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Students inadvertently limiting their uni options

Which? University reveals impact of A-level choices

Teacher and student in conversation over A-levels

Students are unintentionally narrowing their university choices because of the subjects they’re choosing to study at A-level or equivalent, new Which? University research reveals.

More than a third of university applicants (36%) wished they’d thought more about what might help get them into university when choosing A-levels, or would have chosen different A-level subjects for the degree subject they’re applying for, our survey of 799 applicants aged 19 and under found. 

Which? University is the free website from Which? that helps students make informed university decisions, and features expert advice on making A-level choices that’ll keep university options open.

A-level subject choices

A quarter of applicants surveyed (23%) said that they weren’t aware when choosing their A-levels that some universities have views on ideal combinations or have ones which are ‘non-preferred’. 

One in five applicants said that they found their university options were limited or some universities didn’t accept some of the A-levels they took.

Last month, Which? University revealed students’ top motives for going to university.

Making A-level choices 

If you or your child is making A-level choices, here are some top tips to help ensure you don’t limit your university options later down the line:

  • Choose a mix of ‘facilitating subjects’: if you’re unsure about what you want to study at uni yet, you can keep your options open by selecting the most commonly asked-for subjects in university entry requirements, known as ‘facilitating subjects’. These are the sciences, English, maths, languages, history and geography.
  • Check university websites: if you’ve got an idea of the subject you want to study, review the entry requirements for a handful of different university courses. Do they mention any essential or useful subjects? Some university websites will also specify ‘non-preferred’ A-level subjects and combinations.
  • Pick subjects you enjoy: while it’s important to factor in universities’ views when making your choices, you have to be prepared to study these subjects for the next two years – so above all, make sure they’re subjects you enjoy. Many unis and courses will consider you whatever you choose.

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