AS and A Levels Subject Selection

If you are reading this article, chances are you are a student who has just passed his/her O Levels/IGCSEs, or you are a parent looking for subject selection guidelines for your child. Whatever the case may be, big CONGRATULATIONS to all for clearing your O Levels/IGCSEs. It is indeed a milestone in one’s life. Most of you would have just started with your A-Levels or are going to start soon. A very important decision students have to make after entering A-Levels is Subject Selection. Choosing the right subjects is very, very essential and important because the subjects you choose now are going to be the deciding factor for the universities you can attend in the future.

Students after passing their O Levels/IGCSEs are very excited to start with A-Levels, and therefore, tend to take a large number of subjects (on the same pattern as they did before). This is one of the biggest mistakes made by the students. A-Levels is an uphill climb, and far more difficult than O Level/IGCSE. As this part of your life is going to decide your future, so try to opt for only the majors or the core subjects you are going to need later. The extra A Levels you choose are going to waste anyway because universities mostly do not consider extra subjects, and in some cases discourage it, which disadvantages you in the admission process. So choose wisely!

Choosing the right A-Levels can be tricky if you do not know what you want to do or what you wish to read at university. So before you move on to choosing anything, try to discover yourself: “What you really want to be in the future?” “Do you enjoy studying this subject?” This will help you get a hang of what you want to do with your life. Don’t take a subject just because it ‘sounds interesting’, ‘your friend is taking it’ or ‘someone asked you to take it’. Do take suggestions, but don’t forget, this is *your choice*. You are the person who will be doing all that studying, and it’s your future that A levels help decide.

Keep these 3 principles in mind while choosing:
  • Choose A level subjects you will enjoy.
  • Choose subjects which will fit in with your career plans
  • Take time to find out all you need to know (take suggestions, check the syllabus, the skills required, etc)

Following is an overview of the required subjects required for different courses — (taking 3 subjects is the least requirement):

Medicine/Dentistry: Biology, Chemistry, Physics (in some cases mathematics may be taken as a substitute for physics. Check with the university you are applying to about it)

Engineering: Maths (Essential), Physics, Chemistry, IT, CS (You can take a combination of two from these depending on your university requirement)

Law: No essential subjects, though it is suggested you have subjects which show logical ability and the ability to write (e.g.: a mixture of Arts and Science subjects). You can take A-Levels Law for that purpose too!

Business related degree: No essential A level subjects, but it is suggested you take: business, accounting, economics, Maths (any combination of 3 will do the work)

The list is not exhaustable, there are many other degrees/qualifications, but it is advised that you check with the universities you are applying to about subject requirements. In the end, we would like to say that we DO NOT discourage taking extra subjects but don’t take them unless you are sure about your abilities. Like it won’t be a good idea to take a subject like “Further Mathematics” if you have a B in GCE Mathematics subject; you need to be an elite in Mathematics to handle Further Mathematics. However, if you are one of the maths geniuses, and going for an engineering or maths-related field, taking on a subject like Further Mathematics would be a good decision along with your usual Mathematics subject.

We hope this guide proves to be useful to everyone out there. Have got any questions? Feel free to drop your queries below in the comments!

Good Luck!

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