Choosing your A-Levels can be a stressful decision to make, especially when you are only 15 or 16. These decisions you make now can influence where you can go to university, what courses you are eligible to study for and your potential career paths. It all seems very daunting, but you have a lot of flexibility.
When I chose my A-Levels in Year 11 I loved science. I opted for Biology, Geography and Psychology. I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career or even at university, so I tried to choose subjects with a range of skills and subject areas. This was a great decision. Unless you know exactly what you want to study at university, choosing subjects that you genuinely find interesting and exciting will be the best ones to go for. A-Levels are very different from GCSEs. The content detail increases, the amount of things you learn increases and the standard at which you are expected to answer exams increases. If you do not choose subjects you love, it can be a difficult two years.
Choosing a range of subjects helps to show universities that you are a well-rounded individual. For myself, Biology gave me detailed scientific and objective knowledge, whereas Psychology gave me this balanced view of social sciences and how this interacts with pure sciences. I’m now studying for a degree in Geography, but with a focus on human geography. I do not really encounter the content I learnt for Biology in my studies now, but the skills of statistical analysis, understanding complex processes and exploring the natural environment still apply.
There will be some courses at university that have required subjects such as Economics often requiring A-Level Maths, Medicine requiring A-Level Biology and Chemistry, and modern languages requiring an A-Level in the language. If you are potentially interested in a course, make sure you understand these requirements and choose accordingly. They are required for a reason and will therefore not admit you onto the course without this qualification present.
If you do not have any required subjects, happy days! You can choose freely but it can be useful to pick subjects that have commonalities between them. Many people choose to group STEM subjects together eg, Maths, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, or humanities e.g., Politics, History, English Literature, French. Pick whatever appeals to you the most, while bearing in mind that some universities, like LSE, have a list of “generally preferred” subjects, which provide a more effective preparation for study at the bachelor’s level.
Thinking back to when I chose my A-Levels, I asked myself the question – would I choose differently today? I think my initial answer would be yes, I would choose differently. If I could go back, I would have chosen A-Level Politics, Sociology and Geography with hindsight now that I love humanities and understanding people rather than scientific processes. I did not know that I would end up at LSE studying a degree in human Geography when I was 15, but I cannot blame myself for that. I chose carefully to make sure I could go into any discipline I wanted to, and it worked!
I loved my A-Levels (despite them being some of the hardest courses I’ve taken) and I wish that I had chosen different subjects, but I do not regret my decisions. I chose what I enjoyed, and the passion for Geography showed later. I did not feel dictated by my choices, and you should not either.