rose


    Hi,
    I’m very unsure of what to do at a level because I’m an all-rounder, but I’m also not sure of what kind of career I want to do.
    I know I’m doing biology, chemistry and English lit, and that I’m definitely not doing maths or physics.

    So I’m debating whether to do history (which I am not sure if I’ll enjoy) or photography.
    If you only do English lit at a level, can you still do a degree to get you into things like the publishing industry? thanks, Rose.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Rose,

      Photography is one of the worst offenders in terms of “mickey mouse” subjects. It is just about acceptable as a fourth subject, but we wouldn’t still advise against taking it. If you’re not sure about History but want another subject that will enhance your writing and research skills, how about Geography or Religious Studies?

      While you will probably be able to get accepted on to an English Literature degree course with English Literature as your only essay-based A-level, it would make your first year at university quite difficult, and for that reason we would advise against it.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  31. Z


    Hello.

    I want to pursue degree in Accounting and Finance.
    Which A-Level subjects should I choose?
    I am planning to take Maths, Accounting and Economics. Is that okay?
    Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Z,

      Maths and Economics are good subjects for Accounting and Finance; Accounting, however, is a “mickey mouse” subject that will not be of any advantage to you in the course you want to pursue.

      If you can, we advise taking Further Maths. For your fourth subject, we advise any other facilitating subject for diversity and balance (so you don’t restrict your options too much in case you decide Finance isn’t for you) – any one of Geography, Physics or History would complement your existing subjects.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  32. farhan aziz


    i want to go for medical
    which subjects should i choose for aslevel and alevel??

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Farhan,

      Ideally, you should take all of the sciences: Chemistry, Biology, Maths and Physics, in that order of priority.

      You may also be interested in our article on medical school applications.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  33. Mike


    Hi
    I am contempt with doing Maths, Politics and Economics but this fourth AS is very difficult to decide. Further maths is my idea but is it too difficult.
    Ultimately I want to do a degree in Economics and Politics or Criminology….. Help

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Mike,

      If you are considering Politics, you need to take at least one essay subject – History would be by far the best choice. You should then take Maths, History and one of either Politics or Economics to A2, and drop the other. You should also be aware that Politics is not a required subject for a Politics degree, nor is Economics a required subject for an Economics degree.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  34. Sabika


    Hi,

    I wanted to know to keep my options open would the following subjects be ok:
    Maths, Physics, History and Economics
    or should I switch of the above for another science?

    Also would you say the work load would be too hard if I did the above subjects + chemistry?

    Thank you very much for your help.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Sabika,

      If you were to replace Economics with Chemistry, you would increase your possible options somewhat. However, either combination of subjects is good.

      Whether you could manage five subjects is something that we can’t advise on. Remember that taking five subjects won’t put you at an advantage, especially if you bring your grades down with the extra work. If you do decide to have a go at taking all five, we recommend speaking to your school to check that they would be happy with you dropping a subject halfway through the year if the workload gets to be too much.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  35. Jessica


    Hi!

    I’m going to be taking my A Levels outside the UK as an independent student. Now I know you have to take 4 and then drop one but if I’m doing them independently how is that going to work?
    I’m also slightly confused about A levels and A2?
    Also the school I’m sitting them at might not offer the subjects I want/need for my degree of choice and I can’t take it anywhere else.
    I really would like to go to Uni but I’m worried I wont stand a chance having not grown up in England.
    Thank you in advance!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Jessica,

      What we call an A-level is divided into two years of study. This consists of AS-levels (300 or 200 UMS marks – the number of UMS awarded depends on the subject, but doesn’t affect you as a candidate) and A2-levels (300 or 200 UMS marks), which together combine to make an A-level (600 or 400 UMS marks). So your overall A-level grade is made up of the combination of your results at AS and A2. The exception is the A* grade, which is awarded solely on your UMS marks at A2.

      The standard route is to take 4 subjects at AS level and carry 3 of those on to A2, making 3 full A-levels and one AS-level. 3 A-levels is the minimum required for entry to the majority of UK universities. However, if you want to take more than 3 A-levels, you absolutely can. Taking these exams as an independent candidate gives you a little more flexibility in that regard.

      If you let me know your degree of choice and the subjects that the school you’re taking your exams at won’t offer, I may able to advise on alternative subjects. Universities generally don’t want to turn away good candidates, so it may be worth emailing the universities you’re interested in, explaining your situation, and seeing what kind of allowances they might be prepared to make given your situation.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  36. grace


    hey my name is grace, and I am going to be picking my A levels soon, and I want to study fashion design at one of the top 5 universities, but I am not sure what other 3 subjects I should pick for my A levels..? but I am definitely going to carry on Art but the other 3 I am not sure of. Any suggestions?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Grace,

      As you’re probably aware, Art is the only compulsory A-level for fashion design. For your other subjects, we would recommend choosing respected facilitating subjects, so that if things don’t work out for you in the highly competitive field of fashion, you will nonetheless have a strong academic base to fall back on. For instance, you might want to consider taking English, Maths and Chemistry (which I suspect may be of some use to you from a manufacturing and textiles perspective as well). Fashion is very competitive and over-subscribed; a really strong set of A-levels may well help you stand out of the crowd.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  37. Milly Scott


    Hi, my name is Milly and near the end of November I have to choose my Alevels. I am extremely passionate about drama and I would like to persue further studies in this area. Just in case I change my mind, however, and would like to apply for Oxbridge, I need good Alevel choices. However I have a slight dilemma and would really appreciate some advice. My first three chosen subject are, Drama, English Literature and Art. That leaves me one more space. It is a choice between history and spanish. Both history and spanish I am studying for my GCSEs. I am predicted an A* in history and a B in Spanish. I would love to be fluent in a language so I could have the choice to move to Spain, however I can learn so much from history. As an actress, both are extremely viable subjects; there are many historian actors out there and an actress with two fluent languages opens up the voice in characters. Some guidance would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks, Milly.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Milly,

      You should definitely take History. If you are only getting a B at GCSE Spanish, you are very unlikely to get the A or A* in A-level Spanish that will be required for Oxbridge entry. You can easily continue to learn Spanish through websites such as Duolingo.

      Do be aware that both Art and Drama are extremely demanding subjects in terms of the sheer number of hours of work you have to put into them. We do not normally recommend that students take both of them together. If this is a course you’re set on, be aware that you will need excellent time management skills so that you can meet the demands of Art and Drama without cutting into the time you will need to study your other subjects.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  38. Laila


    Hi,
    I am currently choosing my a levels. I am very interested in advertising and marketing; such as being a advertising art director, marketing executive, PR or media planner.
    I am also interested in presenting and journalism; such as radio presenting (however i have not taken music for gcse and you need music technology a level?) or magazine journalism.
    The current A levels I am thinking of are; English literature, art and design, media, economics and business. I am not sure which ones i need to pick. I am most likely to do a degree in advertising and marketing.I also definitely want to get into a really good university.
    In need of structured advice, many thanks Laila

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Laila,

      Don’t worry too much about developing the specific skills you need for the jobs you’re interested in now; those can be gained on work experience, though involvement in student societies and on graduate schemes. We would recommend you take at least two facilitating subjects if you are interested in the top universities. English Literature, Art and Design and Economics are good choices, but we would advise against Media Studies and Business. You might instead want to consider History, Geography or Maths. You will not need Music Technology A-level to be a radio presenter.

      Whichever university you end up going to and whatever you end up studying, there will almost certainly be a student radio society where you can gain radio presenting experience. Student societies are also good for experience of marketing and PR, for instance in encouraging sign-ups, getting more likes on social media or increasing attendance at events. You should also look into getting work experience at a radio station; have a look here for BBC work experience opportunities. Local radio stations and local newspapers (on the advertising front) are also usually willing to take work experience candidates for a week or two.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  39. Helena


    Dear The ORA team,
    I am interested in studying PPE at university and I was wondering if it is necessary for me to take religious studies at A level for the philosophy aspect of the course. I have not taken religious studies at GCSE. I am currently thinking about doing biology, psychology, french and english language for my A levels.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Helena,

      You do not need to take Religious Studies in order to do well in PPE. However, if that is the course you are interested in pursuing, you should rethink your current A-level choices, which would prepare you well for Psychology, French or Linguistics, but not for PPE. While PPE has no compulsory subjects, taking History (for Politics and general essay skills) and Maths (for Economics) is highly advisable. English Literature (rather than English Language) is also worth considering. Taking History, English, Maths and French would leave you very well placed to apply to study PPE at any university.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  40. Emma


    Dear ORA team,
    I’m in year 11 and need to choose my 6th form options soon. The subjects which I study at the moment are
    English Lit,
    English Language,
    Maths,
    Physics,
    Chemistry,
    Biology,
    French,
    Spanish,
    Latin,
    Geography,
    Music,
    Religion,
    IT.

    I’d quite like to study either Modern Languages, Law or Music at university, so I don’t know what A Levels to do in order to still be able to keep my options open. I definitely want to do French and Spanish, but I’m not sure what else. I would have chosen Music, but my school only offers the Pre-U course, and it doesn’t really sound appealing… I could also do ab. initio Italian, but I don’t know whether doing 3 modern languages would narrow my potential career paths too much. Also, should I do maths? It’s not my best subject by a long way, but apparently universities and employers prefer candidates who have taken maths higher than GCSE.
    Another option for me is to do the IB (my school’s a really good school for IB), but that means that I definitely wouldn’t be able to do another language, and by choosing to do 2 languages, music is instantly not available to me. Doing the IB would mean that I would have to do maths to some extent, so I could do maths studies which is a much less rigorous course than the A-Level, but still better than just a GCSE.
    I really like all the subjects I take for GCSE at the moment (apart from Physics), and wouldn’t mind taking any of them to a higher level, but in a way that makes my decision harder! Please help me decide what’s right for me.

    Thank you,
    Emma

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Emma,

      If you were to take French, Spanish or Latin, pre-U Music and History, you could keep your options open for any of MFL, Law and Music. This seems to be the only combination possible that allows you to take any of the subjects you are considering. If you want to keep Music open as an option, we strongly recommend that you take it whether in the IB or the pre-U course; while an A-level-equivalent Music qualification isn’t required by all universities, you will disadvantage yourself by not taking it.

      Maths is desirable for many courses, but not the ones you are considering. You will impress employers more with good qualifications in other facilitating subjects (especially languages, which are increasingly a rarity) than a lower grade in Maths.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  41. Imogen


    Dear the ORA Team,

    I am in year eleven and it is time for me to start thinking about my A-Level choices.

    I have researched courses at Russel Group universities, and the one that caught my eye the most was the English + Modern Language course at Oxford.

    I have always been a keen linguist and also had a passion for English, so this really would be the perfect course for me. After university, I would like to pursue a career such as journalism, or something of the sort. Would this course put me in good stead for that?

    For my A-Levels, at the moment the subjects I would like to take are:
    English Literature
    Spanish
    Latin
    French

    Would these subjects be regarded well for taking the course I would like to take?

    Thank you in advance!

    Imogen

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Imogen,

      Those are an excellent set of choices for the course you are considering. The only change we might recommend is potentially replacing Spanish or French with History, to give yourself more options in future should your interest in languages fade. However, if you are confident that this will still be the direction you are interested in taking in two years’ time, your choices will leave you very well prepared.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  42. Walia


    Hello,

    I have chose three options so far: Chemistry, Physics and Maths. I wanted to know would universities see me as an average applicant if I chose Biology for my fourth option and so this would put me at a disavantage or should I opt for something more diverse such as History or RS.

    Thanks.

    • ORA


      Dear Walia,

      Choose Biology — this is easy to answer.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  43. Alexa


    Hi
    I am thinking of doing Biology, Chemistry and Maths for A Levels and in the future I was thinking of going between the careers of becoming a dentist or a paediatrician and I’m confused on my fourth subject I don’t know whether to do Ict, Geography, Sociology or Philosophy&Ethics and I was wondering if you can help me choose one which would suit with my planned career choice. Thank You

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Alexa,

      Both Dentistry and Medicine are highly competitive courses. Therefore, to put yourself at the greatest advantage, you should take Physics to round off the set of sciences, which will prove advantageous for your other subjects. Of the ones you list, it doesn’t really make much difference which you pick as they will be the fourth subject that you would drop at the end of AS; therefore, it makes sense to take whichever one you think you would get the best grade in.

      You may be interested in our series of articles on science and medicine, particularly our medical school application advice.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  44. Josie


    Hi
    I was wondering to do Chemistry and Biology definitely for A levels because in the future I would like to do something in Dentistry. However for my third subject I’m not too sure if I should do Maths or Physics I wouldn’t mind doing them but there not my strongest subjects. However I was thinking if I should do History and Philosophy &Ethics as my third and fourth subject. Thank you

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Josie,

      If you want to study Dentistry, you should be taking at least three sciences, and you should consider taking all four. You won’t be able to study Dentistry if your only science A-levels are Biology and Chemistry.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  45. Omar


    Hi – I am thinking of taking English lit., History, Psychology and Business Studies. Would these subjects compliment each other? if not, which subjects should i take out and which (ones similar to these) should i put in? also, what degree could i do with these subjects? If I had to take one out it would be english but i know i need at least two facilitating subjects if i want to go to a Russel group uni?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Omar,

      The advantage of facilitating subjects is not only that they impress Russell Group universities, but also that they leave lots of possible options open to you. With the combination of subjects you have at the moment – two facilitating, two non-facilitating – your options are relatively limited. You could study English, History, Law or social sciences. You would need a science subject if you wanted to study Psychology and you would need Maths if you wanted to study Business or Economics. If you let me know which subjects you might be interested in studying, I can advise further.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

      • Omar


        Both maths and science are kind of the two subjects I most dislike. I would probably do well with something really writing based but I don’t want to pick 4 a-levels with are all essay based and kill me. Also, people always say to me that the jobs are in science and maths now so I’m sort of worried?

        • ORA Admin


          Dear Omar,

          While it is the case that science and maths graduates have a slightly easier time of finding jobs than humanities graduates (though not that much easier – History graduates were more likely to be employed within six months than Physics graduates in the UK in 2013 – source), if you already know you dislike sciences, there seems to be little point in pursuing them further; you will only make yourself miserable, and are unlikely to get the grades you would have done had you played to your strengths. You may be interested in our article on how non-STEM degrees can still lead to very good jobs.

          If you are talented at writing, you will not find three or four essay-based subjects too challenging. A strong combination for you might be something like English, History, Geography and Economics, which would allow you to study virtually any humanities subject, including English, History, Geography, Politics, Philosophy and Law.

          We hope this helps.

          The ORA Team.

          • Omar


            Thanks a lot. I really like the sound of that! However, would geography be vital or is there any subjects I could swap it for?

          • ORA Admin


            Dear Omar,

            Geography isn’t vital at all, just a suggestion for a subject that would make for a strong combination with History, English and Economics. Other particularly strong additions would be Religious Studies or a language. However, if you were to treat this as your fourth subject, it could be more-or-less anything.

            We hope this helps.

            The ORA Team.

  46. Georgia


    Hi,

    I am currently in Year 11, soon approaching my GCSE exams. My A Level ideas are: English Lit, German, Geography and possibly Government and Politics or Maths.

    I am just wondering whether this seems like a good mix? Or too heavy? Is Government and Politics worth taking or is it a soft option? I don’t particularly keep up with current affairs but I do find politics interesting – does this mean I shouldn’t take it?
    Also, I am predicted an A* in Maths and will most likely take Further Maths, but I do have to work hard to acheive this so does it mean Maths will be too difficult at A Level, or if I drop it after year, will the qualification still be respected?

    Sorry I do have a lot of questions but I’m finding it very hard to work out what to do and as I am the oldest child, I don’t have an older sibling to question! Any answers would be much appreciated, thanks.

    Georgia

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Georgia,

      Any combination of the subjects you suggest would be very good. English Literature, German, Geography, Maths and Further Maths are all facilitating and thus highly recommended, and although Government and Politics is not a facilitating subject, it is nonetheless respected.

      Regarding Government and Politics, do you think you would be paying attention to current affairs if you weren’t deep in your GCSEs? If the answer to that question is no, you probably shouldn’t take it.

      Regarding Maths, are you enjoying the work that you’re doing to achieve that A*? A-level Maths and particularly Further Maths are hard for everyone, so being used to working hard to get your grades is probably no bad thing. The important thing is that you see it as a challenge to be enjoyed; if so, you are likely to succeed at it. If you drop it after AS, the qualification will still be respected.

      If you let me know what you are considering studying at university, I may be able to advise further.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  47. Eli


    hi, I’m currently deciding on my a level subjects for next year. I’m wondering if physics, geography, economics, maths and AS further maths make a good combination. I’m not entirely sure what to study yet in university, but I think I want to learn stuff dealing with the environment, climate change and things like that. I am also considering accounting. If I apply for accounting, is it essential to do further maths a level? Also, I’m not sure if I will be capable of doing physics as lots of people say that it can be pretty hard. Thanks! Would appreciate if you can help!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Eli,

      That would be an excellent combination of subjects for any of the subjects you suggest. To answer your specific points:
      – It isn’t essential to do Further Maths for Accounting, but it will give you a head start at university.
      – If you don’t do Physics, you would be well advised to replace it with Chemistry, if you are interested in the environment; though Physics is preferable.
      – Don’t be discouraged by people saying that a subject is hard. Across the UK, 10% of applicants taking Physics got an A* in it last year. If you yourself are doing well in Physics, don’t let other people’s beliefs about how hard it might be for them put you off.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  48. Amna


    Hello.
    I am currently deciding my A level subjects, and am in a huge dilemma. I want to pursue a degree in something related to languages, English literature, European studies, Philosophy, journalism, or Media.
    But I am confused as Philosophy and Media requires Physics which I am not that good at. Is Maths, Physics, English and History a good combination? What about Maths, English, History and Business studies? Or maybe Economics instead of Business studies? I am very confused and have already lost a great deal of time, as my A levels has already started and I had taken pure sciences with english but now I am facing a great deal of problem in it and want to change. Please help!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Amna,

      We’re a little confused as to where you’ve got the information that Philosophy and Media require Physics. It is certainly useful to have studied Physics, but it is by no means compulsory and you will not be at a disadvantage for not having studied it. If you are struggling with Physics at the start of AS, we would not advise continuing with it.

      Of the options you suggest, given that you aren’t getting on well with Physics, we recommend Maths, English, History and Economics. As an alternative to Economics, you might want to consider Religious Studies or Geography.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  49. Emily


    Hey,
    I am pretty much set on 3 of the A Levels I want to take (German, English Lit and History) it’s the fourth AS that I’m confused about. I’m interested in a career in law so I’ve thought about taking Government and Politics as my fourth A Level. However, I’m also keen on taking maths at A Level but I would almost certainly drop it at the end of Year 12 (the same goes for Gov&Politics). Would there be any point in taking maths just at AS?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Emily,

      Either Maths or Government and Politics would be a good fourth AS-level. It would be fine to take either, even if you were to drop it at the end of your AS year. Neither would offer you any significant advantage in studying Law. While Maths is a facilitating subject and Government and Politics isn’t, that distinction doesn’t matter much in a fourth subject. We advise picking whichever one you feel you will do best in or enjoy most.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  50. Mira


    Hello,

    I am currently enrolled in a French school and plan on attending an English school for the next two years (sixth form). I am quite uninformed about the selection of A-level subjects and kindly ask for your advise. I would like to study International Relations, Social Science and/or Environmental Studies and am unsure on what subjects to choose in order to pursue these studies later on, in university. In the french system, at the end of year 10, we have to pass our “Brevet” exams. I received high marks overall (French, Maths, History/Geography/Civic Education and an oral exam on Art History), especially in Maths, which I enjoy studying. Therefore, as of now, my A-level choices are “Maths” and “Government and Politics”. I would love to study “Geography” but I’ve been told it is known as a “facilitating” subject. I also speak fluent French and Arabic. Any amount of guidance or information would be extremely helpful.
    Thank you

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Mira,

      First of all, a subject being considered “facilitating” is a good thing; it means that it is a strong subject that will open up lots of possibilities for your future studies. Maths, Government and Politics and Geography is a good combination of subjects. For your fourth subject, any one of French, Arabic, History or Further Maths would round off the set very well.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  51. Molly


    Hello,
    I’m in the process of choosing my A levels and am undecided on whether I want to go on to study Music or Mathematics at university (Or a combined degree in both) . I would like to keep both options open without detracting from either; therefore my current AS level choices are Maths, Further Maths, Music, Physics and possibly Media Studies. I would go on to drop either Physics or Media in the second year. I understand that Media is a ‘soft’ A Level yet I find it fun, quite easy and relaxing and I prefer it to Physics, and I am aware that it is important to pick at least one subject that will not put too much pressure on you. I am predicted/ achieving A/A* grades in all of these subjects so far, but I’m worried that the work load might be too great. Would Media (as a fourth/ fifth subject) prevent me from potentially getting into a top university? What would you suggest?

    Thanks

    • Molly


      Oh and as a side note, i’m considering pursuing a career in teaching (music/ maths) or maybe going into the media; I thought it would be beneficial to get a strong degree first that can open many doors for me instead of specializing too much. Thanks again :)

      • ORA Admin


        Dear Molly,

        Media Studies as a fourth A-level will not prevent you from getting into a top university; taking it as a fifth A-level might do if the workload brings your overall grade down. However, while it is the case that picking one “fun” subject can be a good idea, the combination of Maths, Further Maths, Music and Physics is extremely impressive and therefore we would strongly advise you to go for that instead. That set would enable you to study any of Maths, Music or Physics (should that end up taking your fancy at A-level) and will not disadvantage you if you do decide to go into the media instead, where work experience counts for much more than the subjects that you study.

        We hope this helps.

        The ORA Team.

  52. Caitlin


    Hi,

    I am in the process of deciding what A levels to take at sixth form. I am undecided on what I would like to study at university, something science related or biomedical science or something similar- do you have any suggestions? I definitely would like to take biology and chemistry at A level but I am unsure of what else to take. I was thinking of taking English literature because I received a GCSE grade A in English lit. I am finding maths quite tricky so I feel it would be very hard for me to take it as an A level. Would sports as an A level be good to study something involved in science? Please inform me of what options I have, I don’t have very much time and I still don’t know what science area I would like to study at university- even though it is 2 years away.

    Thank you

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Caitlin,

      Maths is, I’m afraid, quite essential for a science degree. While you don’t necessarily need to take Maths at A-level, disliking Maths or finding it hard is definitely a bad sign for studying at at university. I suggest having a conversation with your Maths teacher about whether they think it would be feasible for you to take it at A-level; it may be that you are underestimating yourself. If so, Biology, Chemistry, Maths and English Literature (dropping English after AS, if you choose to drop a subject) would be a good combination. Alternatively, Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Physics would leave your options open for any type of science degree at all.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  53. Albert Enemison


    Hello ORA,
    I would like to take Mathematics, Further Mathematics and Physics. For my fourth option I am unsure on my chosen subject, but I have might decide to do Chemistry. In future, I would like to pursue an occupation in Engineering.

    Please inform me whether i am making the right decisions.

    Thank You

    • ORA


      Dear Albert,

      Those four subjects are perfect for Engineering. Of course Chemistry is the one to drop after AS, although you should consider taking all four to A2 if you are confident it will not affect your grades in the other three.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  54. Roha Fatima


    Is chemistry an essential subject for computering/technology? ?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Roha,

      Chemistry is not essential for Computing. It may be helpful for some technology courses, but is unlikely to be compulsory; check the course content if you’re not sure.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  55. Shivani


    Hello,

    I am choosing my A-level choices and my current choices include Computing, Graphic Art, Media studies and Photography and I would like to go into web or graphic design.

    Do you recommend any changes?
    Thanks

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Shivani,

      I would strongly recommend switching some of your options for facilitating subjects – particularly Media Studies and Photography, at least one of which I would advise switching for Maths. Computing, Graphic Art, Maths and whichever other facilitating subject takes your fancy would make for a much stronger set, both for your chosen career and for keeping your options open.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  56. Elizabeth Owen


    Hi, thank you for your earlier reply- it was a lot of help.
    One more question: Do universities prefer A levels or the IB and which would make it easier to get a university place?
    Thank you.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Elizabeth,

      UK universities will not mind whether you take A-levels or the IB. The IB is a more respected exam, but anecdotally, university offers for the IB can be a little higher than their A-level equivalents. I would advise against letting this guide you either way; instead, consider whether you would enjoy doing a more varied set of 6 subjects in the IB or a more focused set of 3-4 in A-levels.

      You can read our guide to the IB here.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  57. Walia


    Hello,

    My current A-level choices include Maths, Chemistry, Physics and Religious Studies.

    I am happy with the above choices, however I was wondering if I am making big mistake by not taking Biology instead of Religious Studies?

    I am asking this because I want to keep my options open as much as I can so would replacing the subjects help me to do this or should I keep RS?

    Thank you for your help.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Walia,

      Taking Maths, Chemistry, Physics and Biology leaves your options open for literally any science-related degree. Taking Religious Studies only diversifies your options a little (you could apply for a Religious Studies degree with that subject combination, but you might struggle given you won’t have had much practice in essay writing).

      However, it’s really your three core subjects that matter the most. If you don’t think you will want to do a Biology-related degree (e.g. Biological Sciences, Dentistry, Medicine, Biochemistry) then taking Biology seems redundant. Take RS as a fourth subject to drop after AS if you think you would enjoy it more and do better in it than Biology.

      You may be interested in our article on subjects you are ruling out with your A-level choices.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  58. Maryam


    Hello ORA

    I have decided to do Maths, Chemistry and Biology. As for my fourth option I might decide to do Geography as I feel passionate about it at GCSE. However, I would like to do Pharmacology at university, therefore do you think theses are good option or would you recommended another option?

    Many Thanks
    Maryam

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Maryam,

      This is a very solid set of choices for Pharmacology. We wouldn’t change a thing.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  59. Jade


    Hi, I’m currently in year 11 and I think I am interested in a career in media/advertising. I don’t know whether I should take three or four A Levels because of the recent changes to the curriculum, which recommends that everyone should take three because they won’t be able to cope with the workload. My GCSE target grades are all As and I think I might take English literature and language, biology and geography. Are these good choices? Or would some other subjects be better?
    Thanks

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Jade,

      It’s advisable to take four AS-levels and then drop to three A2s. While the curriculum has got a little tougher, I wouldn’t let that put you off as results are still, in the main, improving year-on-year.

      Which subjects you should take depends a great deal on what you want to do in future. Regarding the subjects you mentioned, English Literature would be a better choice than Language and Literature if your school offers it. Biology is a little pointless if you don’t take another science with it. If you enjoy Maths at all, English Literature, Biology, Maths and Geography is a strong combination of subjects; English Literature, Biology, Chemistry and Geography would be good as well. Then you can drop either a science or a humanities subject at the end of AS depending on which route you decide to take afterwards.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  60. Afreen Sikder


    October 20,10:55pm,Afreen said:
    Hi! I have a few questions related to my A levels,I have 3 subjects physics,chemistry,maths and I will be finishing my A2 on jan-15.I also have Biology but my AS results are poor so l will be repeating it on may-15,so my question is if I cash in code my Biology AS result will I still be able to apply in medical university.Please let me know it would be a great help,if this happens my problem will be solved,so please…… let me know.
    Thank you.
    Afreen

    • ORA


      Dear Afreen,

      Bad news, we fear: if your Biology results are poor, you cannot become a medical doctor.

      If the disappointing results are due to external circumstances and you have the potential to get top marks, by all means re-sit it. However, if your results in Biology reflect your ability, you will have to choose another career path.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

      • Afreen Sikder


        Hello ORA,
        Thanks for the reply but l did not get my one answer,does a medical university accept 50% of my results like l just want to retake Biology AS and cash in code it and I m not taking A2Biology.Will they accept just my AS results.It will be kind of you to let me know as fast as possible.
        Thank you,
        Afreen

        • ORA Admin


          Dear Afreen,

          The answer to this – assuming your Biology grade is good enough – will vary by university. We advise you email the universities you are thinking of applying to, and ask them this question individually.

          We hope this helps.

          The ORA Team.

          • Afreen Sikder


            Dear ORA,
            Thanks for the reply and what you have suggested me l will try my best to do and ask them individually.
            Thank you very much for the advice,
            Afreen

  61. Dragonia-101


    I want to do C.A or atleast go into the field of accountancy. I am from Pakistan. Which A’Levels should i choose best for my career options.
    Also, is Maths compulsory? Please advice quick!!!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Dragonia,

      Maths is absolutely essential for Accountancy; ideally, you should take Further Maths as well. If you don’t absolutely love Maths, you will hate being an accountant. For your other subjects, you may want to consider Economics, Chemistry, Physics or perhaps a language for variety.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  62. Sheereen


    Hi, I’m currently deciding what to choose for my A Levels in college, I want to study architecture at university and was thinking to do Art, Geography, Film studies & Physics. Would this be okay?

    • ORA


      Dear Sheereen,

      That is a good set, with the exception of Film Studies, which is not respected at all and should be replaced with Maths, in your case.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  63. Elizabeth Owen


    Hi, I have a few questions:
    Would Creative Writing A level be considered a ‘soft option’?
    Would a combination of English Lit., English Lang. and Creative Writing be too restrictive?
    Is Geography, French, English Lit and English Lang a good combination for AS? And what careers could this lead to?
    Out of: English Lit., English Lang., Geography, French and Creative Writing, what would be the best combination of 4 to take at AS for either an English or Geography degree?
    Would Creative Writing be better as just an after school club?
    Any advice would be gratefully received!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Elizabeth,

      Both Creative Writing and English Language are considered “softer” options; I would advise against taking both. I suggest taking Geography, French and English Literature as your core three subjects (which is a very strong combination for an English degree, and a solid combination for Geography, though perhaps more humanities-focused than the norm) and then whichever one of English Language and Creative Writing you prefer, assuming that you will drop it after AS – in terms of respectability, there is not much difference between the two.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  64. Laura


    Hello,
    I am looking forward to study Paramedic Science in order to become a Paramedic. When I looked up university requirements, most of them only state to study 3 A levels, but they don’t specify the subjects. Is this because Paramedic Science is a whole new topic so it doesn’t require specific subjects at A level? What subjects would you recommend? I am definitely going to pick biology as one of my A level subjects.
    I was thinking for the other two subjects to either do mathematics and chemistry or mathematics and sociology, but I don’t know if these two subjects will suit me.
    Please let me know what you think,
    Kind regards,
    Laura

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Laura,

      You should ideally take 4 AS-levels and take three of them to A-level. Biology, Mathematics, Chemistry and whichever fourth subject takes your fancy (Physics would round off the set nicely, but isn’t essential) would be best.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  65. Tazmin


    Hi ORA Team,

    So today I just had a Sixth Form Assembly at school (currently in year 11) and I’m literally so stressed about it. I’m planning for A – Levels: Maths, Biology, Chemistry and History – Could you give me the benefits of History? If I was to study along the lines of Medicine, would History help? All my target grades are B’s but I’m hoping to do better than that. I’m not entirely sure for the future what to go in to specifically… yet. So could you give me a little insight and what paths could be available. Although for History, I may drop that after AS Level. Also, will I be able to request for specific subject teachers at A level – My History Teacher is literally best. She makes me feel that I could do well in the subject and my Chemistry Teacher is so bad – I would cry if I got him for Years 12 and 13. Any advice and help would be much appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Tazmin.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Tazmin,

      First things first: Maths, Biology, Chemistry and History is an excellent set of prospective A-levels, opening a lot of doors and looking very impressive on a CV. The benefits of History are that it helps hone your analytical abilities, teaches you how to write a good essay, helps you manage time pressure and generally improves your writing and thinking skills. Having said that, it doesn’t offer any particular advantages for Medicine or related courses over any other facilitating subject. The important thing in Medicine is to get the best possible grade in your three core science subjects; your choice of fourth subject should bear this in mind – i.e. don’t do anything that is likely to leech too much time from the subjects that should be your focus. The best choice of fourth subject would be Physics, as it complements your other three subjects.

      Maths, Biology, Chemistry and History would enable you to study: Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Psychology, Economics, Politics, Business Studies, Medicine, Nursing, Accounting, Law, Environmental Science, Archaeology and plenty more. So as you can see, it’s a great combination for keeping your options open.

      I’m afraid you’re unlikely to be able to request subject teachers at A-level. It may be worth investigating whether the Chemistry teacher you’re concerned about actually takes any A-level classes, as they won’t necessarily teach at sixth form level. In general, though, it’s best to make your A-level choices based on the subject, rather than the teacher, as you can’t rely on getting the teachers you want for the whole two years even if it starts out that way.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  66. Laila


    Dear Sir/Madam

    I’m currently studying Biology, Chemistry, Maths & English Literature in the hope of applying to Medicine. However, I really enjoyed Religion & Philosophy and GCSE level and thinking of switching English for it. Any advice?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Laila,

      For Medicine, so long as you have your core three science subjects – Biology, Chemistry and Maths – your fourth subject doesn’t really matter. Religion and Philosophy is non-facilitating but respected, and thus I see no problem in you taking it instead of English.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  67. Katherine Chan


    Dear ORA team,

    My son is exploring a career in music therapy.

    He is choosing Math, Eng Lit, music and psychology for his AS subjects. Are these useful subjects to get into relevant courses? Would this be too narrow for other options?

    Thank you.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Katherine,

      These subjects are spot-on for Music Therapy, which is usually taken as a Masters following an undergraduate degree in a related subject, such as Psychology. If he decides to take a different route, he could easily study Music, social sciences, other Psychology-related options or Law, and has not ruled out Maths or English Literature either (though for Maths it would be better to have Further Maths and for English Literature it would be better to have another essay subject – however, both options remain achievable).

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  68. Walia


    Hello ORA,

    I have decided to take Physics, Chemistry and Maths for my A-levels. However, for my fourth option I am confused on what to take, but I am sure that I want to keep my options open. I have Religious Studies in mind as a possible fourth option because I loved studying it at GCSE, even though I know it does not count as a facilitating subject.

    Do you think these options are good or should I do something else?

    Thank you for your help.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Walia,

      While it is recommended that the majority of your subjects be facilitating, they don’t all need to be. Furthermore, Religious Studies is not facilitating because it does not have broad application, but it is nonetheless highly respected. Thus, we think this is an excellent set of options.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  69. JH


    Hi
    I am grade 10 and english is mot my native language. I know i am going to study oversea for the unversity but i’m not sure which degree and what i want to be. But if i do a levels, i want to do eng, maths, computer(IT), physic and design and art. And then for my matric, i will take maths, computer and design and art but don’t i need english to prove that i can speak english?? Or is it ok because i am not going to study languages even though i am a foreigner.
    Thank you so much for your information.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear JH,

      Universities teaching in English will require some proof of your English-language ability; however, the preferred form is not A-level English, but a language-specific test like IELTS or TOEFL. An IELTS score of 6.5 or above is sufficient for most UK universities. You can read our guide to English language exams here.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  70. Hasham


    Hi,
    Its me again. Thank you for the reply. I have actually started my A-levels and have chosen three subjects;
    Psychology, Business studies and Media studies. Do you think this is an acceptable combination?
    P.S My future aim is Film and Television

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Hasham,

      In general, we would advise choosing at least two “facilitating” subjects – there’s a list in the article above. However, for Film and Television the really important thing is getting work experience, not which A-levels you choose.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  71. adam


    Undecided on university choices I have taken up English, Biology Psychology and RS for AS and will drop RS and continue with the rest for A level next year. Could you advise what profession/uni courses I am opening up with these subjects?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Adam,

      Students with your combination of A-levels most often study Psychology, English literature or Sociology. You could possibly study Biology, but you will probably find it difficult without having studied Maths or Chemistry. These courses don’t lead naturally into any one particular profession, but there are a huge range of professions – from the civil service to supermarket management to the armed forces – that simply require a good 2.1 degree regardless of the subject.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  72. Jack


    I have just started year 11 and want to take a degree in History, I love History and have a passion for it, the only problem is I hate English lit, especially the teacher who teaches it, will this be a problem
    Are these acceptable for a History degree:
    History
    Spanish/French
    Geography
    Maybe Maths? Are these suitable?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Jack,

      While a lot of students applying for History degrees will have studied English, you will not be at a disadvantage by not studying it. There would be some concern if you had decided against it because you disliked writing essays, but given you’re more concerned with the teaching, that’s fine. History plus any of the other three subjects you mention would be entirely suitable; after all, languages at A-level also involve a significant essay-writing component so you will get to practise your all-important essay skills in more than one subject.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  73. Hasham


    Hi,

    I would like to know the perfect combination in A-levels
    acceptable for most universities for Film and Television making career. Thank you

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Hasham,

      There are no essential A-levels for Film and Television courses, though English Literature is often highly recommended. Some courses that lean more towards the technical production aspects of Film and TV prefer students to have a science A-level. You might wish to consider some combination of English Literature, Drama, Maths, Physics, Art and Design or foreign languages.

      However, by far the most important thing for a career in Film and TV is work experience. Aim for a university that is near a centre of the film or TV industry (in the UK, London and Manchester are two such hubs) and try to get as much work experience as you can.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  74. Stephanie


    Hi ORA,

    I would like to go to a Russell Group University to study English Literature, or maybe English Literature and Creative Writing (I have seen that Warwick do an excellent course for this). I have an idea of what I would like to do at A level: English Literature, History, Creative Writing (an A level course introduced two years ago and is available at my school) and Psychology at AS level. Do you think these subjects would be suitable and a good combination? With two facilitating subjects in the list I thought that that would be sufficient (I suspect it is not required for ALL of the subjects to be facilitating to get into a Russell Group University), but I would just like to check before I finalize my choices.

    Thank you,
    Stephanie

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Stephanie,

      If you are definitely not interested in Oxbridge (in which case, we would recommend choosing at least three facilitating subjects out of four), those subjects will be fine.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  75. Helen


    I am struggling to decide what A levels to take. I think I definitely want to take German, Geography and Maths however I’m not sure what to take for a 4th option, I was thinking possibly English or French or maybe further maths, my teacher said I would be capable of doing it. I don’t know what I want to study at university but think I either want to go into something with languages or maths, I’ve thought that becoming an estate agent might be good for me. Are there any A levels I can do that would help with that?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Helen,

      If you are strongly considering studying Maths at university, you should definitely take Further Maths. That would leave you with a strong set of A-levels for studying Maths, German, or any other language ab initio. That will also leave you well-placed with the skills required to become an estate agent. You would also be well-advised to try and get work experience in sales or marketing. Universities often have jobs for students in the alumni office (where you ring up alumni and try to persuade them to donate), which would give you this kind of experience.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  76. Lauren


    Hi ORA,
    I am currently taking English Lit, History, Film Studies, and Religion and Ethics/Religious Studies at A Level.
    I am having a hard time with RE however; it just isn’t what I thought it would be and I can’t see myself coping well in the exam. I am thinking of dropping it for Media Studies – although I’ve gathered that you don’t think much of the subject. There is literally no other option for me in replacement of RE. I got an A* in MS at GCSE, and the Maths and sciences are a definite no as I struggled with getting B/Cs at GCSE. I want to do a degree in English and Film at Uni (hopefully Sussex or Exeter) so I can’t see why Media would place me below the rest! I would drop it after AS and continue with Eng Lit, History, and Film at A2 anyways.
    Do you think I should stick it out with RE? If I can’t do you think that given my situation, Media would be the best subject for me?
    Thank you for your time!
    Lauren.

    • ORA


      Dear Lauren,

      Yes, all things considered, MS is arguably the way forward for you.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  77. Harry


    Hi,
    I am a year 11 student who is predicted A’s in all of my subjects and I am currently considering which options i should take college. After college I am interested in either going into law or forensic science. i am unsure which i Alevels i should take to be able to still choose either at university.
    i have been advised to take biology, chemistry and maths.

    i was wondering if these subjects would be at all relevant to both law and forensic science; i also am unsure as to what to choose for my fourth Alevel and if taking law as an Alevel would help.

    Any advise would be highly appreciated. Thankyou.

    • ORA


      Dear Harry,

      You need to add a strong essay subject to the mix if you want to keep the Law path open. We suggest you take Biology, Chemistry, Maths and History (or English Literature), dropping Maths at AS. We strongly recommend you take the two sciences and History all the way to A2 if you want keep Law and Forensic Science as viable options.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  78. Lee


    Hi,
    I’m currently a Form 5 Malaysian student (which is equivalent to Year 11) and I would like to pursue a law degree,hopefully in universities in UK. Is Maths, Economics, Law and Accounting a preferred combination? Or should I replace accounting with English Literature? If yes,may I know if Eng Literature is considered hard for a student who has not learned any Literature in English in high school like me? Look forward to your reply and thanks for reading.

    • ORA


      Dear Lee,

      If you want to read Law at University you will need at least one strong essay subject, preferably History or English Literature. The latter is out of the question, because you have insufficient experience. History is a better option, although it will be demanding, make no mistake.

      You should also consider replacing Economics and Law with facilitating subjects — read this article for more details.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  79. Priya


    Hi ORA I’m currently studying GCSE and need to decide my A/L options. I’m not sure what career/uni to aim. I enjoy Maths, Biology and RS. A friend suggested Maths, Biology, Sociology and Business Studies to keep my options open. I’m not sure about Bus.Studies. I like to work with people mainly children. I also do well Music (doing for GCSE).
    Please help with some carrers and subject choices?
    Thanks

    • ORA


      Dear Priya,

      We suggest you stick to a set of facilitating (respected) subjects, such as Maths, Biology, Chemistry and either History, English Literature or Music. Music is not facilitating as such, but highly respected in practice.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  80. Natalie


    Hi ORA,

    I’m currently in my final GCSE year and I am quite muddled about what choices to make for my A-levels. I know I’m quite interested in subjects Geography, Art, Music, Languages and English (art and humanities subjects), but I’m also interested in Maths, Physics and Chemistry (maths and sciences subjects). I love working creatively, but I also want to get into a Russel Group university, preferably Oxbridge. At the moment I am achieving A*s in English, Maths and Art, but I’m a pretty good all rounder.

    I have too many subjects and careers that I would love to do. Can you please help me narrow them down?

    Thanks!

    • ORA


      Dear Natalie,

      You sound like quite the Renaissance lady; congratulations. It is a fantastic position in which to find oneself.

      Although it is possible to pick a set of four A-levels that would keep options open for a good range of science and humanities subjects at Oxford and Cambridge, our advice is that you commit firmly to one path and pick a strong set of A-levels accordingly. This will strengthen your application and make your life less difficult at University.

      Here are some suggestions — degree subject followed by a strong set for that subject:

      Chemistry, Physics, Geography or Maths: Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry

      Biology, Geography and Medicine: Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths

      History, Eng Lit or Law: History, English Literature plus any two of Modern Languages, Latin, Music

      and so on; this list is not exhaustive.

      Pick a path and throw everything at it!

      If you really want to keep your options open, Chemistry, Biology, Maths and History would make you eligible for Biology, Chemistry, History, geography or Law at Oxbridge. However, prepare to be asked tough questions in your Oxbridge interview — for the sciences, they would ask why you didn’t take four sciences, and for the humanities they would ask why you dabbled in the sciences. Not recommended, but some do pull this off.

      Finally, read our article on Oxbridge applications.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  81. El


    I am currently a Year 12 student studying Art, History, English Literature and Maths (plus General Studies as an enrichment course) with the hope of possibly going into Architecture. I achieved surprisingly high GCSE grades (5 A*s, 5 A’s and 1 B) unexpectedly as I had very low attendance during my GCSE years due to ongoing health problems.
    Already this year my attendance has fallen to 50% for the same reason and although I am confident with the subjects I have selected, I’m aware my workload will only ever increase during the course of the year. Is it advisable for me to drop an AS level, perhaps English Literature, to enable me to keep on top of this as I will have more study periods, or will this impair my chances of getting into university?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear El,

      In normal circumstances, we would advise continuing with all four AS-levels. However, given this is as the result of a health condition, dropping English Literature should be fine. We would recommend emailing the universities you are interested in to double-check before you make the decision, though. They should be sympathetic to your circumstances. Any university you apply to should be made fully aware of your health situation, in order to ensure that you won’t be disadvantaged in the admissions process, and also so that if they accept you, they can help put support structures in place.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  82. Tasnia


    I am not quite sure as to which career I would like to go into. However, I was considering perhaps Orthoptics, Optometry or even Medicine if I am very lucky. I am considering to take Biology, Chemistry, Sociology and French. I was wondering whether French and Sociology are good subjects to take, for these careers? I am currently in y11 and targeted As, I also achieved an A in GCSE French last year, and I also really enjoy it. I was wondering what careers would be open to me if I did take these subjects? Thank you!

    • ORA


      Dear Tasnia,

      We suggest you replace Sociology with a respected subject such as Maths or Physics if you are serious about Medicine. The best set would be the three sciences plus Maths.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  83. Sandisi


    Hello ORA,

    I am currently in Yr 11 and choosing my A-Levels in early 2015. I want to go on to Cambridge to study Psychology. Do you think a combination of Maths, Biology, Psychology and History is suitable?

    Thank you for your time and help!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Sandisi,

      Yes, those subjects are entirely suitable. Replacing History with Chemistry might make for an even stronger combination, but only if you feel that you would do at least as well in Chemistry as you would in History.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  84. khan


    Hi,
    I am currently in year 11 and have to decide what to do at college. I have thought about doing A-level maths, biology, chemistry and physics. I have been advised not to do further maths by my maths teacher as it would be too difficult. I want to do a degree from the following subjects: medicine, radiology, paramedic science, nuclear science, or neurology. Would these A-levels be a good choice?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Khan,

      That is an excellent set of A-level choices for any of the subjects you suggest. However, if you are serious about Medicine you will need to commit firmly to that path as soon as possible. Have a look at our guide to getting into medical school here for more information.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  85. Walia


    Hello,

    I don’t have any particular careers in mind but I have chosen Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. I wanted to know if these are good A levels to choose or should I go for a variety of balanced facilitating A levels?

    Thank you for your help.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Walia,

      That is a very strong set of subjects. We wouldn’t advise any chances.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  86. James


    Hi, I’m currently thinking of my a level options but I have no idea if they will be useful for the courses I am thinking of taking.
    I’m thinking of Maths, Business / Economics / Business and Economics, Spanish and Chemistry. I’m looking at something to do with Business really but I’m not sure about what kind of business related course I want to take and I’m still not sure that I will take a business related university course. Any advice on the best subjects to take to leave my options open would be appreciated as I don’t take History, Geography, Art, Drama etc… and hate English with a passion.

    Thanks.

    • ORA


      Dear James,

      The following sets are solid and 100% respectable, and will open doors to any Economics- or Business-related degree and many other subjects besides:

      – Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Spanish

      – Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Spanish

      You will see that we did not include Economics or Business studies, neither of which is a facilitating (highly respected) A-level or even remotely necessary to study Business/Economics at University.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

      • James


        Thanks for the help

  87. chloe


    Hi I am currently in the process of working out what kind of paths I want to take (bearing in mind I don’t know what I want to do at university or as a career) I am thinking either going down a sport science root with p.e, biology, chemistry and something else. Or there is the root of english lit, german, history and film studies (because I think I would enjoy it)
    My question is which root do you think would help me in the long run with choosing uni courses and/or going into the world of work?

    • ORA


      Dear Chloe,

      For the best possible employment prospects, we suggest you go down the science route and choose some respected subjects, also known as “facilitating” subjects because they facilitate access to the best universities (and jobs).

      We suggest the following set: Biology, Chemistry, Maths and either English Literature or History, taking Maths and the two sciences all the way to A2.

      We hope this helps.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  88. Elsa


    Hi!
    I’m an international student currently sitting for the AS exams.
    My subject combination is: Eng Lit, Maths, Biology and Chemistry.
    Recently, I’ve gained interest in studying Psychology. Are my subjects sufficient to apply for a degree in Psychology? Also, I was thinking of dropping Chemistry for my A2 exams, would that be advised? Thanks!

    • ORA


      Dear Elsa,

      Those four subjects are great for Psychology and dropping Chemistry is perfectly fine.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  89. Jenni


    Hi!
    So far I’ve decided to take: Maths, Further Maths, Geography and Chemistry.
    However, I’d also like to take a 5th subject (I started A level Maths a year early so I won’t be doing it in Y13- that’s room for another A level!) and I can’t decide between: Biology and History. History is one of the subjects I find most interesting and I absolutely love learning it, but I’ve been getting As in all my mocks and that’s with LOADS of revision (I get A*s in all my other subjects even with much less effort and revision). Biology is easier for me but it’s just mildly interesting and the only part I find fascinating is genetics, which the A level doesn’t have THAT much of.
    Careers-wise, I want a Maths related job, because it’s my strength and I find it relatively enjoyable but preferably just something involving a lot of it, rather than just solely Maths. I know I also like World Affairs/International Relations and I was kind of thinking United Nations/European Union etc (maybe History would be the right choice for this?) but it really doesn’t involve any maths, which is annoying and I know I want to continue Maths after sixth form. Another idea I had was Genetics, which I’d obviously need Biology for, but if I picked that, I’d feel as though my A levels would be too specific to follow another route if I changed my mind, like International Relations.
    Basically my issue is that whatever I pick out of Biology and History, I’ll be committing to a certain path and because I’m only slightly sure of what I want to do, narrowing down really isn’t an option at this stage, especially since the 2 ideas I have are so different. But also, do I prioritise how good I am at each subject or how much I enjoy it? What do you recommend I pick to be qualified enough for the career I want to pursue but also to be relatively broad so I have the chance to make the big decisions when I’m more sure on it?
    Thanks so much in advance, Jenni :) :) :) :) :)

    • ORA


      Dear Jenni,

      First things first: congratulations on choosing and excelling in a most impressive set of A-level subjects.

      We suggest you choose Biology. It is a fascinating subject that requires both rigorous scientific thought and clear communication; it is without a doubt the most literary science, and rewards scientists who relish the challenge of explaining complex concepts to technical and non-technical audiences. It will complement your other subjects very well indeed and will stand you in good stead for just about any career, not just science.

      Furthermore, this choice is more consistent with your stated career plans, and it certainly would not preclude working in International Relations should you change your mind, whereas choosing History instead of Biology would make working in Genetics difficult if not impossible.

      We wish you the best of luck, and do keep us posted on your progress.

      The ORA Team

  90. Walia


    Hello,

    I am currently in year 11 and will soon choosing my A-levels and would like some advice.

    Recently I have gained an interest in engineering and would like to pursue this career.

    I have started thinking about what A levels I want to take. I would like to do Maths, Physics and Philosophy. However, for my fourth option I am very confused on what to take as I cannot decide between Biology or Chemistry. Even though I have started thinking about engineering as a future option I would like to keep my options open so I could really use some help in deciding which 4th A-level will help me to do this.

    I hope you can help me with my query and would be grateful for a response. Thank you.

    • ORA


      Dear Walia,

      If you want to study Engineering, we suggest you choose Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry, dropping Chemistry after AS.

      This set will also allow you to study Chemistry, Physics, Maths and other Physical Sciences if you change your mind — but that decision must be made before you choose which subject to drop at AS, because a Chemistry degree would need A2 Chemistry, and the same applies to Physics.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

      • Walia


        > Thank you very much for the reply.

        I wanted to tell you that i am not very keen on taking further maths as I’m not sure i will be able to handle the workload. So if i just took maths at a level and not further maths, would this decrease my chances of getting into a good uni?

        Thank you.

        • ORA


          Dear Walia,

          If Further Maths is too hard for you, Engineering at University will probably also be too hard, because it involves a lot of very advanced Maths. We suggest you think very carefully about which subject to study at University.

          Good luck,

          The ORA Team

  91. Niamh Trinci


    Hi! I’m in year 11 and I’m starting to decide what I would like to do at A-level.
    I would definitely like to do geography and some form of maths.
    I’ve always liked geography and I’m just generally interested in the subject. I may even end up doing a geography degree.

    I would like to do maths because I took my GCSE in year 10 and achieved an A* grade. I never used to enjoy/be particularly good at maths but in the past couple of years I’ve started to enjoy it more, probably due to the satisfaction out of understanding something that I never used to be able to.

    I take a business studies GCSE and I really enjoy it. However, I know business studies a-level isn’t a good option. So I was thinking of taking economics as this may be something I would like to study at a degree level?

    Finally, I would like an essay based subject as I feel like this would balance out my 4 options (as I’m still unsure of what I would like to take at uni, apart from sciences which I do not like)

    I was originally thinking of taking english language and literature, but I really do not enjoy it very much. At the moment I’m pretty much top of my english class, but I just don’t find english very interesting. My school has recognised me as ‘gifted and talented’ in literacy so this makes me think it might be a good A-level option?

    However, instead I was thinking of taking philosophy and ethics as I think this is just a good a-level as it can apply to pretty much any course. I am very interested in philosophy and I think I would enjoy the course and learning aspects much more than english. I do RE at GCSE and I defiantly enjoy it and have achieved A/A* in all mock papers.

    P.S. the college I’m looking to go to has a combined maths and further maths course, just a mathematics course, or an option to do an AS in further maths after completing AS mathematics. Out of these 3 options, what do you think would be the best? I do not find maths particularly easy, nor am I naturally gifted, I just am able to put in hard work and practise to understand.

    Thank you so much for your help in advance!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Niamh,

      While Economics is certainly a better subject than Business Studies, Economics A-level is not required to study it at university; nor is it facilitating. While I wouldn’t advise against studying it (Maths, Geography and Economics is a strong set of subjects for either Economics or Geography) you should be aware that it could be replaced without harming your application.

      English Literature A-level is a huge improvement on GCSE. You get to study a wider range of texts and investigate their historical context rather more. I advise you to look at the course your school follows before deciding it’s not for you. However, taking A-levels you think you’ll enjoy is always advisable – so don’t take it if the course doesn’t appeal.

      Philosophy and Ethics would be a second non-facilitating subject, so only half your subjects would be facilitating. If you are considering Oxbridge, I would advise choosing a facilitating subject instead. If that’s not an option you’re interested in, Maths, Geography, Economics and Philosophy and Ethics sounds like a good combination of subjects. History is also worth considering.

      Further Maths is a highly respected subject – if you think you are able to do well in it (and it sounds like you are), then I would advise taking the combined course.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  92. Mariam


    Hi! I’m currently having to pick my A-levels potions and I think I want to do English Lit, history, sociology and geography. Any advice?

    • ORA


      Dear Mariam,

      We suggest you replace Sociology with a facilitating (respected) subject. Here is a list.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  93. Jessica


    Hi ORA!

    I’m an international student and I have a few questions. My school doesn’t offer AS levels in grade 11 instead they offer it at grade 12, therefore I wouldn’t take A2 levels. However, it’s possible for me to take AS levels in grade 11 and continue to A2 levels in grade 12 at school however I’d be the only one out of my grade to do so and it’ll be my responsibility as I make the decision. I was wondering whether it’s necessary or wiser to take AS and A2 levels or follow what my school’s system which is to take only AS levels in grade 12 and not take A2 levels as they generally do not offer A2 levels? Does universities require A2 levels or will AS levels be enough?

    Right now, I’m considering taking both AS and A2 levels. I’m not sure what university major I want to pursue. I have 4 subjects already in mind which are English, English Literature, Math and Physics. Thoughts?

    Thank you in advance!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Jessica,

      Assuming that you are referring to standard UK AS levels and A-levels, your school’s system sounds quite bizarre. A2s are essential for the conventional route into studying at UK universities, therefore we strongly recommend you take them – though frankly, in your position I would consider changing schools to somewhere that follows a more normal system, if at all feasible.

      Regarding your subjects, you should not take both English Language and English Literature, as they are too similar. English Literature, Maths and Physics are excellent choices. Good fourth subjects could include History, Geography, Chemistry or Biology.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  94. Fadi Haisam


    I am an international student in grade 10 IGCSE, planning to go for medicine with oxford university and looking for the best set of A-levels that enables me carring on with my desire.
    Kindly advice

    • ORA


      Dear Fadi,

      You have expressed a very clear and specific desire, which enables us to give correspondingly specific and clear advice: you should study Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths, dropping Maths at AS — and you should get A* in all of them.

      That is really the bare minimum for Medicine at Oxford. For an even stronger application, we recommend Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Further Maths, dropping Further Maths at AS.

      Do also bear in mind that the Oxford and Cambridge medical courses are much more theory-heavy at the beginning, whereas at other universities you start to work with patients a lot sooner.

      You should also read our guide to medical school applications.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  95. Alif


    Dear O.R.A,
    Hi my name is Alif, I’m still in year 11 and currently doing O level, I would like to be a dietitian or a lawyer. The subjects that I am taking are :-
    English
    Malay language
    Biology
    Chemistry
    Maths
    Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK)
    History
    Geography

    I’m doing pretty well in English,History,Geography,IRK,Malay language,Biology as well as chemistry.
    Please help me A.S.AP. TQ

    • ORA


      Dear Alif,

      We suggest History, English Literature, Biology and Chemistry — they are all highly respected subjects and will pave the way for both Law and Biological subjects.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  96. sharon


    Hi i am currently studing Spanish, German,Maths and Business. But I am not sure about business so I would like to change it to history. Do you think that this would be a good choice? I am really not sure because I am finding business a bit hard and I do not know about history, I did history at gcse and got a* while I haven’t done business

    • ORA


      Dear Sharon,

      Replacing Business with History is a great idea, because History is a facilitating (highly respected) subject, whereas Economics is not.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  97. Sami


    Hi!

    I’m currently doing AS Mathematics, Economics, French and Italian (only exam for Italian because I’m fluent in Italian). I want to take degree/master in Maths or Economics and I also want to go to a Russell group university. Can you tell me if my subjects are good for my degree and if universities are going to like it? I was doing AS Further Maths too, but after I dropped it because it was too much. Do I need to do further maths if I want to take a degree in Maths? I’m considering doing AS Further Maths next year, do you think it’s a good idea or is it going to be too much? Is French and Italian A levels going to affect my university application as I’m taking 2 languages?
    Please answer my questions, I’m so confounded now!

    Thank You!

    • ORA


      Dear Sami,

      Students who wish to read Maths at University usually take Further Maths all the way to A2. 74% of Russell Group universities require Further Maths for their Maths degrees (source).

      We suggest that if you find Further Maths too difficult, a Maths degree is definitely not for you.

      Taking French and Italian is fine, as they are both facilitating subjects.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  98. ferdousi


    I am currently doing Biology Chemistry Psychology and English Literature, what is a good subject choice if I drop Chemistry?

    • ORA


      Dear Ferdousi,

      Dropping Chemistry is a terrible shame — it will give considerable support to your Biology studies and it is a highly respected subject.

      If you really must drop it, consider replacing it with Maths or History, depending on what you want to study at University.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  99. Edward Duggal


    Hi,

    I’m currently studying 5 AS Levels – Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. I hope to study Physics at University. In my Further Maths AS Course, we’re doing the Mechanics modules – there are none in the A2 course. As a result, I was thnking of dropping both Biology and Further Maths at A2. I was just wondering whether it would be frowned upon if you took 5 AS Levels but only 3 A2 levels.

    Thanks, Ed.

    • ORA


      Dear Ed,

      There is absolutely no problem with taking 5 AS subjects followed by 3 A2 subjects.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  100. Joseph Powell


    Hi,

    I am certain to study History, Geography and Biology at A-Level, however I am unsure as to what to take as the further A-Level. I am currently studying AS Religious Studies studies a year early and I find it really interesting. Other options include English Literature, Politics and perhaps even AS Maths (not to keen on the idea of completing a full A2 qualification in maths). I am wanting to study a law/politics/humanities related degree but want to keep my options open.

    Many Thanks

    Joseph

    • ORA


      Dear Joseph,

      We suggest you select a facilitating (respected) subject — English Literature or Maths.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  101. Hannah


    Hi there,
    Im currently studying maths, French, biology and chemistry for my AS levels and I plan to do medicine in the future. I was just wondering which subject, between French and history, a university would prefer for medicine.

    Thanks, Hannah

    • ORA


      Dear Hannah,

      French and History are both facilitating subjects, so neither has a prima facie advantage over the other.

      Choosing Physics instead of French or History would strengthen your set of A-levels — it would help your understanding of medical instrumentation, for example — so do consider this option. Remember that Medicine is unbelievably competitive, so you would be well advised to understand and implement the aggregation of marginal gains in your medical application.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  102. Jess


    Hi there. I’m a student in Year 11, about to take my A-level choices. At university I’d like to study Pharmacy and was wondering what would be useful to have as a fourth subject. I’m taking Biology, Chemistry and Maths but I’m still undecided between Spanish, Physics and Psychology as my fourth subject. I enjoy languages and I’m predicted an A* in French and Spanish however I’m aware that they are very difficult at A-level and I’m unsure if I’ll be able to get a good grade.
    Any advice?
    Thank you,
    Jess

    • ORA


      Dear Jess,

      There is no contest — Physics wins hands down.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  103. shadia


    hi:) this is Shadia.

    i am struggling to pick the right “A” Level subjects. i want to study Occupational Therapy or Psychology (something in that field). i was thinking my best options are “chemisty, biology and Maths” and i was thinking of taking “Applied ICT”.. what in your opinion is best for me to do. and is maths a majour requirement??
    Thank you for your time…

    • ORA


      Dear Shadia,

      Maths is not a major requirement for Psychology or Occupational Therapy, but we suggest you keep it in your set of A-levels, as it is highly respected and will open doors (it will also prove genuinely useful in life, even if it’s hard to see that now).

      For your fourth subject, consider Physics, or humanities such as English Literature or History. In this way your set of A-levels will be constituted entirely by facilitating subjects, which will improve your university application prospects.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  104. Alicia


    I really want to foster or look after disabled children or normal when I am older. what a levels should I choose. I really want to do environmental studies as well though?

    • ORA


      Dear Alicia,

      A set of A-levels that will impress universities and keep your options open for the career paths you mentioned is Biology, Chemistry, Maths and English Literature, dropping English Literature at AS.

      A more science-rich set would be Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics, whereas Biology, Chemistry, English Literature and History would be less so, but we do not recommend the latter set, because Chemistry without Maths is unnecessarily difficult, and if you want to study Environmental Science you really ought to have A-level Maths.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

  105. Rosie


    I am currently a year 11 student looking to pick my A levels. I am thinking of doing English literature, geography, economics and religious studies. Is this a good combination to take? I am thinking of doing primary school teaching, or going into law.

    • ORA


      Dear Rosie,

      We recommend that you take four facilitating subjects, especially if you want to study Law at a respectable University. A potential set for you to consider is English Literature, History, Geography and Religious Studies (technically not a facilitating subject, but just as respectable in practice). For a full list of facilitating subjects, read this article.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  106. Amber


    Hi,
    I’ve been in my sixth form for nearly a month now and I am taking English Language, Business Studies, I.t and was taking sociology. Obviously I’m unsure about what exactly I want to go into in the future however I had an idea.
    I would love to go into finance and accountancy or teaching in a primary school but I have been in sociology lately and I do not click exactly with the subject, I feel like it’s not right for me as I don’t really need to know all about families and education therefore today I dropped it but I’m doubting what I done was right. I have asked to take mathematics a level instead as I got a B at GCSE but I am resitting in November to get an A and the entry requirements are A’s so the department are discussing whether or not to accept me… I just feel like I need advice in what to do? Another option is English literature as I got an A in GCSES.
    If I ukd have some advice it would be really helpful? Thankyou.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Amber,

      If you are set on finance and accounting, you will need to take Maths. Put all your efforts into that resit, and do your utmost to persuade the department to let you go ahead with it. It will be tricky as you’ve missed nearly a month’s work. I would recommend getting hold of the A-level textbook and starting on some of the exercises now in your free time.

      Primary teaching is less strict on subject choices. Either English Literature or Maths would serve you well (and both are an improvement on Sociology).

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  107. Aliya


    Can you please guide me, I am planning to study Psychology, Sociology along with another subject.

    I am having trouble choosing the third subject. I wanted it to be Law but I can’t find good tutor for the subject. I am looking for a substitute.

    Please tell me which subject will go along with sociology and psychology. Will Business studies do?

    • ORA


      Dear Aliya,

      We suggest you study at least one facilitating (respected) subject, such as English Literature or History. Ideally, you should pick four subjects, three of which are taken all the way to A2.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  108. Tim


    Hi,

    I am having some difficulty in choosing an AS subject to replace Maths, as after 4 weeks of work I have decided it is too difficult for me. My AS subjects are History, Economics and Psychology. I have been thinking of replacing Maths with Religious Studies but after reading that I need at least two facilitating subjects to give myself a good chance of getting into a top university I’m not so sure now.

    At first I wanted to do an Economics degree at university, but without the Maths it seems I will do a Business degree instead. Could you give me advice in terms of which subject I should replace Maths with?

    Thanks,

    Tim

    • ORA


      Hi Tim,

      It is not trivial to suggest a specific subject in this case. What we will do instead is give wise, broad advice: replace Maths with a facilitating subject. English Literature, Geography or a modern language would all be good choices.

      You ought to have at least two facilitating subjects at A2 to be taken seriously by the top universities.

      Furthermore, we suggest that finding a subject difficult is not in itself a good reason to drop it. If you find Maths challenging but still end up getting a B or better in it, it was time very well spent, and will look good on your CV. Conversely, an A in Economics is just not as impressive.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  109. Jessica


    I am slightly unsure as to whether I wish to go down the drama/film route or law, I realise both of these careers are very different so currently trying to choose A Levels is a difficulty.
    Originally I was thinking of taking Drama, English Literature (beneficial for both), Law and psychology, and if I get the grades I can do critical thinking AS as an extra one, however if I do take this I only have one facilitating subject which I worry will affect me being able go to a prestigious university. If I was to choose another facilitating subject I would consider geography however, I don’t know what I would swap it for. Any help/guidance with this is greatly appreciated, thank you.

    • ORA


      Dear Jessica,

      We are pleased to see your concern over the inclusion of facilitating subjects — it is wise.

      Here are some solid, highly respectable sets that would open doors to both Drama and Law at Russell Group universities:

      – English Literature, History, Geography and a Modern Language (100% facilitating)

      – English Literature, Geography and two Modern Languages (100% facilitating)

      – English Literature, History, Geography and Psychology (75% facilitating)

      – English Literature, History, Geography and Drama (75% facilitating)

      – English Literature, History, Geography and Law (75% facilitating)

      It is also important to emphasise that A-level Law is not required to study Law at University, and many Universities actually prefer that you skip it so that they can teach you from scratch. In view of this fact and its non-facilitating status, we suggest you don’t bother with Law at all and do a facilitating subject instead, such as another language (the second set above).

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

      • Joseph Powell


        My friend was in the same position and studied a drams and English literature degree at Bristol. At A-Level he studied History, English Literature, Maths and Drama. Although he goes onto say now that degree level drama is completely different, but still serves as good preparation. >

  110. Amelia


    Hello,

    It’s the time of year to start thinking about which A2s to take.
    Currently, I think I will be taking the following:
    English Literature
    Spanish
    Latin

    I would like to pursue a degree in English, and a career related to English, at hopefully a university in the Russell Group (fingers crossed!) So, I was wondering… Are these Al Levels respected? Will they put me in good stead for what I want to do?

    Thanks,

    Amelia

    • ORA


      Dear Amelia,

      Those three A-levels are all facilitating — good choice! They will stand you in good stead for RG universities and good jobs after that.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  111. Rebecca


    Hello,
    It’s the time of year for Year 11’s to start considering our options for A-Level and as one of the many people who are, generally, clueless as to a career path, some advice would be greatly appreciated.

    I am currently debating taking Psychology at University, but I’m not completely sure if I would like it or be good at it. Hence why I’d like to take it at A-Level to be the “fourth” option to test the waters, so to speak.

    For the other options at A-Level I know that I should/would like to take Maths and a science (although which science is to be determined). But I’m not sure what other subjects to take and if I should take Psychology.

    Any ideas?

    [Also, people have suggested Events Management as a career path, which does appeal to me but I’m not sure what to do about it…
    Other careers that intrigue me are Psychology based ones. i.e: Counselling or Criminal Profiling etc.]

    Thank you!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Rebecca,

      First of all, for Events Management, any set of subjects will do – just make sure you get involved with organising events (e.g. for university societies or your Student Union) as evidence of your abilities.

      For Psychology, you are on the right track. An ideal set of subjects could be Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Psychology if you’re sure you’re interested in the sciences, as that leaves any science subject that doesn’t require Physics as an option – i.e. most of them.

      A slightly broader set of options might be Maths, Biology, Geography and Psychology, which leaves lots of options open in Geography and social sciences. While Psychology isn’t a compulsory A-level for Psychology courses at university, we would on this occasion recommend that you do take it as a fourth subject to see if you like it.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  112. Aden


    Hi,i’m in my final year of IGCSE and am thinking of pursing a curer in computer science or medicine but i’m not sure about what options to take. I would really appreciate your help.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Aden,

      While it is possible to find a set of subjects that work for both Computer Science and Medicine, we advise against it; for Medicine, the field is so competitive that you should show complete commitment with your A-levels.

      For Computer Science, you should study Maths and, preferably, Further Maths. Other subjects you could take include Physics and Computer Science A-level. Don’t bother with ICT.

      For Medicine, Chemistry, Biology, Maths and Physics is the ideal combination.

      You could probably take Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Biology to be set up for either option, but if you aren’t absolutely certain you want to take Medicine, you will struggle to get a place.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  113. Imogen


    Hello,
    I am in my last year of GCSES and I will be choosing my A Level choices soon. Unfortunately, I am a bit stuck on which A Levels to take, and so I was wondering if I could ask your help.

    My main ambition is to be an author, but I am aware that before becoming a successful author, I should have another career. I think I would like to pursue jobs in journalism, or editing, or something along those lines.
    Therefore, at A Level I will definitely be taking English Literature, for obvious reasons. Secondly, I will also definitely be taking Spanish, as I enjoy languages, and do tend to excel in them (I am taking Spanish, French and Latin at GCSE). I would also be interested in a degree with Languages, as well as English. Thirdly, I think I will take Latin. My teacher recommends it as she says I am talented in it and I do enjoy it usually. Also, everyone tells me that it is regarded highly. Is this true? Now my problem is my fourth AS subject (possibly to continue at A2 as well). Could you give me some advice? Which subjects would help with me career choices? which subjects complement my other choices? Which subjects are regarded well?

    At GCSE, I am taking Maths, English Lit, English Lang, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Spanish, Latin, French and History. My school then offers Psychology, Economics and Goverment and Politics at A Level. I do not enjoy the sciences at all, so they are not an option. I would not like to continue Maths either. I am not particularly interested economics or Government and Politics.

    This leaves Psychology, History and French as the options for my fourth option.
    I like the idea of Psychology, and am interested in it. However, I am worried it will be too science based. Also, some people tell me it is considered a ‘soft’ subject. Is this true?
    I like History, and as it is an essay subject it will help with English. But I am not sure I am good enough at it, and I am also worried that I am not interested enough in it.
    I enjoy French and languages, but I am worried that taking two languages at A level will become confusing, as I sometimes get confused at GCSE.

    Sorry for the long message!
    Thank you in advance,

    Imogen

    • ORA


      Dear Imogen,

      We recommend you take History, for the following reasons:

      (i) it will give you valuable essay practice that will complement the different approach taken in English Literature;

      (ii) it will help you hone your critical thinking skills in a way that will be of great value as a journalist;

      (iii) it will sharpen and broaden you historical perspective — another desirable trait for a journalist;

      (iv) it is a highly respected subject;

      (v) it is fascinating and fun — especially if you have a good teacher.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  114. Bradlee


    Hi, I’m having a bit of a struggle deciding which subject to drop when I move onto A2. Currently, I’m undertaking Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics and I’m hoping to move onto Medicine in university.
    Thanks.

    • ORA


      Dear Bradlee,

      This is a very simple question to answer — you should drop Maths.

      Physics will support your understanding of medical instrumentation, so we suggest you take that all the way to A2.

      Good luck!

      The ORA Team

  115. Hanin


    Hello name is hanin and I did 2 as levels (math and bio) and I got 1 A and one B. I’m currently taking 2 A levels (math and bio) and I would like to take one more ‘easy’ subject. Could you help me choose this subject. Thank you.

    • ORA


      Dear Hanin,

      Good (but demanding) subjects to take with Maths and Biology are Chemistry and Physics.

      Other demanding subjects you could take are English Literature and History, for variety.

      Easier options would be Psychology and Sociology, but we do not recommend that approach here — we are of the opinion that you should take three or four facilitating (respected) subjects for the best career prospects.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  116. sara


    Hello. My name is Sara and I was hoping to go into medicine. My question is different but I hope you’ll answer me the same. I wanted to know if it would benefit me more to volunteer at a nursing home or a school with children that have EBD. Thank you.

    • ORA


      Hi Sara,

      Do both, if you can! If you have to choose, we suggest that the nursing home work is more directly relevant to general medicine and shows stronger commitment to the medical profession.

      That said, we have also contacted our medical expert and will post back here with his advice.

      The ORA Team

  117. Ali Cem


    I’ve achieved 8A*s and 3As in my GCSES. I have chosen Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Economics for my A Levels, and I currently think I am likely to go into a Maths or Physics degree. I also want to do this at top universities. Is the fact that I am not taking A Level Chemistry instead of Economics hindering my chances for a Physics degree? I picked it because I thought the option of Economics in the future was more likely than Chemistry. Please help, my deadline has already passed but if I let my college know asap, I have a chance of changing. Thanks

    • ORA


      Dear Ali,

      You do not need Chemistry to study Physics at university, though of course Chemistry would have been a lot more helpful than Economics. You have the three essential subjects (Maths, Further Maths and Physics), so your application is in order.

      Best wishes,

      The ORA Team

  118. Ramandeep


    Hi there, I currently take four AS levels of Psychology, Philosophy, English Literature and Economics. I would like to study psychology in university, but I want to drop economics and I’m worried that if I do three AS levels I won’t be accepted at a university. please help!

    • ORA


      Hi Ramandeep,

      We recommend that you stick to four AS levels.

      Best wishes,

      The ORA Team

  119. Shanza Hashmi


    Hi! I would really appreciate if you could advise me on this. I just went into A-level and I took Biology, Chemistry, Further Maths and Physics. The only problem is that I’m finding the work load hard to cope with now and thinking of dropping physics for either geography or Religious Studies. We’re four weeks into the courses so I really have to make a decision quick if I want to change. How much would me dropping physics reduce my chances into getting into medicine? And should I go for RS or geography?

    • ORA


      Dear Shanza,

      Have you considered replacing Further Maths with regular Maths? It is most unusual to take Further Maths by itself. Switching to regular Maths should lighten the pressure considerably.

      It would be a terrible shame to replace Physics with soft subjects.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  120. Qureshi


    I am taking Bio Phy Chem and I.C.T in A-Levels right now..I am planning to drop Physics because i am having a really hard time with it…..Is is possible to be a marine Biologist with the remaining subjects..or a Bio technologist..or any job?

    • ORA


      Dear Qureshi,

      Yes, you can pursue Marine Biology and related professions without Physics.

      Best wishes,

      The ORA Team

  121. Saif


    I am taking 3 subjects now in A levels..Biology, Chemistry and I.C.T….What Job Opportunities can I have with these Subjects…Is Psychology, Bio Technology or Marine Biology Possible?

    • ORA


      Dear Saif,

      Yes, it is possible to pursue those professions with the A-levels you mentioned, but taking a fourth A-level in another science (Maths or Physics) would be even better.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  122. Elyse


    Hi!

    I’ve just started my A-levels this term and I am currently taking Math, Further Math, Chemistry, Chinese, and 20th century history. I’m not entirely sure what I want to do for my undergrad degree which is why I have such a wide range of different A-level choices, but I am aiming for Russell Group (or Ivy League.)
    I enjoy Math a great deal and I did achieve an A* in the GCSE and found it relatively easy. I also enjoy Chinese and I would not want to drop it (we do the Pre-U for Chinese rather than the A-level.)
    For A2 I would like to drop Chemistry, however I know that between Chemistry and History I’m much better in Chemistry (overall, History was my lowest grade out of all the GCSEs – an A) but I enjoy learning about History although I don’t like the exams. I also think History is beneficial because I am quite likely to do a Law Conversion Course at Uni and I think an essay subject would be a good choice. Alternatively, I could also see myself going into Economics.

    I still do have the option to change my A-level choices and was also considering Latin as an AS before I was required to narrow it down.
    The workload isn’t too bad now, but I know it’s only going to get worse and I have been considering whether to drop a subject and have a bit more free time than I do now. But I don’t know if I should drop one now, or do my AS and then drop one with everyone at A2 (but I don’t know which one to drop!!)

    Additionally, the teachers at my school would have warned me if they thought I couldn’t do 5 A-levels with Further Math but they seem to have faith in my ability (causing me to have more faith as well.) However, I would rather do 4 A-levels and achieve better grades in them. The issue is, I would not want to drop Further Math, therefore my 4 A-levels could restrict me to a very sciencey/math degree when I know that isn’t what I want to go into.

    (Sorry for the lengthy, problematic A-level issue!!)
    Thank you,
    Elyse

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Elyse,

      The only subject you specifically mention wanting to drop is Chemistry. Given you don’t want to go for a science/Maths degree, that or Further Maths is the obvious choice to drop. Given you’re considering Economics, Maths + Further Maths is a stronger combination than Maths + Chemistry.

      You may be concerned about History exams, but with four subjects rather than five, you will have more time to prepare for them adequately. Also, while History A-level exams are tough, they’re excellent preparation for the challenges of Law exams.

      Finally, you could always check with your teachers how they feel about you dropping a subject mid-way through the year – so you could carry on with five for now, and then drop Chemistry if it starts to feel like too much work over the course of the year, rather than feeling like you have to stick it out until the end of AS.

      If you found our advice useful, please recommend this page on Facebook:

  123. jezla


    hi ! if i do maths only for AS level , is it beneficial ? will it be recognised ?

  124. Jezla


    hi !
    im in a bit of a confusion as to wether i should choose law or co mathematics with statistics . which one is better in order to get into a UK university ? i find law a tad bit boring and diffivult but i’m scared that mathematics might be too hard for me to cope . please help :) i’m currently plan on doing international relations at university.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Jezla,

      Mathematics is definitely a better choice than Law; Law A-level (unlike Law at degree level) is not very well-respected at all. Even if you just take Maths to AS-level, you should find it of benefit to you.

      If you found our advice useful, please recommend this page on Facebook:

  125. chelci


    Hi. I chose to do Pure Mathematics, Geography and Environmental Science, and communication studies and Caribbean studies were mandatory, can you tell me what type of degrees would I be able to get with these subjects?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Chelci,

      That’s a relatively restrictive set of subjects. They would lead best to subjects relating to Geography and Environmental Science. You may want to have a look at this tool to see what people who chose the same subjects as you then went on to study.

      If you found our advice useful, please recommend this page on Facebook:

  126. Emily Jayne


    Hello,

    I have just begun year 11, so I only have a matter of months before I decide upon my final A-level courses. For my GCSEs I took English Literature, English Language, Maths, Biology, Chemistry, History, Physics, Business Studies, French, ICT and RS. Three years ago I completed my Portuguese and Spanish GCSE and achieved an A* in both.
    I would like to be studying Spanish, Chemistry and Biology for my A-levels, but I have been considering studying Geography at an AS level, as I would like to be studying Geology at St Andrews university in a few years time. But I’m still not sure about geography as I’ve never really studied it, I would have liked to, but it wasn’t an option available to me at my current secondary school. However, the sixth form that I have been given an scholarship in have offered to allow me to study it at an AS Level to begin with. Should I go ahead with it? Or would I be taking too much on?

    Kind Regards,

    Emily Poole

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Emily,

      4 AS-levels is a standard number that should not pose a challenge to you. In fact, if you’re looking at universities like St Andrews, you should definitely be taking 4 AS-levels, regardless of the subjects you eventually choose.

      If your sixth form is prepared to let you take Geography, I would recommend at least giving it a shot. The summer between the end of GCSEs and the start of A-levels is a long one, so you can use some of that time to catch up on what you would have learned if you had taken GCSE Geography. If you’re sufficiently determined – and it sounds like you are – it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.

      If you found our advice useful, please recommend this page on Facebook:

  127. Oliver


    Hi,
    While As levels are quite far away (as I am just starting my second year of GCSE’s), I have a clear range of subjects that I know I want to do for As levels and I was wondering what university courses they could lead to. They are History, Economics, Government and politics. The fourth one I have yet to choose but am leaning towards English lit. Are these good subjects to do?
    Thank you

    • Oliver


      I forgot to mention. Maths is not my strongest subject and i now relise that this will mean economics will be quite hard. I’m fluent in French and did my GCSE’ a year early. In which i got almost full marks (397/400)
      I was wondering if i should continue with french and drop economics. Would an A*/A french A level be impressive if it is from a semi-native speaker??
      Thanks,
      Oliver

      • ORA Admin


        Dear Oliver,

        An A/A* in a language A-level is always impressive, whether it’s from a native speaker or not. For one thing, many native speakers have no qualifications to prove their ability, and for another, language A-levels also test your ability to analyse literature in the language and write academic essays – i.e. more than just straightforward linguistic competence. You are also right to note that Economics may be tricky if you struggle with Maths.

        So, assuming that you’re taking History, French, Government and Politics, and English – a strong set of subjects – what could you study? You could take English literature, Linguistics, History, French, any language ab initio, Politics, Law, Philosophy and probably a fair few others as well.

        If you found our advice useful, please recommend this page on Facebook:

  128. Aitor


    I’ve already decided on doing biomedical enginnering or mechanical engineering when I get to university (although I’ve been thinking it may be best for me to do mechanical enginnering at uni. and then do a master’s degree on biomedical engineering or something like that). The point is that I’ve just started year12 so I’ve just chosen my 5 As levels (maths, physiscs, chemistry, computer science and biology). However, during this first two weeks of school I’ve noticed that it’s too much workload so I’m thinking about dropping biology since, believe it or not, I don’t need it to enter to do biomedical engineering in any university in England. But, it isn’t that easy, since I believe that if I do biology for As levels, I will get higher chances of entering the top universities in England (I believe it is very probable that I will enter one of the top six universities in England for engineering since my results have been “outstanding”. I may also inform the reader about that I study in a british school in Spain, which means that I get to do another A level (spanish A level), in which it is quite easy for me to get over an A, increasing my chances of getting into a top uni. in England.
    Overall, and making it all simple, I ask the reader for help since I don’t know if I should do biology for As or not (I would drop it for A level anyway and I won’t drop any of the other subjects just to do As biology (my idea is to end up having A levels on maths, physics, chemistry and spanish, and As on computer science, further maths and “biology” which is the one I’m thinking about not doing)). So yea, overall, I just want the reader to tell me if I should do As biology or just do 4 As levels in y12 so that I xan get better grades on the other.
    Thank you bry much for reading and I hope someone answers this as soon as possible (IN FACT, IT’S URGENT). Ou, and sorry about the confusion I may have created :)
    Thaaaanks.

    • ORA


      Dear Aitor,

      We suggest that you are better off doing four A-levels, dropping one at AS.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  129. Momena


    I dont know that wether i should take business subjects or sciences. I prefer physics chemistry maths and global perspectives

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Momena,

      With those preferred subjects, I recommend sciences. Talented science graduates are usually more in demand than talented business graduates, and it’s easier to go from science to business than vice versa if you change your mind in future.

      If you found our advice useful, please recommend this page on Facebook:

  130. Maisy


    Hi, I am currently doing Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Latin as my As subjects.. However I’m not enjoying latin and so I am considering switching to history, but will my workload be too much? I loved history at GCSE, but lasts years As results for history were not encouraging… What shall I do??

    • ORA


      Dear Maisy,

      Congratulations on having chosen a most impressive selection of A-levels. It is a pity that you are not enjoying Latin, as it would have been a powerful subject to take with your other choices.

      We are not clear on what you mean when you write that last year’s AS History results were disappointing; presumably you are referring to the year above you. If you enjoy History, by all means take it instead of Latin. It will be more challenging than GCSE History, but it sounds like you are quite hard-working and academic, so you should be fine.

      If you found our advice useful, please recommend this page on Facebook:

  131. Siyara


    Hi,

    Is it necessary to take maths subject while taking psychology, sociology, economics and business studies in A Level? I really do not want to take maths. Will it be difficult to get admission in universities without taking maths?

    • ORA


      Dear Siyara,

      None of those subjects strictly require Maths at A-level, but in practice it would be a mistake to take Economics without Maths, because it uses many formulae and curves that are difficult to appreciate properly without a sound mathematical foundation.

      Furthermore, Maths is the only facilitating (highly respected) subject in the set of options you mentioned, so if you want a strong university application, we strongly suggest you take it.

      If you found our advice useful, please recommend this page on Facebook:

  132. Sibgat Sohail


    Hi, I am considering a career in medicine. At the moment I am taking Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics, however I understand this is quite difficult and stressful to take during college. Would Psychology be an easier/valid alternative to Physics? Would it affect likelihood of getting into a good uni? Thanks.

    • ORA


      Dear Sibgat,

      It’s very simple: if the three sciences plus maths sound like too much work, Medicine is definitely not the correct choice for you, because it is the longest and most demanding degree course. You will find that successful medical applicants get straight As in 4-5 A-levels without struggling.

      In other words, while physics is not essential for Medicine, your concern about the workload is a symptom of a larger problem.

      We recommend you take the three sciences plus maths and drop physics after AS, followed by a science degree (e.g. Biology or Chemistry).

      If you found our advice useful, please recommend this page on Facebook:

  133. Anjali


    Hi,
    I am in my last year of GCSE and have to make my choices for A level this February and I have absolutely no idea what I want to do; only the subjects I enjoy taking (in no particular order): Physics, Maths, English Lit, History, Chemistry and Biology. I’m predicted A*s in all of these and I am taking an FMSQ in Maths this June (I already sat the GCSE). I would really appreciate any suggestions of courses that would facilitate these subjects and any ideas on which of these subjects to omit. Thanks :)

    • ORA


      Dear Anjali,

      Congratulations on your excellent results.

      A very strong set of A-levels for you would be Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths, dropping one after AS. The one to drop must be chosen with care — for example, we do not recommend studying Biology without Chemistry, or Physics without Maths.

      This set of A-levels will open doors to many excellent degree courses and will also make a good impression on employers.

      If you found our advice useful, please recommend this page on Facebook:

  134. Omar


    Thanks, helped a lot! I’m unsure on picking both History and Geography because of the high workload. I hate to say it but RE just seems quite easy or at least has been at GCSE. Also, I hear a lot that essay/ writing based careers that make good money are quite scarce at the moment. Most people say that maths and science are where the jobs are. Thank you.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Omar,

      RE is pretty easy at GCSE but you’re unlikely to find the same is true at A-level; almost all subjects have a high workload and the way to make them feel easy is to choose the ones you’ll enjoy. Neither History nor Geography have reputations as unusually high-workload subjects.

      It is true that there are more careers out there for STEM graduates, but there are also lots of careers that simply require a degree, and don’t specify the subject, so it makes sense to pursue what you will do well in. We discuss how non-STEM degree can still get you a good job here.

      If you found our advice useful, please recommend this page on Facebook:

  135. Omar


    Hi,

    I’m currently in Year 11 and im doing the usual core subjects, history, geography, drama, religion and society. Im doing pretty well in every subject but im more of a writer than a mathematician or a scientist. I need to start thinking about what i want to do for a-level but i have no idea what career i want to pursue. I am thinking about doing History/Geography, Psychology, English and then maybe RE or something I know I’d do well in. I need help deciding between History and Geography (I’m at a similar level for both and enjoy both equally) and I need to know if those subjects are good mix. I feel like i should show im a good all rounder but the subjects im thinking about are too writing based? Thanks for any help!!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Omar,

      If you’re good at writing, it makes sense to pick subjects that are writing-based! University admissions won’t have a problem with you not choosing any science subjects if you’re applying for an essay-based course.

      Furthermore, those subjects – whether you choose History or Geography – make for an excellent combination. Having said that, if you’re thinking of RE simply as something you’d do well in, why not go for History, Geography, Psychology and English instead?

      Either way, any four of those five subjects would leave you set for degrees in every subject you took except Psychology (for which you would need more science subjects) plus Law, Politics, Philosophy and similar essay-based degree courses.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  136. Addy


    Hi!

    I just started Year 12 and only have until next Friday to officially decide if I’m sticking with my options or not.
    So far I’ve done AS EPQ and AS General Studies in order to get the AQA Baccalaurette.
    In Year 12 I’m taking English Literature, Art, ICT, Biology and History – 5 AS Levels. I would love to get into character design, game design, media, or most of all, cartoons and animation.
    I want to drop down to 4 AS Levels and am currently stuck between dropping ICT or Biology.
    I love both of these subjects, though neither of them are specifically needed to get into art or animation courses. ICT would probably help more, but would mean little to other jobs.
    However, Biology on its own won’t get me anywhere – I need to take another science or maths subject to make it lead up to anything to do with Biology. I sort of got pressured into taking it and now I really don’t know which to drop.

    Please help, thank you!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Addy,

      It sounds as if you’re very well-informed about the choice you have to make here. My instinctive recommendation is that you should drop a non-facilitating subject (ICT) rather than a facilitating subject (Biology), although you are right that Biology is not much use to you on its own if you wanted to pursue it at university.

      You may want to consider other aspects of the course – for instance, the balance between coursework and exams; which style of assessment suits you better? It may be best simply to choose whichever subject you feel will give you the best mark. Achieving the type of career you’re interested in will be less a matter of the subjects you choose (excepting Art, which is vital) and more a matter of getting a good portfolio together and getting as much work experience as you can.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  137. Vicky Harper


    Hi my name is Vicky I have just started year 11 and have chosen the following A levels; Maths, Physics, Biology, Psychology and General Studies (the last being compulsory at my school). I truly have no idea what I want to do after A levels. I enjoy science but didnt take Chemistry GCSE so I therefore couldn’t choose it for A level . Although I got a grade A for maths in my GSCE I feel I am struggling with Maths and am seriously considering dropping it for either sports science or business studies. Please help.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Vicky,

      I would advise having a conversation with your Maths teacher and seeing what s/he thinks about your A-level chances before you drop it. Your selection of A-levels at the moment is very good, and would be seriously weakened by dropping Maths.

      For instance, if you were to take Sport Science, you would ideally want to have either Maths or Chemistry with it to give you a broader base on options for further study. If you were to take Business Studies, you would definitely want to have Maths as well, as without it you would struggle with related degrees, such as Business, Accounting or Economics.

      Therefore, I would advise seeing what support your school can give you to help with your concerns about Maths, rather than dropping it, especially given that your GCSE grade speaks well of your mathematical ability.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  138. helia


    Hi my name is helia and I study in Bournville sixth form, Birmingham. For A-level I choose Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Art but I have a problem with Art because a very very long time must be spent on it. I want to drop this course and I’m not sure but I think I want carry on human biology. Could you tell me which course to pick up instead of Art please? Thank you for help.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Helia,

      Maths, Biology and Chemistry is a very strong set of subjects, so it doesn’t really matter which course you add to them. Further Maths or Physics would be the most impressive options (and they fit logically with your other options), but given it’s a fourth subject, I would simply advise to pick whatever you think would be most fun to study for a year.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  139. Ahmed


    Hello! I want to study accounting at my university and I have taken Accounting, Mathematics, Economics and Business Studies at my A levels. I want to take two more subjects at my A Levels, that means a total of six subjects, so could you recommend me 2 or 3 subjects to choose from and give some advice too. I had already appeared in the above four subjects at my AS level.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Ahmed,

      I’m a little confused by your question. Do you mean that you have taken 4 AS-levels already, and want to take 4 A2s and two further AS-levels, or that you are just starting your AS-levels and would like to take a total of 6 subjects, 4 of which you’ve already chosen?

      Either way, my instinct is to caution against taking two further AS levels. No university requires more than four AS levels, and while taking on five can be manageable, taking on six is ill-advised – if you end up bringing down your grades overall, your university will not take the extra subjects into account, but will instead see that as evidence of poor judgement.

      Having said that, you asked for my advice on additional subjects, so I will give that too. Further Maths is always advisable, and clearly complements your subject choices. A language would add breadth to your application. If you think there is any possibility that you might end up studying Economics, rather than Accounting, History or Geography might provide context for the real-world effects of economic theory. Given the narrow focus of the subjects you’ve already picked, you could take on pretty much any facilitating subject if you wanted a little variety.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  140. Garcia


    Dear ORA Team,
    I’m in serious doubt in my A Level choices. I want to study chemical engineering at university.
    I have chosen Mathematics, Chemistry and Business Study for my A level.
    Is these 3 subject is okay for chemical engg?
    I don’t like Physics and i am not as good in Maths that’s why i didn’t taken either physics or further maths.

    • ORA


      Dear Garcia,

      If you find Maths and Physics intensely undesirable, our view is that this is a symptom of a larger problem, namely, that Chemical Engineering is simply not for you, because Chemical Engineering has a fair amount of serious Maths and Physics in it.

      Alternatively, Chemical Engineering is for you and you simply need to put up with Physics and Maths as preparation for something you do enjoy. Finding Maths hard does not mean you can’t do well in it; we know people who found Maths challenging and still got excellent results through sheer hard work. Making yourself do something you don’t fancy in order to achieve a desirable goal is excellent practice for your future life.

      Best wishes,

      The ORA Team

  141. Raj


    Hello ORA,
    I am Raj from Mumbai, India. I am going to start GCE A Level. I want to study chemical engineering in UK. I gave chosen 3 subject for my GCE A Level which are Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology. The probkem is i didn’t done well in my IGCSE O Level. I got grades like D E F etc. I know that it is very bad O Level result but i will try my best in A Level to achieve grades A or A*.
    Does my bad O Level result will effect my admission in any UK university?
    If i do very well result in GCE A Level will it help for university admission?
    If my O Level result will stop me from admission in UK universities, then what should i do?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Raj,

      When you apply to university in year 13, you will already have your AS-level results in hand, as well as predicted grades for A2. Therefore, if you can bring your grades up to the level you suggest (which will be hard work!) as well as getting good predicted grades from your teachers, then your poor O-level results should not put you at too much of a disadvantage.

      I would advise emailing the universities you are interested in before submitting your application to ask how much weight they place on O-levels as compared to AS-levels, as this will vary between institutions. But in general, if you can get the AS grades that you aspire to, your O-levels will mostly be ignored.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  142. Roha Fatima


    Im veryy much interested in the computing/tecnology feild. But my school is not offering ict. There for I decided to take physics instead if it. Would it b accepted by universities. My 4 subjects are maths physics psychology and sociology. I also developed an interest in these 2 social sciences as well. I just wanted to ask that if I desire to go in computing/tecnology feild, is maths and physics enough

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Roha,

      ICT A-level is entirely unnecessary for Computer Science or related technology courses; it teaches you how to use things like databases and spreadsheets, rather than getting into detail about the technology underpinning them, so don’t worry about not taking it.

      Maths and Physics are excellent subject choices for the courses you are considering. I would advise, however, only taking one of Psychology and Sociology, and taking Chemistry or Further Maths as your fourth subject instead, as these are both facilitating subjects and are more closely related to the fields you are interested in studying.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  143. Maisarah Zaliqah


    Hi. I’m currently in year 10. I’ll be sitting for my OLevel examination next year. I’ve studied Accounting for 2 years (year 9 and year 10) but I’m not really good with it. I’d like to take Economics and Mathematics next year for my ALevel subjects. I have to take one more subject but I’m not sure which subject should I take; either Accounting OR Psychology. Please help me list out the pros and cons. I’m in total dilemma. Thank you very much.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Maisarah,

      If you’re struggling with Accounting at O-level, you shouldn’t be taking it at A-level – so it would make sense, of those two options, to take Psychology instead.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

      • Maisarah Zaliqah


        Thank you for the reply. I chose Economics, Mathematics and Psychology. I’ve submitted the form just now. Thank you for the very immediate opinion.

  144. Imran


    Hello sir/mam,
    I’m Imran from Bangladesh and i am just going to start A Level. I want to study Computer Science at University but i am really confuse with the subjects which are needed in A Level for Computer Science. In my mind i have selected 3 subjects which are:
    Mathematics,
    Physics ,
    Accounting…
    I know that Accounting is not suitable for Computer Science but i have chosen it as my 3rd A level subject. I have searched different university’s website and every university’s computer science requirement is Maths and Physics so i have selected both.
    I didn’t chosen Chemistry or Biology because i don’t like both subjects.
    Does Accounting will be acceptable as 3rd A Level for computer science?
    Please reply me. Thanks.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Imran,

      If you are planning to apply to university in the UK, rather than in Bangladesh, you should ideally have 4 AS-levels and then take 3 of those subjects to A2. Accounting is fine as one of those subjects, so long as you have (as you correctly identified) Maths and Physics. For a fourth AS-level, I would recommend Further Maths if your school offers it. I’m afraid I don’t know much about university admissions in Bangladesh; if only three AS-levels are required, I see no problems with your selection – while Accounting is not relevant for Computer Science and isn’t facilitating, given you have two facilitating subjects, I think it should be fine.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

      • Imran


        Firts of all thanks for your reply. I want to study computer science in UK. In my city there is no college with Further Maths subject so i have no option to take it. So i have to complete my full A Level with Mathematics, Physics and Accounting.
        Is there will be any problem with Accounting for computer science admission in any UK University?
        Thanks.>

        • ORA Admin


          Dear Imran,

          That depends on the university you want to go to. If you are considering Oxford or Cambridge, you should follow the guidelines from this page and take three of Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths and Physics.

          If you are not considering Oxbridge but want to go to a Russell Group university (or any similarly-ranked university), Maths, Physics and Accounting will be fine for your A2s but you will almost certainly need to take four subjects at AS. For your fourth subject, any facilitating subject would be fine, even if it isn’t in any way related to Computer Science (e.g. a language).

          Do you have a particular university in mind? Even at this early stage, it wouldn’t hurt to email them and ask which subjects they would like to see on your application, of the ones available to you.

          Best of luck!

          The ORA Team.

          • Imran


            Sorry for asking again. I am thinking to give Further Maths AS with A2 sitting of Mathematics, Physics and Accounting because at the moment i am not prepare for studying Further Math.
            Is there will be any problem if i give AS Further Maths with Mathematics, Physics and Accounting A2 sitting?
            What modules i have to give for AS Further Maths as i am thinking of giving FP1, FP2 and S1….is it ok?
            Thanks.>

          • ORA Admin


            Dear Imran,

            That sounds like a sensible approach. I’m afraid I can’t advise on Further Maths modules – this is the kind of thing I would advise emailing universities about.

            We hope this helps.

            The ORA Team.

  145. Aima


    Hi,

    I’ve just started my A-levels, and I took my subjects based mostly on my liking, but also on diversity.
    I have Law, English Literature, Mathematics, History and Biology. What I wanted to know was-not that this is a particularly articulate question- are these good subjects for foreign admissions? Possibly in the Law or English fields?

    And also, I gave 9 O levels; are those enough?

    I’d be very happy for your help, thanks.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Aima,

      That is an excellent set of subjects for either Law or English. Do be aware that Law is not required or even preferred by the majority of Law schools; it often teaches simplified things that you will then have to “un-learn” as an undergraduate. However, this should not entirely put you off taking it in order to find out whether a Law degree would suit you.

      I am not entirely sure what you mean by “foreign admissions” – do you mean entering British universities as a foreign student? If so, your subject choices are fine. While I’m afraid I don’t know much about O-levels, it seems that having taken 9 is rather more than is expected, and should certainly be plenty for university admission.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  146. Lillian


    Hi,

    I’m currently planning on taking GCSEs and later A-levels as an independent student. I’m doing 6 GCSEs (and I hope that’s enough for most Uni’s) in the subjects English, English Lit. German, French, Maths and French.

    I’d like to go for History or Modern languages at University and am considering taking German, English and History as A-level subjects.
    Would it be wiser to replace History with French and have three languages? I didn’t grow up with the British system so I’m unsure of which subjects to pick.
    Do you have any suggestions?

    • ORA


      Dear Lillian,

      (i) you need a minimum of 8 GCSEs for a strong application, and ideally 10;

      (ii) History admissions are significantly more competitive than Modern Languages;

      (iii) German and English are enough to read German at University, and in any case many universities offer ab initio language courses;

      (iv) you have to take four A-levels, on of which will be dropped after the first year;

      (v) some talented students have been known to take French, German, English Literature and History — that exact combination — so that’s worth considering.

      We hope this helps.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  147. Sheyi


    Hi,
    I only recently started my a levels and I am taking Maths, Further Maths, Physics and French. French being my fourth AS level, is what I am hoping to drop when I move on to A2. I would like to study Engineering at a top University and I know that when submitting my AS results, I would have to submit all four subject result. At the moment, I am thinking of changing French into Economics, as I feel that it is more related to my other subjects and will therefore be easier to grasp, however, I am not sure what to do. Do I stick with French, hoping that from all the hard work I shall put into it I will get a good grade or should I pick Economics, knowing it will be an easier concept to grasp? Is it better to have a wide spread or a more related spread of subjects? If I do not get a good grade in French, will it affect my chances of getting into a top university? Please help, I am really confused!!!

    • ORA


      Dear Sheyi,

      Are you sure that you will do better in Economics than French? What evidence is there that this will in fact be the case?

      French is a facilitating (highly respected) subject whereas Economics is not. An Engineering graduate with working knowledge of French is very employable, but basic knowledge of Economics might also been seen as desirable, depending on the employer.

      Our view, therefore, is that you should take the subject in which you are likely to do best, because an A is more impressive than a B when subjects are of approximately equal value.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  148. amy


    I want to do a business degree
    My subject choices so far are business it accs psychology
    I want to drop accs but m not sure that would it help me for my degree in the future or not

    • ORA


      Dear Amy,

      Here are some possible sets of options, in descending order of difficulty and impressiveness:

      – Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Economics (very demanding and impressive — and yes, this is a strong choice for Business-related degrees)

      – Maths, Chemistry, Physics and Economics

      – Maths, Physics, English Literature and Economics

      – Maths, History, English Literature and Economics

      – Business, IT, Accounting and Psychology (less demanding and impressive)

      There are many other possible combinations, of course, but this should give you a broad overview of how admissions tutors see A-level options.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

  149. Natalia


    I have Biology, Chemistry and Physics in my A-levels but i’m confused about my 4th subject. I want to go into Medicine. I’m contemplating between Psychology, Sociology or English Literature. I’m open to other subjects as well. Do you have any suggestions?

    • ORA


      Dear Natalia,

      We strongly recommend you take Mathematics. It is a highly respected subject that will give strong support to the three sciences. Sociology and Psychology are not respectable enough for medical applications.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  150. Sara


    Hi! So it’s been two weeks since I started my first year of A levels, and the subjects I’ve picked are Bio, Chem, English Literature and Math. I love my subjects (except chem which I’m finding particularly hard). So I have a question. If I drop Chem should I drop Bio as well, since I’ve heard it’s useless alone?

    Also, does History have more credits than English Literature? If so, should I replace English with History? I have no problem studying either…

    • ORA


      Dear Sara,

      Biology is not completely useless without Chemistry, but it does benefit considerably from it.

      English Literature and History are both highly respected subjects and neither is inherently more “facilitating” than the other.

      Best wishes,

      The ORA Team

  151. junko


    I hope it’s OK to ask this kind of question.
    My daughter is in Year 9 now and chose Classics, not Latin for the GCSE. The course only started last week, but she wants to swap to Latin. Her school is saying the class is full so it’s not possible to offer her a place… I thought it wouldn’t be that hard to let her swap especially it’s just started and she only missed one lesson.She is very upset. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Junko,

      The school is probably not being deliberately obstinate – it is probably the case that the class really is full, which could even be a case of there not being room for another body in the timetabled room. Since your daughter has only had one lesson of Classics, perhaps she simply needs to give it a little more of a chance?

      Also, since this is a course that’s being offered to year 9s, if she’s still set on Latin this time next year, she may be able to take it then.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  152. Sameen


    please recommend me the best subjects to keep at a levels for Business management . I am currently having Business studies, Economics and Urdu.

    Thanks.

    • ORA


      Dear Sameen,

      We recommend you add Mathematics to the mix if you want a strong application. Replacing Urdu with Physics would further improve your application.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  153. Tanya


    Hi,
    I am currently studying at gcse level but I am very uncertain about what to peruse in the future. My best subjects are the three science and I have wanted to become a doctor from a young age. I has always wanted to study medicine I find it very enjoyable and I like the prospect of helping people. But recently I have started readying physics and have educated myself in quantum theory and quantum mechanics. I find this subject greatly rewarding and I am fascinated by every new fact I learn.
    The problem is- i am aware that to study physics you need an advanced understanding in maths , so I’d have to take maths and further maths for a-level to be admitted onto a physics course.
    However for medicine, chemistry and biology are necessary requirements.
    The sixth form I am hopefully going to get into, does 4AS levels and 3A2, so unfortunately I am completely stuck on what subjects to choose .
    I want to become a radiologist and take a medical course, but I also want qualifications in theoretical physics and I want to continue studying the subject.
    Please advice me on what I could do, it would be gratelly appreciated

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Tanya,

      While having Further Maths is certainly a great help for a Physics degree, it is by no means a requirement. Therefore, you could take Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Maths at AS, leaving your options open to either Medicine or Physics, and then drop one of those subjects when you have a better idea of the direction you want to take at A2.

      Having said that, getting accepted to med school requires a remarkable degree of commitment and dedication; it’s not recommended for the undecided. You may be better off focusing on your interest in Physics, where it is just as possible as in Medicine to participate in research that will be of huge benefit to people’s lives.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  154. Katie


    Hello,I am looking into a career in Nursing and am currently taking Biology,History,Psychology and Spanish which need to be confirmed by next week.

    However, I am thinking of swapping them to Biology,Psychology,Chemistry and Drama and drop Drama at AS.I find myself extremely uninterested in History and Spanish but picked them as they were facilitative and could keep my options open. What would your advice be for a nursing degree?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Katie,

      Definitely the latter set of options! Chemistry, Biology, Psychology and Drama (in that order of importance) are an excellent set of subjects for a prospective nurse, and leave a variety of other science and medicine-related courses open to you besides.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  155. Callum


    Hi there,

    I’m currently stressing out about what to drop for A2. My subjects at the moment include History, Government and politics, Religious studies and English literature. I gained AAAB in AS respectively. My dilemma is that I want to study either a politics course or history and politics, and I’m very uncertain what to drop. Common sense says I should drop the lowest one being English literature, but I’m hesitant due to it being a facilitating subject while politics and RS aren’t. What would you suggest if I’m aiming at top universities? Thank you.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Callum,

      I would advise you to drop English Literature. While RS isn’t a facilitating subject, it falls into the same group as Music – an academic and demanding subject that is non-facilitating simply because it doesn’t have a particularly broad application.

      Given the relevance of RS to the subjects you’re thinking of studying, that isn’t a problem – so you effectively have two facilitating-esque subjects, rather than just one.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  156. Bethany


    Hey, I’m Beth.

    I have picked my A levels now, but have to finalise them by next week.

    I picked Biology, Psychology, History and Chemistry. In the future, I would like to do something in the medical field, such as becoming a fertility specialist.

    I am interested in possibly studying, biomedical science in university or a degree which concentrates on the medical side of science.

    I have researched and it seems like Maths is recommended to study science subjects at university, however I have not picked it, because although I got a good grade at GCSE for it, I don’t particularly enjoy it.

    I was wondering, do you think not picking maths as an A Level, will affect my chances at doing a subject such as biomedical science at a top university, such as the Russell group ones?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Beth,

      Not taking Maths will put you at a disadvantage, but since you’re leaning towards Biomedical Science rather than Medicine, it’s not a huge disadvantage. It would not rule out most Russell Group universities (although check individual websites in case they say Maths is compulsory).

      Having said that, the reason Maths is a recommended subject is because all science degrees contain a considerable amount of Maths. If you think two more years of Maths A-level would be unpleasant, three or more years of a science degree might not be much fun for you either.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  157. N


    Hi, I want to study dentistry at uni. I am planning to take biology, chemistry, psychology and religious studies for my a levels. Are these subjects suitable?

    • ORA


      Some dentistry courses will be open to you with that set of A-levels, but we recommend you take Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics, which will make you eligible for all Dentistry courses.

      Best wishes,

      The ORA Team

  158. Jamila


    Hi my name is Jamila.

    I’ve taken four A level subjects, Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Human Biology. I really want to get into Medicine in the future, however, I really want to drop either Biology or Human Biology. The problem is, where I am studying they only offer these subjects (Maths Chem, Bio) and English, ICT and Accounting A levels. They do not offer subjects like Psychology, Sociology etc.

    Would it be better of for me to take these two Biology subjects (Human Biology only AS) keeping in mind that I feel like I will struggle as Biology is a weak subject for me. Or would it be better for me to take only one of these and just to English/ICT for AS?
    I would like to take the decision that would benefit me in my future in Medical but at the same time, I don’t want to feel suffocated with the subjects I am taking as they are all very very serious subjects.

    I’m very sorry if it is confusing, I am pretty confused myself.
    Any help would be greatly beneficial for me, as I am currently very stuck on my decision.
    Thank you.

    • ORA


      Dear Jamila,

      I know this is not what you want to hear, but if Biology is a struggle for you, Medicine is not a viable option. You need to revise your plans.

      Best wishes,

      The ORA Team

  159. Charlotte Jenner


    Dear ORA team

    I have just started my A levels in Maths, Physics, Chemistry & Biology. I passed GCSE exams in all these subjects at A* but also did well in 5 other subjects
    My careers advisor has told me that my Morrisby test results indicate I have exceptional ability in English language and only average ability in Physics so should drop Physics and take English.
    I am leaning towards a career in Vetinary Science, Engineering or other science based subject. As I am enjoying Physics I am nervous about dropping it for an arts subject. Can you comment on the implications of substituting English for one of my science subjects
    Regards
    Charlotte Jenner

    • ORA


      Dear Charlotte,

      Congratulations on your excellent choice of A-levels! I strongly recommend that you do not replace Physics with English. I can assure you that you will be putting your strong English writing skills to good use regardless of what career you elect to pursue.

      The three sciences and maths are a formidably synergistic quartet of subjects, because Biology is supported by Chemistry, which is supported by Physics, which in turn is supported by Maths. This is an eminently respectable set of A-levels that will impress universities. As importantly, it will give you an exceedingly coherent and solid grounding in the sciences.

      You are on an excellent path, and I would caution against compromising it when both my logic and your instincts indicate otherwise.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  160. Arya


    Hello.
    I’m an AS level student right now, and I have plans to take medical studies in the future. The subjects I have chosen are:
    Main: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Pure maths and statistics.
    Language: English language and literature.
    Group 3: English Literature.
    I’ve decided to take English Literature instead of Psychology, though I adore both subjects equally, I’ve got the confidence that I can score better in Eng Lit than Psychology. My question is, will this choice of subject affect my chances of getting into a medical school?
    with regards and Thanks,
    Arya.

    • ORA


      Dear Arya,

      This is an excellent set of options for Medicine. You should not replace English Literature with Psychology; among other reasons, Psychology is significantly less respected.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  161. Lara


    Hello, I would really appreciate some help to do with my A Level choices.
    (For my GCSE’s I achieved A*s for English language and literature, A* in history, A* in art, A in maths and AAA* in triple science.)
    I have currently chosen Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Art. However, as I don’t have a clear vision of what I want to do in the future, I am unsure whether to change my Biology and Chemistry options to History and English Literature/Language.
    The only reason that I have gone down the science route for now is because I thought that it will be easier to get into a job at the end of a science related degree, such as Dentistry or Pharmacy. Is this true?
    Although I admittedly enjoy English and History more than science, I have no idea what degree/career I would pursue with these subjects, and have also been told that careers such as Journalism or Publishing or Law are very competitive.
    At the end of my A Levels I just want to be able to choose a degree that will guarantee me an averagely high paying salary.
    Do you think I should stick with the sciences or change it to the arts?

    Your help will be much appreciated,
    Thank you.

    • ORA


      Dear Lara,

      There are a few points to be made here:

      (i) the sciences are essential for pharmacy or dentistry — you would need to study at least Biology and Chemistry and ideally Physics and Maths as well;

      (ii) there are plenty of good careers open to humanities graduates — it all depends on how talented and employable you are. A degree does not in itself guarantee a job, lucrative or otherwise;

      (iii) you are better off choosing subjects in which you will do well;

      (iv) law is ridiculously competitive and is only a viable option for the most academically gifted and talented candidates who are genuinely committed to that career path;

      (v) publishing is competitive — all fields are competitive these days — but not as prohibitively competitive as law.

      To maximise your chances of a well-paid job after university, we recommend the following strategy, which is applicable to anyone:

      (a) choose a set of four facilitating subjects (as described above) for your A-levels;

      (b) study a degree that you will genuinely enjoy at the best possible University;

      (c) gain plenty of work experience during your University studies;

      (d) have a clear idea of what career you want to pursue no later than the beginning of your final year at university, and ideally one year before that.

      Our article on improving your employment prospects will be of further assistance.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  162. Oliver Malik


    Hello, please can you help ? I have just started my A level courses and not sure I have chosen correctly. Background info; I achieved GCSE A* in Chemisrty, Physics ,Spanish and German A in maths English, English Lit, Biology,PE,Statistics and B in Art and History. I have no idea of what I want to do as a career ! I have taken at A level Maths, Biology,Spanish and History, which I though would keep my options open however my head of year thinks I have made a mistake and have no direction . Please could you give me your thoughts
    Regards
    Oli

    • ORA


      Dear Oliver,

      The set of A-levels you have chosen opens the doors to a number of respectable degrees, namely, History, Law, Spanish, Biology and a considerable variety of lesser degrees.

      It is, however, equally true that your current A-level choices, while adequate, are not ideal for any of those subjects. The strongest options for Biology, for example, would be Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics; for History a stronger set of options would be History, English Literature and any two of Classics, a Language, Latin and Greek.

      Therefore we concur with your Head of Year: you should decide what it is that you really want to do and then choose a more focused set of A-levels accordingly. Once you are clear on what you want to do at university, you will find that there is such a thing as the best set of A-levels for a given degree; there is some leeway, but not much — not if you want your A-levels to be impressive and focused.

      Good luck, and feel free to get back to us if you need further advice.

      The ORA Team

  163. Catherine


    Do you think it is better to choose
    Mathematics
    Biology
    Economics
    History
    OR
    choose business over economics
    I have heard from my teacher that the top universities will not accept business studies?
    And do you think history is quite useful for my future study?

    • ORA


      Dear Catherine,

      We would advise you against Economics and Business Studies. They are not as well respected as the facilitating subjects and are not required by Economics and Business-related degrees.

      Here are some better options for you to consider:

      History, Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry

      History, English Literature, Biology and Chemistry

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  164. emily


    hi
    i was thinking about taking history and psychology but i need two more options please can you say what may go well with these two. i dont mind essay writing. Also for Gcse i have taken french history pe and re if that is any help. Just want a few suggestions of what would go together nicely or look good together
    thanks

    • ORA


      Dear Emily,

      Here are some strong sets of subjects:

      History, English Literature, Classics and a Language – an impressive and demanding set

      History, English Literature, RE and Psychology – easier

      History, English Literature, a Language and Psychology – easier

      We hope this helps.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  165. Oluyomi Adams


    Im going to take Mathematics, Physics, German and Biology. Im wondering if these subjects will be difficult to me and i don’t want to find myself seriously struggling in the future. My major concern is German as there is no limit to how much you can do revision for it as it is an entire language. Please reply, i have a two week deadline for my final decision.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Oluyomi,

      This is a tricky one to answer. Your selection of subjects is certainly demanding, but they’re all strong subjects and I wouldn’t want to encourage you to change them.

      To address studying German specifically, it is the case that the revision you can do for it is almost infinite. However, it’s also a lot more fun to revise a language than most other subjects. For instance, you can revise German by watching your favourite film dubbed into German (having the subtitles on in German can also help – test yourself by spotting where the a) the dubbing is different from the original dialogue and b) the dubbing isn’t identical to the subtitles). Obviously it’s not all fun – you will have to memorise the genders of nouns and so on – but in general, the quantity of revision in a language is relatively low compared to A-levels with a lot of hard facts to memorise.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  166. Su


    Hi all.
    I am in severe need of help. My entire life I wanted to go into drama or English literature and now I’m terrified, so terrified I’m considering medicine which is a degree I’ve been put off because most of my family are medics and I’ve no passion or drive. I want to keep my options open but not so that I don’t have all that I require. My problem is, and this isn’t cockyness, that I am capable of achieving in all these subjects but only am highly passionate about the lesser reputed ones I.e drama and classics and history. Are these subjects okay for the Russell group if I wanted to study history or law?
    English lit, history, chemistry, drama
    English lit, classics, chemistry drama
    History, psychology, chemistry, drama
    Which would you say is the better set and which subjects would you change? Bear in mind please that I am very capable.

    • ORA


      Dear Su,

      Forget about medicine — you clearly are not interested in it and it is the most difficult degree one can do: the longest degree with the heaviest demands.

      Out of the sets you listed, English lit, classics, chemistry and drama is the strongest, but it is still not ideal, for two reasons: (i) drama is not a facilitating (respected) subject and (ii) chemistry will be difficult without the support of maths and/or physics.

      Here are some stronger sets for you to consider:

      English Literature, History, Classics and a Language (but not English Language!) — good for History, Law, Classics and other respected humanities.

      English Literature, History, Classics and Maths – good for History, Law, Classics and other respected humanities.

      In general you should stick to respected subjects; it will help with both your uni applications and your subsequent career.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  167. Hamza


    Hi there,i want to be an software engineer .I know that maths,further maths and physics are best subjects for it.I got a* in maths and A in add maths. But problem is in my country every university require physics maths and chemistry for IT department. What should i do?

    • ORA


      Dear Hamza,

      We do not see the problem with taking Maths, Further Maths and Chemistry if you want to be a software engineer.

      You could also take those three subjects plus physics, which will result in a lethally impressive set of A-levels. The choice depends on how academically strong you are.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  168. Tue


    Hi there, I want to study psychology at uni.I’m currently thinking about doing Biology, Maths and Psychology for A Level. I need to do a fourth one but I don’t know whether to do Sociology, Chemistry or English Lit/Lan. Im not that great at English(my predicted gcse is a B/A). Or is a language a good idea(but I’m predicted a gcse B/C in that)?

    • ORA


      Dear Tue,

      We recommend Chemistry, which is a highly respected subject that will stand you in good stead for many desirable degrees. There is something about Chemistry that really trains one’s mind to think in a clear and orderly manner. It is also great fun — and demanding (which is why it is held in such high regard).

      Avoid Sociology, which is not a respected A-level and will not help your university application. In general you should stick to the so-called facilitating subjects if you want your university application to be as strong as possible.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  169. Joe


    Hello –
    I will have taken
    French
    German
    Chemistry
    Physics
    Biology
    Maths
    English lit
    English Lang
    History
    Geography
    RE
    Graphics
    For my GCSEs, possibly with Spanish/French AS as an extra

    Will this be at all restricting, as I am unsure as to a career but want to go to a Russell Group University..
    I’m a little worried about Graphics, but I was told to take a design subject by my teachers, as nothing else is offered at my school.

    • ORA


      Dear Joe,

      Yours is a very broad and balanced selection of GCSEs that will allow you to study just about anything at A-level. We are not clear, therefore, on where your dilemma lies, since it is A-level choices that have restrictive consequences on degree courses.

      Your A-level options will make a much bigger difference to your future career. If you want to select a set of A-levels that will keep your options open, read our article dedicated to that very topic.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  170. Devni


    I am currently doing Maths,Chemistry, Ecoomics and English Literature as AS level subjects.
    I am either aiming to do something economics related or medicine.
    If I am to do medicine, should I or is it recommended that I do biology as a fifth subject ?

    • ORA


      Dear Devni,

      If you are serious about studying Medicine, we strongly recommend that you take Biology as well. Drop Economics, which is neither respected nor helpful.

      We also urge you to consider very seriously whether Medicine is truly right for you. Only the most academically able and committed candidates are offered places, and medical training is exceedingly demanding and protracted.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  171. Ahmed


    Hey there ,
    My name is Ahmed and I am about to give my GCE O’ levels in the May/June session of 2015. The subjects I chose are as follows: Physics, Chemistry and Computer studies. Now I am being told that in order to take Maths in A’ levels you need additional mathematics which was offered to us in 10th Grade, I did not take it because my math was quite weak last year but I have made it stronger now. So, for fear that I may not be given math in A’ levels, and that taking additional mathematics at this stage would be a lot of burden and may have an adverse effect on the rest of my subjects, I am opting to choose Business studies in A levels instead of Engineering. Is it possible? Can I cover the course in A levels? Or should I take additional mathematics right now? I am quite perplexed right now. In fact I’m very perplexed.
    And I was also told once again that you need math in A level for business studies as well. Is it true?
    I would be very grateful if you would guide me in this time of difficulty. Thank you!
    Just for additional information, the subjects I am giving this year are as follows: English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Computer studies, Physics, Chemistry, and Urdu. The o levels I gave last year were Islamiyat and Pakistan studies where I secured an A* and an A respectively.
    Thank you once again!
    Sincerely,
    Ahmed

    • ORA


      Dear Ahmed,

      I do not see the problem with taking A-level Maths after taking “only” O-level Maths.

      You can replace Engineering with Business if you want, but is this consistent with your career plans? Bear in mind that Engineering is vastly more respected than Business Studies.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

      • Ahmed


        Thankyou admin! I have planned on pursuing engineering. Just one more thing. So should I take additional mathematics or not, keeping in mind that I have been told that I will only get the option to choose A level math in an A level school if I get an A* in math o level which isnt easy. However if I take additional mathematics, I will only require an A. But again covering the syllabus in such a short time is very difficult. So what do you recommend, should I take it or not?
        Thankyou once again >

  172. Eileen


    Hi – I’ve just started the IB studying history, psychology & English at higher level with biology maths and Chinese at standard. I’m not enjoying the higher English and want to do higher biology instead. Does that still make a good balance? I’m not sure what I want to do at uni but thinking along the lines of criminology, psychology or perhaps law.

    • ORA


      Dear Eileen,

      Switching Biology and English should not pose significant difficulties with your subsequent pursuit of Law, but do make sure that you do as well as possible in History, as at least one strong essay-based subject is required for successful Law applications.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  173. faaiza


    I have no idea of what to pick for my A Levels. Right now i’m doing my GCSE’s in maths, english, science, religious studies, business studies, graphic design and arr. And i just got my first grade for science and i got an A*. So people are saying i.should take it but i don’t like it. And i’m not sure on what i.want to.do.when i am older, so.its really confusing!
    I was thinking of doing English and maybe Graphics and Art. But i seriously don’t know because there are so many more courses that i can take so its all so.confusing.
    Please can you help decide…people tell me to figure out what i want to do when.i am.older but i.just don’t know.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Faaiza,

      I’m assuming from your post that you’ve just started year 11? If so, first of all remember that you don’t need to make any kind of decision for six months or so.

      I believe Graphics and Art are quite similar courses; you would probably want to take one or the other, rather than both. Art is extremely time-consuming; I wouldn’t discourage you from taking it, but you shouldn’t assume it’s an easy subject – it very much isn’t.

      Getting an A* in GCSE science (congratulations, by the way!) shows less about your scientific ability and more about your ability to do well in exams – which is promising for all of your subjects, not just for sciences. Focus on picking subjects that you enjoy and that you do well in. So what are the subjects that you’re enjoying most at GCSE?

      You might also be interested in our article on keeping your options open.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  174. Liam Ashton


    Hi,

    I need help in choosing my a levels. I have chosen Biology, Chemistry, Media and Geography. I want to change Geography for another A-level but I have no clue on which one to take. I like science and may want to go down that route but I don’t want to take physics or maths, as chemistry is already a maths based subject. Please help me in deciding my fourth a level.

    • ORA


      Dear Liam,

      I strongly recommend that you replace Geography with Maths, which will give strong support to both your A-level Chemistry studies and your subsequent career in science. Even if you will have to work hard to get a B, it will be worth it, and believe me when I say that A-level Maths will help a lot in your future life, even if you don’t pursue a scientific career.

      Hence I strongly recommend Maths, Biology and Chemistry — a synergistic and highly respected triad of subjects that will stand you in good stead for a range of science degrees. For the fourth one you have considerable leeway. I would suggest Physics, but appreciate that it’s not what you want. Instead of Media I would take a facilitating subject such as English Literature or History. Regardless of whether you elect to add a humanities or scientific subject as the fourth, in general you will benefit by choosing facilitating subjects and eschewing the lightweight ones (Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Media and so on).

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  175. Fareezah


    I am in a sort of dilemma with my career options, but I want to pursue Psychology maybe experimental psychology or clinical psychology. Is English Language and literature needed and sociology too?
    I chose English lang & lit but i’m not feeling very confident with this though I managed to get an A in the igcse English first language. Is maths really necessary for psychology because i’m not keen on it also the school provides only stats and mechanics for maths.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Fareezah,

      You don’t need to take any of English, Maths or Sociology to order to study Psychology (especially not Sociology). However, you do need at least one, preferably two science subjects – given you dislike Maths, I would recommend Biology or Human Biology and Chemistry. Your fourth subject doesn’t matter much – you might want to take an essay subject to keep your writing skills honed, but it isn’t essential.

      Do be aware that Psychology – particularly the varieties of Psychology that you are considering – is a scientific subject and so will inevitably include some Maths (particularly statistics) at degree level. You don’t need to do A-level Maths to be prepared for it, but you should know that you won’t be able to avoid Maths entirely.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  176. skeldog


    Would taking Physics, Engineering, Music technology and politics be a good wide choice of A-levels for someone who does not know what path they want to go down?

    thanks

    • ORA


      Dear Skeldog,

      It depends on just how open you want to keep your options. The set of A-levels you mentioned would preclude the study of serious humanities subjects at Russell Group universities; for example, you would not be eligible to study History or English Literature. Law would also be a problem, because it requires at least one respected essay subject, which Politics is not.

      The absence of Maths in your selection would also preclude Maths, Physics and Engineering at University, and Chemistry and Biology are obviously also out of the question.

      Hence your selection rules out an awful lot of subjects: most of the sciences (owing to the absence of maths) and most of the humanities (owing to the absence of a facilitating essay-based subject).

      To keep your options truly open, you need maths (for the physical and mathematical sciences) and at least one essay-based facilitating subject (for most serious humanities at university).

      For these reasons we urge you to reconsider your selection and, ideally, commit to either the science or humanities path. Our article on keeping your option open provides further advice.

      Best wishes,

      The ORA Team

  177. naz


    Hi there

    Is psychology, sociology, health and social and ICT a good combination of subjects?

    Can it lead to a good career-which means would there be a good job available in future?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Naz,

      That depends on what it is that you want to do. If you are aiming to get into a Russell Group university (or a non-RG university with a similar league table ranking), then you should choose different subjects – at least two should be from the facilitating subjects list, which you can see above.

      Otherwise, it is hard to advise without knowing what sort of plans you have regarding university or careers. You may want to try this handy search, which tells you which degrees are popular with students who take your particular A-level combination – do any of the ones suggested appeal to you?

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  178. a level student


    Hello
    So I want to do either medicine or dentistry in the future. I’m going to be taking math, chemistry, biology and either sociology or phsycology. Which would you recommend ? Like which subject is easier, more interesting, more appropriate as a fourth subject and would mostly likely get me into a better uni.
    Thank you
    -a level student

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Level Student,

      There isn’t much to choose between Sociology and Psychology. You would probably find Psychology easier given your other subjects – it is complemented by Biology and Chemistry – and it is seen as a slightly stronger subject than Sociology, though there really isn’t much in it.

      You might also be interested in our article on getting into medical school.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  179. Henry


    Hello, I have to pick my A levels within the next week and I have little idea of what I’m going to pick? These are my GCSE results: Core Science – C Additional Science – B English Language – A English Literature – B Maths – B Geography – A Food Tech – A* Performing Arts – Dist* German – C. I dont really want to pursue careers in Food tech or performing arts even though I got high grades in those subjects I just think it won’t get me anywhere and I won’t enjoy it. I find English Language and Geog easy and I do like them. I like science but I’m not that good at it. What a levels would you suggest ?
    Many thanks.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Henry,

      It certainly seems as if Geography and English Language or English Lit and Lang would be good options for you at A-level. Depending on what it is that you enjoy about Geography (as well as which subjects your school offers), you might want to consider Government and Politics, Geology, Economics, Religious Studies, Sociology, Environment Science or Law – any two of which would complement English Language and Geography.

      If you would like to prioritise facilitating subjects, you should also consider A-level Maths, which is always a useful string to your bow – this depends on how much work it was for you to get a B in Maths GCSE.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

      • Henry


        > Hello, thank you for your help. I think I will go for English lit/lang, Geography, environment science and either law,sociology or maths as my 4th options. As for maths I was in the middle set for year 10 and 11 and I was given the opportunity 5 months before my maths exam to give higher maths a try and I did and I really enjoyed it and I came out with B so considering that would a level maths be for me?
        Thanks

        • ORA Admin


          Dear Henry,

          I would advise asking your Maths teacher how likely they think you would be to get the A-level Maths grade you would want. Being moved up 5 months before the exam does suggest they have confidence in your abilities!

          We hope this helps,

          The ORA Team.

  180. Jasmine


    also could I still get into a science based career eventhough I was not allowed to take a science for a levels because I got C’s in it.
    And is it possible for me to get at least a b for further maths. I din’t revise for my gcse maths at all hence I got a B.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Jasmine,

      I would strongly advise against taking Further Maths if you only got a B in Maths GCSE. Regardless of the reasons for your grade, that performance doesn’t suggest that you will do well in Further Maths. I am quite surprised your school recommended it!

      I am afraid you will find it hard to enter a science-based career without science A-levels, which again, your grades suggest you would struggle with. Why is it that a science-based career appeals to you? You might want to consider why this interests you and see if there are alternative careers that hold the same kind of interest.

      If you’re aiming for Russell Group universities, you will need to pick subjects in which you can get at least ABB at A-level; those are the typical entry requirements of Queen Mary, University of London, which has one of the lowest entry requirements in the Russell Group. As I don’t know the rest of your GCSE results, I can’t advise which subjects those should be, and consequently, which degrees or careers they might lead to.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  181. Jasmine


    Hi,

    I have just chosen my a levels: spanish, psychology, maths and further maths.

    Firstly I got a B for my maths and they let me do maths a levels but they also told me to do further maths. I know that I will struggle a lot and I wanted chemistry instead as I wanted to get into a science-based career in the future.

    I would like to know what subject I should drop at A2 and if I do spanish, psycology and maths for a2 do you know what kind of career I could get out of it or course I could do at university? Also with these subjects could I get into a Russell Group university or at least a uni in the top 10? Thank you.

  182. Helen


    Hi,
    I got good grades at GCSE and want to keep the option of going to Oxbridge open just in case, my current as level choices are:
    English
    History
    Geography
    Fine Art
    will doing art a level put me at a disadvantage? Its a subject I love but wouldn’t want a degree in – I don’t yet know what career I want. Also will not having any maths/science a levels make me less employable or limit my degree options? I’m good at it but its not something I am passionate about. Also will oxford want more than 3 A levels? Please help. Thanks.

    • ORA


      Dear Helen,

      Your set of A-levels are perfectly acceptable for even the top universities, assuming that by “English” you mean English Literature — and if not, that’s what it ought to be. This selection will make you eligible for History, English Literature, Law, Geography, Fine Art, Architecture and a myriad of arty degree courses like Communication Science.

      You should also be aware of the courses that will be precluded by your A-level choices: Mathematics, all of the sciences, Classics, and so on, most of which you surely already know.

      Fine Art will not automatically put you at a disadvantage, but do bear two points in mind: (i) the workload is famously intense and will put significant pressure on your timetable, and (ii) although undoubtedly respected, it is not a facilitating subject and is only essential for closely related degrees. In short, you should only take it if you are genuinely passionate about it, or if there is a realistic prospect of your choosing a degree course that requires it. If neither condition is fulfilled, you are better off replacing it with a subject that is less of a time sink and is facilitating to boot — we suggest a language (but not English, which is not facilitating). Consider this issue wisely!

      For a good chance at securing a place at Oxford University, you should be well on track to get at least A*AA and preferably A*A*A — all in facilitating subjects, of course.

      You should read our article on Oxbridge interviews, written by a talented writer who studied at St John’s College, Oxford.

      We hope this helps, and do keep us posted on your progress!

      The ORA Team

  183. fatima


    Hello,

    I’m planning to either take a politics course or an Economics course (in uni ) ,
    For my A levels i have picked :
    History
    Geography
    Chemistry
    Economics
    I was wondering if these subjects are good to give me a chance take one of the two courses mentioned above.

    Thank you for your time

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Fatima,

      Those are good choices for Politics. However, for Economics you will almost certainly need A-level Maths. I suggest taking Maths instead of either Economics or Chemistry; A-level Economics is not required to study Economics at university.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  184. Saad Mohsin Khan


    Hi
    I have recently stepped into A levels and i am planning to do engineering in future. the problem is that i am quite confused on subject choices . I have opted for Math
    Physics
    Chemistry
    Computer
    The confused part here is that i want to change Computer Sciences with Further Mathematics and right now my mind is puzzled on whether i should make this decision or not. So what should i do ?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Saad,

      Either way, those are a good set of A-levels for Engineering. However, we would recommend Further Maths over Computer Science, simply as it’s seen as more impressive, if your Maths is up to that standard.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

      • Saad Mohsin Khan


        Hi
        Thanks for your advice but a career counselor at school says that i should drop out further maths and computer Science, instead i should apply for economics for a diversity. So is this the right suggestion.

        • ORA Admin


          Dear Saad,

          Obviously, your school advisor knows you better than we do and is therefore better qualified to advise you. However, if you are set on Engineering then Further Maths is definitely the better option – that is, assuming your Maths abilities are good enough to be studying it, for which you would need to be getting consistent As and A*s at GCSE. Your Maths teacher should be able to advise you if your Maths abilities are sufficient. The idea of taking two lots of Maths should also be something that sounds fun (and if it doesn’t, you are unlikely to enjoy an Engineering degree).

          If you are not sure that Engineering is what you want to do, then frankly I would still recommend Further Maths, even if you wanted to study something like Economics – you don’t need to do A-level Economics for an Economics degree. If you want to keep your options open and not take Further Maths, I would recommend choosing a different facilitating subject instead – you can see the list of facilitating subjects above.

          We hope this helps.

          The ORA Team.

  185. Constantinos


    Hi,
    I have recently done my AS course and I have a little dilema on which subject I should drop and which one I should continue. My subjects consist of Pure Maths, Statistics, Physics, ICT, Greek and Further Maths (which only counts as an AS course).
    I would like to work as a programmer or in any computer science related job, however I am thinking of dropping ICT and doing Statistics instead. Could I still work as a programmer or in any computer science job without a complete ICT A level?
    Thank you.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Constantinos,

      You can certainly get on to a Computer Science degree course without an ICT A-level, as ICT teaches things that are more “office skills” (e.g. how to set up a database) than computing or programming skills. I don’t think taking Statistics instead will put you at any kind of a disadvantage. There are also a huge range of courses that teach basic coding available online, which you might want to look into pursuing in your spare time.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

      • Constantinos


        Thank you, I will definitely look into the various programming languages!>

  186. Jack Robinson


    Dear ORA Team

    Thank you very much for the advice you have been able to offer. It has given me some pointers towards making an informed choice decision. Thanks also for the link to the article which I will take time to read.

    Regards
    Jack

  187. Jack Robinson


    I am choosing my A levels but are limited by the choices offered by my 6th form college. I am more or less definite on History and English Lit/Lang (no chance of taking straight English Lit), Chemistry, My finaly choice remains of either Biology or RE. I want to leave as many avenues open to me at the end of A level to go on to University and am considering History at degree level. I have achieved 7 A’s, at GCSE- all the above subjects achieved A’s . What is your advice on Biology or RE in the scenario I have just described, please. I am swaying towards Biology as this is a facilitating subject for most traditional universities but don’t want to make a huge mistake.
    Thanks.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Jack,

      While Biology is a facilitating subject and RE, technically, is not, you will find that RE is just as respected an A-level choice; it falls into the same category as Music in that it does not have broad application to a variety of subjects but is nonetheless seen as a strong choice. However, that doesn’t much help you make your decision.

      The answer depends on whether your priority is choosing a good combination of subjects for History or whether you want to prioritise keeping your options open. RE will be helpful for History, whereas Biology would enable you to apply for a variety of science courses in combination with Chemistry. We have an article about the advisability of keeping your options open here.

      My advice is usually towards choosing a specialisation, but in your case I would advise keeping your options open and choosing Biology; not having RE will not make a huge amount of difference to how well-prepared you are for studying History, whereas choosing RE closes off rather more possibilities than choosing Biology.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  188. Rashmi


    Hi,My name is Rashmi,

    I did science related subjects for my IGCSE’s and received pretty good grades.
    I want a future in the medical industry.It’s my dream to become a doctor.For my a levels I have chosen Biology,Chemistry and Physics.I want to do 4 subjects and I’m still on the fence about what to do as the 4th subject. I’m not very good at maths as I got a B for igcse (the lowest grade I got).So what are my options? I was thinking psychology.Is it considered a “soft subject”? and will it be useful to me or is English a better option?
    Thank You :)

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Rashmi,

      Those A-levels will give you a good basis for a medical school application. For your fourth subject, Psychology is considered a softer subject than English, but given it’s a fourth subject, that’s not hugely important. What matters will be the grade you get, so pick whichever one you think you will do better in.

      Do be aware that your B at Maths GCSE will prevent you from applying to some medical schools – see here for medical school GCSE requirements. We also have more advice for medical school applicants here.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  189. Olaposi


    Hello,

    I’m thinking of taking Maths, Chemistry, DT and English Lit for A-level to study either chemical engineering or pharmacy at university. Is my combination alright or does it need some changing.

    I didn’t do biology for GCSE.

    • ORA


      Dear Olaposi,

      If you hope to study Chemical Engineering at University, we strongly recommend that you choose Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry for your A-levels.

      For a slightly easier set, you can do DT instead of Further Maths.

      Good luck,

      The ORA Team

  190. John


    I’m taking Chem, Bio, Phys and Maths in A-Levels. I am hoping to study Economics, Accounting or something finance related at uni. Thing is my school only offers Acc and not Eco or BST A-Level. With that combo will I be disadvantaged at uni due to my lack of finance related subjects?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear John,

      You should not be disadvantaged at any respectable university by that combination of subjects – quite the opposite, in fact, as they are all stronger, more challenging subjects than Business Studies or Economics.

      The only change you may want to consider making is replacing one of your subjects with Further Maths, if your school offers it, but you will not be disadvantaged by not taking it – rather that it will give your application a bit of a boost if you do.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  191. George


    Hello, I’ve just picked my final A levels and they are Biology, English lit/lang, Geography, Psychology and a short course in Latin. Considering these subjects what career path/degree would be best suited?
    Many thanks.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear George,

      I have looked up the typical degree choices of people with your A-levels here and they are as follows: Psychology, English, Biology, Sport and Exercise Science, Business Studies, and Geography and Environmental Sciences. Having said that, we would not recommend taking Biology to degree level without another science (for which Psychology doesn’t really count). You could also study Law or social sciences.

      Without knowing more about your strengths and interests, it’s hard to recommend a degree path. You may be interested in our article on the subjects your A-level choices are ruling out to see which other options could be open to you with a little tweaking. For instance, taking another science, such as Chemistry, would expand your options considerably in scientific degrees and careers.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

      • George


        > Hello, those articles were very helpful.. The only problem is I would love to take chemistry as I do find it interesting but I think I may struggle with 2 sciences as i only got a C in core science and a B in additional science, do you think that will be a problem. Also as Biology and psychology do have some similar topics do you think that would put me at a disadvantage when applying to uni? I did want to be a vet for a long time but I don’t think I will be able to achieve high enough grades at A level. I’m Also interested in media,wildlife and I loved geography and English language at GCSE getting an A in both.

        • George


          And I only got a B in GCSE maths?>

          • ORA Admin


            Dear George,

            To answer the easiest of your questions first, having both Biology and Psychology will not put you at a disadvantage; in fact, these subjects complement each other well, particularly if you were considering studying Psychology in future.

            Having said that, your strengths do seem to lie rather more with the humanities than the sciences. Have you considered moving away from the sciences and instead picking up humanities subjects, such as History? Obviously this would limit your options in terms of degrees and careers, but it might enable you to focus on the areas in which you do best.

            We hope this helps.

            The ORA Team.

          • George


            > Okay thank you.,But as I still have no idea what I want to do in the future I will stick with my options to give me a wide range of future options.I’m not a big fan of history and didn’t take it at GCSE and I did enjoy GCSE Biology and it was my highest scoring science in both core and additional sciences.
            Many thanks.

  192. Aishah


    Hi i’m currently picking my a levels and my choices are biology, chemistry, Spanish and art, I’ve picked art as to maxmise my grades but unsure if its suitable for a course that is science-related (biomedical sciences)?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Aishah,

      You certainly could take those subjects for a Biomedical Sciences course. To make the science subjects easier for yourself, I would advise replacing either Spanish or Art with Maths, but it’s unlikely to make much of a difference for university admissions. If you take Art, take it for the love of it rather than for an easy top mark as it is extremely time-consuming.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  193. muhammad


    Is it okay to do business and economics at A-level?

    • ORA


      Dear Muhammad,

      We infer from your query that you hope to read an Economics- or Business-related subject at University. If our assessment is correct, we strongly recommend that you choose Maths, two facilitating subjects and Economics for your A-levels, particularly if you hope to secure a place at a Russell Group university. (You will drop one of the subjects after the first year.)

      If you want a slightly easier set, we recommend Maths, one facilitating subject, one easier A-level and Economics.

      Best wishes,

      The ORA Team

  194. Katharina


    Hi, I’m starting 6th form in a week and I’m still confused about which A levels to pick. I know that I’m taking Maths and Art for sure and I’ve already finished my German A level. I’m torn between French and English Literature as my fourth A level though. I did well in both my IGCSEs and that’s why I don’t know which one to pick. Are they both of the same standard? I’m planning on taking interior design in the future. I’m also not sure if my German A level will count for me as I have a German nationality.
    Thank you in advance.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Katharina,

      French and English Literature are both good A-levels, of an equal standard. Having said that, if you already have your full German A-level entirely finished, why not simply take both at AS (making for a normal workload of 4 AS-levels), and drop whichever one you like least at the end of the year? Universities will also be more impressed to see you studying 4 AS-levels in year 12 than 3, even though you have an A-level already.

      Regarding your German A-level, it will still count. After all, as you know, a language A-level doesn’t just consist of knowing the language – you also have to study texts in that language and be able to write essays on them, which goes beyond simple linguistic competence.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

      • Katharina


        > Thank you very much for the advice!
        I did think of doing Lit until AS level and completing the whole French course, however they are both against each other in my school and so I can only pick one. My headmaster isn’t too fond of me taking French out of school, as he says the teachers may have different opinions and that it would be ‘awkward’. I will try talk to him again but if I can’t take both, which do you suggest would be better?

        • ORA Admin


          Dear Katharina,

          Given your future plans, it really makes very little difference which one you take; they are both equally useful and equally respected. Take whichever one you enjoy more!

          However, I would strongly recommend taking 4 AS-levels this year, whether that means taking French and English or taking one of those plus something else. You may be at a disadvantage otherwise to be seen as having only taken 3 subjects in your AS year (even though you will have 4 AS-levels in total with your German).

          We hope this helps!

          The ORA Team.

          • Katharina


            Thank you very much, it helped a lot!>

  195. Jessica


    Hi,

    I’m soon going to be starting sixth form and I chose Biology, Psychology, english literature and drama. I’m working towards getting into a good university to do a psychology or some sort of nutrition degree and also leave my options open for anything else I may want to consider. However I think drama and English And psychology may give me too much essay writing. Additionally drama and psychology are not traditional a levels. I’m questioning my a level choices at the moment because I want to be able to enjoy them but get into a good uni. Do you have any other a level choices that would suit? (My school also offer sport science, and health and social btecs)
    Thanks

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Jessica,

      If you’re interested in Nutrition or Psychology, the logical alternative subject would be Chemistry – Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and English leaves your options reasonably open, cuts down on the essay subjects and gives you three facilitating subjects for entry to good universities.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  196. Khadija Khalid


    Hi I just started my A2. I took Biology, Chemistry, physics and maths in AS level and I would like to drop physics in A2. I’m not sure what I want to do right now but I don’t want to do medicine or engineering. I would like to go in a biology related field. So is it okay if I drop physics this year? I would really appreciate it if you could help me out over here. I mean will there be any problem in applying to universities in the US if I drop physics now? Thank you.

    • ORA


      Dear Khadija,

      If you plan to study Biology-related subjects at University, there is absolutely no problem with dropping Physics.

      Best wishes,

      The ORA Team.

  197. Johnathan


    Hello.
    I have chosen Maths, Biology, Geography and Art for A level. What do you think of those choices, bearing in mind I have no idea what I’d like to do in the future …. Architect, Zoologist, fashion designer, film and tv producer, plant biologist, benign dictator … yup ! they all look interesting
    (How ARE we supposed to have a clear idea, or any idea, of what we want to do in life at the age of sixteen?).
    Thank you.

    • ORA


      Dear Jonathan,

      Those four A-levels do not preclude the subsequent study of Biological Sciences and Architecture.

      However, experience has shown that serious Biologists really ought to take Chemistry at A-level, and Chemistry in turn tends to benefit from the concomitant study of Physics. Hence the strongest combination for a highly motivated Biologist is Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics (Biology is supported by Chemistry, which is supported by Physics, which is supported by Maths).

      Conversely, a strong combination for Architecture is Art, Maths, Physics and Chemistry.

      We strongly recommend that you perform the introspection and research you will need to decide which field is the best long-term option for you and then choose a set of A-levels focused on that career path.

      If you insist of keeping your options open, the four A-levels you mentioned will serve that purpose.

      Best wishes,

      The ORA Team.

  198. Talal Ahmed


    I had taken sciences in my O-levels. I did do well but I want to switch to commerce. I am not very good in Maths or Accounting though. I have an interest in Law and Economics but I want to keep my options open. Which subjects would you recommend me to take? Do keep in mind that I am not very good in Maths or Accounting. Well I havent yet studied Accounting but I am not willing to take a risk. I want to do bachelors in economics in the future or LL.B. I am really confused and scared. I dont want to mess up my career. Please give me proper guidance. Subjects offered from my schools are Accounts,Economics,Business Studies, Maths, Law, Psychology, Sociology, History, Computer Studies, Urdu. Which three or four subjects should I take?

    • ORA


      Dear Talal,

      We recommend that you take Maths, History and Computer Science. This is a strong set of A-levels for both Law and Business.

      Best wishes,

      The ORA Team

  199. rachel


    Also, what degree do you think would be well suited for the subjects i have chosen?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Rachel,

      History and RS are definitely considered strong subjects (RS is not a facilitating subject, but like Music and Art is nonetheless respected). Psychology and Sociology are not in the top tier of subjects, but are not Mickey Mouse subjects either. Are you thinking of aiming for Russell Group or other top 20 universities? If so, I would swap one of your subjects – probably Sociology – for one of the facilitating subjects (which you can read more about here.

      With those subjects, you could take a variety of different humanities degrees. You could study History, Sociology, Politics, Law, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Social Policy, Archaeology and a variety of others. Note that if you wanted to keep Psychology in there as a degree possibility, you should take at least one science A-level.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  200. rachel


    I didn’t do that good in my gcse’s which means i can’t do very good a levels but the ones I’m thinkin of taking are history psychology sociology and RS. I don’t have a clear career path but do you think these subjects are considered good or strong subjects by universities and are any of these subjects seen as soft which would put me at risk of not getting into a decent uni?

  201. Tasneem Aliasgar


    I intend to do Bachelor in International Business. Which subjects are best suited for this. In o’ level i had taken full science and maths. please advise.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Tasneem,

      There are no particular required subjects for International Business, though Maths is highly recommended. I would also suggest Geography. For your remaining two subjects, you could take two of: any of the sciences, English, History, Economics, Government and Politics, Statistics, any modern foreign language or Further Maths.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  202. scott


    Hi,
    My current choices are maths, chemistry, biology and history. I am thinking about medicine or law, are these choices suitable? Do i need English for law or is it not that important? Any help would be great, thanks

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Scott,

      Medicine and Law are both highly competitive courses – particularly Medicine. There isn’t really a set of subjects that works as a compromise solution as in trying to pick subjects that are suitable for both, you risk ending up with subjects that are suitable for neither.

      Your current set of subjects – specifically three sciences including Chemistry – is fine for Medicine. However, you will need to show more commitment to the subject if you’re going to impress admissions tutors, for instance with work experience and reading around the subject. You can get more advice on medical school applications here.

      By contrast, for Law I would recommend taking two subjects that are focused on essays, longer writing and independent research, rather than just one. You don’t need to take English, however – RS, Geography or even a language would do just as well.

      Thus, I’m afraid you will need to make a decision between Law (and other humanities subjects) and Medicine (and other science subjects) – it isn’t really possible to leave your options open to both at this stage.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  203. Vicky


    Hello,
    I chose Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Philosophy & Ethics for my A levels, however I am now considering changing either Physics or Chemistry for either Art or English Language but I don’t know which option would be best for any future uni courses. I am trying to keep my options open as I have no real idea where my future holds, possibly either science or architect routes. Any advice would be great, thank you.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Vicky,

      In order to apply for architecture, you will need to have some form of portfolio, which is best achieved by taking Art or Design. Maths is also recommended for architecture at a minority of universities – so it’s not essential, but if you have your heart set on a particular university, it’s probably best to check that they don’t require Maths.

      As a result, I think the best combination of subjects for you to take would be Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Art. This is a good combination for architecture as well as for most science routes.

      However, I know that’s not quite what you asked – so of the options you suggest, I would recommend dropping Chemistry and taking Art instead. Do be prepared for the fact that A-level Art is a lot of work – but you will need to take it if you want to keep architecture as an option.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  204. Neza Kustec


    Hello guys!
    I have chosen 3 A-levels, these are biology, english and history. But, i have troubles choosing the fourth one. I am choosing between chemistry and geography. In the IGCSE, i got an A grade for both of them. Personally, i like geography more. I am interested in medicine, law, but also fashion journalism, or just journalism. The final decision for the future studies was not made yet! Thank you very much for your answers!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Neza,

      These are all good options! You would be well prepared for journalism with your English and History combination; whether you then do two sciences or a science and Geography doesn’t really matter – although in general taking two sciences is easier than taking one. Much the same is true for Law – again, your essay subjects are the important thing.

      However, if you want to do Medicine or any related course, you must do at least Biology and Chemistry, and ideally you would take a third science as well. You will also need to start getting relevant work experience as soon as possible. We have further advice on medical school applications here. However, to be entirely frank, Medicine is so competitive that if you are not 100% certain it’s what you want to do, you will struggle to get a medical school place.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  205. mishal


    Hi,

    I am not sure what career path I want to go into so I am unsure about what a-level subjects to pick I have decided to do maths, economics, sociology but I am stuck on what to do as a fourth subject – I need some help.

    I do not enjoy business studies or english or science so I am unsure what to pick.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Mishal,

      I would suggest either Further Maths, to complement Maths and Economics, or History, to complement Sociology and to give you a solid facilitating essay subject.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  206. Dean


    I received good grades at GCSE in Geography, Religious Studies and Double Science. However, I am much better at Chemistry than Biology and don’t particularly enjoy essay based subjects. I am thinking about choosing Geography & Religious Studies for A level but am worried about choosing Chemistry as I have heard the jump from GSCE to A level is very big. I also only got a B in Maths GCSE so wouldn’t want to take that further. I was thinking of taking either Media Studies or PE for a fourth A level as I like both subjects but not sure which would be better (although having read replies to other people realise you don’t think much of Media!). Degree paths I am looking at are sociology/criminology/psychology. I am also taking music technology courses outside of school as this is another area I am interested in which is why I thought to take Media. Any help would be much appreciated.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Dean,

      This is a difficult one! Geography and Religious Studies are certainly good choices for your proposed degree paths. You’re right that I’m not a fan of Media Studies – or rather, I think that, taught well, it can have a lot to offer, but as Russell Group universities turn their noses up at it, students aiming for those universities should avoid it. Also, I don’t know much about music technology but I don’t think it has much to do with Media.

      As I see it, you have three options.

      The first is to take Geography, RS, Media Studies and a fourth subject of your choice, such as Psychology or PE. This could put you at a disadvantage for Russell Group universities and those of a similar league table rank, so if that’s what you’re aiming for, I would avoid this option.

      The second option is to go down the humanities route. Look for BAs rather than BScs in the subjects you’re considering. You could take something like Geography, RS, History/English and one of Media Studies and Psychology as your fourth subject. The drawback is that you don’t like essays.

      The third option is to go down the sciences route. Look for BScs rather than BAs, and take Geography, RS and whichever two sciences (here defined as Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics) you think you would do best in. Picking just one science and having the rest be humanities makes that science much harder than it would otherwise be, which is why we generally recommend taking two. The drawback here is that, as you correctly observe, A-level Chemistry is hard work! But it sounds as if your GCSEs have left you well-prepared for it.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  207. Owen Smith


    Hi there, having found out my GCSE results, I’m still unsure as to what to pick for A level! It’s worth noting I’ve been ‘accelerated’, whereby I was moved up a year at school. My strengths definitely lie with essay based subjects, having got the best grades in English Literature, History, Philosophy and Ethics. I’m still not sure what to take at A level however; I’m aiming for a top university, yet I am not the greatest scientist or mathematician (I really think I’d struggle). My real passion is music, however the pass rate at my school is extremly low, and I don’t think the course is suitable for me. However there is a BTEC music course available which I think is far more suitable. By taking this as just an AS (along with 3 A2’s) – would this hinder my chances of getting in? Also, is PE considered a ‘soft’ subject, especially if I don’t aim to study it at university. Many Thanks and kind regards,

    Owen

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Owen,

      If your strengths lie with essay-based subjects, I suggest you take essay-based subjects – especially if you enjoy them as well as doing well in them. You don’t need to be taking sciences or Maths for entry to top universities (apologies if I’ve misunderstood, but that seems to be the implication of your comment).

      A-level Music is a demanding and technical course. It’s recommended that you are at least at grade 7 in your instrument of choice. Do you know why the pass rate at your school is low? For instance, is it that the music teacher isn’t very good, or that the calibre of students taking the subject has been low? If it’s the former, I would avoid taking it.

      Having said that, if you’re aiming for top universities, don’t take a BTEC instead. Sadly they are not seen as equivalent to an A-level and may be looked down on by top universities. I don’t think it would hinder your chances by a huge amount, but you might be better off emailing admissions tutors at the universities you’re interested in to check.

      PE is (unfairly, in my opinion) considered a ‘soft’ subject. It would be OK as a fourth subject alongside three facilitating subjects or two facilitating subjects and Music A-level.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  208. Sabah


    Hi, I’m going to start sixth form next week an I’m planning on taking psychology, sociology, economics and religious studies. I was wondering if they were ok a levels to take if i want to do accountancy as a degree. I also want to keep my options open just incase i don’t want to do that anymore.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Sabah,

      I’m afraid that these subjects won’t do for accountancy – you will not be able to take accountancy without Maths, and I would recommend taking Further Maths as well. Economics is not necessary for accountancy.

      If you want to keep your options open, the best way to do it is to choose facilitating subjects – at least two of your four subjects should be facilitating. Without knowing which other options you’re considering other than accountancy, it’s hard to know which other subjects to advise you to take. Maths, FM and Psychology would be fine for Psychology, though a really strong application would include Biology or Chemistry as well. If you’re thinking of the social sciences, an essay-based subject would be advisable, although you risk your application lacking clear focus. It really depends on what else you’re thinking of keeping your options open for.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  209. Fam


    i was also considering sociology, is this preferred by most unis? Will it help me?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Fam,

      If you’re interested in Design Engineering or Automotive Design, I’m afraid those are not the right A-levels to be taking. For those degree choices, you will need Maths, and ideally Further Maths and/or Physics as well. Graphics may prove useful but Maths is really the priority for anything related to Engineering.

      I wouldn’t take more than one of Art, History, ICT and Sociology, as they will not be relevant to the university course you are interested in (and assume that whichever one of those you take is the subject you will drop after AS). Of those four, History is the by far the most respected. If you are interested in ICT, Computer Science would be a better A-level as it is more rigorous.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  210. Fam


    Hi, i wanted to find out if taking a-levels, art, graphics, history and ICT is okay. Does it matter if you take 2 subjects which are similar- art and graphics? Is ICT a good a-level which is preferred by unis? I wanted to take a uni course in design engineering or auto-mative design. Please help with some advice.Thanks.

  211. Svitlana


    Hi!
    I am in serious doubt about my A level choices. Currently I have chosen:
    English Lit
    Maths
    History
    Psychology
    I do not have a particular career path in mind which is what makes choosing A Levels so difficult for me.
    Are the choices I have chosen a wide enough range to be accepted to universities? By this I mean could my options be applicable for different university courses?
    Also I am not confident with my choice of choosing Mathematics as I have only achieved a grade B at GCSE.
    Thank you, Svitlana.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Svitlana,

      Being uncertain of what you want to do in future makes choosing A-levels difficult. We advise choosing facilitating subjects as much as possible if you’re uncertain about your choices. English Literature, Maths and History are all facilitating. Having said that, with a B in Maths GCSE, you might find A-level Maths a struggle. Did you feel the B accurately represents your abilities, or were you unlucky?

      The combination you have at the minute reveals your indecisiveness, but still gives you plenty of options. You could study English, History, Maths, Psychology, Economics, Philosophy, Geography, Social Sciences, Politics or Law, or any subjects related to those.

      If you decided against A-level Maths, you might want to consider Biology, Chemistry, Geography or a language. Without two sciences (Psychology doesn’t really count as a science for these purposes, though Maths does) you wouldn’t be in a good position to study Biology or Chemistry, but either of those subjects would be good if you wanted to apply for Psychology. If you opted for Geography or a language, you could study English, History, Philosophy, Geography, Politics, Social Sciences, Law, your chosen language or any subjects related to those – i.e. a slightly reduced selection from the options open to you if you had Maths, but not much reduced.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  212. laurel


    I want to do a degree in Psychology but I’m not very good at any of the sciences and so have chosen English Lit, Psychology and Geography A-Levels instead. Will this still allow me to get into a psychology degree?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Laurel,

      There are probably some Psychology degree courses (particularly BAs rather than BScs) that you could get on to with those subjects. Having said that, I’m not entirely sure why you would want to. Psychology may be seen as a ‘softer’ science, but it is still a science. If you don’t get on well with science subjects, you’re unlikely to enjoy a Psychology degree. I would recommend either adding at least one science subject to your options, or reconsidering whether Psychology is really for you.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  213. Mahnoor


    I want to pursue journalism in the future and I’m thinking about taking Eng lit, history, sociology,law. Even though I know it’s not related at all to my field but I enjoy Physics a lot too and want to take it. What do you suggest I do?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Mahnoor,

      You should definitely take Physics! Journalists with any scientific competence are few and far between, and so I think it would be valuable to you. English Literature and History makes for a solid foundation in essay-based subjects. Of the subjects you suggest, I recommend you take English Literature, History, Physics and Law – in that order of priority, as Sociology, rightly or wrongly, isn’t taken very seriously at A-level.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  214. Charlotte


    Sorry I’ve been a bit silly in the post above, and written the same set of options out twice haha
    It was meant to be:

    Maths
    Further maths
    Economics
    Geography
    French

    Or

    Maths
    Further maths
    Economics
    Physics
    French

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Charlotte,

      As you have Maths and four out of your five subjects are facilitating, the decision between Physics and Geography doesn’t matter too much. I would probably recommend Geography over Physics as better preparation for an Economics degree, but it won’t make any difference to the Oxbridge tutors assessing your application. The most important consideration is getting the best marks you can, given your goals, so choose whichever one you think is most likely to get you an A*.

      Best of luck!

      The ORA Team.

  215. Charlotte


    Hi,

    I’m interested in studying Economics at university, and I’m aiming for Oxbridge.
    Which would be a better combination?

    Maths
    Further Maths
    Physics
    Economics
    French

    Or

    Maths
    Further maths
    Physics
    Economics
    French

    (My school makes anyone who takes further maths do 5 AS levels)

    Thank you

    Charlotte

  216. George


    Hello, I’m struggling to pick between Biology, Psychology, English Language, English Lit/Lang, Media Studies and Geography A levels and I have no idea what degree I would like to take in the future, what subject combination do you think would be best to keep my options open?
    Many thanks.

    • George


      I also meant to add maths to that list of subjects.

      • ORA Admin


        Dear George,

        First of all, let’s rule out Media Studies. It’s the archetypal Mickey Mouse subject and thus best not studied unless it’s something you’re seriously interested in – and it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

        Similarly, English Language is useful if you’re thinking of studying languages or linguistics, but since you have no other language subjects on your list, I would strike that one off as well. English Literature would be an improvement on English Lit/Lang as well, but I’m going to assume you’ve ruled that out since it doesn’t appear on your list.

        This leaves you with Biology, Psychology, English Lit/Lang, Geography and Maths. The best subjects there for keeping your options open are Biology, English Lit/Lang and Maths – so then all that’s left to decide is which you prefer between Psychology and Geography. If even that is a tricky decision, pick Geography, as Geography is a facilitating subject and Psychology isn’t.

        We hope this helps!

        The ORA Team.

        • George


          Thank you, that helped a lot.

          • George


            If I was to take the 4 as levels you suggested plus a GCSE would you suggest I took GCSE Italian or GCSE sociology.

            Many thanks.

          • George


            Plus I already have a grade C in GCSE German if that makes any difference?

        • George


          If I was to take the 4 as levels you suggested plus a GCSE would you suggest I took GCSE Italian or GCSE sociology.
          Plus I already have a grade C in GCSE German if that makes any difference?
          Many thanks>

          • ORA Admin


            Dear George,

            I’m not sure I can advise without knowing why you’re thinking of taking an additional GCSE; universities won’t be inclined to give you much credit for it, and focusing on your AS-levels is more important at this stage, so unless you have an excellent reason for wanting another GCSE, it seems counter-productive.

            The ORA Team.

  217. Charlotte


    Hi my name is Charlotte, i am taking biology and chemistry at a level and i want a career in science in the future. what two other a levels should i choose?
    I know your probably going to say maths but is it worth while only taking maths as an AS (because its not one of my stronger subjects) ?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Charlotte,

      It is still worth taking Maths, even with the intention only to take it to AS. For one thing, you might do better in it than you expect, and for another, while A2 Maths would be better than AS Maths, AS is still better than just having GCSE.

      As for your third subject (since you’re treating Maths as your fourth), any other facilitating subject would be valuable. Physics might be your best bet for a focused application. I also recommend you learn some basic programming in your spare time, as that will be very useful to you if you do pursue a career in science in the future.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  218. Sara


    Hello, I’m basically dumb and stupid I don’t know what I want to pick for a levels or a career I want in the future. I don’t have any particular interests. I’m average in every subject. I like economics but I’m not great in maths so I don’t know what to do, as I’m getting my results tomorrow I need to pick something I was thinking maths economics and English lit if I go college. If I go sixth form I was thinking maths English lit economics and Spanish but I’m scared what if I can’t do maths at sixth form because I’m not great at it what do i take instead. Sorry for going on I’m so clueless right now and it’s not wise of me to ask this so late.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Sara,

      First of all, good luck for your GCSEs! I hope you’ve had good news this morning.

      Regarding whether you’re good enough at Maths to take it at A-level – this could be a good time to take advantage of your teachers’ expertise. Ask them, based on their knowledge of you and on your GCSE grade, whether they think you’ll be able to get the kind of grade at A-level that you would want. They should be able to make an accurate assessment of your abilities and your chances.

      If they say you’re good enough at Maths, great! Maths, Economics, English Lit and Spanish is a good combination of subjects for a variety of Economics or Social Sciences degrees.

      If your Maths GCSE was disappointing, that would probably rule out a conventional Economics degree. But there are still options that could allow you to explore an interest in Economics but more in the direction of the humanities than the sciences, such as Economic History or PPE. If that route interests you, good subjects to take instead of Maths would be History or Geography.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  219. Anna


    I wanted to be a doctor but I hate chemistry! So far I am taking biology, English literature and phycology. I don’t know what my last option should be and what career to enter into.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Anna,

      You’re right that if you dislike Chemistry, Medicine is not for you. I suggest you take some time to think about what it is that appealed to you about the idea of being a doctor. Is it helping people? If so, you might be interested in something along the psychology lines, where Chemistry is still useful, but less essential. Or is it the idea of a prestigious and well-respected career? If so, there’s bound to be something else that fits those requirements that’s better suited to your strengths.

      In terms of your last option, a good subject to support your existing choices would be Maths, which would also be helpful if you did want to study Psychology.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  220. Sara


    Hi! I’m taking Chem, Bio, Literature and Maths at A levels. However all my friends are telling me taking chem and bio without physics is a bad idea and useless. Is this true? (i really didn’t like physics at gcse level which is why I don’t want to take it this year)

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Sara,

      That’s definitely not the case, especially given you’re taking Maths. Your combination of A-levels is a very good one and I strongly advise you to stick with it!

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  221. Hareem


    Thank you for your advice. I got help from my counseling teacher and she said that as my maths is strong I should take maths and she also said that I should take physics. But she said that FM is very difficult and in a levels I should aim for subjects that will easily get me straight A’s. So she said I should take maths, physics, computer science and Urdu. Bc by taking these subjects I can easily get into any university and my choices will become wide.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Hareem,

      Obviously your teacher knows you whereas I don’t, so you should prioritise her advice. But the Further Maths question really depends on how good your Maths is, and whether it’s something you might want to study at university. Was it hard work to get that A*? If you feel like it was a struggle, don’t do Further Maths. If it was reasonably easy (or hard work, but enjoyable hard work) or you’re considering Maths or Physics at university, then do go for Further Maths. It’s an extremely impressive qualification to have.

      The surest route to A-level success is to pick subjects a) that you think you will do well in and b) that you think you will enjoy. Of course, it is also important to pick a selection that will be impressive to admissions tutors but frankly any of the options you’re currently considering would be! So do remember to factor in what you enjoy as well as what you do well in – at GCSE, it’s easy enough to do well in a subject you dislike because you might only have to study it for a couple of hours a week, but at A-level, you will be studying each of these subjects every single day. You’ll do better if they’re ones you look forward to.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team

  222. Hareem


    Hi, I’m not sure which subjects to choose for my a levels. I’m good at Maths and I got an A*, so I’m definitely going to take maths and further maths. I also want to take economics. AND I love arts and I’m also good at it. But I know that economics is an essay based subject and I’ll have to take physics or an essay based subject with it to make it easy. But I also want to take arts and you said before that art is time consuming. Now the problem is that if I take arts and economics AND physics/an essay based subject, it will become to hectic for me. Please tell me which combination to choose?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Hareem,

      I’d like to reassure you that you don’t need to take Physics or an essay-based subject to complement your existing choices. It is the case that there are some subjects that are easier in combination (studying Chemistry helps considerably with Biology, for instance) but that’s not really the case for any of your selection. Maths, Further Maths, Economics and Art as a combination doesn’t require any other subjects for support.

      I would gently advise you to take Physics rather than Economics, as it’s a stronger subject (even if you’re thinking of studying Economics at university), but given you have the very strong Maths + FM combination there, it doesn’t make much difference.

      You’re right that I don’t advise taking A-level Art if you’re planning on 5 AS-levels. (And I’ll repeat the point that you will not be at a disadvantage for only taking 4). But with 4 AS-levels, especially with Maths and Further Maths, it should be entirely manageable. Simply be aware that Art can take over all your time and plan accordingly.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  223. Emma


    Hi,
    I’m not 100% sure where I’m going in life, however what I do know is that it will be along the science path. I want to travel and I believe it will involve animals, marine life maybe. I have an interest in diving and I have had thoughts of marine biology or marine biology and zoology.
    So far I have decided to do do biology and geography at a-level and also btec ecology.
    I cannot decide what to take as my 3rd a-level. I’m good at English literature, with A’s and A*’s throughout high school however I have been advised to take chemistry. I understand why, but unfortunately I am terrible at chemistry. I know that this is the best subject to take with the career I wish to go into but I’m afraid I will be struggling for 2 years and come out with a disappointing grade when I could potentially come out with an A in English literature. What would you advise?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Emma,

      Your school is, I’m afraid, correct that Chemistry would be your best third subject given the careers you’re interested in. However, if you feel that would not result in the grades you want, it makes sense to do something else.

      If you’re interested in the sciences, I strongly suggest taking Maths, not English; if you’re set on not taking Chemistry, it’s the next best option. You will need a strong foundation of science subjects (Maths, for these purposes, counts as a science) in order to pursue the careers you’re currently considering.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

      • Emma


        Thank you>

  224. Jen


    Hi, since I’ve not yet decided what I want to do in life, picking my A levels is really difficult. I want to appear academic and intelligent to universities but I also want to have a range so that I won’t rule out too many possibilities.

    Maths is my strong point and it’s the one subject I know for certain I will do well in and I’ll definitely take Further Maths too for that same reason. Because of this, I was thinking that I’d be alright with doing five subjects since I find maths easy so it would be just like doing four, right?… Which leaves me with 3 more choices.

    Geography is something I’m interested in too and I find that having such a passion in it causes me to work hard simply because I want to do it meaning that I get good grades in it. However the problem is that it’s often treated as the joke subject and all the other teachers laugh at Geography like it’s the subject you take just to get a good grade in. Even though it’s a “facilitating” subject, I don’t want to appear as though I’m taking easy A levels, would you still recommend I take it?

    As for the last two, I just don’t know. I’ve narrowed it down to: French, Government and Politics, Biology and Chemistry. My GCSE French is going very well and I’m almost certain I’ll get an A* but I’ve heard that at A level it’s SOOOO much harder and I don’t want to do something if I can’t get at least an A (sounds snobby but I’d love to get into a great Uni so I can’t afford less than A). Government and Politics is something I’m incredibly interested in but the issue with that is a) I didn’t do it at GCSE so I don’t know if I’ll like taking it as a subject, b) it’s a very specific a level and what if I don’t want a career in that? I can’t do much else with that A level and c) it’s not a “facilitating” subject.
    The thing with Biology and Chemistry is that, although I get good grades in them and I’m interested in the fields themselves, I hate hate hate the way it is taught. I really can’t stand the controlled assessments and I don’t enjoy it 50% of the time because all we seem to be doing is copying a mark scheme or doing other boring things simply to pick up marks and not learning cool things, which is the other, very fun, 50%. I just hate how GCSE seemed to be all about being able to get a mark here and there rather than learning about science, so I’m guessing A level will be similar. However, I feel it looks bad to not have any science A levels and it would rule out LOADS of careers which I may enjoy doing, so what do you suggest?

    Sorry for the incredibly long life story but, because I’m not set on what I want to do, narrowing down to five subjects at this age is terrifying because anything choice I make could remove hundreds of potential careers. Thank you in advance.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Jen,

      Taking 5 subjects at AS is certainly achievable, particularly with the Maths + Further Maths combination. I do advise speaking to your school about how straightforward it would be to drop one partway through the year in case the workload becomes too much; it’s useful to know you have that option in the bag in case you need it.

      Don’t worry about Geography being a “joke” subject; it’s an easy target for classroom jokes but no university admissions tutor will see it that way. It will definitely not be seen as an easy A-level. I would have no hesitation about taking it.

      As for your remaining two subjects, I think I can address some of your concerns. A-level French is obviously harder than GCSE, but no more so than any other subject, and is in fact more of a continuation from GCSE than other subjects, as the skills you learn are much the same (unlike, say, History, where the essay style at A-level is quite different from GCSE). If you’re doing well at GCSE, you shouldn’t struggle at A-level.

      One of the best things about A-level is that a lot of the box-ticking aspects of GCSE, where it can feel frustratingly as if you’re just being taught for the exam, are replaced by a more rigorous grounding in the subject. Chemistry in particular is known for the jump in difficulty between GCSE and A-level, which I think you would find satisfying. So I think your concerns about Biology and Chemistry are misplaced.

      As for Government and Politics, given the rest of your subjects, I don’t think you need to worry about having one non-facilitating subject among them; your UCAS application is still going to look very impressive!

      So what should you actually take? I’m afraid this is the point at which you will need to determine some kind of direction. Maths, FM, Geography, Government and Politics and French is a strong set of subjects for studying Maths, Politics, Economics, Geography or fields related to those. Maths, FM, Geography, Biology and Chemistry is a more traditional science combination: you could do Maths, Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Computer Science or even Medicine. Given that all of your subjects are strong options, I would advise prioritising what you think you will enjoy the most.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  225. Colette


    Hullo! I noticed that under the ‘courses’ drop-down menu that there seems to be an age maximum of 18 years. Are courses available to those around 19-20 or is the maximum age non-negotiable? Thank you!!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Colette,

      While the courses you see above are restricted to students aged 18 and under, we also offer a range of courses for adults, which you can find out more about here.

      Best regards,

      The ORA Team.

  226. Jack


    I want to go on to university to do a degree of sports science, sports teaching or sports rehab/physiotherapy. As well as a back up option of a career in computing.
    Currently I have chose Biology, PE, ICT and History as my A Level choices. However, I would like to know if there are better or more relevant choices for me rather than history in which I could change to as I will finalize my choices next week, thanks.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Jack,

      It is certainly the case that you could pick a more relevant subject than History for your possible career options. I would suggest either Chemistry (which is beneficial for any of the sciences, particularly those relating to Medicine) or Maths (which is important for computing). In fact, I would advise dropping ICT and instead proceeding with Biology, PE, Chemistry and Maths. ICT isn’t necessary for studying computing, whereas Maths often is.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

  227. sophia


    HI!
    I will be taking A levels next year and have been considering to study maths, economics, English literature and Phsychology. I am not sure if four subjects are too much to handle as I found out that most of these subjects require loads of essays and hard work. Should I even consider taking a fourth subject? Or should I wait till the second year to drop one of these subjects. I’m afraid I will make the wrong decision.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Sophia,

      Four subjects is the standard number at AS-level, so it ought to be manageable. You’ve also got quite a good balance of subjects there in terms of having some that are essay-based and some that are not. Nor do you have any of the subjects that are notorious for taking up a disproportionate amount of time – Art is particularly bad for this. I’m afraid pretty much all A-levels require hard work, though!

      If this is something you’re very worried about, I suggest talking to your teachers at the start of the year about the possibility of dropping a subject halfway through the year if you’re finding the workload too much. The school may grumble about this (it costs them money) but chances are they’d prefer you to drop a subject and get higher grades in the remaining three than to carry on with all four and bring your grades down because of it. It is normal to drop down to three subjects for A2.

      In essence, I would advise starting the year with 4, keeping a careful watch on whether you’re finding it overwhelming, and being prepared to drop a subject over the course of the year if it starts to feel like it’s getting too much.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  228. Sara


    Should I take physics or literature in A levels???

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Sara,

      It’s a little hard to advise without knowing more about what it is you might want to study in future, or what your other subjects are. Both are excellent subjects that will serve you well in future.

      Do you like Maths? Are you taking A-level Maths? If so, Physics might be the better option. A-level Physics is famously tricky but if you have a Maths brain you’ll probably do well at it.

      On the other hand, if you’re good with a lot of reading (and the more you read, the better at A-level English – don’t just stick to the assigned reading list) and you enjoy writing essays, English is probably the better choice. It may be worth looking at the syllabus your school uses to see if it interests you – for instance, war poetry is often a feature of A-level English. Are you likely to find that interesting or depressing?

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

      • Sara


        >
        Thanks for replying! I’m pretty good at math considering I got an A* in o level math, add math and physics! However, I absolutely despised physics. I got a B in o level literature and I still liked it much more than physics. (I did pretty well the entire year, just messed up the o level exam). My other A level subjects are Biology, Chemistry and Math.

        • ORA Admin


          Dear Sara,

          Do you think you can fix the mistakes that led to you messing up the English exam? A-level is pretty intense; you don’t want to be studying a subject you dislike. English Literature would give a nice breadth to your subject choices, and may prove a pleasant outlet if you start to feel overwhelmed with sciences. Even if you were thinking of studying something like Medicine, you certainly don’t need another science subject for a good application.

          Particularly for a fourth subject, I would advise you to take the one you think you’ll enjoy the most – it sounds like that’s English.

          I hope this helps!

          The ORA Team.

  229. Rachel


    Hello! I am struggling about my choice of A Level subjects, I have decided on biology, chemistry and math at the moment, but I don’t know if psychology would be a good choice for the fourth subject. I want to do a nutrition / dietetics / dentistry degree in university. Would economics be a good choice over psychology? And does economics require a lot of maths? My maths isn’t really good to be honest…
    Thank You!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Rachel,

      Your core three subjects are a good, strong combination, so to a certain extent, your fourth subject doesn’t matter too much; university admissions tutors will be looking at the grade, more than the subject. This is particularly the case if you decide to apply for dentistry, as it’s an extremely competitive course. Neither Economics nor Psychology are in the top ranking of subjects that universities prefer, but nor are they “mickey mouse” subjects, so given your other three subjects, that’s not really something you need to worry about.

      Consequently, I would advise choosing whichever subject a) you think you will do best in and b) you think you will enjoy most. Given that Maths is quite important for studying Economics, I would advise you to opt for Psychology – but if you think you would enjoy Economics more, you should do that instead.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  230. Sarah


    Hi! I have to pick my A level subjects soon and so far I’ve decided on Biology and Chemistry. I can only pick two from English Literature, Psychology and Math. What two subjects would you suggest? (I currently have no idea what career I’d like to pursue in the future)

    Thanks!!

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Sarah,

      We would definitely recommend Maths; it’s a huge help if you’re taking Chemistry.

      Universities favour English Literature over Psychology, but as a fourth subject it doesn’t make much difference. If you have no preference between the two, then go for English, but for a fourth subject it’s definitely OK to pick whichever one you think you would enjoy more.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team.

      • Sarah


        >
        Thank you, your advice was great!

        The thing is I’m not that good at math. I love literature, and although I’ve never taken psychology before I know it’s the sort of subject I’d do well in, especially since I’m very interested in learning how people think. I know dropping math completely in A levels would be a bad idea, but I don’t want to take it just because some university would prefer me to. Hence I’m very very conflicted.

        Also I took O level Additional Math, and I’ve heard it’s almost the same as A level math, so it really smart to do the same thing again?

        • ORA Admin


          Dear Sarah,

          I unfortunately don’t know much about O-level Additional Maths, but having had a quick look through the specification, it does look to cover a lot of the same ground as A-level Maths.

          Usually, not taking A-level Maths would rule out a Chemistry degree (or at least make it very difficult), but having this O-level qualification may negate that problem. Having said that, you’ll still be in the position of not having studied Maths for two years, which could be an issue for a Chemistry degree. There are certainly workarounds for this, like taking other additional qualifications or taking care to justify the decision in your personal statement. If you’re thinking you’re more likely to take Biology or a non-science course at university, then not having A-level Maths doesn’t matter.

          It sounds as if you know what you’d most enjoy doing, which is an important consideration too. Biology, Chemistry, English and Psychology is certainly a strong, Russell Group-friendly combination of subjects.

          I feel like I haven’t been able to give you much certainty here, but I hope this is useful all the same.

          The ORA Team.

          • Sarah


            >
            Thanks for your help! I’ve decided to take Bio, Chem, Lit and Maths. I can still do a Psychology degree in university with these subjects right?

          • ORA Admin


            Dear Sarah,

            That combination certainly doesn’t rule out a Psychology degree if that’s what you decide to pursue.

            We hope this helps.

            The ORA Team.

  231. Sanya


    Do you think world history, psychology and art & design are a good combination? Or should I take biology instead of one of these? Thankyou x

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Sanya,

      That rather depends on what it is you plan on studying, but Biology is generally considered to be a stronger subject than Psychology or Art & Design, so swapping it for one of those two is advisable.

      Which one doesn’t make that much difference, though you should be aware that Art & Design is one of the most time-consuming A-levels you can take. You should expect for it to take up more than half of your total study time. If loads of Art, all the time sounds like a great couple of years, then I’m not aiming to put you off it – but it’s something you should factor in to your decision.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  232. kasim khan


    this article was really helpful i am currently about tostart my AS level and was wondering will taking law at an A level standard decrease my chances of getting into a good law school

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Kasim,

      That depends on your other subjects. If Law is your fourth AS, and your other subjects are strong (they should all be from the facilitating subjects list – e.g. English, History and Maths), then it will not put you at a disadvantage.

      If on the other hand, you’re planning on taking – for example – Art, Physics and Law then yes, it will harm your chances because you will need a robust essay subject (examples include English, History and RS) and the majority of your choices should come from the facilitating subjects list, whether you’re thinking of applying to a Russell Group university or not.

      In summary, taking Law shouldn’t harm your chances, but it won’t improve them either, and if you’re choosing between Law and a facilitating subject, you should pick the facilitating subject every time.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team

  233. Prince


    Hi, My name is Prince.
    i’m in desperate need of choosing A-Level subjects,
    I want to become a a software engineer, or obtain a degree in computer science.
    However i believe the main requirement is Maths, which comes the issue, i don’t know how my math’s grade, would be, as I’ve been low in maths for a while at school.
    So i ask if i happen to obtain a low grade in maths, can that stop me from gaining entry?.
    Can you also recommend three A-Level subjects i should do .
    Thank you.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Prince,

      I’m afraid that a good grade in Maths is essential for a computer science degree; we recommend Maths, Further Maths and a science such as Physics for a Computer Science application, and many schools won’t let you take Further Maths without at least an A at GCSE.

      If becoming a software engineer is something you’re set on, there are a couple of things you can do to improve your chances. The first one is simply to speak to your teachers about your Maths grade and see what you can do to improve.

      Additionally, there are lots of websites that you can use to teach yourself how to code. If your grades are not fantastic, but you can say in your personal statement that you have already created an app or something similar, then that will add weight to your application.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  234. Preve


    Hi

    Sorry if my subjects are all over the place but I have a bit of a problem. I want to study Business in university, but I don’t know what to specialize in, maybe management or marketing. I’m not very good at Math but when it comes to the Business side of it, I do quite well. Initially, I was planning to take Business, ICT, Art and Sociology (I did not do Business or Sociology in GCE because Sociology was not offered and at the time, I thought I wanted to be an architect so I took Geography instead). After Yr. 10, I realized that I am not interested in the sciences AT ALL so that dream flew out of the window. Later on, my father suggested I take Media Studies and drop ICT because I can always take a course later on plus the career that I want isn’t so ICT oriented (I want to be a fashion designer) but this would mean that I would go into A-Level not knowing a THING about 3 of the subjects that I am taking. Another problem is that I REALLY love English, it’s the one subject that I have been consistently good at and I never got anything lower than a B then I thought I should take Business, English, Sociology and Media Studies but I love ART so much but I don’t think it’s A-Level worthy. I mean, I could always draw in my free time.
    So which combination is the smartest:
    • Business, ICT, Sociology and Art (having done 2 in GCE)
    • Business, Media Studies, Sociology and Art (having done 1 in GCE)
    • Business, Media Studies, Sociology and English (having also done 1 in GCE)

    • ORA Admin


      Hi Preve,

      There’s a trap that some students fall into, which is to assume that the subject that sounds most obviously relevant to the goal they want to pursue (e.g. Media Studies for a career in the media) is the best one for them to take. At A-level, this isn’t the case. One good example of this is Law – it’s not advisable to take Law A-level in order to take a law degree, as it’s not a highly respected A-level, so prospective law students are better off choosing a more respected subject that is related in some way (e.g. an essay-based subject like English or History) and simply trying to do as well as possible in it. I think you might be encountering the same issue. Luckily, you don’t need to tweak your subject choices too much to end up with a good combination.

      First of all, if you want to be a fashion designer, you should definitely be taking Art. Be warned that you will need tremendous time management skills for an Art A-level – it will probably take up more than half of your total studying time. But it is the only required A-level for fashion courses, so even though you’re not planning on studying Fashion at university, it’s nonetheless sensible preparation to find out if a career in fashion would suit you.

      I would advise you against taking Media Studies. It’s the classic ‘mickey mouse’ A-level, and it will not teach you much that you can’t learn from taking English instead (as many of the analytical skills are the same – only in English you apply them to literature, not to contemporary media). English is a much more respected course and is a solid foundation for any degree.

      Business Studies is another subject that gets somewhat looked down on, but which is probably the best choice for you given you’re not a fan of Maths. It should also give you valuable business skills that will be necessary if you end up in the world of fashion.

      As for a fourth subject, I would again not advise Sociology or ICT. A-level ICT is another subject that can be extremely time-consuming and is therefore not good to pair with A-level Art. Sociology is another ‘mickey mouse’ subject – and, like you said, you don’t know much about it. So what should you take instead? I suggest you look at the facilitating subjects list in the article above and pick whichever one you enjoy most and feel you would do best in. If you enjoyed Geography at GCSE, that could be a good choice.

      Also, are you aware that some highly respected universities offer courses that combine business and fashion? For instance, the University of Manchester offers Fashion Management and Fashion Marketing, both of which include the option of a year in industry, so that you can build up work experience to give yourself a headstart on getting a job.

      Hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

      • Preve


        >

        Thank you so much with the advise. You’ve really helped putting things in perspective. Can I come back when I get my IGCSE results and continue to ask some questions?I’m still a bit doubt-y about taking Geography but other than that, I agree with taking Business, English and Art.

      • Preve


        >
        Thank you so much for the advise. You’ve really helped, I will consider taking Business, Art and English but I’m not sure about the Geography. Can I come back when I get my IGCSE results.

        I didn’t know about Manchester offering a fashion business course. That’s really encouraging but it’s extremely expensive since I am an international student and I don’t have the richest of parents, but that you for letting me know about it. I didn’t even know fashion managing or fashion marketing existed.

        I will be back!

        • ORA Admin


          Dear Preve,

          I’m really glad to have helped – do feel free to ask more questions when you get your results. Best of luck with them!

          The ORA Team

  235. Sakura


    I’m thinking about taking business studies, economics, psychology, English literature and Mandarin Chinese.
    English literature is for an extra A and Mandarin Chinese is cause I want to learn a foreign language.
    But I’m not not sure if these subjects are right. I mean I like all of them and I’m sure I’ll do well in them, but if I take these then will these be any good? I mean I wanna go to university in the future and get a job, but I don’t know what I’ll be able to do if I choose these. And unlike most of my friends I don’t know what job I wanna do in the future. I’m just so confused!
    Plus every one says I’m crazy for opting for 5 subjects.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Sakura,

      What is it that you like about these subjects in particular? For instance, Business Studies and Economics in combination suggest to me that you enjoy problem-solving and getting to know the systems that underpin our society, whereas English Literature and Psychology suggest you like subjects that give you an insight into people’s lives and how people think. Figuring out what it is that leads you to enjoy a particular subject is a useful step to figuring out which subject you might enjoy studying, and ultimately, what kind of a job you might like to do.

      As an example, if I’m right about the reasons for which you enjoy the subjects above, you might enjoy Law – which combines an understanding of the functions of our society with an element of learning what makes people tick.

      Since I don’t know what motivates you to choose these subjects in particular, I’ll keep my advice pretty general. Currently you have a broad combination of subjects that would rule out most science subjects, but not much else – almost everything in the fields of social sciences and humanities would be left open to you. There are, however, a couple of issues. One is that you’ve chosen several of the subjects that top universities are less keen on – Business Studies, Economics and Psychology are all not in the top rank of subjects. I would suggest replacing Business Studies or Economics with Maths; if you don’t like Maths, you should probably avoid Economics anyway. If you’re thinking of applying to Oxford or Cambridge, all or all but one of your subjects should be from the Russell Group’s list of ‘facilitating’ subjects.

      The second bit of advice I’d like to give is regarding your plan to do 5 subjects. It can certainly be done, but the challenge should not be underestimated. Most students taking 5 subjects are either taking subjects that are very closely related (e.g. Maths and Further Maths), taking an A-level in a language they speak bilingually, or taking General Studies, which doesn’t require much work. Mandarin Chinese is one of the hardest A-levels you can take, partly because a considerable proportion of the people taking it are native Chinese speakers, which pushes up the grade boundaries. If you’re not a native Chinese speaker, you’ll need to be very, very committed to get a decent grade in it. It’s a very impressive language to have mastered, but I’m not sure A-level is a good time to set yourself that kind of challenge. If you have GCSEs in any other language(s), I would advise you take one of those instead. Even then, I would advise you take one less subject – probably that you drop one of Business Studies and Economics, as I don’t think you’ll be at an advantage for having taken both.

      So, to sum up, my advice would be to think about what it is that you really enjoy about the subjects you enjoy, and try to replicate that in your university course and eventual career choice. For your A-levels, I would recommend a combination of Maths, Psychology, English Literature and Mandarin Chinese or an easier language.

      Hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  236. Viv


    Hello,

    I am in the process of choosing my A-level options and am not entirely sure wether to choose English Language or Literature. I’ve read that the Literature option is more widely accepted, (especially by the Russell group). However, would taking English Language place me at a disadvantage as opposed to taking English Lit & Lang?

    Thankyou

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Viv,

      There’s some disagreement over this, but it seems that the order of preference by universities goes like this:

      1. English Literature
      2. English Lit & Lang
      3. English Language

      If your school offers all three subjects, which you should take depends considerably on what you want to study at university and where. Obviously, if you’re applying for English Literature, you should take English Literature if your school offers it. If you’re applying for another essay-based subject, for instance History, you would also be better off taking Literature. If, on the other hand, you’re thinking of applying for something in the area of science and this would be your fourth AS-level, it matters less.

      Similarly, if you’re thinking of applying for the Russell Group or similar universities, Lit & Lang and Language are not on the all-important ‘facilitating’ subjects list (which you can read more about here), so again, would be advisable only as a fourth subject.

      If you are thinking of studying an essay-based subject or applying to one of the tougher universities, and your school doesn’t offer pure Literature, don’t worry – taking Lit & Lang should not put you at a disadvantage under those circumstances.

      So, to sum up – if English Language would be your fourth subject, that will not prove a disadvantage. If it’s one of your main three and you’re applying to a top university and/or for an essay-based subject, I would advise taking English Literature as the best option or Lang & Lit if your school doesn’t offer Literature.

      Hope this helps!

      The ORA Team

  237. Kaitlin


    Hello,
    thank you for the advice, it helped a lot! I know taking Maths would be a very smart move but I don’t think I would be confident enough as I’m only expecting a B at GCSE, and although this is enough to do A-level Maths I really had to work hard to get that, so I think I would find it too difficult at A-level. I would instead choose a science subject if I could, but I don’t think I think that would also be too hard for me. Going to a top University that is in the Russell Group is something I really would like to do though, so do you know of any other option I could take that would still give me a bit of a chance of getting into a top University, or is that unrealistic?

    • ORA Admin


      Hi Kaitlin,

      Thanks for your reply! If science subjects in general aren’t your cup of tea, I would definitely advise against studying Economics at university. Instead, you might want to look more at the humanities end of the social sciences – an example might be Loughborough’s Social Psychology course, which, while still being a BSc, focuses on the role of the person in society rather than the biological side of the subject (and though Loughborough isn’t in the RG, it’s comfortably one of the top 20 unis in the country and is even higher in the league tables for Psychology). Psychology, History, Economics and Spanish would work as a combination for this kind of course – but I would then recommend dropping Economics after AS.

      One thing to look at if you’re researching possible university courses is how courses are assessed – it seems that essay-based assessment would play to your strengths. Admissions tutors are also more likely to accept you if the kind of assessment you’ve shown yourself to succeed in reflects the kind of assessment you’ll be given on their course. You may also want to look primarily at BAs rather than BScs, although the distinction can be somewhat arbitrary.

      Best of luck!

      The ORA Team

  238. Kaitlin


    Hello,
    I’m not sure on what course I would want to take at University, however I could imagine me taking a degree in either economics or psychology, as I find subjects similar to those interesting and could imagine me going down that route in terms of a career. Although I haven’t received my GCSE results yet, I would say that my strengths are in subjects like Spanish and business studies.

    At the moment I’m thinking of taking economics, Spanish and psychology at A-level, and I have more or less made up my mind on these, unless I change my mind when I see what results I got for GCSE. Along with those, I would also like to take a fourth subject mainly to serve as a back-up. At the moment the options for the fourth subject I’m thinking of (that fit in with the subject block/timetable) are history, (I didn’t take this at GCSE level but I can imagine I wouldn’t find it too difficult as I enjoy essay-style subjects) religious studies, English language, business studies and accountancy. I need help on deciding which one of these to take, considering I want to leave my options fairly open.

    Thank you :)

    • ORA Admin


      Hi Kaitlin,

      If you want to keep Economics as a possibility, I would strongly recommend (if option blocks allow it) taking Maths at A-level. Most universities actually prefer Maths to Economics for potential university Economics students; many won’t accept you without a Maths A-level. Maths also wouldn’t do you any harm for Psychology, where universities are likely to want to see another science subject (which includes Maths). Biology or Chemistry would also be good options.

      You’re also focusing quite strongly on subjects that aren’t on the Russell Group facilitating subjects list (see here for more about facilitating subjects), which could put you at a disadvantage if you’re aiming for top universities (even if they’re not in the Russell Group).

      One thing you might want to take into account regarding History is the syllabus your school follows at GCSE and A-level. You shouldn’t be at any disadvantage without GCSE History in principle, but it may be that your school does 20th century History for both GCSE and A-level, in which case you might have to do some catching up.

      Given which subjects are accorded most respect by universities (unfair as it may seem), I’d recommend you take Maths, Psychology, Spanish and either History or RS for a strong combination of subjects that leaves your options open for studying either Economics or Psychology in future.

      Hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  239. Ashley


    Dear editor/admin,
    I would like to study C109 MBiol, BSc Biology (Integrated Masters) at Leeds University, they say they require AAA from 3A2 levels: including Biology and another science/science related subject. I am hoping to do Biology, Chemistry, Geography, French, General Studies and the Extended Project Qualifcation (AQA). All at A2 level, except French which I’ll do only at AS.
    I wondered, is this a good choice of Alevels for what I want to become? I know that I’ve omitted mathematics but I would dig myself an early grave doing Alevel maths, and most of the science degrees I want to read don’t require Alevel maths. Would my selection open many science related doors for me (exluding physics/mathematical chemistry of course)?

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Ashley,

      I suspect you already know the answer to this one – you do leave yourself some science options open, but not as many as you would if you were taking Maths. Having said that, if universities felt Maths was really essential for their courses, they would ask for it. You might have to defend not taking Maths at interview (in which case I would advise a stance of “I wanted to study a greater breadth of options” rather than “I hate Maths”) and you should also be prepared for the fact that universities might require you to do a top-up Maths course when you get there, to make sure you can keep up with the requirements of your course.

      This is a strong set of options in general, though – four facilitating subjects plus the EPQ makes for a solid, Russell Group-friendly application.

      Best of luck!

      The ORA Team

  240. Haroon


    Hello. I’ve decided to pursue either a course in economics or law but I can’t determine which subjects to chose, in accordance to subjects which will be appreciated by oxbridge. I have an opportunity to take 5 subjects along with a compulsory subject out of 3: “English Language”, “English Language and Literature” and “French”. Furthermore, I have to decide whether taking law at this stage is a good idea. I also want to confirm whether not opting for a science would effect the course I pursue. Gaining admission into Oxbridge is also a challenge so any piece of advice would also be quite helpful.

    I will be indebted to your help.

    Regards.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Haroon,

      Are you studying 5 subjects including one of the three you list, or 5 subject plus one of those three, making 6 in total? If the latter, that affects my advice a little as I assume you’re not taking A-levels. If that’s the case, let me know which exam board it is and I will do my best to give fresh advice – though A-levels are the system I know best.

      Assuming it is A-levels you’re taking, it’s worth knowing that English Language and English Language and Literature are not thought of very highly (they’re considered rather easier than English Literature). Consequently, I’d advise choosing French as the most respected and academic subject from that list. (Though I’ll re-iterate – if you’re not taking A-levels but a different sort of exam, this doesn’t apply).

      If you’re thinking of Oxbridge I would advise against taking Law A-level. It will not give you any kind of an advantage and may even leave you at a disadvantage, as it’s not considered in the top rank of academic subjects.

      So what should you take instead? For Law, you’ll want solid essay-based subjects – English Literature and/or History, for instance. For Economics, you’ll need Maths, which is also advantageous for Law. If your school offers Further Maths, that will make your application really shine.

      Finally, I’ll re-iterate my advice to every student considering taking 5 A-levels – assess whether that’s something you really want to do. There are a couple of Oxbridge colleges that will be more impressed by 4 A-levels than 3, but nowhere expects 5 AS levels or A-levels, and it is always better to get 3 or 4 outstanding A-levels than 5 very good ones.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team

      • Haroon


        > Thank you for the help :) . The exam board is A-Levels and the total subjects I will be studying are five, inclusive of the one in the list. Also, I wanted to inquire whether not opting for a science subject at A levels is a bad idea. Do universities regret it or is it considered alright not to chose any science subject?

        Thanks again :D

        • ORA Admin


          Dear Haroon,

          Thanks for replying! If you’re studying a humanities subject (e.g. Law), you don’t need any science A-levels and won’t be at any kind of a disadvantage for not having taken them. For Economics, Maths is essential, but you don’t need any other science subjects – for A-level purposes, Maths counts as a science.

          The important thing is tailoring your subjects towards what you want to study. There’s no such thing as a subject combination that’s good for every university course. There are some subjects with broader relevance than others (English Literature, Maths and languages come to mind as subjects that are good for most courses), but that’s all.

          Hope this helps.

          The ORA Team

  241. Ramsha


    Hi, I really need advise on what to choose for my A-level subjects. At the moment I am not sure about a particular field that I want to go into, however some I have narrowed it down to law, medicine or psychology.

    I have talked to my school and my teachers about taking a fifth a level, and whilst they have stressed that it would be difficult they do feel confident that I should be able to do well, taking into account my grades so far.

    I am aware that in order to keep my doors open to medicine I would need to take chemistry and biology. I am also keen to study Spanish as my third a level.

    However I am completely confused as to what two subjects I should chose out of History, English literature and psychology (which I am interested in doing in order to see whether I would like to pursue this further.) Also would sociology be a beneficial a level for me?

    Thanks in advance.

    • ORA Admin


      Dear Ramsha,

      It may be a little tricky to carry on keeping your options open at this stage. If you want to study Law, you’ll need to have at least one essay subject (i.e. English or History). However, if you want to study Medicine, you would be better advised to add a third science subject – i.e. Maths or Physics. For Psychology, it matters rather less – obviously it is a good idea to find out whether you’d actually enjoy studying it, but the combination of Biology and Chemistry is all you need to prepare you for the course at university.

      Having said that, most candidates for Medicine have decided on that course while studying for their GCSEs or sooner – and will have been doing work experience and other preparation for some time already. If you haven’t been doing that, you’ll need to start more or less straight away – getting into Medicine is very, very hard, so you’ll need to be quite sure that’s what you want to do.

      You might be interested in our articles on Oxbridge Law applications (which contains useful advice even if you’re not interested in Oxbridge) and on medical school applications.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team

  242. Jade


    Hi,
    I don’t know what I want to be in the future, and it’s time to choose what A levels to do. I’m thinking of: biology, chemistry, further maths, economics, geography or Spanish. I’m also definitely doing maths and will definitely do at least one science, either biology or chemistry. I don’t know which combination of subjects is the best for going to university and for jobs. please give some advice!

    • ORA Admin


      Hi Jade,

      Obviously, it’s hard to give advice without knowing which subject you’ll be studying at university. For instance, if you were applying to study Medicine or something similar, from your selection we’d recommend Biology, Chemistry, Maths and whichever fourth subject you feel you’d enjoy most – Further Maths or Spanish would probably be the best options. Whereas if you were thinking of studying Economics, a combination of Maths, Further Maths, Economics and Geography would be advisable. Any combination of the subjects you’ve listed would make for a strong application; they’re all rigorous, respected, academic subjects.

      Having said that, it is still possible to give some advice with a view to keeping your options open. Economics is the only one of the subjects you’re considering that isn’t on the Russell Group’s ‘facilitating subjects’ list (see above) and so we’d recommend choosing something else unless you’re going to study something specifically economics-related. Further Maths and Chemistry are both particularly respected A-levels; however unfair it may seem, employers are likely to be more impressed with a high grade in Chemistry than a high grade in Biology. From an employment perspective, Spanish is likely to be more valuable than Geography.

      So that would leave you with Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Spanish – a strong combination for a wide variety of employer-friendly STEM subjects.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team.

  243. Binam


    I’m not sure what to choose for my alevels. I have taken Physics, chemistry, Pure Maths and English language…..i need to choose one more, i.e among : Further maths, Economics and Biology…..I’m not sure what to do, please help!

    • ORA Admin


      Hi Binam,

      While the best choice of subject depends on what you’re planning on studying at university, without that information we’d recommend Further Maths as the most prestigious and impressive of those choices, and also the one that will be easiest to manage if you’re set on taking 5 A-levels. Do be warned that that is a heavy workload and no university that we know of asks for more than 4; it’s better to get 4 excellent A-levels than 5 very good ones.

      We hope this helps,

      The ORA Team.

  244. Rebecca


    Hi there, I need advise on what to choose for my A-level subjects. I am interested in pursuing dentistry and currently preparing for O-levels. I have narrowed down my subject choices to Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics.

    My struggle is what should I choose as a fourth subject. I have heard that choosing a fourth subject not relating to your field (eg: psychology, sociology) can be an advantage as universities want variety. Is that true? I’m hesitant to pick a strong subject like physics or further maths. What subjects should I choose to have an advantage in entering a university of dentistry?

    • ORA


      Hi Rebecca,

      Biology, Chemistry and Maths are sensible A-level choices if you want to study Dentistry at university. Physics would be the best choice for your fourth subject, whereas Further Maths is overkill and not advisable unless you happen to find mathematics very easy.

      If you are really not confident with Physics, Psychology wouldn’t hurt, but it’s not as impressive.

      It’s not easy to say whether universities would be impressed by a fourth unrelated subject; it sounds plausible in principle, but in practice Physics would probably have more value, as it is of more direct relevance to dentistry.

      We hope this helps.

      The ORA Team

  245. Sarah


    Hello! I want to study pharmacy for my degree in A-Level. I want to pick biology, chemistry, mathematics and psychology. Do you think those options are good or do you have a better recommendation?

    Is it hard to achieve an A in A-Level and is it achievable?Most people say that achieving As in a-level is hard.

    • ORA


      Hi Sarah,

      If you want to study Pharmacy at University, Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics are very sensible choices. For the fourth subject we would strongly recommend that you go for Physics instead of Psychology. Physics is much more relevant to Pharmacy, and knowledge of Physics will make your life much easier in both A-level Chemistry (which is essential for Pharmacy) and Pharmacy itself.

      Getting “A” grades in A-levels is not that hard for intelligent pupils who work with diligence; the syllabuses have been watered down and getting A grades in A-levels used to be much, much harder! Thousands of students achieve “A” grades every year, so it is achievable.

      We hope this helps!

      The ORA Team

      • Sarah


        >Thank you! The advice are great! The only problem is that I’m not great in Physics and Physics is hard for me. Is there other option that I could pick and will help me pharmacy?

        Thank you!

        • ORA Admin


          Dear Sarah,

          Physics is the fourth subject that helps most with Pharmacy, but if you’re not a big fan of it, it’s best to choose whichever subject you’re likely to get the best grade in – especially given the grade requirements for Pharmacy courses can be challenging.

          In general, the more academic the subject, the better (so ideally one from the ‘facilitating subjects’ list above). However, as it’s a fourth subject, it isn’t that important. One option you might not have considered is taking a language; all medicine-related degrees involve learning a huge amount of vocabulary, so sharpening up your language-learning skills may be more valuable that you realise.

          Ultimately, it’s the three main subjects – Chemistry, Biology and Maths – that are most important, so your priorities for your fourth subject can be choosing something you’ll enjoy and do well in, rather than something that needs to be strictly related to your future course.

          We hope this is useful!

          The ORA Team.

  246. Mel


    Thank you, your advice is very helpful! I will have to research careers concerning Biology degrees over the summer, so that I can make an informed decision.>
    By the way, I don’t hate Maths, I quite like the subject but I am just a bit afraid that I will not continue my good grades in Maths in the Sixth Form.

  247. Mel


    Dear O.R.A.,

    I have yet to choose my A-levels in August after I receive my GCSE results and I would like to do a science based degree in University (maybe medicine, chemistry, computer science, physics, biology or engineering). Is it wholly compulsory that I have a Mathematics A-level for these degrees and if so, is it wholly necessary that I take Further Mathematics as well?

    If I do not take Mathematics, can I take Latin instead? I ask this because, while I do like both subjects, I am better at Latin and I enjoy it more.

    Thanks in advance.

    (N.B. My other A-level choices are Biology, Chemistry and Physics).

    • ORA


      Hi Mel,

      If you are not keen on Maths, we would strongly advise you against studying Chemistry, Physics, Engineering or Computer Science at university, all of which have considerable Mathematical demands. Most students who study those subjects at a good university have both Maths and Further Maths at A-level.

      If you want to study Chemistry, Physics or Engineering at university, you would need to take not just Maths, but also ideally Further Maths, if you want to do at all well. There is no question that if you find Maths challenging, these degrees would make you miserable at university.

      For this reason it looks like Medicine or Biology are better options for you as university subjects. A-level Latin is in many ways a great subject to add to the three sciences — it will help with Biology and Medicine, believe it or not, and it’s a fascinating and very intellectual subject.

      Biology has some mathematical requirements, but nowhere near as intense as Chemistry, Physics, Engineering or Computer Science.

      In conclusion, if you are not perfectly comfortable with Maths and Further Maths, choose Latin instead and apply to read Biology or Medicine at university.

      We hope this helps.

      Good luck!

      The ORA Team

  248. Rena


    Hi I want to do an English degree as it has always been my favourite subject and the one I am best at. A second option may be a Psychology degree depending on whether I enjoy the A-level.

    I am definitely going to study English, Art, Psychology at AS level at least, but I am unsure whether to take sociology or religious studies, with philosophy and ethics as my fourth option.

    Which one would be more suitable? Which would you suggest I consider dropping for second year based on the subject? What kinds of jobs can you actually achieve with these degrees?

    Thanks in advance!

    • ORA Admin


      Hi Rena,

      If you want to leave your options open for the possibility of doing a Psychology degree, you should consider replacing one of your subjects with Biology or Maths; Psychology is, after all, a science subject and currently you have a very humanities-orientated set of subject choices. Sociology is also a possible contender for that kind of subject.

      If you have any thoughts on your preferred universities (I know it’s pretty early for that!), have a look at whether their Psychology courses are more humanities-based or science-based, as Psychology can fall to either side of that divide; that can guide you on how science-heavy your A-level selection needs to be.

      For English, on the other hand, the choice between Sociology and RS doesn’t make much difference. A good understanding of religious history is useful in an English degree, particularly if you’re interested in older texts, but it’s not essential.

      As to what you should consider dropping, there’s no option that immediately stands out as the weak link in your set of choices. Why not wait and see what you’re doing well in and what you enjoy most? One thing you should be aware of is that A-level Art has a very high workload; it’s not an easy subject at all. Most people who take it absolutely love it, which makes the amount of work it requires a joy, but if at AS you’re finding it a struggle, then consider dropping it at A2.

      Neither English nor Psychology lead naturally to any particular job; very few Psychology graduates end up working in something directly related to their degree. But provided you have a decent class of degree (aim for a 2.1 at minimum), there’s a huge variety of jobs that simply require a good degree, but don’t specify the subject – and that’s where English and Psychology offer valuable transferable skills. So if you’re interested in recruitment, management, PR, marketing, sales, research, teaching… none of these options would be closed to you. And there’s always the option of doing a year or two more study (e.g. a law conversion course) if you want to expand your options even more. The only issue is that there are a lot of graduates with these qualifications – so you’ll need to pursue work experience and extra-curricular activities to make your CV stand out.

      I hope this helps!

      Best wishes,
      The Oxford Royale team

  249. Lucy


    Hi there,

    I’m struggling with A level choices. I’m considering maybe a degree in history or law (or perhaps a combination of both!) but I’m really still not sure. My current AS level choices are History, Biology, Spanish and Economics. Would these be suitable for either degree?

    Also I’m thinking about doing Government and Politics just to AS level, and then dropping that and Spanish in the second year- is this advisable? I really enjoy Government and Politics and would like to do it for the sake of learning about it.

    Thanks!!

    • ORA Admin


      Hi Lucy,

      A combination like History, Biology, Spanish and Economics is not at all restrictive, and would certainly be suitable for either History or Law.

      Whether you should take on Government and Politics as a fifth A-level is something I would advise you to discuss with your school – it may cause timetabling problems, for instance.

      If your school is amenable to the idea, you may be able to take it initially, and then drop it if the workload becomes too much. Taking 5 AS levels is achievable, but it’s a challenge (especially if you’re also taking General Studies). If you do decide to take 5 subjects, you should make sure you won’t face any negative consequences if you end up needing to drop a subject halfway through the year.

      Hopefully this is helpful, and best of luck with your studies!

      • Lucy


        > Thank you very much for your advice!! I will talk to the college I plan to go to about taking a fifth option .
        Thank you very much!

  250. shae


    what subjects do you recommend if i want to take up accountancy? and is psychology or sociology related with being good in history ? Because i’m not that good with history. thank you

    • ORA Admin


      Hi Shae,

      For accountancy, we’d certainly recommend Maths, and Further Maths if your school offers it. Any one of Economics, Statistics and Business Studies may also be useful. Some schools offer Accountancy A-level, but it can be seen as a soft option by some universities, so it may be best avoided. If that leaves you with one more A-level left to choose, feel free to go for something contrasting. A language, for instance, will serve you well in pretty much any career. Having said that, it never hurts to contact your preferred university (even at this early stage) and ask them which A-levels they would prefer; you should follow their advice ahead of ours.

      As for Psychology, Sociology and History, that depends on why you struggle with History. Do you have difficulty carrying out research or writing essays? If so, those are both significant parts of most Psychology and Sociology courses. If, however, it’s more that History doesn’t click with you – perhaps you’re not very interested in the past, or you favour subjects that can be approached more scientifically – that should be no obstacle in either Psychology or Sociology.

      We hope this helps, and good luck with whatever you choose!

  251. tenzin


    please, is it necessary for those who are not native english speakers to take a level english language to improve? the one who is interested in improving english ? please answer this question if you have any.

    • ORA


      Hi Tenzin,

      No, you do not have to take A-level English to improve your English. Depending on your current level of English, an EFL or IELTS course may be appropriate; alternatively, if your English is already good, you can further improve it with regular practice.

      You might also enjoy our article on how to learn English faster.

      We hope this helps.

      Best wishes from Oxford Royale Summer Schools!

      • Rosie


        > Hi,
        I was wondering if Biology, Chemistry, Environmental science and Philosophy are good choices for my A-levels?
        I want to go into a Zoology with Animal behaviour course after, ultimately leading to a career in a Zoo or other animal care facility.
        Thank you :-)

        • ORA


          Dear Rosie,

          Yes, this is a good set of A-levels for your career path. Taking Maths instead of Philosophy would have been even better, but this will do.

          Good luck,

          The ORA Team

          • Tatty


            Hi, I am in the process of choosing which AS and A levels to do next year. I know I definitely want to do English literature, Maths and History of Art. For my fourth I was really interested in Law but I am not sure if it is seen as too much of a soft subject. Would Maths, English literature, History of Art and Law be an okay combination, or would universities see it as too “soft”? Would I be at a disadvantage? Thanks.

          • ORA


            Dear Tatty,

            You are better off adding a Modern Language, which is a facilitating option and more respcted than A-level Law (which is not a good idea, much less a requirement, even for Law degrees).

            Good luck,

            The ORA Team

    • Anum


      > I chose 3 A level subjects i.e. Biology, Chemistry and psychology ! I am not sure whether this is a good combination , I just thought this combination might open various fields for me but now I am pretty confused.. Plus I never wanted to study maths or physics and since I was just following my interests so I chose psychology , so does these three subjects make a good combination ?

      • ORA


        Dear Anum,

        You should choose four subjects, and ideally they should all be facilitating. A-level Psychology is not a respected subject.

        Good luck,

        The ORA Team



You may be interested in these other courses:

SUMMER

Medical School Preparation Programme

For students seeking a place at Medical School Read more
SUMMER

Global Leadership Programme

For students wanting to develop leadership and management skills Read more
SUMMER

Business and Enterprise Programme

Gain an in-depth insight into business with this summer course Read more
SUMMER

Law School Preparation Programme

Develop your understanding of the law with tutoring from our expert faculty Read more