Choosing A-levels

A-levels are quite different to studying GCSEs. Instead of splitting your attention between lots of different subjects, you can put all your effort into certain topics that may influence your entire future. Which is pretty exciting!

If you want to go to university, you used to need four AS-levels and three A2 qualifications, but the way A-levels are organised and assessed are currently undergoing major reforms. Check exactly what qualifications you need to study your chosen course at uni, while your teachers can help explain the latest reforms.

How do I pick the right A-levels?

You may not yet have any idea what job or career you’d like – in which case it’s best to choose the subjects you enjoy and feel you’re good at. A-levels involve a lot of hard work and you’re more likely to stay motivated and get strong results if you’re enthusiastic about what you’re studying.

If you’re already interested in a particular career, focus on how to get there:

  1. Find out if a university degree is required to do the job you’re interested in. The government’s National Careers Service job profiles are very useful for this.
  2. Find out which A-levels subjects and grades are required to join that university course by looking at course entry requirements.

Some university courses will only accept a set of A-levels gained at one sitting, so you need to check specific policies concerning re-sits and any other factors affecting your university application.

What if I’m not sure?

That’s okay. It’s normal to feel uncertain when you’re making big decisions. The best way to tackle this is to gather as much information as possible, so you feel more confident about your choices.

  • Talk to careers advisers – your school or college may have its own careers adviser, but you could also research careers advice elsewhere to get more than one point of view.
  • Talk to teachers – discuss the subjects that interest you the most with those teachers who teach them, and ask their opinions about university requirements. 
  • Attend uni open days – visit your chosen uni to find out more about courses, and which A-level subjects and other issues are most important.

If you’ve got more questions about choosing your A-levels, check out the answers in our FAQs or see this Russell Group guide to making decisions about your education after 16. The University of Birmingham is part of the Russell Group of leading universities.