As we get closer to GCSE exam time for year 11 students the question has probably already been raised: what subjects should my child study in Sixth Form? It’s an important question – these are their last years before University and what they choose now will help guide the course of their adult lives.

What you study at the next level of education has a direct impact on the options available at university afterwards. If you are looking at specific degrees– the sciences in particular – you want to make sure you’re not getting shut of your preferred university because you haven’t studied a particular discipline.

Many students have no idea what they want to do at university and beyond. If this is the case for you its best to keep your options open.   Choose a selection of facilitating subjects to give yourself the widest spectrum of choice on further study after your sixth form course is complete and choose subjects that really appeal to you. Variety is the spice of life and also the key to a strong university application so try not to choose multiple courses that are very similar to one another such as film studies and media studies.

The three main sciences are an exception to this rule, as many science courses require at least two of the three to be studied at A-Level.  However,  still try to avoid variations of the same subject if they are availed to you such as Biology and Human Biology.

Some university courses list ‘non-preferred’ subjects that they’d rather not see on your application. These universities are looking for a specific set of skills for their courses most of the time, so may choose to overlook certain candidates based on other unrelated subjects they’ve studied.  Don’t let this put you off studying something at A-level that you’re extremely interested in – a ‘non-preferred’ subject shouldn’t be an issue if studied in conjunction with a facilitating subject or two. 

Although they should be taken at face value, Entry Requirements are not gospel. Every university will consider you as an individual when you apply and if your subject choices don’t match up perfectly to your chosen degree, there are many other factors that come into consideration. Personal statement, interview, work experience, personal interests and portfolio all play a part in whether or not you are offered a place on degree course and universities are known to be somewhat flexible.  Being prepared in advance is always the best course of action, but speaking to the course leaders at the university and showing your enthusiasm is always a back- you plan if you later find out a grade has fallen short or you’re missing a subject you wish you’d taken but didn’t know you’d need.

 The reason you take such a small number of A-levels is because they are studies in depth and extensively. Be prepared for a big jump in difficultly as was as what is expected of you and the way you are taught.   Self-motivation and independent study will play a much larger part in the next two years of your education, so whatever you choose be sure I’s something that will hold your interest and not a fleeting fancy.

This is an excerpt from our Applying to Sixth Form Guide – which can be found here.  Its helps parents and teenagers think about: Why do you want to move school and what are the pros and cons? If you have decided to move, what type of school or college suits you?  What type of qualifications will best suit your strengths and interests? What subjects are you passionate about?  What career plans do you have?