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Essay based Subjects: What they are and Some Examples

  • by Joseph Kenas
  • February 11, 2024

essay based subjects

Essay writing is a very important part of your academic studies. In your academic journey, you will find essay-based subjects that will require you to write an essay on a particular topic.

Always remember that an essay is just an argument or discussion about a topic. Therefore, you have to write an essay that includes paragraphs each having a theme or purpose.

No matter the subject you are writing about, essays can be simple to write as long as you follow the right structure. 

What is an Essay Based Subject?

In high school, college, or university, the number of essays you write will depend on the subject you have chosen. Subjects that need the student to write a lot of essays for the exams are referred to as essay-based subjects .

History, languages, economics, and literature are some of the subjects that require a student to write frequent essays.

Essay Based Subjects

Yet still, most of the humanity and social science subjects also need a lot of research and writing of essay papers. 

Most essay-based subjects require the student to have analytical skills that enable good research for writing papers.

Students who choose these types of subjects need to practice critical thinking at all times. 

A good example is English literature and History. If a student does not have these skills, writing a good essay will become a problem. 

For other essay-based subjects such as physics, students need to be familiar with scientific principles before they can write good essays.

Creativity in thinking and a demonstration of self-discipline are important if you want to achieve good grades in these subjects. Nurture your study skills as a student to excel in subject-based essays

There are also practical subjects such as Music and Art which also have essay writing in some areas. Without imaginative and inventive skills, these subjects will not be easy to pass. 

Is Psychology an Essay-Based Subject?

Psychology is an essay-based subject in many ways. If you are pursuing a degree in psychology, you have to know how to write compelling essays which will be part of your final grades.

The writing of essays in psychology gives students a good opportunity to explore different aspects of this subject. As a psychology student, essay writing allows you to investigate deeply a topic you have chosen.

As long as the topic is within the subject of psychology, professors do give students the privilege to write about what they prefer. In the end, you will be able to sharpen your research, analytical, evaluation and communication skills. 

Since psychology revolves around the study of behavior, essay writing can help to enhance a student’s understanding of behaviors.

Research for essay writing from a psychology perspective will allow the student to learn terms and methods in this subject.

Psychology is a subject that needs a proper understanding of the methodologies involved. Without adequate knowledge and understanding of this subject, writing a good essay will be difficult. 

The choice of essay topic on this subject can be on an area covered in the course. However, students can also choose a good topic of their interest that does not relate to the subject content.

As long as you select a field in psychology that you have an interest in, you can write a good essay. 

30 Essay Based Subjects

Essay based Subjects

  • Anthropology 
  • Archaeology
  • Environmental science 
  • Ancient history
  • English language
  • English literature
  • Classical civilization
  • Government and politics
  • Health and social care
  • Media studies
  • History of art
  • Criminology
  • Religious studies
  • Design and technology
  • Product design
  • Political science
  • Global politics

How to Study and Pass Essay Based Subjects

It is not easy to prepare for exams involving essay-based subjects. If you want to pass with a good grade, you have to make the most out of your revision. Practice essay writing tips to keep you focused.

Below are effective tips on how to study and pass essay based subjects:

1.Be a Friend of the Teacher                                                                                      

Teachers play a very important role in helping you pass exams. This is what will propel you to the next level of education or give you a good job.

However, they have to prepare hundreds of students for the exams. As such, they may not be able to tell you everything unless you ask.

If you are a friend of the teacher, it will be easy to ask questions and get good tips on how to prepare for your exams.  You’ll also not be the students who have excuses to submit their assignments late.

Most teachers are willing to extend a helping hand to students so that they have an easy time preparing for exams. Therefore, when you need help in your study and revision, take advantage of the teacher’s help.

2. Plan your Revision

Essay Based Subjects

With proper planning, revising for essay-based subjects can be effective. You should start your revision in time so that you do not have to cram everything on the last day of the exam.

If you start revising early, you can have small amounts of time dedicated to each subject or topic.

Small revision parts each day for a longer period are more effective than trying to cram everything the night before your exams. 

 Also, you can plan to revise one subject at a time or alternate revisions between various subjects of study.

What you need is a suitable revision pattern that works well for you. All in all, always make revision a habit. Create specific set times of the day to revise and ensure you stick by it. 

3. Relaxing Activities

Even though studying for essay-based exams needs a lot of preparation, interspersing with relaxing activities is also advisable.

This helps to stop the overloading of the brain especially when you feel exhausted. You can take a walk, listen to your favorite music or take part in sports. 

Just take part in whatever activity you like but ensure the breaks do not become distractions. 

4. Avoiding Distractions

Effective studying for exams cannot go well if there are distractions. Social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Instagram are the greatest enemies. Develop routines to help you use your free time productively.

Notifications from friends will always pop up and distract you from studying. One way of avoiding this is by installing a locking app so that you can disable your social media for a specific period. 

Another alternative is to block your web browser or the internet router. You can block access and create a restriction for a specific period.

With help from friends and family members, have a blocking schedule. Far from that, find a quiet place where you can do your revisions effectively.

If there is no quiet place at home, the nearby library is the best place where you can study comfortably. 

5. Create a Glossary

When the exam period approaches, it is good to come up with a list of all the important words and phrases that you need to know.

For each of the modules, ensure you list important phrases that you need to remember. Have a brief definition of each of the terms which are important for the exams.

You can then go back to your glossary and test your ability to remember these terms. 

6. Practice Essay Writing Regularly

Regularly writing essays will give you a clue about how to go about your exams. It makes you master the time you will need to plan, write and proofread your essay.

With the use of past papers, you can know the type of questions that are frequently asked in your area of study. This will boost your flexibility and confidence because you will be familiar with all the course materials. 

essay based subject a level

Joseph is a freelance journalist and a part-time writer with a particular interest in the gig economy. He writes about schooling, college life, and changing trends in education. When not writing, Joseph is hiking or playing chess.

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A-Level Choices: How to Decide

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a-level choices

If you’re interested in a career in law , you’ve probably been told to consider doing the ‘right’ A-level subjects, to give you the best chance of avoiding disappointment later. But do they even exist?!

While law schools don’t have specific subject requirements, there are some factors to keep in mind when choosing your A-levels.

Want to become a law student? Start by booking a free ticket to one of our ‘Get into Law’ TLP Aspire events in 2018!

A-Level Choices: Essay-Based Subjects

It is no secret that a law degree will involve a huge amount of writing essays and, therefore, it is usually recommended to take at least one subject that will develop these skills, which you can talk about in your personal statement. Universities and certainly employers in the legal sector look for candidates who showcase the ability to write coherently, reason and argue. As a result, A-levels in English literature or history are highly regarded subject choices.

On the other hand, having sciences or maths alongside an essay-based subject is also seen as very impressive since these students have a strong ability in problem-solving, logic and analysis – which are key skills needed for a law degree and certainly a career in law.

A-Level Choices: Facilitating Subjects

Whilst not strictly necessary, it’s worth bearing in mind the idea of facilitating subjects. According to some Russell Group universities, you must have at least two facilitating subjects as part of your A-levels.

Facilitating subjects are traditional academic subjects which allow you to keep your options open for the future and enable you to develop many key skills needed for any career within law. They include maths, English literature, physics, biology, chemistry, history, geography and a foreign language.

A-Level Choices: Good Grades

If you would like to secure a spot in one of the Russell Group universities, getting good grades is essential, which is why it is so important to pick subjects that you not only enjoy, but can also excel in.

Many of these universities also emphasise their selection process in choosing strong, academically-able students suited to this challenging degree. This is why top universities and big commercial firms ask for between AAB-A*AA.  Below are only a few examples of A-level entry requirements from some top universities:

  • University of Oxford: AAA
  • London School of Economics and Political Science: A*AA
  • University of Durham: A*AA with LNAT
  • University of York: AAA

>> Want to see more entry requirements for top UK universities? Take a look at our Uni-by-Uni comparison page!

A-Level Choices: Extended Project Qualification

Slightly unrelated to subject choices, however if your sixth form/college offers the opportunity to complete an EPQ, you should definitely do one related to law.

This is a great point of discussion in a law personal statement, in interviews and generally, it successfully shows your interest in the field.

A-Level Choices: Good Example Subject Combinations

Remember, almost all subject combinations which include at least two facilitating subjects are favoured. However, below are just a few good example combinations, popular with aspiring lawyers.

  • English literature, history, maths
  • English literature, maths, economics
  • Chemistry, biology, history
  • History, french, geography

A-Level Choices: Other Factors to Consider

But A-levels aren’t the only crucial aspect…

Competition for a law degree is increasingly high – there was a 4% increase in UCAS applications for law courses in 2017. Therefore, it is important to note that alongside good A-level subjects/grades, there are also other factors to consider:

Work Experience

Alongside good academia, work experience is equally as essential. Work experience proves to universities and future recruiters that you have a genuine interest in pursuing a career in this field.

Many firms and chambers offer short work experience placements for students in year 12 such as Pinsent Masons, Royds Withy King, BLP, Foot Anstey, Old Square Chambers, Matrix Chambers, and the list goes on. While it is not crucial for admission into a law degree, it would certainly put you to an advantage.

>> Read our new page on The Ultimate Guide to Law Work Experience for Year 12 Students as a starting point!

Personal Statement

Finally, your law personal statement should play a significant role in convincing admission tutors that you have a genuine interest for studying a law degree. Universities look for proof about the reasons why you want to pursue a law degree, which could be shown in the form of relevant work experience, related extra-curricular activities, EPQ’s or any books you have read that have a legal dimension.

Overall, as long as you are well informed about these key aspects, there is nothing stopping you from obtaining a place in a good university for a law degree.

Best of luck!

Published: 23/02/18    Author: Tvara Shah

Deciding on Law Careers? Read These!

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  • 4 Reasons Why You Should Do a Law Apprenticeship
  • The Ultimate Guide to Law Work Experience for Year 12 Students

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A-level choices: which subjects should you pick?

I t's that nailbiting time of the school year when prospective sixth-form students must choose which A-levels to do. Those who plan to go on to university will be hoping to pick the perfect combination that will ensure a place on their course of choice.

But it's hardly surprising if, aged 15, you don't have much of an idea what degree you want to do, let alone the shape of your future career. So Guardian Students has asked university admissions departments and sixth-form tutors to answer some of the questions pupils ask as they try to figure out which subjects to take.

Which A-level subjects are blacklisted by the more prestigious universities?

"An A-level subject blacklist does not exist, but certain universities do require particular subjects for particular courses, and applicants applying without these subjects will often not be considered," says Julian Skyrme, head of undergraduate recruitment and widening participation at the university of Manchester. In some cases it's obvious: you need to take science subjects to apply for medicine and dentistry, but in others, Skyrme says, the requirement "may be more subtle". A drama course might require that you have at least one essay-based A-level, for example. It's time consuming, but to be safe you need to look at the detailed entry criteria given by each university for individual degree courses you think you might be interested in.

What are the Russell group "facilitating subjects" and what does the term mean?

The Russell Group, to which some of the UK's most prestigious universities belong, publishes a guide called Informed Choices . It tells you the most common subject requirements for different degree courses at those universities. It also features a list of "facilitating subjects" and advises pupils wanting to be considered for a Russell Group university to pick two of them as part of their A-level mix. The facilitating subjects are: mathematics and further mathematics, English literature, physics, biology, chemistry, geography, history and languages (classical and modern).

Will universities really consider a BTec as equivalent to an A-level?

"Some will, some won't," says Matt Cole, head of modern history and politics at King Edward VI college in Stourbridge. "And I've seen departments that will one year, and won't another. There may also be a difference in what universities say they will consider and what in reality they do. They may consider BTecs – but not equally."

It depends on the type of course, adds Laura Lane, from the admissions service at Sheffield University. "The general rule is that BTecs should be in a relevant subject area to the degree a pupil wants to do."

"Students who are considering studying a BTec or another more vocational qualification (such as applied double-award A-levels) should research university entry requirements very carefully," says Skyrme, who points out that all universities publish precise details of what will be required both on their own websites and on the Ucas website.

"Sometimes universities will only be able to accept these sorts of qualifications when combined with other qualifications. For example, some engineering courses at university require students to have an A-level in maths alongside their BTec diploma, to ensure they have the mathematical skills required to complete the degree successfully."

Do teachers put pressure on pupils to take "easier" subjects to keep the school's results high?

Suspicion was voiced in comments on a Guardian Students feature last year that some schools advise pupils not to risk getting lower grades by taking on "hard" subjects at A-level. But Ian Hunt, MD of Gabbitas Education says: "I think what you'll find is that the pressure comes from the individual [school] department wanting to pick the best students to do their subjects, not an overarching directive from above."

At King Edward VI college, which last year saw 86% of its A-level pupils apply successfully to university, "we'd be encouraging pupils to play to their strengths", says Cole. Pupils occasionally do have to be guided away from a particular choice though – "there are some subjects, such as further maths, where you would have had to get a very good GCSE result to be accepted for A-level". Cole says teachers would make sure pupils understood that this was because you'd be unlikely to cope with the subject without a strong aptitude for maths.

If you feel you're being pushed towards subjects you don't want to do, what should you do?

"Teachers and parents can be a great source of advice to students; teachers especially can provide an honest insight into students' academic strengths," notes Skyrme. "However, students shouldn't be pressured into taking subjects they don't want to study, or that they don't feel confident about. Students should remember that it is they who will be studying the course, and taking the exams at the end of it, so it really must be a personal choice."

Should your GCSE grades dictate which subjects you pick at A-level?

For some subjects, you should take your GCSE grades very seriously, says Hunt. "Take maths: it's the sort of subject that if you don't get an A* at GCSE, it becomes a really big leap at AS and A-level and you need to consider that." But, he adds, this doesn't apply in all subjects – "for the humanities it's not nearly so strict a rule."

Do universities look at your GCSE results?

"Performance at 15 or 16, and sometimes even 14 if you take a GCSE early, isn't necessarily a good indicator of whether you'll be a good undergraduate and do well when you sit your finals," says Cole. But GCSEs – together with AS-levels – are the first filters that universities will use, simply because of the numbers they're dealing with. Most universities don't interview any more, Cole points out, so they've lost a valuable way of making a judgment, and in turn must rely more on a pupil's past performance.

"GCSE results do have a great bearing on university acceptances in some subjects," says Hunt. "Certain universities see GCSEs as great predictors. Oxford do, for instance."

How can you keep your options open?

Reality check: growing up is about making choices, and you can't keep every option open. But it may be useful to ask yourself if you really need to. If you're pretty sure you want to do medicine or engineering, then you can stop agonising: you need to narrow, not widen, your subject choice. But, says Lane, if you're not set on a particular area, "play to [your] strengths, but don't specialise in one area too much".

You could consider not doing A-levels at all. "The International Baccalaureate doesn't suit everyone, but if you're bright and want to keep your options open, that can be the best option," suggests Hunt.

Young people need to think carefully about what they enjoy and what they're likely to excel at, says Louise Banahene, education outreach manager at Leeds university. "If you study at least two of the facilitating subjects – ones you're interested in and good at – then the options are as wide as possible."

Skyrme says it's worth noting that by choosing facilitating subjects, pupils aren't restricted to applying for degree courses that require those subjects. "Even if a student studies three facilitating subjects, they would still be able to apply to study law, for which most universities do not require any specific subjects."

Should you always do maths A-level if you're capable of getting a decent grade, even if your interests lie elsewhere?

Most of the experts said no to this question: unless you want to do a maths- or science-based degree, it's not likely to be required. Skyrme suggests that students ask themselves a series of questions to decide: Will I enjoy maths A-level? Do I need it for my chosen university course? Might it be useful for my chosen university course? Will I get a good grade?

If the answer to most of these questions is yes, then clearly it would be a good idea, he says. If the answer to most of them is no, then don't do maths.

Should you try to do a science A-level if you can, even if you prefer arts and humanities?

It depends on the course a student is interested in. "A psychology course may prefer to see a science A-level in a student's portfolio, but an English course wouldn't see this as a benefit," says Skyrme. If a science A-level is preferred, it will always be clearly stated in the published entry requirements. If nothing is specified, "then students should prioritise those subjects they enjoy and will do well in".

If you don't think you're getting good advice from your school, where can you go for a second opinion?

"Ring up the universities – you're a customer, after all," says Hunt. "You'd be amazed how many humans they have in their admissions departments. They're very friendly people!"

"Students should feel confident contacting universities they are interested in applying to, from year 10 onwards, to discuss A-level choices," confirms Skyrme. Contact details for all courses are listed on university websites, so students can call or email admissions staff for the courses they are interested in to get advice directly.

Don't be shy if a university comes to your school on a careers day – ask lots of questions, advises Lane. Sheffield University encourages pupils to phone or email directly, and the applicant information team will answer your query or find someone for you to talk to in the relevant academic department. Sheffield has an online database of frequently asked questions – and so do most other university admissions website pages.

As there are so many universities, a good initial approach might be to choose a dozen or so that you think you might be interested in, and ring up the admissions offices for a chat, says Cole.

"But remember that whatever information you get, it's in principle, not a guarantee. There isn't a guaranteed way of getting a place university, but [by following their guidance] there is a guaranteed way of being considered for a course."

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Choosing A Levels

Choosing your a level subjects is a big decision. read our advice on how to decide, whether you know what you want to study at university or not..

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What are A Levels?

Which subjects should you choose, university courses with specific requirements.

A Levels (Advanced Levels) and AS Levels (Advanced Subsidiary) are courses that students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland take after GCSEs. They're the most common qualifications for university admission. Other qualifications include Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers and other alternatives to A Levels .

A Levels are two-year qualifications that give students a chance to study an existing GCSE subject in greater depth or try a completely new subject like Law, Drama or Economics. 

What to expect from A Levels

  • An increase in difficulty compared to GCSEs
  • Differences in the way you’re taught and what's expected from you 
  • More independent study time – you'll only have between three and five subjects to study as opposed to ten or more at GCSE, meaning less time in the classroom

How many A Levels can you take?

Students can take up to five A Levels but you generally choose three A Levels to study for a two-year course. You can decide to work towards AS qualifications or combine the two. Discuss your options with your school or college and find out whether they'll offer both AS and A Levels so you can decide the best route for you. The vast majority of schools and colleges now focus on A Levels, with the one-year AS Level less popular and available.

If you already know what you’d like to study, you can contact the university admissions office and ask about entry requirements for the course(s) you’re interested in.

How many GCSEs do you need to do A Levels?

Most schools and colleges will expect you to have gained at least five 9–4 (A*–C) grades in your GCSEs. However, other pathways are available including BTEC and other vocational courses.

Requirements can vary from four to six passes, so you should check with your school or college. Often you'll need a GCSE at grade 5–6 (B) or above in a subject if you want to continue it at A Level.

GCSEs have also changed in recent years, with most students in England now getting new numerical grades (9–1) and changes to exams, coursework and specifications.

A level students in a laboratory

Take advice from your school careers advisor and university admissions departments so you can make an informed decision based on accurate and up-to-date information. It’s worth asking questions and researching entry requirements for courses at various universities to get a good idea of the subjects you should take.

Things to consider when choosing your A Levels

If you want to go to university, the main question to ask yourself is: 'Do I know what I want to study at university?'. Your answer will dictate which subjects you should choose for A Levels.

It’s perfectly normal not to know what you want to do for a career, or what you want to study at university. Many graduates go on to work in fields unrelated to their chosen degree. However, if you have aspirations for a certain career, you'll need to take a related degree. For example, subjects such as Law, Medicine, Architecture and Veterinary Science will all need specific qualifications.

If you already know what you want to study at university

Knowing what you want to study at university puts you in a good position when choosing your A Levels. Your first step should be to check entry requirements on university websites for your chosen course.

A lot of courses will specify at least one subject you'll need to have studied at A Level. For example, Medicine, Veterinary Science and certain Engineering courses may need three specific subjects. Also some universities publish a list of preferred A Level subjects that are acceptable for general admission, as well as specific requirements for individual courses.

If you don't know what you want to study at university

You may not be sure what you want to study at university, or if you want to go at all. Don’t worry, as it means you can choose whichever subjects you want (within reason) and let that dictate your degree choice should you go on to study at university.

There are eight 'facilitating' subjects listed by Russell Group universities to help you keep your degree options open until you decide which course to take:

  • English Literature
  • Maths and Further Maths
  • Modern and Classical Languages

Generally speaking, taking two facilitating subjects will keep a wide range of degrees open to you. Make sure you still choose subjects you like – you'll be studying them for the next two years.

If you’re still uncertain, phone or email the university admissions or schools liaison team for their advice before finalising your choices.

Other factors to consider when choosing A Levels

  • What you're good at – your career or degree plans may change so make sure you choose subjects you can do well in
  • What you enjoy – if you don’t enjoy a subject at A Level but need it for a specific university course, you might want to reconsider your degree preference
  • Your subject combination – if you're taking a science A Level, for example, you should consider whether you need to look at taking another science or maths subject
  • The syllabus – knowing the course content should tell you whether a particular A Level is the right option for you
  • The workload you can handle – for example, some courses may involve a lot of essay writing, so be realistic about how much work you can do

Course entry requirements are used to help admissions staff at universities pick students for their courses. Many courses will have more applicants than places so they'll set an entry requirement to allow them to reduce the number of students to consider.

Specific course requirements (e.g. Chemistry and Biology for a Biochemistry course) are there to make sure students can cope with the pressures of the course content itself. The majority of university courses look for at least Cs in GCSE English and Maths. Some courses go further and list specific subjects and grades they expect you to have.

Remember that some courses may only consider certain A Level qualifications or accept certain qualifications when taken with another. This will depend on what the university department is looking for.

For example, a History department may be looking for students who can write essays and handle exams, and so might have a preference for A Level or Highers students. If you’re a BTEC student, look out for courses that name specific units you need to pass with specific grades.

Check our subject guides to see if a course might need specific A Level subjects (or equivalent).

Keep in mind

  • Some universities discourage students from taking certain combinations of A Levels – this tends to be for very similar subjects such as Business Studies and Economics, or Maths and Further Maths
  • Core Maths generally isn't a suitable substitute for AS or A Level Maths or Further Maths
  • If you do too many practical or vocational subjects (such as PE, Music Technology, Media Studies, Textiles or Drama), it may limit what you can study at university – some universities include these in lists of 'non-preferred' subjects
  • Highly selective courses such as Medicine may state that A Levels should be taken in the same sitting after no more than two years of study – this can affect you if you're looking to repeat some exams after sixth form or if you’ve taken some exams early

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Choosing A-levels

Choosing A-levels can feel daunting. From how many A-levels to take to how to choose them, we've got the answers to your questions. 

Eleanor Foulds

See what you could study at uni

What are a-levels, what a-level subjects should you choose, what grades do you need to do a-levels, why are a-levels important, can you change your a-level subjects, can you study btecs and a-levels.

A-levels are subject-based qualifications taken in sixth form by students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A-levels take two years and can lead to further study at university, apprenticeships, training or work. 

Most students choose three subjects to study at A-level, although you can do up to five. When you apply to university, most will give you an offer based on three subjects. Many universities exclude general studies, so check the course entry requirements for courses you’re interested in if you’re thinking of taking general studies. 

Talk to your teachers before deciding how many A-levels to take. Bear in mind what you can handle. It’s better to study fewer A-levels and get fantastic grades than to study many A-levels but achieve lower grades. 

Think about your strengths, but also consider what you enjoy studying and what you want to do longer-term when choosing your A-level subjects. If you're not sure what you want to do longer-term, our Career Matcher tool will help suggest some careers that suit your interests. A-levels come with a bigger workload and harder exams than GCSEs, so make sure you’re happy with your choices. 

Use our Career Matcher to find your match now!

Below, we cover the different departments your school might have along with the university courses or career paths these could lead to. Try to pick a variety of subjects to keep your options open and demonstrate your skillset to university admissions tutors and potential employers. 


Sciences don’t just include biology, physics and chemistry, but also mathematics and computer science. Many of them will be familiar to you from GCSEs but there might be some new subjects on offer like sports science, as not all colleges offer this at GCSE. 

If you’re interested in studying medicine, becoming an accountant or pursuing a career in engineering, these subjects will be useful to you. Having these subjects as your A-levels helps to demonstrate your logical thinking skills. 


Humanities include English literature and language, as well as classics, history and geography (though some branches of geography fall under sciences). Some other subjects that fall under humanities include religious studies and philosophy. While at GCSE you’ll have studied both English language and English literature, at A-level these subjects are often taught separately. These are essay-based subjects so be prepared for a lot of writing if you pick one of these. 

Studying humanities at A-level can lead you to a career in journalism, education, marketing and much more. You’ll likely find a bit of overlap between social sciences and humanities, particularly at university level. These subjects are also perfect for demonstrating your critical-thinking ability. 


While most colleges and sixth forms will offer language A-levels such as French and German, some schools might also offer courses in languages including Latin and Japanese. Picking up languages at A-level can be difficult and many schools will need you to have a GCSE or an understanding of the language to study it at A-level. 

Being multilingual or having an A-level qualification in another language is very helpful if you’re hoping for a career in the corporate world and opens opportunities to work as a translator. People who speak multiple languages are associated with having skills such as better problem-solving, and these subjects also demonstrate you have a good memory. 

Social sciences  

The social sciences department usually introduces a lot of subjects that weren’t available at GCSE. This includes economics, psychology, sociology and politics. If you’re thinking about studying international relations at university or if you’re interested in a career in government, then some of these subjects are good choices. 

Social sciences is a very diverse department so these topics are also popular choices for students interested in working in mental health or even something like accounting. Like humanities, these subjects develop your critical thinking, but it wouldn’t be social sciences without needing some logical and rational thinking as well.  

At A-level, arts subjects are often assessed by portfolios, with a smaller focus on exams. Your college may offer art subjects such as graphics, photography, textiles and food tech, as well as art. Many art subjects are more vocational, so they have a clearer path towards careers. 

For example, if you want to be a chef or work in a kitchen, you should definitely consider food tech. These are also good subjects to study if you want to pursue a career in the creative industries, such as working in film or television, as they demonstrate your creativity. 

Of course, this isn’t a complete list of the subjects on offer at A-level, as every school will have different things available. Your school might have subjects such as business, media or drama as well as a mixture of the above. If you know what you want to study at university, or have a career goal in mind, it might be easier for you to pick your subjects. If you’re not sure what you want to do after your A-levels, focus on keeping your options open with a mix of subjects while making sure you play to your strengths. 

Most schools will want you to have achieved five GCSEs with a minimum grade C/4 for each. Your school might have additional requirements to do certain subjects at A-level, for example they may have a minimum GCSE grade in maths if you want to continue studying it at A-level. 

Your school may also accept BTECs or other vocational qualifications. 

Check with your school (or the sixth form you want to attend if you’re changing schools) and make sure you know exactly what grades you need. 

Choosing the right A-levels lets you apply for the university courses you’re interested in. Choose the wrong subjects and you could be losing out on a potential place at uni. While you can go to university no matter which subjects you study provided you get good enough grades, it might affect which courses you can do.  

This may sound daunting but don’t feel overwhelmed. Research universities you might want to study at before you make your final A-level choices. For example, if you want to study a science degree, a university will expect to see some sort of science A-level among your grades. Speak to your parents and teachers at school if you want extra support and advice in choosing your A-level subjects. 

In some circumstances you can change your A-level subjects. Many schools and sixth form colleges will support students to change their A-levels in the first few weeks of Year 12, but this is up to your teachers. The sooner you speak to a teacher about changing your subjects, the more likely it’ll be. 

If you’re studying four subjects in Year 12, you’ll usually be able to drop one of your subjects at the end of the year without worrying about still getting university offers.  

If you decide in Year 13 that there’s a subject you wish you’d taken, it’ll be up to your teachers and the school to decide if you can study it.   

Yes, you can study both BTECs and A-levels and still get into most universities. If you study a 12-unit BTEC, some universities may also want you to have an A-level. 

It’s always worth checking a course’s entry requirements to make sure you can get enough UCAS points to be considered. 


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10 top tips on choosing the best A-level subjects for you

10 top tips on choosing the best A-level subjects for you

One of the most difficult decisions students have to make to achieve their place at a top university is which subjects they should study at A-level.

Every student is an individual. Whilst there is no single recipe for success, it's sensible to choose subjects that demonstrate your ability and develop both your subject knowledge and transferable skills.

Kings personal tutors and UCAS advisors are highly experienced in putting together tailored study plans that ensure a genuinely satisfying academic journey and successful outcomes. Whether you are taking A-levels for the first time, resitting subjects or revising your study plan, we can help you achieve your ambitions.

Here are ten top tips when it comes to making your final subject choices.

1. Do your research

Research which course best matches your interests and the subjects the universities require. If, like many students, you are not certain of your plans for degree, think about which subjects you don't wish to pursue and check which doors that would close.

2. Don't limit your options

It is important to consider both the specific knowledge that you will gain and the skills that you will develop in each subject. The skills are often transferable across multiple disciplines and can therefore keep your options open for degree progression.

Some of the subjects which are requested most often and provide greatest flexibility have been referred to as ‘facilitating subjects’: Mathematics and Further Mathematics, English Literature, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, History, Languages (Classical and Modern). It is worth considering the inclusion of one or more of these subjects within your choices.

The prestigious Russell Group of universities provide a useful website guide Informed Choices which provides guidance on specific pre-requisite subjects for individual degrees and also which degrees students might consider based on the subjects they enjoy and study at A-level.

3. Breadth of subjects is good

It can often be beneficial to avoid significant overlap — for example, taking Economics alongside Business Studies — unless of course you have a specific interest in that area.

4. Follow your interests

Students tend to be better at the subjects they enjoy and this should lead to a more fulfilling future career, but remember that two years is a long time and you might change your mind.

5. Play to your strengths

If you enjoy essay writing and research, then essay-based subjects demonstrate your communication and analytical skills and critical thinking. Science subjects demonstrate logical thinking and reasoning as well as building familiarity with scientific principles.

6. Consider studying a new subject

A-levels open up new subject possibilities, you may find a new area of study you find intellectually stimulating and enjoyable.

7. Know what the A-level course entails

Find out what exactly what you will be studying over the next two years and how the course is structured. Kings will provide advice and guidance but are also flexible, it's possible to change your mind if you start a subject and find it really isn’t the right fit for you.

8. Maths can be a winning choice

Universities value Maths and it is a pre-requisite subject for many degrees. Mathematical and statistical problem solving, data analysis and interpretation skills are used in a broad range of subject areas. If you are capable of achieving good grades it is well-worth considering.

9. Bear in mind that A-levels are more difficult than GCSEs

This may seem obvious but be prepared for a big jump in the focus, level of difficulty and possibly the effort required for each subject.

10. Get advice from the experts

Every potential A-level student should receive tailored advice from their current school, but we are always happy to discuss your subject choices. Our team are experts at helping students achieve their full potential and win their place at a leading university. Our students' results and destinations illustrate our students' success.

Find out more about A-levels at Kings

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Admissions information

Each application we receive is carefully considered on an individual basis, taking into account the full range of information presented on the UCAS application form.

The information below is designed to help our prospective applicants who may have queries ranging from preferred subject combinations, our stance on retakes, and the manner in which we assess the information presented in your application.

As you will see from the application data provided on our individual programme pages , there is a great deal of competition for places at the School. In 2023, we received around 26,000 applications for 1,800 places. This fierce competition for places means that meeting or exceeding the entry requirements does not guarantee that an offer will be made, and every year we unfortunately have to disappoint many well-qualified applicants.

Subject combinations

Introduction As the majority of our applicants apply with A-levels, this guidance is written primarily towards that audience. However, the information contained is relevant to students offering any qualification. If you are unsure how this guidance applies to your qualification, please contact the  Undergraduate Admissions Office . Note that where specific guidance regarding the suitability of a particular subject/subject combination is given on the entry requirements pages of  Information for international students , that guidance supersedes the more general guidance given below. Subject combinations and non-preferred subjects The School considers not only the individual qualifications offered by applicants but also the combination of subjects offered. Individual degree programmes may have specific subject requirements or preferences which are listed in the admissions criteria for each individual programme. We also have a number of general policies, listed below. We consider traditional academic subjects to be the best preparation for studying at LSE. We expect applicants to offer at least two full A-levels or IBDP Higher Levels in these subjects (although typically, applicants will apply with three or four); please see the list below for guidance. Some subjects provide a less effective preparation for study at LSE. We refer to these as non-preferred subjects; please see the list below for guidance. These subjects should only be offered in combination with two traditional academic subjects. Finally, there are a small number of A-levels which are normally excluded from our standard offer; please see the list below. Applicants should offer three full A-levels or equivalent alongside these subjects. Common traditional academic/'generally preferred' subjects:

  • Ancient History
  • Classical Civilisation
  • Electronics
  • English (English Language, English Literature and English Language and Literature)
  • Further Mathematics*
  • Government and Politics
  • Languages: Modern Foreign, Classic and Community**
  • Mathematics
  • Religious Studies

Common "non-preferred" subjects:

  • Any Applied A-level
  • Accounting****
  • Art and Design
  • Business Studies
  • Citizenship Studies
  • Communication and Culture
  • Creative Writing
  • Design and Technology
  • Drama/Theatre Studies***
  • Film Studies
  • Health and Social Care
  • Home Economics
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Leisure Studies
  • Media Studies
  • Music Technology
  • Physical Education/Sports Studies
  • Travel and Tourism

Normally excluded subjects:

  • Critical Thinking
  • General Studies
  • Global Perspectives and Research
  • Knowledge and Enquiry
  • Project Work
  • Thinking Skills

If you would like information about the suitability of a subject which does not appear on these lists, please contact the  Undergraduate Admissions Office .

* See the Mathematics and Further Mathematics section below.

** See Language Qualifications information on the Entry Requirements webpage

*** The Departments of Anthropology, International History, International Relations, Social Policy and Sociology consider Drama and Theatre Studies equally with other generally preferred subjects. Therefore, they will consider Drama and Theatre Studies alongside one other subject from the non-preferred list. However, the majority of departments continue to regard Drama and Theatre Studies as a non-preferred subject.

**** The Department of Accounting considers Accounting equally with other generally preferred subjects. Therefore, they will consider Accounting alongside one other subject from the non-preferred list. However, the majority of departments continue to regard Accounting as a non-preferred subject.

Essay based A-Level subjects:

  • Art History
  • Business Studies 
  • English Literature
  • English Language
  • English Language and Literature (Combined)
  • Environmental Studies
  • Modern Languages
  • Modern Studies

The combination of subjects studied, in conjunction with the level of competition for the programme, may sometimes result in those offering three (or more) preferred subjects being deemed as less competitive by the Academic Selector on the basis of their subject combination.

Overlapping subjects

Many of the undergraduate programmes at LSE are multi-disciplinary and for this reason we consider a broad mix of traditional subjects to be the best preparation for study. A broad academic background will provide the skills to perform well in any of the challenging programmes at LSE. Students offering a narrow range of subjects may be at a disadvantage compared to those offering a broader combination. Examples of narrow subject combinations might be Economics, Business Studies and one other or English Language, English Literature and one other. Please also refer to the subject combination guidance on our programme pages and the Mathematics and Further Mathematics section below.

Core Mathematics

Core Maths is a generic title for a range of different Level 3 mathematical qualifications; it is not a qualification title in itself.

For the qualification titles see below:

  • AQA Certificate in Mathematical Studies
  • City & Guilds Certificate in Using and Applying Mathematics
  • OCR (MEI)* Certificate in Quantitative Problem Solving
  • OCR (MEI)* Certificate in Quantitative Reasoning
  • Pearson Edexcel Certificate in Mathematics in Context
  • WJEC Eduqas Certificate in Mathematics for Work and Life

*MEI: Mathematics in Education and Industry

The key purpose of Core Maths qualifications is to widen participation in the study of mathematics from age 16 and to support the development of mathematical skills for progression to higher education and employment.  The qualifications offer an opportunity for students not studying AS or A-level mathematics to study a Level 3 mathematics course alongside their main programme of study. Core Maths is available to those with grade C/4 or above at GCSE and is based on GCSE content with 25% new material.

Core Maths may add value to an application, similar to the EPQ, in particular where the programme has a specific mathematical content but does not require a specific maths qualification e.g. Psychology or Geography. 

Core Maths cannot be used as a replacement for A level Maths (or equivalent qualifications) for programmes with a maths A level requirement.

Core Maths can be considered as an alternative way to meet the standard LSE GCSE maths requirement (Grade B/6).

Mathematics and Further Mathematics

Some degree programmes at the School are highly mathematical in content and therefore Mathematics A-level or equivalent is a requirement. A number of programmes also require a qualification in Further Mathematics (where available), or consider one helpful. However, the combination of Mathematics, Further Mathematics plus one other subject is considered insufficiently broad for many of our programmes. Please refer to the degree programme pages and/or the table below for details on Further Mathematics and its acceptability for each programme. We are aware that not everyone has the opportunity to follow a Further Mathematics programme and find it helpful if applicants and/or their referees can indicate whether or not the applicant’s school or college offers Further Mathematics classes. For programmes requiring A* in Mathematics A-level, an A* in Further Mathematics in addition to an A grade in Mathematics is an acceptable alternative.

*  BSc Accounting and Finance and BSc Management prefer an essay writing subject but will consider other combinations.

Changes to International Baccalaureate Diploma Mathematics Courses from September 2019

IBO revised their Mathematics curriculum in September 2019, introducing two new subjects ; Mathematics: analysis and approaches  and  Mathematics: applications and interpretation . 

Additional information is available on our Entry Requirements page. 

  • For programmes requiring Further Maths A-level (for example BSc Financial Mathematics and Statistics, BSc Mathematics and Economics)  Mathematics: analysis and approaches at Higher Level   will be   a requirement.
  • For programmes where Further Maths is strongly preferred (for example, BSc Economics, BSc Finance) we would strongly prefer  Mathematics: analysis and approaches at Higher Level however we would still consider both streams for admissions purposes.
  • For other programmes where A-level Maths is a requirement (for example, BSc Management) then either stream at Higher Level would be acceptable.

Test of Mathematics for University Admissions (TMUA)

Which LSE programmes use the TMUA in their selection process?

For these two programmes for September 2025 entry taking the TMUA is mandatory – all applicants are required to take the test.

  • BSc Economics
  • BSc Econometrics and Mathematical Economics

For these eight programmes for September 2025 entry taking the TMUA is recommended but not mandatory – applicants are encouraged to take the test and a good score may make an application more competitive.

  • BSc Mathematics and Economics
  • BSc Mathematics with Economics
  • BSc Financial Mathematics and Statistics
  • BSc Mathematics with Data Science
  • BSc Mathematics, Statistics, and Business
  • BSc Data Science
  • BSc Actuarial Science
  • BSc Actuarial Science (with a placement year)

For more information please see our TMUA guidance .

Given the competition for places and the nature of assessment at LSE, we prefer students who have achieved high grades in their first attempt (and in one sitting) at relevant examinations. If extenuating circumstances have impacted your exam performance, you should include details of these in your application.

Mature applicants

LSE welcomes applications from older students and values the contribution they make to the School community. LSE also has a large proportion of postgraduate students. This means that the student population at LSE is rather older on average than at many other universities; older undergraduates should not feel out of place. Information for mature applicants .

Contextual Admissions

For applicants from the UK who are eligible for Home tuition fees, contextual information is used to gain a more complete picture of the educational and individual context of an applicant. This allows our admissions selectors to assess achievement and potential whilst recognising the challenges an applicant may have faced in their educational or individual circumstances.

You do not need to do anything in addition to the standard UCAS application, your application will automatically have the contextual information added when we receive it.

What contextual information is used?

The following nine pieces of contextual information will be flagged for the attention of the admissions selector:

1. Care experienced (This means you will have spent time living with foster carers under local authority care, in residential care (e.g. a children’s home), looked after at home under a supervision order, or in kinship care with relatives or friends, either officially (e.g. a special guardianship order) or informally without local authority support). This information is self-declared on the UCAS form and verified at a later stage.

2. The performance of the school/college where the applicant took their GCSEs (or equivalent qualification). Specifically, where the school’s or college’s performance is below the national average.

3. The performance of the school/college where the applicant took their A-levels (or equivalent qualification). Specifically, where the school’s or college’s performance is below the national average.

4. The home postcode of the applicant is compared against the POLAR 4 dataset. The Office for Students (OfS) assess how likely young people from different postcodes are to progress to Higher Education. We will flag applicants with postcodes in quintiles 1 and 2 (the 40 per cent least likely to progress to Higher Education). The Office for Students has a POLAR 4  postcode checker  on their website.

5. The home postcode of the applicant is compared against the IMD (Indices of Multiple Deprivation) dataset. We will flag applicants with postcodes in quintiles 1 and 2 (the 40 per cent most deprived areas). The UK Government has this  postcode checker  for English postcodes on their website. For the IMD classification of Northern Irish postcodes see this  postcode checker ; for the IMD classification of Scottish postcodes see this  postcode checker ; and for the IMD classification of Welsh postcodes see this  postcode checker .

6. The home postcode of the applicant is compared to CACI’s Acorn dataset. CACI classifies postcodes according to a range of socio-demographic indicators. We will flag applicants with postcodes in Acorn types 40 and above.

7. Participation in an intensive LSE Widening Participation (WP) programme. We will flag applicants who have completed LSE Springboard, LSE Thrive, LSE Pathways to Law or LSE Pathways to Banking and Finance.

8. Participation in any Sutton Trust Pathways programme at any UK university. This includes Pathways to Engineering, Pathways to Medicine, Pathways to Law (in-person or online), Pathways to Banking and Finance (in-person or online), and Pathways to Consulting online.

9. Where a student is known to have been eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) in the previous six years.

10. Other individual circumstances that may have disrupted or adversely affected an applicant’s education and achievement, as outlined in an  Extenuating Circumstances Form .

How is contextual information used?

Applicants who have been flagged for the attention of the admissions selector will receive additional consideration.The selector may use this information in the following ways:

- to make an applicant a standard offer where the applicant’s academic record (eg, GCSEs/AS levels or equivalent) or personal statement may be marginally less competitive than the cohort overall

- to make an applicant a standard offer where the applicant is predicted marginally below the usual entry requirements

- when making confirmation decisions for offer holders that have marginally failed to meet the entry criteria (usually this means one grade below the standard entry requirements).

Eligible students (students flagged with a home postcode that is classified as POLAR4 Quintile 1 or IMD Quintile 1, as a care leaver, or a participant in a specified LSE WP programme or a Sutton Trust Pathways programme), may be considered for a  contextual offer.  The contextual offer will be one grade lower than the standard offer for the programme (with the exception of LLB Laws, BA/BSc Anthropology, BA Geography, BSc Geography with Economics, BSc Environment and Development, BSc Environmental Policy with Economics, and BSc International Social and Public Policy, where the contextual offer will be 2 grades lower than the standard offer). Any mathematics requirement must still be met. All academic departments are participating in the contextual offer scheme.

The contextual offer grades are listed alongside the standard offer A-level and IB entry requirements on the relevant  programme pages . 

Contextual information is used as part of the holistic admissions assessment and applicants are assessed alongside all other similar applicants, therefore having a contextual flag does not guarantee that an offer will be made.

Information regarding use of GCSE and equivalent qualifications

If you have taken GCSEs or equivalent qualifications, these will be taken into account when we assess your application. All applicants who have taken GCSEs/iGCSEs are expected to have at least grade B/grade 6 in GCSE English Language and Mathematics or the equivalent. For some programmes this may be higher. Exceptions are made for applicants with extenuating circumstances. As competition for places at LSE is intense, we look for applicants who have achieved highly at GCSE (multiple A or A*/8-9 grades), particularly within the context of their school. If you have not taken GCSEs or iGCSEs, you will not be disadvantaged. The assessors will refer to the equivalent qualification in the curriculum that you have studied (if applicable) and consult the information provided by your UCAS referee to gain an understanding of your education history. 

Undergraduate Admissions Assessment (UGAA)

LSE requires students who study certain qualifications to complete the Undergraduate Admissions Assessment (UGAA) before a final decision can be made on their application. Only the most competitive applicants with these qualifications are invited to sit the assessment. Applicants cannot request to sit the assessment and invitations will be sent on a rolling basis from January. Further information about the UGAA

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How to choose A levels or high school subjects

Are you 14 years old, or older, and starting to think about university? We‘re here to help you choose the subjects you should study at school to prepare for studying at Cambridge.

A level and International Baccalaureate (IB) subject combinations you choose to study at high school, sixth form or college could have an impact on what you can study at university.

How many A levels or IB subjects should you take

You should take at least 3 A levels or 6 IB subjects. These are standard entry requirements for most undergraduate courses in the UK.

If you aren’t taking A levels or IB, find out more about the other qualifications that we accept .

If you know which course you'd like to study

Find the course you’re interested in. Take a look at the entry requirements section to see which high school subjects are recommended and which you need to have. You should also check to see what grades we expect you to achieve.

If you aren’t taking A levels or IB, the subject requirements for your course will still apply. For example, if Mathematics is a required subject for your course, we would expect you to be taking an appropriate Mathematics qualification.

If you're not sure which course you want to study

If you want to keep your options open, we recommend that you take A levels and IB Higher level subjects that go well together. Choose subjects that you’re passionate about, and which interest you the most.

It’s good to have some idea of the subject or area you’d like to study at university. This is because arts and humanities courses have different entry requirements to maths and science ones.

Best A level subjects and combinations if you’re interested in arts, social science or humanities courses at Cambridge

Arts, social science and humanities courses at Cambridge include Archaeology , Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic , History , Modern and Medieval Languages , Economics , Education , Music , Human, Social, and Political Sciences , and Law . You can find a full list of courses on our courses page .

We recommend that you choose 2 of these A levels:

  • English Literature
  • a language, such as French, German, Spanish or Latin 
  • Mathematics, which is useful for many courses at Cambridge, including Law

Below are some examples of other relevant A level subjects you could take. Some of these are very important for particular courses at Cambridge.

  • An extra language
  • Ancient History
  • Classical Civilisation       
  • Further Mathematics (if you are interested in Economics )
  • History of Art
  • Government and Politics
  • Religious Studies

Best A level subjects and combinations if you’re interested in Maths or Science courses at Cambridge

Maths and science courses at Cambridge include Mathematics , Natural Sciences (Physics, Biology, Chemistry), Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology , Engineering ,  Medicine  and Veterinary Medicine . You can find a full list of courses on our courses page .

We strongly recommend that you choose 3 of these A levels:

  • Chemistry, which is useful if you want to study Chemical Engineering, Biological Sciences or Medical Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Further Mathematics, which is essential if you want to study Mathematics or Computer Science and very useful if you want to study Engineering, Economics, Chemical Engineering, or Natural Sciences (if you want to specialise in Physics). If your school doesn’t offer Further Mathematics and you live in England, you can join the Further Mathematics Support Programme.

Less helpful A levels and IB subjects

Undergraduate courses at Cambridge are more academic than vocational. Vocational courses are more practical and hands on, while academic courses are more traditional and focus on theory.

If you want to study at Cambridge it’s less useful to choose:

  • Vocational A levels and IB subjects related to a specific profession or career, such as Business, Health, Photography, Performing Arts, Travel and Tourism, and Media Studies.
  • A level Critical Thinking and Key Skills. We don’t count these subjects as an A level, but you could take it as your fourth subject.

If you're not taking A levels or IB

Find out more about the different qualifications that we accept, combining qualifications, and any requirements that you may need to meet.

Check our entry requirements .

Other things to consider

We don’t just look at which A levels or subjects you’ve studied. We look at other things you’ve been doing too, such as extra reading about the subject you’re interested in or taking part in activities related to it.

Find out how to make a great application to Cambridge .

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  • Subjects You Are Ruling Out with your GCSE and A-level Options

essay based subject a level

Making the right choice of GCSEs and A-levels is essential, but it’s rarely an easy decision.

You should also read…

  • How to Choose the Right A-levels: An Expert Guide
  • How to Choose Your GCSEs: Finding the Right Subject Choices for You

To make your decision even harder, you ideally need to be thinking years ahead to what you want to study at university. Some subjects open doors, and by not taking them, you could be limiting your options. If you’re not sure what it is that you want to do in future, ruling out possible options is best avoided. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help you know which subjects you’ll be ruling out by not taking certain subjects at GCSE and A-level.

Image shows a book of Japanese grammar.

Your subject choices at GCSE will have a bearing on what A-levels are open to you, and this usually means that you need the GCSE in a particular subject to carry it on to A-level (this isn’t always the case, though, as there are some A-levels you can do without having the GCSE, such as Psychology or Law ). But GCSE choice can occasionally also have a bearing on what universities are open to you, even though offers are based on A-levels. Modern languages are tremendously helpful in the real world, as well as developing certain academic skills that you won’t pick up from other subjects. This is reflected in the fact that if you don’t take a language at GCSE, certain doors may close for you, or at least be made more difficult. For instance, UCL has a language GCSE requirement for all its degrees; applicants for any of its degrees are required to hold a language GCSE or to take extra classes while alongside their degrees. It’s worth checking the university’s general entrance requirements in addition to those for specific courses, to see whether or not you’re required to have a language GCSE for admission. To make life easier, it’s strongly recommended to take a language at GCSE.

Your choice of A-levels is much more important than your choice of GCSEs, because these are the subjects with which you’ll apply to university. For many subjects – particularly the sciences – most universities have strict entrance requirements when it comes to the A-level subjects they require you to have studied before they’ll accept you onto a particular course.

A general note about science subjects

Image shows a nebula.

Scientific degrees will usually require at least two science subjects at A-level, often the same subject as the degree plus at least one other science subject. While you’ll need the specific knowledge from studying the subject at A-level that you’re aiming to do at university, the scientific skills and mindset you’ll develop from additional science subjects will stand you in good stead. This doesn’t mean, however, that you necessarily have to do all science subjects at A-level if you want to study a science at university; a humanities subject as one of your options would add balance, as it’s an essay-based subject that develops different skills, demonstrating that you’re talented in many areas of academia.

If you don’t take Chemistry at A-level, it’s not just Chemistry degree courses that you’ll probably not be able to get onto. Without A-level Chemistry, you’re also going to find it much harder (if not impossible) to get onto a Medicine or Medicine-related course (such as Dentistry or Biomedical Sciences), for which you’re probably going to need to pair Chemistry with Biology at A-level. A-level Chemistry is also essential if you want to study Biochemistry or Chemical Engineering, and many universities may require it in order for you to study Biology. Some Geography , Geology or Earth Sciences degree courses may require a mix of science subjects, and Chemistry can be one of them.

  • Mathematics and Further Mathematics

Image shows a close-up of a scientific calculator.

As well as being vital for studying a Mathematics degree (or variations thereupon), Mathematics is frequently considered highly desirable if not essential for virtually all science subjects, including Chemistry, Medicine, Dentistry, Biochemistry, Biomedical Sciences, Computing, Geology, Earth Sciences and Engineering . It’s also often essential for Economics, or Business -related degrees, while some science degrees, such as Geography or Psychology, may require additional science subjects, and Mathematics can be one of them. Further Mathematics is, to all intents and purposes, essential for Physics, Mathematics and sometimes Chemistry degrees, and if you don’t have it, you’d likely struggle doing these subjects at university and may end up having to take additional maths classes while you’re there (if you manage to get a place without it). It’s also highly recommended for many Engineering and Computing degrees.

By not taking Physics at A-level, it goes without saying that you’re not going to be able to take this subject at degree level. You’re also effectively ruling out Engineering, and Materials Science. Furthermore, Physics is very useful for Earth Sciences and Mathematics degree courses. Some courses ask for additional science subjects, such as Geography, Biomedical Sciences, Medicine, Dentistry and so on; Physics is an acceptable A-level to take to prove your scientific credentials for these subjects.

Biology (and Human Biology)

Image shows a cactus flower.

As a science, A-level Biology is a good qualification to have as one of a range of science subjects for scientific degree courses. As well as being essential for Biology degrees (which will likely accept either Biology or Human Biology A-levels), it’s highly desirable for Medicine, Dentistry and all Biology-related subjects (such as Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences). Its ideal partner is Chemistry, and many universities are likely to require both for the aforementioned courses. Other science-based degree courses, such as Geography, may require additional science subjects, and this can be one of them; Psychology degrees also have a Biology component, for which Biology at A-level would be useful (it’s unlikely to be a requirement, though).

Most Geography degree courses require A-level Geography, but surprisingly, it’s not always essential. It’s also very useful for Geology and Earth Sciences degree courses, as A-level Geology isn’t usually taught in schools and the Geography course teaches you about the earth processes you’ll learn about at university.

A general note about humanities subjects

Image shows someone writing in a notebook, surrounded by books.

Beyond the fact that universities often require you to have studied the degree subject at A-level (for instance, A-level History for a history degree), the entrance requirements are generally less stringent when it comes to the A-level subjects required for humanities degrees. If you’re aiming to do a humanities subject at university, you’ll need a range of such subjects at A-level. The humanities subjects are generally more essay-based, cultivating a particular set of skills without which you’re not likely to succeed in applying for a university course in one of these subjects. Let’s take a look at the main humanities subjects individually to see what degree courses they’ll particularly help you with.

English Literature, English Language and English Language and Literature

These are three different A-levels, and it’s worth noting that for an English Literature degree, it’ll almost certainly be necessary to have A-level English Literature or A-level English Language and Literature rather than A-level English Language. While essential for English degrees, any of these A-levels will come in useful for other essay-based humanities subjects that involve analysis and interpretation, such as History, Classics and Classics-related subjects and Religious Studies . Any of these English A-levels will also be useful for Foreign Languages, as they all require the analysis of language.

Image shows a painting of the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

Most History degree courses require History at A-level, but not all of them (Oxford University, for example, lists it as “Recommended” rather than “Essential”), so if you don’t take History at A-level, you’re not necessarily completely ruling it out as a degree option. It’s also useful – but not always essential – for other history-related subjects, such as Archaeology, Classical Studies, Music (for the History of Music element of this subject) and History of Art. History is an essay-based subject, so it’s also useful for any other essay-based degrees, such as English.

Foreign Languages

It’s essential to have at least one language at A-level if you want to study any foreign language at university, but they come in useful for other subjects even if they’re not required. If you’re looking to study part of your course abroad, you may also be required to have an A-level in the language spoken in that country. Modern Languages are also helpful for English Language and/or Literature degrees, and, though not a requirement, they can come in useful for a number of other degrees simply because they give you access to scholarship in other languages, which often isn’t available in translation.

Classical Civilisations

Image shows Roman ruins.

Not many schools offer this subject, so you’re not required to have studied it in order to get onto a course in a related subject, such as Ancient and Modern History, Classics or Classical Archaeology. However, if your school does offer it, and you’re thinking of doing one of these subjects, it would certainly provide a useful foundation upon which to build at university. It would also be a relevant A-level to have if you want to study any History degree, though it wouldn’t be essential. As an essay-based subject, it will stand you in good stead for any humanities degree.

Latin and/or Greek

Again, not all schools offer these subjects, so they probably won’t be essential to get onto a Classics course of some kind at university; most will offer ab initio courses for those without them. However, if you don’t have either of these subjects and you intend to pursue one or other of these languages as part of a Classics course at university, you might have to attend a Latin or Greek summer school the summer before you go to university to get you up to speed. Latin or Greek would also be a useful additional language for those wishing to study English or Modern Languages, and it may also prove useful background to History or Ancient History degrees.

Image shows a painter at an easel.

A-level art is either essential or highly recommended for studying an Art-based degree, such as Fine Art , History of Art or Art and Design. It’s a subject that involves making use of your creativity, so you may also find the skills you learn in A-level Art useful for other creative degree subjects, such as Music or Drama.

A-level Music is essential if you want to do a Music degree, and you’ll also need to be proficient in at least one musical instrument. Grade VII would be an absolute minimum, but you’re likely to be competing with students who play at Grade VIII level and above. If piano isn’t your main instrument, it will also be very useful to have Grade V or above in piano in addition to your other instrument.

If you’re not sure what you want to study at university yet

Image shows Bristol university.

Up to now, this article has more or less assumed that you have a rough idea of what you’re going to be studying in the long term. We’ll end with a few words of advice for those of you who currently have no idea what you might want to study at university, so that you can ensure you don’t rule out too many potential choices. In cases like these, your best bet is to keep your options open by taking a mix of humanities and science A-level subjects. If possible, choose at least two ‘ facilitating subjects ’, as these are the subjects most often required, and are the most widely respected. They’re summarised here as:

  • English Literature
  • Languages (Classical and Modern)

To demonstrate as many skills as possible, and keep as many possible course options available to you as you can, try to choose A-levels that each demonstrate different talents rather than choosing two or more that are closely related, such as Maths and Physics. To give you an example, you could choose English Literature, a Foreign Language and Chemistry at A-level with an AS-level in Mathematics. This would demonstrate your essay-writing and linguistic abilities as well as giving you strong scientific skills with two subjects that are frequently required for science degrees. It’s also advisable to pick subjects towards which you feel a natural interest, as you’ll find it easier to succeed in subjects you’re genuinely curious about.

Image credits: banner ; dictionary ; nebula ; calculator ; cactus flower ; essay ; Spanish Armada ; ruins ; artist ; Bristol . 

Undergraduate study

Higher literacy requirement.

Some undergraduate courses require specific GCSE grades in particular subjects. We refer to these requirements as ‘profiles’.

Higher literacy profile requirement

To meet this profile, you need at least a 6 in GCSE English .

If you do not have this grade, you need to meet at least one of the below requirements. We consider these UK qualifications to be equivalent to the specified GCSE grade.

We will also consider non-UK qualifications at an equivalent level. If your qualification is not listed above, you should include your full educational history with your application.

Think Student

The 10 Easiest A-Level Subjects – Ranked for 2024

In A-Level by Think Student Editor May 19, 2019 34 Comments

As a step up from GCSEs, A-Levels can be entirely different from them. This can make it hard to figure out how well a subject might suit you, even if you’ve studied it at GCSE. Seeing how other students have found the course can be a great way of learning more about the courses you can study without having to experience them for yourself.

Continue reading to learn which A-Level subjects students consider the easiest. This article will take you through the rankings and give you some insight into why students may feel that this course is easy.

Be advised. The ranking of the A-Level subjects in this list is not definitive. Every student will have individual strengths and weaknesses, and so will find some subjects more challenging than others. Additionally, judgements about the hardest A-Levels depend on the criteria that it is based on. In this article we have tried to take into account many different factors that make certain A-Level subjects challenging, but still, keep in mind that the list here is formed of opinions which are based on polling. Although you may want to take them into account when choosing your A-Level subject, you should also think about what your specific skills are and what it is that interests you when choosing your A-Level subjects.

Easiest A-Levels: Student Perception vs Pass Attainment Rates

Below you can find the visualisation A-Level subject difficulty rankings (top – easiest, bottom – 11ᵗʰ easiest). Displayed on the chart are both our own internal polling results and our analysis of pass attainment rates (a grade C or above) for the 2022 cohort.

Click a chart legend (colour key) to filter the ranking by specific metric.

(*) Difficulty perception represents the proportion of students who voted that specific subject as the easiest A-Level during our polling. You can learn more about how we collected this data at the end of this article. (**) Pass attainment rates refer to the proportion of students in 2022 who achieved a C or above. This data was collected from both here on Ofqual’s website and the this page from JCQ.

Walkthrough of the A-Level difficulty rankings

This section will explain if there’s a relationship between the easiest subjects and the pass rates as well as explain why students may feel these subjects are the easiest. If you want to have your say, please vote in the poll at the end of this article.

10. A-Level Maths

2.12% of the poll considered A-Level Maths as the easiest A-Level, putting it in 10th place. In 2022, 78.5% of students achieved a grade C or above and 22.8% of students achieved an A*. As the average for all subjects was 14.5% achieving an A*, it would seem that A-Level Maths, really is one of the easiest A-Level subjects as it allows students to do so well.

However, A-Level Maths is also considered one of the hardest A-Levels and on our ranking is in 4th place for the most difficult. As this doesn’t quite add up, it’s important to note that how different students perceive A-Level difficulty is entirely personal and can vary greatly, as shown with this subject.

Students may consider A-Level Maths easy due to there often being restriction on who can take it. This means that students will generally already have very good mathematical skills before even beginning the A-Level.

Due to this, students are quite likely to take other subjects that are considered difficult, such as A-Level Chemistry, A-Level Physics or even A-Level Further Maths. This may mean that they consider it easy in comparison to their other subjects, which are considered difficult . For more on this, check out our article on the most difficult A-Level subjects.

9. A-Level ICT

2.54% of the poll considered A-Level ICT as the easiest A-Level, putting it in 9th place. In 2022, 80.5% of students achieved a grade C or above and 9.6% of students achieved an A*.

The proportion of students getting above a grade C suggests that A-Level ICT is easier than A-Level Maths. However, it is still slightly lower than the average of all subjects, which has 82.1% of students gaining a grade C or above.

Students will often find A-Level ICT easy as a large portion of the course will be coursework. This means that students will have the chance to work towards part of their assessment rather than having to do it all through exams. This can make it easier as students have the opportunity to improve their work and make sure it’s their best.

During A-Level ICT, students learn about presenting information, networks, how ICT is used, database systems and more. While it will be in-depth and complex than at GCSE, students may find this easier as it is still quite straightforward . For more on this, check out this guide by WJEC.

8. A-Level Business

4.66% of the poll considered A-Level Business as the easiest A-Level, putting it in 8th place. In 2022, 83.2% of students achieved a grade C or above and 7.3% of students achieved an A*. This suggests that A-Level Business is one of the easiest A-Levels as the proportion of students who received a C or above is higher than the average.

In A-Level Business, students learn about different business-related areas, such as management, marketing, operations, finance, HR and business strategy. While this includes some theories and calculations, this content is fairly straightforward and easy to apply.

As an A-Level Business student myself, I find that similarly to at GCSE, A-Level Business is largely down to common sense and reasoning in order to answer questions, which makes it a lot easier than other subjects. Also, the exams come with a range of questions and so even if essays aren’t your strong point, you may still be able to bank enough marks on the shorter questions to still get a good grade. To learn more about how A-Level Business is, check out this Think Student article .

7. A-Level Religious Studies

6.78% of the poll considered A-Level Religious Studies as the easiest A-Level, putting it in 7th place. In 2022, 87.6% of students achieved a grade C or above and 12.5% of students achieved an A*. This suggests that A-Level Religious Studies is easier than A-Level Business as more students were able to achieve a grade C or above.

In A-Level Religious Students, students will learn about both a specific religion and the philosophy of religion as well as ethics. Due to this content, students may find A-Level Religious Studies easy as it is straightforward and easy to understand . To learn more about A-Level Religious Studies, check out this page by AQA.

6. A-Level Art and Design Subjects

8.47% of the poll considered A-Level Art and Design as the easiest A-Level, putting it in 6th place. In 2022, 90.3% of students achieved a grade C or above and 18.7% of students achieved an A*. This suggests that A-Level Art, in particular, is an easy subject that allows students to get the top grades as well.

This is likely due to the fact that students who choose A-Level Art or similar subjects are likely to be serious about this subject and very interested in it. This is especially as creating the art portfolio throughout your coursework will take a lot of time and effort.

Due to being something that students enjoy and even find easy themselves, A-Level Art and Design can be considered as one of the easiest subjects as there isn’t any actual content to learn or anything difficult except the actual application of your artistic skills. To learn more about what is studied, check out this page by AQA.

5. A-Level Law

8.69% of the poll considered A-Level Law as the easiest A-Level, putting it in 5th place. In 2022, 71.3% of students achieved a grade C or above and 8% of students achieved an A*.

As these figures are relatively low, it could suggest that A-Level Law is actual more difficult than students perceive it to be. The reasoning for this is unclear, which suggests that it may be a subject that some consider easy and other consider hard.

In A-Level Law, students learn about how the law works, and will study topics including the legal system in the UK, human rights and criminal law. Students may consider A-Level Law easy if they find the content of this straightforward. To learn more about A-Level Law’s content, check out this guide by AQA.

4. A-Level Geography

11.44% of the poll considered A-Level Geography as the easiest A-Level, putting it in 4th place. In 2022, 85.6% of students achieved a grade C or above and 11% of students achieved an A*.

This suggests that it is one of the easiest A-Levels as students performed much better than with A-Level Law and achieved above the average for all subjects. However, as the percentage of students that got an A* is slightly lower than it is for all subjects, it may suggest that getting the top grades is more difficult.

In A-Level Geography, students learn about both physical and human geography, focusing on topics, such as the water cycle, ecosystems and resource security. Due to this, students may find A-Level Geography easy as the content is often quite straightforward and easy to understand . Also, compared to other subjects, there isn’t that much of it, allowing it to be studied in greater depth and in more of a paced way.

Also, like with many humanities A-Levels, part of the course is examined with an NEA. This can make it easier for students as it means that not everything is relying on their final exams .

To learn more about A-Level Geography, check out this guide by AQA. For more information about the A-Level Geography NEA, check out this Think Student article .

3. A-Level Drama

12.50% of the poll considered A-Level Drama as the easiest A-Level, putting it in 3rd place. In 2022, 91% of students achieved a grade C or above and 14.9% of students achieved an A*. This suggests that A-Level Drama is an easy A-Level as so many students were able to do so well in it.

This is likely due to the fact that students who take A-Level Drama already have the basic skills needed to put together performances and to study different pieces, making it easier for them to access the new A-Level content .

Also, A-Level Drama may be considered easy due to the nature of the exams. This is because instead of their only being written exams as there are with most A-Levels, A-Level Drama also has practical exams, which make up large percentages of the assessment.

This may make students feel that A-Level Drama is easy as these students would have picked it due to their interest in the subject and so will likely also be good at the practical side of A-Level Drama . To learn more about how A-Level Drama is assessed, check out this page by AQA.

2. A-Level Film/Media/TV Studies

20.13% of the poll considered A-Level Film/ Media/ TV Studies as the easiest A-Level, putting it in 2nd place. In 2022, 87.5% of students achieved a grade C or above and 6.3% of students achieved an A*. While it is slightly lower than A-Level Drama, A-Level Film/ Media/ TV Studies still has a very high rate of students achieving a C or above, suggesting that it is one of the easiest A-Level subjects.

In A-Level Film/ Media/ TV Studies, students learn about different aspects of media or film/ TV content. This may include learning about the industries these exist in and studying specific aspects in depth, such as magazines or social media in A-Level Media, or studying specific films or TV shows in A-Level Film/ TV Studies.

Due to this, students may consider these A-Levels easy due to the content being straightforward. Also, as students may already be familiar with some of this content due to their wider world knowledge, this can make it even easier.

For more on what is studied in A-Level Media, check out this guide by AQA. For more on what is studied in A-Level Film Studies, check out this guide by OCR.

1. A-Level Sociology

20.76% of the poll considered A-Level Sociology as the easiest A-Level, putting it in 1st place. In 2022, 82.1% of students achieved a grade C or above and 9% of students achieved an A*.

While the figures for the proportion of students that achieved a grade C or above is high, suggesting that it is one of the easiest subjects. The proportion of students that received a grade A* is quite low, especially in comparison to the average of all subject being 14.5%.

This is likely due to students’ perception of A-Level Sociology being easy . This is because if they view it in this way, which clearly many do from even this ranking, some students may not realise how much effort they still need to put in to get the top grades.

In A-Level Sociology students learn about different aspects of society, such as education, crime, culture, poverty, the media and health. While students learn about this with some theory, the rest will be key elements, some of which they may already be aware of.

Due to this, students may feel that A-Level Sociology is easy due to the uncomplicated content. To learn more about A-Level Sociology, check out this page by AQA.

It is important to remember for A-Level Sociology and the rest of these subjects that students may find them easy for different reasons and that the ones suggested here may not apply to all students.

How were these rankings decided?

For each A-Level subject on this list, we discuss both of the following factors:

  • Our findings through student polling (ranking factor)
  • Our research on pass rates (based of Ofqual’s data release)

To prevent the complexity of attempting to combine these, we rank each subject by solely its student polling results. As stated, it isn’t perfect, and students should absolutely be taking these rankings with a pinch of salt.

How was the polling data collected?

Between January 2021 and January 2023, we displayed a poll on this page which prompted readers to vote on which A-Level subject was the easiest. Within this timeframe, we collect 472 votes, excluding submissions that were disregarded from the data set due to formatting issues or other errors.

Listed below are some key limitations of our polling methods that could’ve swayed results:

  • Static ordering of subjects on voting form: A previous iteration of our survey form listed A-Level subjects in the same order each time. It could be argued that this would favour the subjects that were listed at the top. This issue has been fixed in our updated voting form below.
  • Voting form displayed only a subset of A-Level subjects: Previously, only a small selection of A-Level subjects was displayed on the survey. We have since expanded the size of this selection on the voting form.
  • Potential bad actors:  Despite having anti-spam software in place, it is possible repeated entries were made by single individuals. With respect to privacy, we don’t ask for more information than we need and as a result, it is almost impossible to identify submission users to check if they are unique.

This article is a member of a series of A-Level ranking articles listed on this site. If you find our data and analysis within this article helpful, you may also wish to take a look at this Think Student article to find out which A-Level subjects are considered the hardest.

  • Health and Social Care
  • Physical Education
  • Classical Subjects
  • Media/Film/TV Studies
  • Design and Technology
  • Art and Design Subjects
  • Further Maths
  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • English Language & Literature
  • Computer Science
  • Foreign Languages
  • Religious Studies
  • Performing/Expressive Arts


Are these list of subjects under Cambridge or ial edexcel?

Bonnie Burton

I’m sorry but I do OCR philosophy and ethics (religious studies) and it is not easy. Its 80% for an A, there is tonnes of content to learn (depending on your desired grade) and your own opinion gets you nowhere unless you have strong analytic skills (AO2) and good, extensive knowledge and even extra ‘nuanced’ knowledge to reach high grades (AO1). It is laughable to say religious studies is easier than art, film, drama etc.


Hope you are doing well. The problem we have is that there are many other people who contact us with the opposite opinion saying the same things as you, just for different subjects. Therefore, this article is ONLY based off what we have observed from interviewing students. Due to this being an “opinion piece” article, many people will disagree with it and others will agree with it.

That being said, your opinion has been logged and if enough people share your opinion, these rankings will change accordingly.

Guido Rowe

I completely agree, I do AQA RE and I can assure anyone that it is the hardest humanities subject out there. I do Geography (which is in fact fairly easy), History, Psychology and RE. And this is not me being dumb, I am predicted A*s for all my subjects, but RE is BY FAR the hardest.


Oh gosh no! Geography a-level is very difficult! You have to be able to write and argue multiple different opinions and facts, write under time pressure, learns lots of content!


Writing under time pressure and learning lots of content is something all essay-based subjects require


Definitely the easiest course I took. It may be difficult to get the highest grade but it’s equally difficult to fail.


For A level RS you need at least a 45/50 in each of the three two hour papers to get an A star, usually even higher. For example, I believe the 2018 new testament paper had a 47/50 grade boundary for an A star

Yep an A* is just over 90%

The grade boundaries are adjusted based off of how many people get that many marks, meaning that easier subjects have higher grade boundaries, and harder ones have lower grade boundaries. It takes more marks to get the grade because it’s easier to get marks. This isn’t based on the content, it’s based off of how well people actually do.


I think that these grade boundaries and opinions may be formed based on the old modualr specifications which, by admission, were relatively easy. The current grade boundary for an A is around 55% and a pass is 17%. Linear A-Level is a challenging A-Level.


Well James that is utter nonsense, RS is an extremely challenging subject, the content is difficult to grasp and there is a shed tonne of it, unless you have studied it you have no right to comment


I think the problem here is there are different exam boards and different courses for RS. Friends from other schools took other ones from me and they definitely found it easy – and when looking at my course (Edexcel modules: Philosophy of religion, Religion and Ethics, New Testatment), they couldn’t believe how intellectually difficult it was on top of the amount of content and theories etc you have to comprehend – including Kant’s categorical imperative, Hume, Aristotle. I have done a Philosophy degree and can factually say they new A level RS from Edexcel with above modules is like the …  Read more »


its not but alr

Zakia Shahid

how many minimum sujects we need to take to complete A level. how British council can help in teaching the subject? can we give exam from BC without enrolling in any accademic institutions? what is the minimum time we need to study for sitting for exam after enrole ment of name

Andrew Midgley

I am Head of Year 13 at a Sixth Form. This list is potentially very misleading, since many of the subjects it features are much more demanding than the impression given by the author. While it is certainly true that some A levels are easier than others, this list goes against not only the opinions of any student I can think of who has been through our sixth form in the last decade (many of whom struggled greatly with RS in particular), but also with the views of such colleges as Trinity College, Cambridge University, who publish a list of …  Read more »


sorry to bother you but i just wanted to ask how difficult alevel law is?

Alyssa Cara

In my opinion, a-level religious studies should not be ranked as number one for easiest subject. I strongly feel as though the course is filled with many complex and intelligent ideas that you have to know and understand enough to enable you even a average grade.


I don’t think your assessments are accurate

I agree, they are very much incorrect


I had to smile when I saw your number one easy A Level – RE. I never took any A levels, but one of the O levels I took (and failed) was RE. Am I just a dumbo? Well, I got good passes in Maths, Physics, French and English, so maybe not that dumb. I also failed another one of your ‘easy’ subjects at O level – Geography. So I’m going to give you a C- for this list. Ciao.


As an RS teacher I can inform you that it is definitely not the easiest A Level. If only, my job would be far easier but as others have suggested getting 92% on any exam to get an A* is incredibly difficult. This is actually laughable and likely based on some sort of bias by the author, as opposed to actual evidence. If only any subject was based on someone’s opinion alone and a couple of theories. How about more than 100, if done correctly? Thank you though for adding to the nonsense already assumed by students when they take …  Read more »


I see a lot of people quoting high grade boundaries as a reason why a subject is hard; it is, in fact, the opposite. The grade boundaries are adjusted based off of how many people get that many marks, meaning that easier subjects have higher grade boundaries, and harder ones have lower grade boundaries. It takes more marks to get the grade because it’s easier to get marks. This isn’t based on the content, it’s based off of how well people actually do.


Yes, that may be true but by that logic an E in RS can be achieved with 18%, which is good bit lower than quite a few subjects, such as history, geography, psychology, etc. and around the same as Bio. Thus indicating it is difficult by your standards, particularly for weaker or lazy students. So, even by your logic you ultimately are still refuted. Grade boundaries act to level the playing field between subjects to some extent, so at the end of the day just work hard to achieve a good grade in a subject you love.

James Johnson

Yeah no, I do Law and trust me it isn’t easy, this is biased and you have no proof whatsoever if these A levels are easy since I doubt you actually took them all and don’t even get me started on how some other learn. Depending on the person it could be hard or easy deciding on their rank of learning like one person might find religious studies easy but the other won’t (might I also add religions are associated with ethics and philosophy but I dont see them on the list so it doesnt add up). Everyone has their …  Read more »


As an RS and Geography A-Level teacher I suspect there must be some bias from the author. It is misleading to suggest that all you need in RS is ‘an opinion’. I’m not sure whether they have actually looked at the extensive specification, or the extremely low grade boundaries (indicative of a difficult subject). I suspect that they may be referring to the old modular exam which was, by admission, relatively easy.

Another RS teacher

I agree with you. As another RS teacher I think the author must be referrring to the old specification. The new one is demanding, the subject is less than easy.

Your claim does not seem to have any supporting evidence as you point out. The Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University stated that the old RS spec was ‘in the middle difficulty range, similar to Geography and more demanding than English’. This was replaced in 2016 with a more robust course which many students find challenging. I am just asking for fairness here as you are simply wrong. Have you studied the A level yourself?

Very insightful comment, thank you


‘Most of A-Level Religious Studies is your own opinion and ability to voice that opinion’ I think youre confusing A level with GCSE, have you looked at the A level Spec? Good luck trying to blag your way through comparing and critically analysing the strengths and weaknesses of various philosophical and theological thinkers such as Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Descartes, Fletcher, etc, armed only with your own opinion!

this is so true!!!!!! don’t forget about GE Moore, John Locke, Irenaeus, Skinner, Jeremy Bentham, Freud, Hume, William James, Augustine and so many more!!!


If anyone just so happens to read this comment please don’t use this article as a reason to do A level Geography!!! As someone who does A level geography, maths and biology I can say without a doubt that Geography is my most difficult by far! There’s about 16 case studies in total (which in an exam you’re expected to be able to write 3+ sides in 18mins) and the whole exam is extremely rushed compared to any other exam I’ve ever done. The case studies don’t even form half of the exam 🙁


A Level Drama easy? You have got to be kidding. 3 Hour written exam – yes, you can take in the scripts, but they must be clean copies, so no notes. Two 3000 word pieces of coursework/exam work One devised performance in the style of a recognised practitioner, who’s socio-economic and historical background you need to know and techniques you need to apply. One scripted performance with the same demands. You also have to negotiate your way through all the group work. So if you are a performing Psychologist/Sociologist with an understanding of economics and history, with the innate ability …  Read more »


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