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Choosing your A-level subjects is a big decision. Most prospective A-level maths students ask themselves the obvious questions: “Do I enjoy the subject?” and “Am I good at the subject?”. Yet surprisingly few young people consider how their A-level choices will affect what they can study at university. That’s a problem because many university degree courses require you to have studied specific A-levels. To put it simply, your A-level subject choices affect your chances of being accepted for your dream university course.

The good news for maths students is that A-level Mathematics is one of the most universally accepted and respected subject choices by universities. In fact, studying A-level maths is likely to enhance your options rather than narrow them down.

Why do some university degrees require specific A-levels?

The knowledge and skills that you gain through your A-level studies help to prepare you for undergraduate studies. What’s more, they allow universities to determine whether you have the skills and knowledge necessary to cope with the requirements of your chosen course.

Studying for a degree is much harder than studying for A-levels, and determination will only get you so far. You need a good knowledge base and set of study skills in a particular area to be able to “level up” to undergraduate studies. For example, studying STEM subjects at A-level is unlikely to equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to study a modern languages degree. Similarly, you won’t develop the knowledge needed for a medicine degree if you only study Drama and English Literature at A-level.

What if I don’t know what degree course I want to study?

Some students know what degree course they want to study before they begin their A-levels, they may even have a preferred university in mind. If that doesn’t sound like you, don’t panic: most A-level students don’t know what, or where, they would like to study until much later. If you’re one of those students, then how do you choose your A-levels if there are perhaps six or seven subjects which you both enjoy and are good at? The solution may lie in choosing to study a group of facilitating subjects.

What are “facilitating” subjects?

Facilitating subjects are, in a nutshell, the A-level subjects that are asked for most often by universities. The subjects are well-regarded by all universities and studying a group of them at A-level means that you can keep your degree options open.

The Russell Group – a collective of 24 research-intensive universities – have produced a website called Informed Choices to helps students choose their A-levels subjects. It lists several facilitating subjects, including:

Mathematics

Further Mathematics

English Literature
Physics
Biology
Chemistry
Geography
History
Languages (Classical and Modern)

So, if you’re not sure what degree you’d like to study, consider taking a combination of those subjects at A-level.

Which degree courses require A-level Maths?

Certain degree courses have very specific requirements when it comes to A-levels, and different universities may have different entry requirements for courses with the same name. So, our advice is to check the individual entry requirements for each course and institution. Don’t leave yourself in the position of being  unable to apply for your dream course because you don’t meet the essential entry requirements.

That being said, there are certain degrees where A-level maths is almost universally required. These include:

  • Accountancy
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Economics
  • Electrical/Electronic Engineering
  • Engineering (General)
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physics
  • Statistics

There are also many degrees where maths is one of a combination of essential requirements. For example, many Biochemistry degree courses require A-level Chemistry, plus one other a-level from the following subjects: Mathematics/Physics/Biology. Similarly, Medicine degrees require Chemistry and Biology, plus one from Mathematics or Physics.

 Many schools and colleges don’t offer Further Mathematics at A-Level, so few universities list the qualification as essential. However, you should still take the subject if you have the option, as there are some degree courses – such as include Veterinary science, Actuarial science, and Aeronautical engineering – where most students HAVE studied Further Mathematics. This implies that having the qualification will improve your chance of being accepted.

What if I my chosen degree lists A-level Maths as useful, not essential?

Let’s use Biology as an example. Having A-level Maths gives you an advantage during your degree studies, as subjects like Biology require students to have good mathematical skills to achieve higher grades.  Indeed, many universities report that science undergraduates struggle due to a lack of mathematical skills. Beyond undergraduate studies, Postgraduate science courses are becoming increasingly reliant on mathematics and computing, so studying A-level Maths gives you a better chance of forging a successful career in science.

What if I don’t get an A/A* in A-level Maths?

Many universities and employers still look very favourably on A-level maths, even you don’t achieve the top grades. Completing the course successfully demonstrates that a student understands maths at a much higher level than GCSEs, which is important not only for many university courses, but for your subsequent career.

 

George Alexander Tuition is a specialist maths and science tuition agency based in Central London. We support children aged 11-18 with a variety of termly tuition packages and exam coaching from 11+ to A-Level. We also offer bespoke packages to support children who are learning at home. To find out more, contact us on info@gatuition.com. You can also follow our social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook, and check out our handy maths tutorials on our YouTube channel.

 

Liz

Liz

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