Are some A-level subjects better than others?

The Telegraph has an article looking at whether some A levels are a better choice than others in term firstly of whether some are more likely to result in higher grades and secondly if some are thought more highly of by, for example, universities and employers. Here are some extracts from the Telegraph…

Choosing A-levels should be relatively straightforward. In an ideal world, students would simply pick the subjects they most enjoy and where their abilities lie.

But, as thousands of Year 11 students are finding as they make their selections around about now, the reality is not so clear-cut. On top of their own interests and aptitudes, they also have to take into consideration two other key factors: whether they are more likely to get a higher grade in some subjects than in others, and whether some subjects are viewed more favourably than others. In short, are some A-levels “better” than others?

On getting higher grades the article says…

Research by academics at Durham University, however, suggests that there are some real discrepancies. By comparing A-level results between subjects, the researchers found that it appeared to be harder to get higher grades in maths, the sciences and modern languages, for example, than in business studies, drama and English.

On some subjects being preferred it says…

For years, parents and teachers have suspected some universities of operating unofficial “blacklists” of subjects that are not considered suitable preparation for a degree course. To try to bring some transparency to the system, in 2011 the Russell Group of 24 leading universities published a list of what it called “facilitating” subjects that provide a good preparation for a wide range of degree courses. These are maths and further maths, the sciences, languages, English literature, geography and history.

In its “Informed Choices” document offering advice on A-level combinations (russellgroup.ac.uk/informed-choices), the group emphasises that students can still get into one of its universities if they choose other subjects, but that it can be a good idea to take at least one from the list. “It’s a good rule of thumb that taking one or two facilitating subjects will leave a wider range of degree courses and career options open to you,” says the group’s director general, Dr Wendy Piatt.

It concludes with a quote from Mike Griffiths, head teacher of Northampton School for Boys and president of the Association of School and College Leaders…

“The best option is to pick fairly secure subjects that people know are well-regarded by universities, but not to the exclusion of everything else,” he adds. “It is a balancing act between what you are interested in and how it is going to lead to the next thing.”

More, including lists of subjects viewed less favourably by LSW and Trinity College Cambridge, the first to offer them, at:  Are some A-level subjects better than others?

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