- What is an A-Level?
- How many subjects in an A Level?
- How many A Levels can you do?
- When should you take all 5 subjects?
- Things to consider
- Which A Levels to take
- What not to do
If you’re reading this, it’s highly likely you’re considering your A-level options. Looking for answers to crucial questions such as how many A levels can I take? How many levels are there? And, how long do levels take? You’ve come to the right place! We’ll help you answer these crucial questions and more.
How many A-Levels you take will play a significant role in the future endeavours you wish to become a part of. Scoring well on A-Levels is a requirement for many prestigious universities and apprenticeship programmes so we understand that this time can feel fraught with stress and pressure.
This pressure can often lead to a lot of questions about A-Levels. For instance, you might be wondering: How many A-Levels can I take? What A-Levels should I take? How many A-Levels do you need for uni?
If you’re nervous about these questions, don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Keep on reading to find out what the best course of action is for you.
What is an A-Level?
So what is an A-Level? How many A-Levels are there? The Advanced Level qualifications are a set of subject-based courses that students from England, Northern Ireland, and Wales take during Years 12 and 13; it is the most common next step for students who have completed their GCSE exams.
The A-Levels are one of the most globally competitive examinations. In addition, many countries have A-Level colleges associated with the British educational system. Therefore, the academic standards have become both global and, as such, highly competitive. 💪
Hundreds of thousands of students study for their A-Levels every year, making it difficult to stand out from the crowd. We want you to do your absolute best by making smart and efficient choices. Our thousands of top tutors from around the world can help you to fulfil your potential.
If you’re interested in giving it a shot, you can book a no-obligation, free trial lesson now.
How many subjects in an A-Level?
How many A-Levels are there? How long do A-Levels take? You can take a maximum of 5 A-Level courses. There are no best A-Levels to take; each student just has to do what works best for them.
However, should you take all five A-Level courses?
For many, that might not be the best strategy. Keep on reading as we explain how many A-levels you need for uni and explore the various options you have.
How many A-Levels can I do?
Wondering how many A-Levels there are? You can actually choose from over 80 different subjects in your two years of study. So, how many A-Levels should you do?
The more, the merrier, right? Perhaps, not in this context. 👎
While it may seem that taking more subjects can help you to build an excellent application for university, this isn’t the only criterion worth focusing on. You should only attempt to take 5 A-Level classes if you’re genuinely interested in a range of subjects and honestly believe that you can handle the enormous workload.
It is generally recommended that you choose around three subjects to balance your workload adequately. Switching to A-Levels from GCSEs is a significant transition and a lot of students might not be able to handle the sudden influx of work, especially alongside managing your personal life, interests and extracurriculars.
Taking three subjects is a popular choice as this number allows students to strike a balance between course load and other outside interests. Some students do attempt to take five subjects, believing this decision will benefit them. However, unfortunately, the choice can be entirely counterproductive. Here’s why:
When should you take all five subjects?
All A-Level subjects have a highly competitive and demanding curriculum; you may have to spend hours at your desk every day, attempting to complete numerous assignments.
Simply put, A-Levels are not easy. But…are they worth it?
Definitely! It depends on the individual, but it can be a fantastic opportunity for some students. So, for those of you who are wondering what the best A-Levels to take are, here are your answers!
You are passionate about the subjects
They say passion and ambition have no limits, and that couldn’t hold more true for those who are determined to succeed in life! If you are an avid learner and want to experience interdisciplinary learning at the highest level, you should take all five courses.
For example, if you’re interested in the laws of Physics and Chemistry, are also curious about the applications of Computer Science and Designing, and are passionate about learning more Economics, you should undoubtedly delve deeper into every field.
If you find that you are naturally curious and interested in a number of different fields, A-Levels can be a fantastic platform to engage with multi-dimensional learning.
For instance, you might know that you’re passionate about science but may not be able to decide between Social Science and Natural Science, in which case it might be a great idea to delve deeper into both these options. It’s common to feel that you haven’t yet had the chance to explore your interests and passions in-depth.
With A-Levels, you can experiment with different subjects to determine your niche and interests before applying for specialised university courses. This can help you enter university with greater confidence and a clearer picture of what you want to get out of your coursework.
Many students tend to limit their interests by following conventional paths such as STEM or social sciences. Unfortunately, such limitations can deter you from exploring your passions and options, leading to less creativity and unhappiness later in life.
If you want to explore and believe that you are ready for the challenge of taking five courses, you should go for it!
You want to get into top-tier universities 🎓
One of the most common questions when it comes to A-Levels is: How many A-Levels are needed for university?
Do you dream of attending the University of Oxford or Cambridge? If you want to attend the very best institutions in the country, then taking several courses can be a good option.
To put things into perspective, most Russell Group universities like Oxford and Cambridge set out particular requirements for students attempting A-Levels. These requirements could include choosing certain subjects to be eligible for admission.
The same is true for multiple other top-tier universities in the UK. The transition from A-Levels to university is more complex than the one from GCSE to A-Levels. Thus, to make sure that students can handle the course load at such rigorous universities, these colleges often set out subject criteria to better prepare students for the future.
If you are ambitious about going to the best universities possible, then taking all five courses can be helpful as it can make your application stand out.
Things to consider before choosing 4-5 courses
Taking on such an intensive workload should not be a decision taken on a whim. Most students might not even need to take all five A-Level courses, and choosing to do so can be an unnecessary burden. You should make sure that you are making a well-informed decision when it comes to course selection. Check the following points to analyse if you are on the right path.
You can handle heavy course loads
Taking your A-Levels is not going to be easy. 😬 Going from GCSE to A-Level represents a major change. A lot of rigorous work is needed to switch from studying simple biological concepts in Year 11 to learning complex biological functions in the A-Levels for example.
Don’t forget to factor in your extracurricular interests and leave time to pursue your passions. For example, you might be interested in debate, music or sports.
If you can simultaneously handle a heavy course load and extracurriculars, then you could consider taking all five subjects.
Three is the recommended number
Yes, it can be tempting to take all the courses; however, taking three courses is often considered the best strategy. While selecting top universities may require more courses, the majority of colleges are happy admitting students who have taken three courses.
After all, how you performed in your A-Levels matters more than the number you chose. What’s the point if you pushed yourself to take all five and end up performing poorly on all of them?
Don’t be afraid to reduce the number of courses you’re attending if you believe this decision will help you to score better marks and thus, get into better universities.
Furthermore, you don’t want to look back and realise that you missed out on other parts of life because you were drowning in homework and assignments. And don’t forget: there are multiple avenues for students to grow and learn; limiting your entire high school experience to academics can hamper your growth and development in the long term.
It is, therefore, better to take on a balanced workload rather than a heavy one. This way, you can both perform better and ensure you participate in extracurricular opportunities schools have to offer.
Which A-Levels should I take?
The subjects you choose can determine your university admissions and where your career path will eventually take you. However, with more than 80 courses to choose from, how can you choose the best ones? Keep on reading to find out.
The courses you take completely depend on what kind of future you want to pursue. For example, do you want to become a doctor or a journalist? You can take whatever courses will help you achieve your dreams.
Still unsure about what to pursue? Below, we have listed some considerations, which can help you to make the decision that’s right for you.
Consider your interests ❤️
You are more likely to perform well in subjects that you are genuinely interested in. Hence, if you take popular or conventional courses without factoring in your personal preferences, you might end up scoring poorly on your A-Level exams. For instance, you might fail Biology if your interest lies in Economics or Media, thus hurting your chances of getting into a good university.
It is, therefore, essential to navigate your interests and feel inspired to follow your passions. The courses that you end up taking can play a defining role in the career paths you ultimately end up choosing.
Studying for something you are not passionate about now will only deter you from being curious and enthusiastic about learning in general. Therefore, it is important to follow your heart.
However, finding a particular interest or passion can in itself be a daunting task. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance to help you to make the best decision for yourself. You can ask yourself the following questions to help you navigate your feelings - even if they are conflicting.
- Which subject did you enjoy the most at GCSE?
- What interests you the most?
- What kind of person do you want to be when you grow up?
- Do you have anyone who inspires you?
- Which career path are you interested in?
- Which profession excites you the most?
You might want to become a pharmacist. In this case, choosing Biology becomes a requirement. Likewise, you might be keen to go to a top university like Oxford or Warwick. In this case, you will have to research the requirements set by these universities’ courses to enrol.
It is important to do the necessary research before making your final A-Level selections.
Choose a combination of subjects
The world becomes more complex with every passing second, and this complexity has opened new jobs, degrees, and opportunities for today’s generation. However, in most schools, the subjects are still polarised.
STEM students don’t take social sciences and vice versa. Similarly, an economics student might ignore art and music. Thus, many students miss out on the numerous interdisciplinary combinations they could have thrived in.
Thus, if you are focusing too closely on only one stream, you should try to explore other fields as well. This is because:
- Your interests might change
- You might not be well-informed about your other options
- Many universities prefer well-rounded students
- The job market favours people with mixed skills
- It is always better to explore your options than to stay within your comfort zone
- Hence, with the right amount of research, exploration, and trial and error, you can choose the best subjects for you
What not to do while choosing courses ❌
Many students make the mistake of not being careful enough while choosing their courses. Here are some things you should avoid doing so that you don’t make the mistake of selecting a course that ultimately doesn’t work for you.
Following your friends
It’s tempting to prioritise certain classes just because your friends are taking them. However, following your friends is often not the best decision. Instead, it’s important to remember that your interests and ambitions must come first.
Peer pressure can play a major role in your life. However, it is important to recognise your own priorities and makes sound decisions accordingly.
Many parents, knowingly or unknowingly, put pressure on their kids to choose specific subjects in the hopes that this will benefit them in the future.
However, this practise should be avoided because everyone is unique, and what worked for someone else may not necessarily work for others. Try to maintain open and honest communication with your parents and ensure that their personal bias is not influencing you too heavily.
Not researching the school
Choosing a school can be as important as choosing the correct subjects, and this isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly.
Many schools might not offer the subjects you are interested in or the ones required for the particular university of your choice. The school also might have a bad reputation in terms of not caring about their students or not providing them with the necessary facilities.
A-Levels are crucial qualifications and you have to make sure you are studying for them at the right place. Going to schools that are unsupportive or have poor standards of teaching can be detrimental to your education.
Here is a list of a few must-haves for the school you choose to study at:
- Student support
- Good online support
- Well qualified and highly-rated teachers
- A skilled guidance counsellor
- Courses you are interested in
- Good extracurricular activities
Choosing suitable courses, in terms of both quality and quantity, can be pivotal when it comes to your success at university, in apprenticeship programs, and beyond. Above everything else, the best thing to do is trust yourself and your decisions at this time.
GoStudent’s one-on-one tutoring can help you prepare for the demanding coursework of A-Level classes. If you are considering enrolling in additional classes, we urge you to try a free trial lesson now!