My A-Levels

Since around November, I’ve been really struggling to decide on what subjects I want to do at A-Level. I think I have finally made my decision, but it’s definitely not final.

First, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do 3 or 4 subjects, because I couldn’t pick between two subjects that I wanted to do, and also, I was worried that some universities would see Maths and Further Maths as just one grade, which I now know is stupid. I decided that I was going to pick 4 subjects, and drop the one that I was enjoying the least out of them.

Then it was on to picking the subjects. I knew that I wanted to do Maths and Further Maths, because I’ve wanted to be a Maths teacher since I was like eight years old, and I just love the subject overall. I was quite certain that my third subject would be Economics because I thought that the course would be quite interesting at first glance. My fourth subject was a toss-up between Criminology and Sociology. At first, I was leaning more towards Criminology, because it’s 50% controlled assessment and 50% exam, meaning I’d have less exams, which I really liked. Then I realised that my Graphics coursework at GCSE has literally been the bane of my existence for the past year, and I didn’t want to do any more coursework or controlled assessment, like I would have to in the Criminology course. But the content covered in Criminology interested me more than that in Sociology, so I really didn’t know what to do. Over time, I grew uninterested with both subjects, and decided that I didn’t want to do either. For the past like 6 months, I’ve really been enjoying my Chemistry lessons, so was sort of drawn to it as my fourth subject.

Earlier this month, I decided that I didn’t want to do four A-Levels, even though it would’ve only been for a couple of months. I’d lost interest in Economics, and was also worried that I would find it extremely boring, so dropped it entirely.

That’s really where I am at the minute with my A-Levels. Nothing is final yet, but I’m really happy with my choices: Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths.

Also, a quick tip: if you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed with the amount of revision for all of your subjects, prioritize the subjects that you need to get a specific grade in to get onto the college course. For example, to get into the college I want to go to, I need a 7 in Maths, a 6 in Chemistry, a 5 in English Language, and 2 more 9-4s, so I’m focusing on those subjects. I’m not saying don’t revise for the subjects you don’t need, obviously do, but you definitely don’t need to do as much. Personally, I’m not going to do as much revision for History and Graphics because I’ll probably never benefit from that grade, as long as I pass, I’ll be okay with it.

College Applications

So about a month ago my school introduced us to the wonderful world that is choosing your college. Every college near me offers basically the same courses and everyone says that theirs is the best, making choosing the few to apply to almost impossible.

I’m currently torn between maths, further maths, statistics, economics and criminology. They’re all fascinating and interesting to me, but I know that I can’t do them all. Apparently there’s a lot of overlap between maths and further maths so i might as well only do maths, that’s all I know.

There’s way too many things we have to do and focus on in year 11. There’s college applications that need to be sent before the end of term in December, there’s PPEs in November/December which we need to revise for. We get more homework than there is time to do it. We have the actual GCSEs looming in May, and prom in June or July. So much to do, so little time. There’ll be a post coming about year 11 and how different and more challenging it is compared to other years in the near future.

We get told that we need to balance school and hobbies and everything else but that’s extremely difficult given the sheer volume of work we get given each week, but I’ll talk more about workload in another post.

An integral part of our applications is personal statements, which should seem easy enough to do. You talk about the things you’ve done, things you’ve learnt, skills, etc. But talking about yourself in a promotional way is actually quite difficult. You don’t want to be too repetitive with your qualities; for example “I am hardworking, I’m organised, I work well with others”. And you have to explain how these qualities help you in day to day life and why having these qualities make you better than everyone else. It’s so unnatural to most people, including myself. I think the only positive from having to make one now is that you can keep it for use on university or job applications in the future as well, you’d just adapt it and add to it to keep it up to date and you’re sorted.

I believe that most people think that which college you go to makes a huge difference to your success at A-Level but I don’t really agree. As long as it’s somewhere with a high standard of teaching, with good support systems in place, and somewhere you feel happy and comfortable in than they’re all much of the same. But of course that may just be me, and everyone has their own motives and opinions. I know that there’s one particular college in my area that everyone wants to go to because last year they got a 98.9% pass rate on average, but that doesn’t mean that every other college is inferior to that one. There’s a college not ten minutes away from that one that only does BTEC and vocational courses, it’s not necessarily a worse college, it just offers different things, so has completely different statistics and successes.

In summary, the process of picking your top three or four colleges is challenging and long-winded, and you’ll more than likely regret your choices at some point, but you just have to live with that. And if you end up disliking the college you go to, you’re only there for two years, so you can live with it really.