Help Deciding

What should I consider when choosing subjects?

  • Career choice  –  Certain careers may need certain subjects. Some jobs and careers may need you to get specific vocational qualifications, for example Art and Design. Universities may want good grades in particular subjects. Some examples:
    • Maths and Physics are often essential for many engineering courses
    • Biology is almost always required to study a Physiotherapy degree
    • Some universities have a preferred list of A Level subjects for general admission as well as specific requirements for particular courses
    • Critical Thinking or General Studies are often not accepted by universities as one of your A Level grades
  • Many universities will consider your application whatever subjects you choose. Find out more about UCAS Tariff Points on the UCAS website.
  • Job opportunities – Employers may ask for certain grades in preferred subjects. For example, Science, Maths or Construction may be preferred for a Level 4 Construction Apprenticeship
  • UCAS Points & Grades needed for university and further learning  – Good grades in A Level or equivalent subjects can earn you more UCAS points needed for entry to many university courses. Find out more about UCAS Tariff Points on the UCAS website

What are the different qualifications?

  • A Levels –  are usually exam-focused in many academic and well-established subjects. You can usually study between 2 and 3 different A Level subjects which will allow you to study a range of subjects, particularly useful if you want to keep your options open.
  • BTECs and other vocational courses – tend to be coursework based and more career-focused, for example subjects like Sport, Engineering or Medical Science. Depending on the level you are studying, the qualification may be equivalent to 1, 2 or even 3 A levels. BTECs and other vocational qualifications are useful if you have a particular career in mind.

What are Facilitating Subjects?

Facilitating subjects are the subjects most often needed for entry to degree courses. The Russell Group universities call them ‘facilitating subjects’ because choosing them can widen your options for university study.

  • English Literature
  • Maths and Further Maths
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Geography
  • History
  • Modern and Classical Languages


This does not mean that subjects not listed as a ‘facilitating subject’ have less value. They are just less often required for general entry to degree courses. Some non-facilitating subjects are specifically required for certain courses, for example, Welsh.

I really don't know what to choose...

  • Choose facilitating subjects –  If you want to go to university but not sure what you want to study, it may be a good idea to choose two facilitating subjects to keep your options open
  • Keep a balance – Having a good balance of subjects will keep your options open if you do not have a career in mind


Impartial advice and guidance regarding options after Key Stage 4 is available for you from a variety of sources including subject teachers, Careers Advisors, Heads of Sixth Form and Head Teachers and also through the Unifrog programme.

In addition to supporting you choose your subjects for September, help will be on hand when it comes to making applications to university or college, and for work experience and apprenticeships.

I would like to speak to someone about my options...

All staff are able to support you to pick the correct options for you.  Speak to your teachers, your Head of Year, and the careers advisor if you would like some support in choosing your options.

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