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Information Letter



There are very few career pathways that require more than one or two specific A Levels or BTEC subjects.  Generally, universities and other career routes only require one of your A Level or BTEC Subjects to be in the field you wish to pursue.  There are only a few key competitive fields that require specific combinations of subjects:

Medicine (Doctor/Surgeon) or Dentistry

Biology and Chemistry.  Some universities only ask for these two, other ask for Physics or Maths also.  Generally, all universities expect a 4th A level of your choosing to show breath of study and communication development.

Nursing/Paramedic and other careers in Healthcare can be reached through BTEC Health and Social Care or the A level Route, with only Biology as the specified A Level.


English and/or History is a must.  Drama is often well revered although not specified, due to communication, research and character skill development.


Biology, Chemistry, or another academic science-related subject (Physics, Mathematics, Geography, Psychology)


Entirely depends on which faction of engineering you wish to study.  A science subject is usually required, some universities also ask for Maths, or Graphics or Art/Design based subject.  Further Maths is also desirable depending on which area you wish to specialise.  Usually TWO of your A levels will needs to be STEM based subjects.


One science and/or Maths and a Design/Art based subject.

With these career pathways, typical offers at universities are in the realm of A*A*A-AAB.  Engineering does come down to some offers at BBC in less competitive areas.

All other pathways only really require one of your subjects to be in the area of your specialism.  In addition, there are some subjects that do not require any specific A levels. For example, students have gone on to do Criminology with 3 A levels in BTEC Media.  Some universities do not even require A levels in the subject – University of Brighton accepts the BTEC in Performing Arts Extended Diploma (worth 3 A Levels) to read History.  

Some courses may be more helpful to you to build skills you will apply in your career pathway or university course, but your selection of A Levels and/or BTEC MUST be a personal one, that builds on your strengths, highest point score at GCSE and natural aptitude

A Leve 9 at GCSE equates to an E at A level, so the leap is vast.  You will need to select subjects you are strongest at to cope with the leap at A Level and give yourself the best chance of achieving the highest possible grades.  PLEASE NOTE- your priority questions should be:

  • What am I best at?
  • What do I enjoy the most?


Whatever you are considering RESEARCH all possible career pathways to learn what subjects you might like to take at Post 16.  GOOGLE “What subjects do I need at A Level to be a…” and you will find an array of answers.

They key is to keep your options OPEN, allow yourself time to change your mind and grow as an individual.

If you follow these guides you will stand the best chance of succeeding and exceeding your potential.



I want to go on to open my own business so I will need Business Studies

No.  ANY subject will allow you to progress to building your own business. Your success is more likely if you have an area or field of interest that you can specialise in to be your commodity.

I need Psychology to do Psychology at University

Not at all.  You need one science and one literary subject such as History, English, Drama or Sociology to study Psychology.

“There’s no point doing a creative subject, as it’s not a very lucrative field for careers.”

The Creative Arts (design, art, media, performing arts) offer the most varied and diverse progression routes and employment in these fields has a vast amount of employment opportunities.

“I don’t have to do amazingly well at GCSE as I just want to go on to do an Apprenticeship”.

There many kinds of Apprenticeships.  Lower end Apprenticeships require Level 5s in English and Maths as well as other good level GCSEs.  However, Higher Level Apprenticeships can ask for AAB at A Level.

“BTECs are not as good as A Levels.”

Whilst A Levels offer highly academic and linear based learning and assessment, BTECs ARE academic as well as vocational.  FACT:

More students go on to Russell Group Universities through BTEC courses than on A Level.

“I’m just going to pick sport/Drama/Dance/Art/Music/Media as it’s easy; it’s practical and you won’t get much written work.”

NO subject is easy if you wish to go for a Merit/C or above.  Anyone who says a subject is “easy” is not completing their course with the highest integrity and this will show in their results.  ALL practical courses have written and academic aspects which are demanding and challenging.