What subject should I pick for A-levels? By a current AS student

Hi, I am currently taking my AS levels and after studying them for a few months I have put together this article to help current GCSE students. I hope you enjoy it!

The important part of picking a subject is thinking about what you enjoy. Remember, you’ll be stuck with it for two years!

As you move up to higher education, the work you do is expected to be at a more advanced level and thus would be better if you had some prior knowledge on the subject. A keen interest outside of the classroom would also help, as it would push you into learning more around your chosen subjects.  

Sixth form/college is seen as a place with more mature students, most provide gaps in the time tables (so called ‘free periods’), during these you are trusted with your own time. The best students are the ones who spend their free periods revising or looking ahead in their chosen subjects.

If you are looking at what subjects to pick, you are probably still waiting on your GCSE grades, therefore, you may not be completely sure what your strongest subject is. Even though you have to choose before you get your results back. The majority of colleges allow the students to drop or pick up subjects (usually in the first few weeks) in case they don’t enjoy it or find it too hard. This means your choice is not final and can be eligible to change.

If you are hoping for the top A-level results, then your best bet is to pick a topic that you find easy and enjoy, or will help you get the job you want. I personally picked Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry, although I found it easy at GCSE level, it’s beginning to ramp up at A-level. The jump between GCSE and A-level can be quite large if you are not expecting it. However, if you are ready it can be seamless.  I struggled slightly with the jump from GCSE to A-Level Maths, so I enlisted the help of an A-Level Maths tutor to help fill in the gaps in my knowledge.

Picking your A-levels and the correct A-levels can seem a scary feat, but as long as you reach your target grades and enjoy yourself while you are doing that then it’ll be a breeze. 

Everyone is different, if you think about which classes come most naturally to you, your choices should be easily found. For example, if you enjoy acting or want a job in musical theatre or the live performance sector then explore classes like Performing Arts but if you are interested in science and are able to think scientifically then consider Biology, Physics and Chemistry.

Future thinking

When finalising your A-level choices, have a look at the world in its current state, instead of looking at the job that is ‘hot’ right now, look at the job which will be hot in the future.

With the Covid-19 vaccine being distributed as we speak, we are able to look ahead and think about the future job market. What you do at your A-levels is never directly related to a career after school but the subjects chosen could alter your degree choices and the sector you enter into later. At this point, if you are thinking about a specialised job such as a nurse or doctor it is worth tailoring your choices accordingly. 

Maybe you feel that technology still has a way to go and you want to follow Elon Musk in his attempt to automate the weirdest possible cars the world has ever seen (then maybe computer science and physics would suit you nicely). 

There are many ways our world could change in five years when you're looking for a job, or 10 year’s time when you are looking to settle in a career. So keep all of your options open.

Are A-levels even the right path for you?

There are many different options available after GCSEs, the law states you have to be in ‘full time education’ until the age of 18. Thus the options are either 6th form/college or an apprenticeship. A-levels are (as stated previously) a large jump from GCSEs, however that is only what I have noticed in my subjects. There are subjects which won’t change too much and many people prefer college over other options, others may prefer or at least be more suited to apprenticeships. 

The reason for that could be because they want to make decent money and work their way up the ‘food chain’. Often they aren't the biggest fan of school-like environments and would prefer to do something more practical in their youth. 

“If you are struggling choosing your subjects, just picture the lessons you enjoy and determine whether you would still enjoy them even if you didn’t like your teacher.”

I like all my subjects, but I don't particularly like my teachers, and that makes it a lot harder for me personally to concentrate. Luckily because of my love for maths and sciences, I can make it through the day just fine. I feel the teachers have a large effect on what subject you like/dislike which is why at sherpa, you can choose your own online tutor and determine whether you like them or not in your free introduction. 

All-in-all, everyone finds the decision tough, you are not the only one. This can make people worry when it comes to picking the right college and also when the time comes for them to attend their first lesson. There are always doubts whether or not you have made the right choice. Overall, the only thing you really have to worry about when choosing your subject is you, will you enjoy it? Will you want to keep up and strive ahead?

Author's profile picture

Sebastian Owen

4th March

Looking for a tutor?

Sherpa has hundreds of qualified and experienced UK tutors who are ready to help you achieve your goals. Search through our tutors and arrange a free 20 minute introduction through our industry-leading online classroom.

Find a Tutor