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Three in 10 uni applicants regret A-level choices

A-level decisions could impact later degree options


Three in 10 university applicants wish they had chosen different A-level subjects, according to new research from Which? University.

In our poll of more than 1,000 UK students aged 19 and younger, 28% wished they had chosen different A-level (or equivalent) subjects for the degree courses they applied to.

In hindsight, four in 10 (41%) of those surveyed felt they should have given more thought to which subjects would help them get into university.

Which? University, our free website to help with university choices, has launched a new A-level Explorer tool to give students a preview of where different A-level combinations can take them.

Impact on degree options

A-level choices can have an impact on what degree courses a student can apply to, with some courses requiring specific A-level subjects, and some universities not accepting certain subjects.

However, three in 10 applicants felt that the advice they received at the time didn’t take into account the impact on these later choices.

In fact, less than half (41%) were aware that in some cases, universities view certain A-level subjects less favourably than others.

Which? University’s Alex Neill said: ‘Students know that choosing what to study at university is an important decision. However, our research shows that they are less clear about how earlier decisions could impact on the degree options available to them.

‘While certain A-levels might suggest a particular degree path, our tool shows there are usually alternative options students can take. It’s important that students choose their A-levels with both degree courses and future careers in mind.’

Match A-levels to degree subjects

Which? University’s Explorer tool lets GCSE students mix-and-match different A-level subjects to see what students studying similar combinations went on to study.

Dan French, who is applying to study at University of Salford in September, said the tool ‘is great for GCSE students, especially for students who know they want to go to university but haven’t quite yet figured out what they want to study. It helps them see and understand all their possible options for the future.’

Dan has shared more of his story, via a letter to his younger self, over on Which? Conversation.

A-level students can also use the tool to discover degree ideas, including unexpected subjects they may not have known were possible.

Choosing the right A-levels is a crucial first step in the university application journey – see our dedicated A-level advice section over on Which? University for help and tips on making the right decision.

The poll was conducted by Youthsight on behalf of Which? between 12-15 February. Data were weighed to be representative of gender and school type.

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