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Sixth Form Curriculum

Choosing A-level subjects

Having trouble choosing courses?  Don’t worry!  Speak to your teachers for information, advice and guidance about specific subjects and the topics covered as part of the course.  In the coming months there will be a number of assemblies and events that will provide you with the information you need to take the next step.

Each and every applicant to the Pinner High School Sixth Form will attend an admissions interview and you will have the chance to discuss your options and receive advice regarding which courses will match your skills, interests and aspirations.

For those students who have clear ideas about the university courses or career paths they wish to follow in the future, choosing subjects may not be so difficult.  In contrast, those who are unsure about the subject or career they wish to pursue may find it useful to keep their options open and study a range of courses that appeal to their academic strengths and interests.  That being said, please do be realistic when choosing certain subjects.  Fundamentally, there are three main questions you should ask yourself when choosing your A-level courses:

1.      What do you enjoy studying?

2.      What do you believe you do well in?

3.      What will get you to where you want to be in the future?

Myth busting

There are countless myths surrounding A-levels, their perceived difficulty and how some courses are regarded by universities. Here are some common (and often contradictory) myths associated with A-levels.

MYTH: A-levels are really hard!’

TRUTH: While A-levels are certainly a step up from GCSE they are by no means impossible. They are two year courses that require dedication and commitment, hence why it is so important that you must have a genuine interest in what you are studying. Additionally, this is also why it is so important to choose the courses that are right for you.

MYTH: Some subjects are much harder than others’

TRUTH: It all depends on the individual. Students who naturally gravitate towards Mathematics may find A-level Maths much easier than History.  It is important that you reflect on your prior achievement in a particular subject at GCSE; if your attainment has been inconsistent then it may be wise to avoid a certain subject at A-level as the depth and breadth of what you study is much greater than at GCSE level.

MYTH: ‘Universities only want students who have study ‘traditional’ subjects’

TRUTH: While it is true that some university degree courses require students to have studied particular A-levels, you will be hard-pushed to find a university that dictates each and every A-level you should study.  In the past a list of ‘facilitating subjects’ was published by a group of universities.  This list was originally intended to provide students who were unsure of what to study at A-level with advice about which subjects were most likely to be required by universities for certain (and certainly not all) degree courses. This list of subjects (which has since been abandoned) became misinterpreted as ‘the only A-levels you should study’. Rest assured, all of the courses offered at Pinner High School are all reputable and recognised by the very best universities in the UK and abroad. 

The following websites and clips may be helpful in helping you choose A-level courses:

Russell Group Informed Choices website: https://www.informedchoices.ac.uk/ 

This website is coordinated by the Russell Group. Their aim is to ensure students have the advice they need to make informed choices when they come to select their university courses. It gives great advice on which A-level courses might be useful for studying specific courses at university. 

Which? University: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHKFrXMCHII

This brief video from Which? University also gives some useful guidance regarding factors you may wish to consider when selecting A-levels.

The Uni Guide: https://www.theuniguide.co.uk/advice/a-level-choices/six-things-you-need-to-know-before-making-your-a-level-choices

This article outlines the different things to consider when choosing A-levels and also dispels some common myths.  The page also features a link to an information guide that can be downloaded.