1) Know About the Courses Available
Choosing the right subjects to study in Sixth Form is a defining moment in your life as this often sets the pathway for University and your career beyond Higher Education. A-level subjects range from ones you have probably already met at GCSE to ones which sound interesting but which you may not know much about. Choosing the right combination can be difficult to do, but if you are methodical, take your time, and ask lots of questions you will find the subjects which are right for you.
It is important you talk to people such as your teachers and parents. Remember though, while other people might have good advice and opinions worth considering carefully, this is your choice. You are the person who will be doing the work, and it’s your future that A levels help decide. Take advice seriously but don’t just take a subject because someone else tells you that’s what you must do (or because the subjects are ones which your friends are taking).
Here are some documents and websites which will help allow you to make those correct choices:
The ‘Informed Choices’ Booklet is an excellent Guide produced by the Russell Group of leading Universities in collaboration with the Institute of Career Guidance. It is certainly worth reading and not only gives a 5 Point Plan to help you make Post 16 choices but also contains information regarding which subjects are required for popular Degree Choices.
The UCAS website will allow you to check whether your subject choices match the requirements of the degree you wish to study at University. It is essential that you check that your A Level choices do not rule out degrees you are interested in.
The exam board syllabuses (now often called ‘specifications’) describe the topics to be covered, often in considerable detail. You can find exam board syllabuses for the AS and A2 parts of each A-level subject online. AQA, EDEXCEL and OCR are the ‘big three’ exam boards.
Skimming through a book in the subject area can give a good idea of the type of work you would be doing. This is particularly useful when you are contemplating something you have not studied before.
2) Understand the Entry Criteria
The minimum entry requirements for entry into our Sixth Form in Year 12 are:
- Minimum five A* to C grades or equivalent, including at least C grades in English and Mathematics.
- In order to continue to study a subject at A Level/level 3 from GCSE, a student must have achieved at least a B grade or equivalent in that subject at GCSE with the exception of A Level Mathematics where entry requirement is an A Grade at GCSE.
- In subjects only offered at A Level – Sociology, Law and Psychology – the department will select the most appropriate GCSE subject in which the student will be expected to achieve a B grade. In most cases this is in English Language.
- All students will have a transition interview with a senior member of staff in the spring term to discuss their post 16 choices and education. Students apply using UCAS progress and we allow Subject leaders time to discuss the appropriateness of student applications. We will send a letter confirming that we have offered you a place. The offer is conditional on you securing the grades required for the courses as set out in our prospectus and the amendments to the entry criteria explained at interview.
- We must also remind you that all courses are offered subject to educational and financial viability.
The minimum entry requirements for entry into our Sixth Form in Year 13 are:
- To progress from year 12 into year 13 students must gain at least a ‘D’ grade at AS level or equivalent by the end of year 12 in each of the three subjects that they wish to study as full A Level subjects and a pass grade in their fourth subject at AS or Equivalent.
- Students not achieving at least DDDE or equivalent will be interviewed by the Assistant Head teacher in charge of Sixth Form following the publication of AS Levels et al. Unless there are mitigating circumstances, it is unlikely that students will be allowed to progress into year 13 with an AS grade of less than a D grade in more than one of the three subjects that they wish to study in year 13.
The Russell group universities have produced a guide to post-16 study options: Informed Choices. Many university courses require particular subjects to be taken at A-level (or equivalent qualifications). The subjects which are most often required are sometimes called "facilitating subjects" and these are:
- Mathematics and Further Mathematics
- English Literature
- Languages (Classical and Modern)
There are also subjects which are not on this list, such as Religious Studies, which provide a good preparation for university study but which are rarely a requirement for university entry.
A Level Requirements for popular degree courses:
- Chemistry A level is essential or very useful for: Medicine, Veterinary Science, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Biology (and Bio related subjects).
- To study Medicine: Chemistry and in most cases Biology are essential subjects plus one other A Level subject.
- For a Business Studies degree: No essential A-level subjects, though Mathematics is useful and you will need a good Mathematics result at GCSE Business Studies A level is helpful. European Business Studies generally requires a European Language.
- Law degrees: No essential subjects, though they like you to have subjects which show logical ability and the ability to write (e.g.: a mixture of Arts and Science subjects or at least two facilitating subjects). Admissions tutors do not require you to take Law as an A Level whilst some prefer you not to have taken Law A level.
- Psychology: No essential subjects (a mix of Arts and Science subjects is good.) You will need GCSE Mathematics.
- Computing: No essential subjects for most courses. Mathematics A level is essential for a few Universities and useful for all.
- Engineering: Mathematics and Physics are generally essential (though you can apply without them and do an extra Foundation year). Chemistry is essential for most Chemical Engineering degrees.
- Most other degree courses either have no essential A-level subjects, or just require an A level in the subject concerned plus any two others. Do check though!
- And do bear in mind that the top academic degree courses will generally expect three ‘academic’ A levels (see list of facilitating A levels)
Btec Requirement Information
Don’t be put off from applying to university if you’re taking BTECs rather than A-levels. More than 100,000 BTEC students apply to UK universities each year.
- In the narrowest sense, entry requirements are simply the final grades, scores or points earned from your exams as you make the transition to university. Achieving the right grades turns a conditional offer (such as BBB for A-level or DDM for a BTEC National) into a firm place.
Moving from BTECs to university study
- BTECs can provide progression on to university degrees:
- BTEC level 3, which is the equivalent of studying A-levels and provides access on to a degree programme in the first year.
- Ninety-five per cent of universities and colleges in the UK accept BTEC students, including competitive universities from the Russell Group.
- Nearly all universities accept BTECs in relevant subject areas, similar to how they would with equivalent A-level qualifications.
- BTEC students can often be better prepared in terms of the independent studying that’s required at degree level, due to the portfolio-based nature of BTEC courses. The time management and self-organisation you’ll pick up on a BTEC course can also give you an added edge.
Things to consider if you’re taking BTECs
- BTEC students achieving good grades are just as sought after as students with good A-level results – here’s how to widen your options even further.
- Take a close look at course entry requirements
- It is important to research, as early as possible, what the entry requirements are for courses you’re interested in. For some BTEC students studying at National Diploma level, it might be that you are required to study an additional A-level, or equivalent, in order to meet the minimum UCAS points or specific grades offered. This is in the same way that an A-level student may need to have taken a certain number of A-levels, or studied particular subjects in order to get on to a course.
- It’s a good idea to get in touch with the uni directly if you’re not sure of their BTEC entry criteria. This can vary from one course to the next at a university and it’s always best to check if you’re unclear.
- Mention your practical experience on your personal statement
- BTEC students have the experience of real-life practical tasks and work placements. This will set you aside from students studying A-levels, who don’t usually have this element as a part of their course.
- For a subject such as health and social care, the work placements in areas such as childcare or healthcare settings can make for strong and well-rounded applications to courses including nursing, social work or health and social care degrees.
- It’s also important to note that, as with A-levels, there are many transferable opportunities in terms of subjects, for example, if you have studied for a BTEC in one subject area, you can apply for a different subject at university.
Studying an applied science BTEC can lead on to degree programmes in chemistry, biochemistry, food science or zoology, to name just a few examples.
3) SUBMIT APPLICATION FORM
Submit Your Application Form using UCAS Progress