As described in Guide to Choosing the right A-level subjects, there's a lot to think about in deciding on the best sixth-form programme for your abilities, interests and ambitions. One of the key considerations is whether you will enjoy and do well in the individual A level subjects themselves:

  • are you interested in the topics you have to study?
  • do you have the skills you need?
  • can you handle the way the subject is assessed?

It can be hard to find that information in at-a-glance form, so we've done that for you. Click on any of the subject titles in the list on the right and you'll get to a page which will give you a quick overview of that A level. Each subject page is laid out with the same headings to help you compare more easily.

What's it about?

Tells you about the main topics the subject covers. Students work best at subjects they find really interesting.

What sort of work is involved?

Describes the sort of work you have to do, in class and private study, and the skills required to do well. Eg 'This a subject with a lot of in-class discussion', 'you will be expected to write essays', or 'you need good number skills'.

What background do I need?

Are there essential GCSEs you need? What sort of academic interests are a good guide to whether you could do well in the subject? Some subjects such as Politics, Psychology, Economics and Sociology can be taken at A level without having taken it at GCSE.

Where can it lead?

Explains how the A level might affect your choice of university degree, the sort of degrees it leads to, and careers beyond university, how strongly the A level is regarded in combination with other A levels etc. For some subjects at university level there are A level pre requisites. Chemistry is required for Medicine, Maths for Engineering.

One year?

Taking A level in a year isn't easy , but many students cope with it, especially if they choose subjects carefully. This section describes the challenges involved in taking the subject in three terms.


Outlines how the A level is assessed. Details may vary according to the exam board your college uses for the subject, but the guide describes the common features.

Article updated: 8th July 2021

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