Making your FE choices

Year 11 can feel hectic, what with endless revision, exams and coursework deadlines, not to mention having to make decisions about your future. Here's our advice when it comes to choosing subjects for sixth form or college...

The subjects you choose to take forward can influence the options that are available to you at the end of Year 13, so we do recommend you give these some careful consideration. If you need extra support or guidance, your teachers have lots of experience and will be able to offer you sound advice. Talk it through with those closest to you – after all, they know you best.

Prospective universities are also on hand to help you make informed decisions about your further education choices. Every university and degree course will have specific entry requirements. Deciding on the correct mix of subjects, qualifications and learning assessments is crucial to ensuring that you are not only playing to your own academic strengths but also allowing you to pursue your future ambitions. It is important to think carefully and consider key questions, such as, how you like to learn, be assessed and where you see yourself in the future.

Our advice is to work backwards. At this stage you'll probably fall into one of two categories; see which of the below sounds most like you, and read our tips on how to navigate further education.

Category 1: “I know what career I’d like to pursue”

If you know what career you’re interested in, that's great! Most Year 11 students are still unsure about their future career path, so in this sense you have a real advantage. If this category sounds like you, here's what we would advise you to do next:

Research what skills, knowledge and degree qualifications are required to enter your chosen profession – this will give you an ultimate goal to aim towards.
Check what universities offer relevant courses and note their entry requirements.
Alongside entry requirements, look into relevant A-Level or BTEC subject options - that way you can match your choices to the requirements of a relevant degree course. Here are a couple of examples to help with your thought-process:
    • Would you like a career in Engineering? If so, you’ll need a related degree to go into this profession. Entrance onto Engineering courses at University often require A-Level Mathematics. This means that at A-Level, you’ll need to select Mathematics and maybe even a Science, depending on the area of Engineering you’re interested in.
    • Perhaps you see yourself as a budding Sports Journalist. In this instance, you may wish to consider taking English at A-Level, alongside Physical Education to gain a holistic understanding of sport.

Category 2: “I don’t know yet what I want to do next”

It’s OK, there's definitely no need to panic. It’s extremely common for Year 11 students to feel unsure about their future plans. When this is the case, our advice is simple – go with what you enjoy. It’s thought that when students enjoy their subjects, they’re more likely to engage with the content and achieve higher grades. If ever in doubt, it’s a good idea to keep your options open while you come to a decision about your future. Here are a few other tips that you may find useful...

  • Do you prefer to learn in a practical or theoretical way?
  • Do you prefer to be assessed through coursework or exams?
  • Would you prefer an academic or vocational focus?
  • Do you have a particular university in mind - if so, what are their entry requirements?
  • Would you like a course that has placement opportunities?