What to think about when choosing your A levels

When you are deciding on A level topics it can seem overwhelming – but don’t panic. Read on for tips to help you, and advice on timings.

First, you might want to think about the sort of job you would like to do. Look on a careers website like Careers in Eyecare and find out the entry requirements to careers you might like. Will you need A levels or a degree? If there is a training course, you can contact them to ask the subjects and grades they ask for.

You don’t need to choose your A levels by yourself. Talk to your teachers about what you might like to do after school and ask about subjects that might help you get closer to your goal. Your school is likely to offer careers events and resources to help you too.

Another idea is to talk to people who are doing the jobs you might like to work in and find out how they got the role. What qualifications did they do, what advice would they give? Work expereince can help you discover if you would enjoy a job.

A levels aren’t your only option. BTEC diplomas give you a broader knowledge of a particular sector or industry. They are available in a range of sizes which are equivalent to one, two, or three A levels. They can be taken in combination with other qualifications. There are all sorts of other post-16 qualifications which are more hands on and may suit you better, and can still gain you a place in higher education if you want.

Do take a look at what you will learn too. Ask which syllabus or specification your school or college follows and go to the awarding bodies site. For subjects like history you might find a particular period more interesting, or you may want to know what books you would be reading for English literature. You can find links to the awarding bodies here:

It is exciting to choose new subjects, but how do you know which one you might want to do? Some colleges and schools offer taster events where you can attend classes in a range of subjects. Also ask older friends who have studied the subject to show you their textbooks and notes and talk about how they found the subject.

Once you have an initial idea, it is worth thinking about whether your subjects fit together well. Unis will have course requirements on their websites which can help you refine your choice, and ask teachers or careers counsellors for their advice too.

Your choice may be limited by what is on offer at your school or college, and some students choose where to study based on the subjects on offer at A level. Check if the timetable at your school or college will allow you to take a particular combination.

You may already have had to fill in a form with your choice of A levels, but there are a number of chances to change your selection. You can contact the school or college and ask to change at any point from now until you start term: the earlier you ask the more likely you are to be able to change without problems. And although it means you have to work hard to catch up you can swap subjects within the first few weeks of term in many situations.

So, gather your information now, work hard on your GSCEs and look forward to studying the A levels that you choose very soon.