Top tips for acing your A-Level choices (tried and tested by a current university student)

Becki, Sport and Exercise Psychology BSc

Hello, my name’s Becki. I’m from North Lincolnshire and I am just about to start my final year of my Sport and Exercise Psychology Degree at Loughborough. I understand that choosing what you want to study at A-level is a tricky thing to do. There are so many ‘what ifs’ and confusing thoughts about your future. With this in mind, I would like to give you a few tips that may make it that little bit less confusing.

Know your skills and think about the subjects you are good at

I knew that my brain wasn’t particularly mathematically orientated and that my skills were more suited to essay writing subjects. I took this into consideration when I chose my A-levels and decided on English language and Psychology. Looking back, I know that I would’ve struggled a lot more (and probably wouldn’t have got as good grades) if I hadn’t thought about this and dived into Physics, for example. Choosing the right A-levels that play to your strengths is a good first step to achieving the grades you want. If you aren’t sure what you are strong at, why not ask your teachers or support staff at school/college? 

Becki and her friends as fresher helpers at Loughborough University's freshers week.

Consider subjects you enjoy and have an interest in 

Trust me when I say, it is a lot easier to motivate yourself to work hard and revise for content that you enjoy. Sometimes the work can feel twice as heavy if you feel like you are having to force yourself to study. It’s also good to be aware that what you are good at may not necessarily be the same subjects that you enjoy. So, it is important to think about my first two tips together as one and try to find a balance of your skills and what you enjoy. Personally, my PE A-level was the perfect balance of these two things (and also a good example of my experience with tip number 4!). 

Focus on what's best for YOU and not what your friends have chosen 

It may be tempting to try to get in the same classes as your friends, particularly if it is a new college or sixth form where you may not know many people. However, A-levels that may be suited to your friends, their skills and their futures, may not be suited to you. Besides, meeting new people at this stage is great practice for future workplaces and for university. I met some life-long friends from new college classes, so try pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

Becki and her friends after the Loughborough University colour dash. Becki's top is covered in multi-coloured paint that was thrown at her during the dash.

Think about your post A-Level self 

If you already know that you want to go to university and have an idea of what you want to study, check out prospectuses to see what A-levels are required for the degree you have planned. Some universities have certain A-levels that they require for certain courses. For instance, Mechanical engineering at Loughborough requires maths and physics. Many prospectuses are available online so it may be worth giving them search. You wouldn’t want your choice at this stage to prevent you from taking the undergraduate course you really want later on. Having said this, not knowing exactly what you want to do after is also ok -you can still make decisions now to put you in the best position for when you do decide. At the point of choosing my A-levels, all I knew was that I wanted to work in sport. I was clueless about which area of sport, but with my choices, I set myself up to be able to figure out the specifics later.  

If you wish to take a look at the Loughborough University prospectus, you can click here 

Selfie of Becki.

Be open minded about choosing subjects that you may not have studied before 

Many colleges and sixth forms can offer certain subjects at A-level that you may not have had chance to study at GCSE. For me, this was psychology. If I hadn’t taken the leap to study this at A-level, I may not have wanted to pursue psychology for a degree and a career. This doesn’t mean to say I wouldn’t have found another path to a different career, but I think it highlights the need to be open-minded with your A-level choices. You just never know what might catch your eye! 

So, my final thoughts… 

I hope this gave you some things to think about and I wish you the best of luck with whatever you decide. Just remember it is ok to not have things all figured just yet, just take your time and do what is best for you.