A-Level Advice From Our Sixth Formers

20 April 2021

The prospect of choosing and studying A Levels can undoubtedly be a daunting one. That’s why our wonderful Prefect Team decided to launch a survey to gather advice and wisdom from their fellow Sixth Formers about choosing A Levels and their experiences studying at this level. Here, we’re delighted to share their thoughts with you!

How are you finding A-Levels so far?

I am really enjoying all my A-Levels lessons in Sixth Form. The small groups make the lessons more conversational, and I enjoy the discussions we can have as a group. The opportunity to dive deeper into subjects I found interesting at GCSE as well as pursue new subjects is really enjoyable. Having more time dedicated to a smaller number of subjects has been really valuable. – Aisling, S8 (English, History, Politics, Psychology)

I am loving studying at A-Level – suddenly everything has so much more depth and nuance to it. Before, we didn’t have time to go into details but now we are encouraged to, however challenging the content might be. I feel that at A-Level, it’s more than ticking off dry bits of information on a specification list but it’s about exploring the subject and working towards becoming experts (kind of!) in the topics that interest us most. – Leila, S6 (Biology, English, French, Geography)

How do you feel about your subject combination? Do they compliment each other?

I enjoy all my subjects a lot and my A-Levels are a good combination for me. Having a science, a humanities subject, and a design subject means that school life doesn’t feel repetitive and my week has lots of variation! I think it’s good to have a range of subjects if you’re not sure what you want to do, as it keeps options open and allows you to dip your toe into each subject and see what you enjoy. – Olivia, S7 (Art, Biology, Geography)

I like how all of my subjects link. I really enjoy all of them but in particular, History and Politics are my favourites. I enjoy them because of the opportunity they provide to make and develop arguments and think critically around the subject. I also like their relevance to one another: History provides an insight into the past to understand and comment on current events in Politics. – Aisling, S8 (English, History, Politics, Psychology)

I think my A-Levels all compliment each other really well by helping me develop a range of skill sets while also giving me a variety of work. Art allows me to express my creativity and just relax in between lessons which I always really appreciate. Latin is very different to both Geography and Politics with the translation and grammar section as this allows me to develop my skills of detailed analysis and careful thinking. Politics works well with Geography. As I am most interested in the human side of the course, an understanding and appreciation of Politics has helped further my understanding. – Hannah, S2 (Art, Geography, Politics, Latin)

I think Latin and English compliment each other amazingly. We are constantly discussing the relevance of classical literature in our English set texts, and vice versa in Latin using English terminology to discuss ancient texts such as Virgil. I would definitely recommend this pair for anyone considering either Classics, Latin, or English. – Eloise, S2 (Biology, English, Latin)

I am really enjoying my combination of subjects. The more creative and essay-based subject English provides me with great contrast to the more analytical subject Maths. Alongside, French and German allow me to enjoy different cultures and languages. To anyone considering these subjects, I would recommend taking them! – Lili, S6 (English, French, German, Maths)

What advice would you give to the Year 11s who are deciding their A-Level choices?

It’s so important to choose the subjects you love. I’m unsure about what career I want to do in the future, but enjoyment is so important because you are expected to spend so many hours a week on your subjects. – Eleanor, S5 (English, Geography, History, Politics)

If you are picking up a new subject at A-Level, I recommend reading the spec and handbook about them beforehand to ensure that you are making the right choice. Talk to the teachers as well – they are always happy to give you more information about their subject. – Aisling, S8 (English, History, Politics, Psychology)

Art and Textiles both require a lot of time, so be prepared to work in most of your frees and after school, if possible. There is no right or wrong in the arts – it is super inclusive. But recording your artistic process is key. I highly recommend Russian because it opens up avenues into other Slavic languages. All three subjects involve writing but there is ample time in Art and Textiles for essays, etc. – Mathilde, S3 (Art, Textiles, Russian)

First of all, pick the subjects you enjoy – after all, it’s you who has to study them in even greater detail for another two years! Could you see yourself having a prolonged interest in those subjects in the long run? Secondly, I think studying a facilitating subject is a really good idea because they give you the core skills that you can carry into most fields, even if you change your mind about your future career. This includes English, History, Geography, Maths, Languages, and the Sciences, and will be required by most universities for a range of courses. Also, think about how your subjects would work together. – Danielle, S8 (Art, Maths, Physics)

I always thought that I had to pick a side between Science and Art – but that is not the case at all. You don’t have to do only Art and Humanities or only STEM. In most cases, it’s better to have a mix of them as you will develop different skills in each. For example: innovation, creativity, analysis, and problem-solving are only a few of the skills I feel I have gained from my A-Level choices, and all are important in any job. It’s great if you know exactly where you want to go for university, but it’s equally okay if you don’t. You don’t have to try and guess which combinations universities want – just focus on the subjects you truly enjoy as the future is always evolving. – Mika, S3 (Art, Chemistry, Maths)

I simply chose the subjects I most enjoy for A-Level and it certainly paid off! I think it’s really important to choose the subjects you are interested in because you are expected to do some much wider reading and research, which is only possible if you have a genuine wish to learn more and delve deeper into your area of academic interest. If you enjoy humanities and languages, don’t be intimidated by the idea of so many essay-based subjects, as the essays are generally well spaced out. Studying a language at A-Level is really fun as you learn much more about the culture as well as gaining a much higher level of linguistic skill. At times, it can feel a little overwhelming because there is always room for improvement, but everyone is in the same boat! – Lizzie, S5 (English, Geography, German, History)

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