What A-levels and what sixth form?

Hey. I've just finished year 10, so am starting year 11 this September. I know we don't have to decide our A-levels officially until next spring-ish, but my teachers have advised us to start thinking about it. I'm fairly even-footed with every subject, and am predicted to get A\A* for GCSE's. At the moment I'm thinking either:

1) English lit.

2) History

3) Religious Studies

4) Classics or Latin

Or a broader range:

1) English lit.

2) History

3) Maths

4) Physics

Which would give me a better footing in life? I think i'd probably find maths and physics more challenging, but I think that I'd be able to achieve high grades in both.

Also...about sixth form. (Btw sorry it's such a long question!). I could either stay at my comprehensive all-girls school, which although I love is not very academic. Or I could try and get into the grammar school nearby, which is mixed. Obviously this is much more academic, and is mixed also which is a bonus ;) However I am not sure about whether the top universities will see grammar students as identical copies of one another, and would going to my current school for sixth form help me stand out more?

Thank you! x

1 Answer

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  • London
    Lv 4
    8 years ago
    Best answer

    I find myself very similar to you! I got 4A*s and 8As at GCSE, and also go to a comprehensive all-girls school which I love (just finished my AS levels in Year 12). Course choices at A-level really depend on what you want to do at university. Some university courses won't even look at your application unless you study certain subjects at A-level. For example, I knew I wanted to do Optometry, which requires 2 sciences, so I made sure I chose to pick them.

    If you're unsure at the moment what you'd want to do at university (which is understandable - it's a long way off for you!) then I would suggest the 2nd list of subjects you suggested. To be honest, I would have suggested this second list either way. Subjects such as Religious Studies and Classics are viewed as "soft" subjects by universities i.e. are not as hard as subjects such as Chemistry or Maths. This might put you at a disadvantage if you were to take 2 soft subjects.

    However, in the 2nd list, all of the subjects are very strong and very academic. They also provide a wide range of skill and knowledge, which is great because it doesn't limit you, or make you "put all your eggs in one basket". Maths and Physics are fantastic choices to have together, and I regret not taking Maths because those who took both in my Physics class found they coped much better than I did, since the topics overlap.

    I also took AS English, which I found lengthy and a bit difficult because our teacher left it up to us to do quite a lot of the work, and our theme was "aspects of narrative" which wasn't that interesting. But then again I suppose the quality of your course depends on your exam board and teachers anyway, so don't let me influence you too much, although I am dropping it in September (my other subject is Psychology which I LOVE, it's so fascinating, but viewed as a "softer" subject).

    When it comes to sixth forms the choice can be quite pressurising I understand. At a grammar school you are more likely to have better teachers, more cooperative students etc, but the stress will be a lot more. Whereas if you stay at your current school, you will already know the staff, where everything is, and you will be able to approach your head of sixth form much easier, which is important if you encounter any problems or need any help. Your school will also need to write a reference about you for your university application, so if you're in their good books they'll have plenty to write about you, whereas at a new sixth form they'll struggle to write heaps, especially since the reference would be written just after knowing you for 1 year. Also, universities will recognise that "although we only went to comprehensive schools, we overcame the standards of a comprehensive school and still came out with good grades" (I hope that makes sense). It's harsh, but it's true. If a student from a grammar school gets A*A*A* I guess you can say that's expected. However if a student from a comprehensive school gets A*A*A* then that's even more impressive, because they're coming from a "less academic background".

    Either way, you'll love studying A-levels wherever you go. They sure are harder than GCSEs, but if you put the work, effort and commitment into them, you'll breeze by. Have a great summer, and good luck! :)

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