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Navigating A-level uncertainty

Choosing which A-levels to take can be daunting, and with many degrees and careers requiring set subjects, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. As the Russell Group launches a new A-level advice site, we look at how students can ensure they pick a winning combination.


Representing 24 of the UK’s leading universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, the Russell Group aims to help its member institutions make an impact through world-class teaching and research. Following concerns that its previously published list of ‘facilitating subjects’ was being misinterpreted by schools, the group has launched a new, interactive website to help students navigate their A-level options.


Arts institutions have welcomed the move, as the new website ‘Informed Choices’ offers a more balanced view and gives greater prominence to creative subjects. For the Russell Group, it’s about shifting schools away from focusing on the subjects that children will do well in – to the subjects that they actually need. With sections for those that know what course they want to take and those that are still unsure, the website will better equip all students for their future studies.


So what should our 16-year-olds be thinking about when they make their A-level choices? The first step is to check the course entry requirements at each university of interest, as these can differ across institutions. It’s also important to talk to teachers about the course content, assessment structure and workload, to ensure the jump from GCSE to A-level study remains manageable.


Another thing to consider is which subjects complement each other, as some crossover – for example in maths and physics – can give students an extra boost. But the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) advises against taking subjects that are too similar, such as media studies and film studies, as universities may not accept both grades.

There’s clearly a lot to think about, so for more tips on how to choose the right A-level subjects, head over to this month’s blog post. Or read our interview with A-level tutor James for his thoughts on how to navigate A-levels and the world of opportunity beyond.

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