So almost two years ago, picking GCSE options felt like something that in that moment had to be made perfectly for whatever career I would pick. Yet now, I prepare to choose my A – Levels, which are significantly more important to choose carefully, and after some research, these are the most helpful points I have found which help in making the decision on what to pick, whether it be your GCSE’s or A – Levels:
This applies to mainly GCSE: Don’t go into the mindset that if you don’t go into a certain subject, then all careers in that subject are off your hook. A – Levels definitely matter more in terms of deciding your future, but at GCSE you shouldn’t be so apprehensive about picking subjects you enjoy and have a real interest in. Besides, every subject will have some sort of skill you can apply to any job. For example I take History, French, Sociology and Drama at GCSE. I don’t plan a career in Drama, but the skills learnt have given me much more confidence, which is a valued skill in nearly every career path.
At GCSE, many people don’t have a clue on their future ambition, so it’s best to keep your options open. I take two humanities – one which is very practical, and a language with a social science. By keeping your options open and choosing a range of subjects, you usually will find a subject area you really enjoy which can lead to further study at A Level or even give you an ideal career path.
When you reach A – Level, it’s important to research the options you plan to take. Find out what the course consists of, and what you will be expected to do. Some subjects might not be take as literally as they seem. For example photography is not just about flashing pictures and art is not about drawing whatever you want – they require in depth study and evaluation of your work. A Level itself means ‘Advanced Level’, so you should expect a leap from GCSE. I’m thinking of choosing English Literature, History, and politics . I may consider taking a law degree in the future, and people may wonder why I’m not taking A-Level Law. Without research, I probably would’ve ended up choosing it but I learnt that most universities prefer you not to take it at A-Level as they dislike the way it’s taught and generally have to ‘unteach’ what was taught at A Level. So I found that I would probably benefit more from picking a subject that relates to it, rather than the actual subject. Little things like that will make sure your choices are well informed and catered to you, not to the requirements you think you need.
Another tip I found was that if you are completely or almost certain that you want to take a particular degree at a certain university, or even if you don’t know what university – RESEARCH THE REQUIREMENTS. Some universities will ask for specific grades and even specific subject requirements to enter that subject, so it’s best to find out what subjects are a must. For example to study medicine at the University of Leicester, you need C’s in English, Maths and Science at GCSE, as well as straight A’s in your A Levels, one of which MUST be Chemistry. Other’s may set the bar higher, asking for your A Levels to include biology as well. I am not completely sure on what I want as a career, though I do have an idea of what subject areas I want to be associated with, which is why my subject choices pretty much go hand in hand.
And finally – don’t go for subjects which you clearly have no interest in but are doing in expectation that you will definitely secure a future in a job. You won’t do yourself any favours. Sure, throw in a few which are required for a specific degree, but don’t forget YOU ARE TAKING THEM, so do subjects you genuinely enjoy and have a passion for. Higher grades in subjects you love will mean so much more than low grades in subjects you thought would set your career – and you’ll potentially end up not getting in anyway! Anyone can impress with their choices, though without the dedication, as harsh as it sounds, they are just subjects. Do them justice! Successful applicants need to show a sense of passion for their degree – it’s what universities will look for!
Good luck if you’re picking your GCSE’s or A Levels soon!