It is ‘a truth universally acknowledged’ that your school qualifications define the opportunities available to you.
Whether it is your GCSEs or A-Levels, employers – at any given time – can check your previous qualifications as a means of determining whether you are best suited for the job you are applying for. They are also used by Universities to decide whether you should be allowed onto the course they are providing for candidates who prove themselves as avid learners, with a passion for their chosen subject area.
Of course, different University courses have different requirements. But the fact of the matter is your school qualifications define your opportunities in life – at least to a certain extent. However it’s not just the level of qualifications you attain, but what qualifications you have that is also significant.
So what do I mean by that?
Well, your qualifications – especially those at A Level – must in some way be linked to the subject area you are interested in studying at degree level. For example, for those interested in Engineering, the best suited subjects at A Level would be Maths and Physics.
But what if you don’t know what you want to do?
In that case, choosing your subjects might not seem as straightforward. Having been there myself, my advice would be to pick the subject areas you are best interested in as well as those subjects that allow you to keep your options open.
Many Universities see the following A Levels as essential requirements: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, English, History, Geography, Languages and Maths. These are – for lack of better words – your core subjects: when you’re unsure about what you want to do, having these subjects under your belt can be a strategic move that works to be incredibly advantageous.
It should also be remembered that doing ‘soft subjects’ such as Business Studies, Art and Design, Health and Social Care and so on is ok. As long as not all your subjects are ‘soft subjects’. Although University requirements differ, the more prestigious Universities are unlikely to accept them.
But even then, making the best subject choices is not enough. The grades you attain must also meet the requirements proposed by Universities. These requirements are often high – especially when dealing with more esteemed Universities like Oxford and Cambridge.
Thus it is in your greatest interests to work hard and gain the best possible results. Now to do this, the best advice I could provide you with is to recognise when you need help. I have pointed out in a previous article that GCSEs can be difficult; but A Levels are a different ball-game. Getting an A Level Biology tutor or an A Level Chemistry tutor and so on can bring about phenomenal results. So if you’re struggling then please, please, please get help!
If you have had a specific GCSE tutor in the past that you have found effective then go back to that same tutor and ask: “Do you provide tuition for this same subject area at A Level?” If yes, accept their assistance.
Consistency is crucial. The tutor you have had previously – assuming they have done their job right – is aware of your strengths, your weaknesses and your learning style. As a result, they are effectively able to help you gain a better understanding of the subject.
On the other hand, for those students who have a goal that they wish to aspire towards are fine to pick their A Level subjects accordingly. Yet even then it is important to keep in mind that you are still young: it is still possible to change your mind about what you want to do later in life so don’t restrict yourself. Such students too should keep their options open and they too must recognise if – at any point – they require assistance with their studies.