What to consider when choosing subjects for sixth form

Are you ready to choose your subjects for sixth form? Whether you are staying at school or moving to a sixth form college there are lots of options open to you. It can seem overwhelming – but don’t panic – here are tips to help you.

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 explore careers you might like and what you need to meet the entry requirements. You might need a vocational qualification – such as health and social care BTEC. You could choose T levels, A levels or a degree.

You don’t need to choose your subjects 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.

Visit open events at colleges and sixth forms in your area. You will be able to see what each subject offers, talk to teachers and take a tour of the facilities on offer.

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 experience can help you discover if you would enjoy a job.

You have several options to study at this level. 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 hands on and can gain you a place in higher education if you want.

If you know what sort of job you would like, check out apprenticeships in that area and look at courses that include practical work experience. NVQs and SVQs provide you with skills to do a specific job and can be taken if you have a full-time job, or are on a course with a work placement. T Levels include a range of qualifications which give you specialist technical knowledge and skills and are recognised as leading to specific job roles.

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.

Once you have settled on one or more subjects, take a look at what you will learn . Ask which syllabus or specification the 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 several awarding bodies here:

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. 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 choices 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.