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Articles > Latest research August, 15, 2016

What You Guys Think About Your A-level Choices 1 Year On

Louise Dunne
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Were you one of the 1020 students who completed a survey about your A-level choices? Well the results are in and there are some remarkable revelations…

3 in 10 regret a-level choices, 4 in 10 wished they thought about how it helps them get into uni, 59% unaware unfavourable subjects

What our research found…

 

Think back to when you were choosing your A-levels. Did you have a uni course and degree in mind, or did you choose your subjects to be in the same class as your mates? We found that 3 in 10 (28%) university applicants wished they had chosen different A-level subjects, and 4 in 10 (41%) wished they had thought more about what subjects would help them get a place at university.

Maybe you decided to take, what you thought would be, the ‘easy options’ instead of thinking about your future career. We’ve all heard rumours about universities frowning upon certain A-level subjects but this can’t be true can it? Well I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it is. However, don’t worry, you’re not the only one as 59% of those we surveyed were unaware that many universities have a list of A-level subjects they view less favourably (e.g. general studies and media studies, but please check with your univerisity’s preferences before making your choices).

Although, the students are not all to blame for not choosing the best suited A-levels to them. Only half of the applicants felt suitably informed about how their A-levels could affect their choice of university or course. And 30% said the information and advice they did receive on which A-levels to take, failed to notify them on how it may affect their degree and university choices.

So you may have experienced problems with your A-level choices and had to learn the hard way. But hopefully after the findings of this research, which we conducted for Which? University, those who are choosing their A-levels now won’t have the same regrets.

What do you think of this research? Do you wish you’d chosen different A-levels? Leave your comments below…

No regrets guys - think ahead about your A-level choices

No regrets guys – think ahead about your A-level choices

 

The OpinionPanel Community is owned by YouthSight – an award-winning youth and student research agency, with the aim to connect your opinions to big brands and decision makers. To find out more about YouthSight, click here.

 

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  1. Emily Willmoth

    I, for one, regret not choosing easier subjects. Not easier as in more simple content or exams, but easier as in geared to my skills. I find it difficult to be ‘less creative’ (ie. adhere to an exam structure and answer the questions they want me to answer rather than other interpretations of the question), and therefore some of the subjects I chose (like AS French, which, despite enjoying, was not suited to me at all since answers needed to be boring and perfect… and Philosophy, which means repeating large volumes of really terrible theories from all over history in different (pre-approved) contexts, with no arguing). Fun learning, but horrible exams. I’m just lucky I got into Uni, if I’m honest with you!

    (All the stuff I really like, like languages, I find really hard, and all my strengths I ignore… maybe I’m just a closet masochist?)

  2. Carolina Castilho

    To be honest, I really did think of my options, and I knew I wanted to do science… my problem is that I never knew how hard the subjects I picked were gonna be… but , you should think about it, otherwise you’ll end up bored and unmotivated.

  3. Nidesha Rai

    I am not very surprised as choosing Alevels requires a lot of thought. Everyone around us pressurizes us to pick whatnot subjects. At the end I believe quite a lot of kids end up choosing stable subjects like Science, Maths, ICT than the actual subjects they really want to do.

  4. Marie-gabrielle Williams

    I think that teenagers should be made more aware of the importance of a level choices with regard to their future degree course choice… at the same time however, GCSE’s are a good way to find out what subjects complement a person and which ones would enable them to get the highest marks…the most important thing, to me, is doing well in your a levels regardless of whether you regret taking them or dont enjoy them anymore! It is a difficult choice for teenagers to make that will impact their future, but at the same time, its always been like that! i chose my a levels due to my strengths and their favorability with my course and preferred universities, and although i didnt always love my choices, if you are keen enough to succeed you’ll never regret choosing your subjects!!

  5. Jasmine Anwar

    I think placing such a big decision on such young people and expecting them to be fully prepared of the implications of their decision on their future university choices is not ideal. 1 year into college and looking at unis, personally I would choose wildly different subjects given the choice again now that I am aware of the restrictions they create on your ability to do any course you want at university. I also had no idea what subject/career I wanted to pursue before college and believe that college should be a chance to discover that not something that decides that for you.

  6. Ella Knapp

    There is a limit to how much I and happy with my choices, I do enjoy them but to aid my career I should have chosen another topic

  7. Chelsea Peter

    I am happy with my A-Level choices! I have only dropped one, and that is because I did a year of it – thinking at the start of the year it would be my career path – and then realised it was dragging me down a lot, emotionally. I do not regret taking it in the slightest! It has given me skills that a person in the career I want to enter may not have, and it is still perfectly married with my chosen path. There are subjects I wish I had done instead, but I do not regret taking the choice that I did as I discovered myself better through the completion of a year studying that subject.

  8. Priscilla Wegbe

    On a larger scale , the majority of A levels you pick(unless e.g medicine not picking chemistry) will not tarnish your career choices as the skills are widely transferable so most of us need not stress about what choices we make.

  9. Letizia Greco

    I choose my options in order to open a variety of doors for career options only to recently obtain a strong admiration for the law. At first, I did wish I choose different subjects as i found them quite tedious and could never grasp what my lecturer was teaching me, but I’m glad to have continued with them in A2 as I now truly understand and enjoy the content. Many do not know what career path they will take so its best to take subjects which you know you’re good at and have a passion, not what you get pressured by family/ friends to take- you dictate your future.

  10. Lucy Mangan

    I picked the right choices for me but wish that I’d stick with four subjects and not dropped one

  11. Daniella

    I chose the right A-Levels for the career I want, but I regret not knowing how hard it would be.

  12. Qendresa

    I think that most of us have chosen classes to fit in specific groups of people especially with our friends , maybe we also thought that getting these kind of classes will make us more intelligent and prepared for the future but actually i realised that it would be way better to chose easier classes which would be really helpful nowadays.

  13. Joe Pendred

    I am happy with the A level which I chose however I did swap from physics to art during the first year.

  14. Millenia Chalamila

    I think that A Level is not everybody’s cup of tea, some would like to do apprenticeship whilst others prefer to do BTEC. I semi regret doing A level Biology because I thought doing A level Biology would look good when I apply for university.

  15. Yasmine

    There’s a common perception that there are some A Levels that are “easier” than others but this couldn’t be further from the truth. People need to realise that A Levels were not made to be easy in any way- you’re studying three or more subjects in more depth than you ever have anything else before. A Levels are extremely demanding no matter which subject you choose. I myself do A levels consisting of two language subjects and music. People always tell me how my subject choices are easy but I bet they couldn’t do them if they tried.

    My point is that there is massive stigma around certain subjects and not only from other students, but also from universities.

  16. Usama

    I wish i took further maths instead of physics to be able to do a more mathematical university course such as economics and mathematics.

  17. Saba

    I am happy with my A level choices I am doing English language and literature and media studies. However both are essay based subject so the amount of work is a lot.

  18. Elise

    I wish that I chose subjects that don’t have final exams at the end of the year as BETC subjects have been much more beneficial to me.

  19. Mark Antrobus

    Im in my first year and even though ive enjoyed what im doing i feel like they dont prepare you well unuf for the step up from GCSEs

  20. Fatima

    I did think about my options and had a lot of help from family, but the main thing that influenced my choices was what I was planning on doing for my career. The only thing i would possibly change about my subjects would be that maybe i should’ve had a subject that i would really be happy doing like Art which would’ve helped me to not only get a good grade easily but also help me to relax more and know that i have at least one subject that i am doing well in.

  21. Joshua Small

    I think…there is too much pressure on teen about their future and A levels. I feel that many young people feel that the subjects they are choosing is what they are going t have to go into for the rest of their lives. For me Im grateful this isnt the case. I feel we need to show that whatever students decide to do for their A Levels doesnt have to be the thing they do for the rest of their lives. I took Fine Art and now im going into security, that shows how things can change.

  22. Fatima Ravat

    Personally, I regret this choice and like other people i am not surprised with the facts and statistics. I think we only really find out what we want to do in university once we see our strengths from GCSE or when we begin the As courses, we find this course is for us or it just isn’t me.

  23. Kathryn

    I take Maths, Further Maths, physics and Chemistry. I do all but Chemistry for alevel, and then chemistry for AS. I was lucky when choosing my options as I knew I wanted to do Maths at uni, but I also chose the ones I was good at. I don’t think I was informed enough on the actual content of the courses, e.g. how different alevel chemistry is to alevel, and also I wasn’t informed initially that you could do an AS still. I feel like had I been more informed, I wouldn’t have taken chemistry

  24. Caitlin Willis

    I have mixed emotions about A Levels; as I enjoyed my subjects but wasn’t able to succeed thanks to a bad patch 2 months into Y12. I ended up flopping my AS (although I guess I did engineer it a little as by this point I saw no point in trying) and started college. Going to college probably was the best thing that happened to me in terms of my academic life as I found college suited my plans for the future better and I quickly settled in.

    A Levels aren’t for everyone and choosing something different isn’t necessarily going to be harmful to future prospects, this is something I wish I knew when I was in Y11 and making my choices for post 16 education.

  25. Emma

    I wish I had been more aware at the time, but I just chose the subjects that I most enjoyed at the time since I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. They were pretty tough subjects and I ended up having to drop one because of the additional stress it was causing me. Now the ones I am doing aren’t necessarily relevant to what I want to do and are making me stressed – so I’m not surprised by this at all.

  26. Aisha

    I think that with more options open such as degree apprenticeships, I would have taken a different path into university. I also slightly regret the choices I made for A-level and honestly just wish I picked BTEC national courses which would still get me into uni despite there just being coursework.

  27. Gina

    I think that in some aspects I do regret the choices as I spread myself out too thinly and thus got low predictions. At the same time I did enjoy the subjects and they did incite me to improve however hard it may have been.

  28. Arsala

    i dont think i regret my decision abut my a level choice however i have many friends who do actually regret their decision.The problem actually lies in the schools.Students need to be guided right from their o level towards their paths,the teachers should fully aware them about the pros and cons of the field they are opting to go to.

  29. Mashrin

    Having chosen Biology as a fourth option in my first year was quite stupid of me, since I was unaware of the level of difficulty. Another factor that contributed to me dropping it at the beginning of my second year was my change in ambition and career. I totally lost motivation to go forward with science and I think it is important to be malleable with subject choice and career goals – especially if you’re as indecisive as me. I love my other subjects though.

  30. Sairah

    I agree as students we are sometimes unaware of certain decisions and college is quiet crucial and most people do not know what they want as a future career

  31. Ose

    I think we need to start educating students on careers and what subjects need to be taken for such
    Sometimes traditional systems of learning aren’t enough, we need to prepare students for their future from as low as primary school, it’ll help them become independent and good decisions makers

  32. Asmar

    My a level choices were based on what I wanted to do in the future also which subjects were my favourite. I only regret choosing one subject that’s all.

  33. Asmar

    I think a levels are not easy at all. A lot of hard work is required but getting good result is the best feeling…

  34. Eleanor Prior clarke

    I think that not only should schools old opening evening about the courses but ahould also teach example lessons, arange meetings with older students taking the subject to allow further understanding of subjects.

  35. Ivan

    I think it is important for teachers to know how to educate and inspire students making subjects more interesting

  36. salma

    it’s true we all have the ideology of not having uni courses in mind when picking a levels, that’s why it makes it harder when it comes to that day where we have to do more research to decide what we can and cannot take at uni.

  37. Fatima Afzal

    when i was choosing my a levels i knew i defo wanted to do sciences but with this new OCR specification that keeps coming up with mistakes, its actually making it harder than it realistically should be. i regret taking biology and physics solely because of the new specification and exam board otherwise if it was the old spec im sure i would be fine with the level of difficulty

  38. Vineet

    I definitely think it is important to think about your options. I am doing double health and social care and history. I didn’t realise how many choices I could have with these subjects I thought it would be hard to find a career because they’re 2 completely different subjects but with research I found that there’s quite a lot I could do with my subjects. I do wish I did pick another subject but I am happy with the choices that I made. I’m glad I did my research because I was worried at first but now I feel fine about it

  39. thabz

    Being a first year student is difficult but anyone can cope you just have to get used to the new environment you in.

  40. thabz

    I think…good choices don’t have to be made By the level of intelligence-but just basic thinkinf

  41. Laura reid

    I regret some of my choices, as there were some a levels i was unable to pick therefore i ended up learning about subjects i had no interest in ..

  42. Rebecca Fell-Campbell

    It’s very true that a lot of people jump into their A levels not knowing where it will take them. Or expecting it to take them somewhere it’s not likely to. I know a lot of people who are taking three drama oriented subjects! Drama is a very tricky, challenging and competitive career to get into but they all believe that it’s their future. Personally, I don’t regret my A-level choices. I’m taking Mathematics, Art and History with the intention to take architecture at Bath university in a few years. I understand that to do this I’ll need exceptionally good grades and am working my butt off to get these. I don’t believe any schools fully prepare you for just how hard A-levels hit you from the get-go. I’ll admit I myself am struggling and a handful of us already have considered re-doing our first years to get a better start. A-levels are hard! Especially if you’re passionate and want desperately to do well.

  43. SHANNON

    I regret some of mine, part of the stats

  44. Katie

    Personally, when you’re 16 and choosing A level choices you do not know what career path you want to follow down. I am finishing my A levels and I have applied for nursing and luckily I chose A level Health and Social care and Child Development which suits this course. But if you enjoy the subject it shouldn’t matter because that could be your potential career, also a lot of universities I feel look for the grades and not the subjects for example one of mine is a B Tec so it isn’t actually an A level but if I get a distinction it’s still classed as an A.

  45. Hdot

    Personally I think that majority of students pick certain subjects as a result of pressure from peers and family. They are left to make their own decisions without full guidance into the subjects. This causes many young individuals to regret the options they take. The main problem arises when students don’t realise the massive jump from GCSE to A level which causes them to do bad. I believe that in order to do well in a subject students must enjoy it first. Educating students about the subjects they’ll be studying and a simple insight gives them an idea of they pathway they’ll be getting into. Having the right mindset and potential is also important because other options like B-TEC is also available however many students see B-TEC as an easy pathway that is not appreciated by universities but realistically speaking many B-TEC and A level students end up in the same universities, with some exceptions. Overall having full guidance about the different subjects will be very beneficial for the success of students.

  46. Caroline

    I don’t not regret my A level choices they have taken me to places in life, however, I do wish I had of been better advised when making univeristy selection

  47. KP

    due to how many different universities have “flexible” entry requirements its not bad to have a range of different A levels as it only adds to your wider knowledge and even in the case of applying for courses such as engineering, you can get a place at some uni’s without maths.
    The only difference is that the routes within the uni won’t be as straight forward if you have such a wide scope of A levels and to be able to understand the content then you might need to have lectures or even a Foundation Year to get you up to speed with the basics. So its all down to the drive of the individual and if they want to pursue the course they’re deciding on with A levels that might not necessarily link as well as Maths and Physics do for instance.

  48. Hannah

    I choose not to do A-levels instead I took the more vocational approach and went to college to do a full time diploma course where I wasn’t required to do exams but instead it was coursework. I thoroughly enjoy my course just wish I knew a lot of universities don’t recognise the course. I also didn’t realise this course would limit what I can then study at university. However this hasn’t stopped me getting a place at doing what I want to do at university.

  49. Leon

    i am happy with my a level choices

  50. kira

    to be honest there are other options to get in to uni e.g. btecs

  51. osinachi stella anyaogu

    I think it’s one of the best things anyone can get because the world is increasing in technology everyday, A-LEVELs are fundamental for a greater level in education.

  52. peter mckain

    I wish i didnt take photography the teacher didnt know what he was doing so most of the class failed to even get a grade.

  53. Olivia Walker

    I think… that i shouldn’t have picked a double subject and picked something else so my options weren’t as closed off. But besides that I was happy with my choice of subjects

  54. Priscilla Wegbe

    I agree with a comment made earlier about to much stress for teens

  55. Tansin Nishat

    I think schools should educate students enough so they make the right choices.

  56. Zach Smith-Palmieri

    I think that I would’ve liked to choose easier subjects and subjects that would get me into university not the best subjects. I took physics in the first year and ended up dropping it and taking a btec on fresh start so 2 years in one which can still get me into all my universities to study civil enigineering so I regret ever choosing physics.

  57. James Huw Jones

    Just go college innit, More chill yeah

  58. Huan

    next year is my first year of GCSE i think it is important for teachers to know how to make the lesson fun