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Which A Level subject should I drop?

By Charlie Hale on 9 May 2018UKblogSubject advice

For those of you in your AS year, there is one major question you’re about to tackle and it’s (hopefully) not where you’re going to run away to after bombing the summer exams.

The end of the year is looming and with that comes the pretty massive decision of which subject you’re going to drop for your final year. For some of you, no doubt, this comes as a colossal relief, because if you have to sit through one more insert name of said class you may well combust, unintentionally or otherwise. But for the rest of you, trying to decide which subject to drop is no easy feat.

First things first, if you have an idea of what course you want to study at university, then your initial port of call should be checking university websites to see if they require specific A Levels. You probably don’t have an exact idea of where you will be applying, so have a browse of five or six different universities and take note of the requirements for your chosen course. Not all courses will have detailed requirements, but for courses like Medicine or Law it isn’t uncommon for the restrictions on your A Levels to be very specific, so be sure to keep this in mind before dropping a subject.

If you’re (un)lucky enough not to be constricted by specific A Level requirements, then it is still worth considering which subject is least relevant to your chosen course. Many universities list useful and/or typical A Levels on the relevant course pages, so check there for a better idea of which subject is least applicable to your course. Another thing to consider is that some universities openly discourage students from taking A Level combinations that are too narrow. This sounds much scarier than it actually is, since the issue only really comes up when you choose subjects covering a similar curriculum (such as Biology and Human Biology), rather than thinking about which subjects are essential or preferred for your chosen university course.

If you’re still unsure what to drop after considering your future endeavours, there are a few other ways to narrow it down.

It is (of course) worth considering which subject you’re regularly achieving lower grades in than your other subjects. If you want to maximise your chance of achieving high grades then you probably don’t want to keep on with a subject you find tough and are unlikely to do well in. This is especially important if you’re aiming for a course that accepts based on UCAS points. In the name of making your life as easy as possible during your last year, it’s definitely worth considering dropping the subject that’s dragging down your average grade.

That said, it’s not ALL about what grades you ring in at the end of the year. There must also be an element of enjoyment in what you’re studying, in fact it’s going to be pretty essential in getting you through what is no doubt the most stressful year of your school life. This is your chance to drop any subject that you really dread. So if there is a particular subject you feel really disengaged from, or causes unnecessary stress, that would also be a good place to start.

If the subject you loathe the most also happens to be the one you achieve your best grades in, it is still worth considering not taking it on into your last year. As the workload increases next year, you’re going to need at least a small measure of passion and enthusiasm to power you through the hours of revision. On the flip side, if the subject you enjoy the most is the one you’re achieving the lowest marks in, then this is a good time to really consider what you can do to improve your marks. If you are genuinely passionate about the subject and feel you have the self-motivation to bring your grades back up, then you could still go with it. The great thing about having this conversation with yourself now is that you’ve still got time to really put yourself into gear and go for it with your AS exams.

In an ideal world, there would be three standout subjects that you do well in and enjoy. But chances are it’s a messy mix, so our last bit of advice is aim for balance. A good range of subjects that are attractive to your chosen universities with one in there that you love and one that you can rely on to come through with the good marks is the sort of effective recipe you should be aiming for. Above all, don’t sweat it too much – save that for next year 😉.

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