The Truthful A-level Subject Review Part 1 – Lucy Dixon
As GSCE assessments are coming to an end, and the A-level subject decisions are beginning to be made, here’s a truthful review of the A-level subjects from the current Year 12’s:
Maths is definitely an interesting subject, which consists of a lot of practice questions in order to progress and do well. Revision is a lot easier without having to produce a lot of flashcards and notes with the main form of revision being practice questions. If you’re not a fan of lecture style lesson Maths is definitely a subject which may appeal to you, yet you must pay attention and not drift into the sea of equations which face you, otherwise you won’t understand the topics. Although a huge step up from GSCE level Maths, it builds off existing GSCE knowledge, proving to be useful as a basis. The exams are relatively long and when in the exams it can be really easy to mess up at the start of the questions, losing all the marks for that question.
Bio as an a-level can go one of two ways: a walk in the park or hell. Now the direction in which bio goes, is really dependent on you. If you read ahead making notes ahead of the lesson, you go in being able to answer all the questions and get to feel like you’re the cleverest person in the room. However, if not, you sit at your desk, head buried in your hands wishing the lesson to be over. There is a lot of content and new words to add to your vocabulary, but the practical’s do make up for it.
TIP: The multiple-choice questions are harder than you think!
Media is definitely a good choice if your slightly unsure of what subjects to take, it’s really enjoyable and easy to pick up, even if you didn’t take it for GSCE. I think the biggest pro is that it only has one exam, and if you’re not happy with the result, guess what… you can retake it multiple times! The course consists of mainly coursework, which means you must stay focused and up to date with all your work, and make sure that its good because it can be used your portfolio. Theres many different options to study , from film to magazines, so can be relevant to your favored topic. Although this subject is a BTEC it is still accepted by most universities and is a great qualification to have.
If you like writing or typing lots of notes, business would be a practical subject for you, it consists of a lot of lecture style lessons, making notes for all the relevant information due to it not being a particularly practical subject. When completing projects, it is enjoyable and interactive and is beneficial as it can be applied to real life businesses and situations. It’s a subject which can really help later in life, even if you do not want to run your own business, it gives an insight into how other businesses work alongside financial help. Although, it is very time consuming so make sure you have enough time to make all your notes, in lesson as well as outside the lesson.
Economics is something you will not have studied before therefore cannot rely on old, existing knowledge from your GSCE’s, it’s something which you must be willing to learn. Econ is a subject in which you have to actually enjoy in order to engage and grasp the subject. The course is full of graphs, whether drawing, explaining or purely just understanding them. If you’re not certain about taking it or are considering it as a choice to fill in an empty option block, it might not be the best option, due to the dedication, and enjoyment needed to engage with the subject.
A-level English Literature
Focusing on dystopias, comedies, lesser known Shakespeare and poetry, A-level English literature is very different from GCSE English lit. Rather than analysing quotes and certain characters, we look at interpretations of the works and the context behind it. This means that it is a lot different from GCSE work and can be an initial shock when you get your first essay back (I did not do well). After practise and using feedback to improve it is relatively easy. One bonus is that we finish covering the set texts by Christmas of Year 13, which gives a good amount of time for detailed exploration of context and refinement of exam technique. One thing that I would suggest is that you have an interest in books and literature, as that will make life a lot easier.
Chemistry is a subject requiring blood, sweat and tears, mainly tears. My raw account of my first year of chemistry is rough, it has been very difficult and is not for the faint of heart. The amount of work you have to put in feels gargantuas and an uphill slog and it doesn’t come easy to most. If you allocate a large amount of time to chemistry and are dedicated to it then it shouldn’t be so hard but you’ve got to hit the ground running with a subject like this and summer preparation and full utilisation of your spare time is not to go unnoticed. It’s not all doom and gloom I promise, chemistry is really fun and has lots of cool practicals, my class is a laugh and it’s really great to have a small class because you get more attention. Essentially don’t make the decision to take chemi lightly but throw yourself in wholeheartedly if you do choose it and it will be worth while.
I wouldn’t let these reviews dishearten you from choosing any of these subjects, they’re all so interesting and all A-levels require a lot of work (not just chemistry!).