Subject Choices - Advice and Guidance

Getting your post-16 subject choices right is an important first step towards your chosen future pathway.  Entry to the best universities and apprenticeships can be highly competitive and whilst academic performance is very important, they will also want to select students who are clearly well-motivated and passionate about their subject.  In some cases, they may even ask you to gain some work experience in a relevant field.

Three reasons you may want to continue to study a subject at  A Level are:

  • You have been good at and have enjoyed the subject in the past.
  • You need this subject to enter a particular career or course.
  • You have not studied the subject before but you have looked into it and think it will suit your strengths.

Three further considerations should be taken into account:

  • Some subjects are distinctly more difficult at A Level than at GCSE level so check the course content carefully.
  • Make sure you get your facts straight; there are many misconceptions about subjects required for courses and careers.
  • Do not take an uninformed risk; what is the new subject actually about?

If you know what you wish to study at university and want to know what subjects you will need to have studied in preparation, you will find detailed information on each university’s entry requirements on the UCAS website (

Some degrees will be open to you whatever subjects you choose to study for your A Level qualifications and there are many other popular degrees which are normally open to you without any specific subject background.  These include: Accountancy; Anthropology; Archaeology; Business Studies; History of Art; Law; Management Studies; Media Studies; Philosophy; Politics; Psychology; Religious Studies; Sociology; Surveying.

Many courses at university level build on knowledge which you will gain while still at school.  For this reason, some university courses may require you to have studied a specific subject prior to entry, others may not. 

Another factor to consider if you are aiming for incredibly competitive courses at university, such as Medicine, is that you may require a very high performance in your GCSEs.  Does your performance to date match your ambition? (Think about your mock examination outcomes).

Students at Bournemouth School study either three or four A Levels; those who study three A Levels also study either Core Maths, The Gold Crest Award or The Pre-University Qualification.  The A Levels offered are two year courses.

We advise those students who are wishing to apply for highly competitive courses such as medicine, dentistry and veterinary science to study 4 A Levels.  Those who wish to apply to Oxbridge should also study 4 A Levels.