Welcome to this series of blog posts titled ‘5 Top Tips’. Here you will find the most up-to date information and insider tips to best supplement your preparation for your future career in healthcare.
Choosing your A-Levels:
To start off, we begin early on in your journey. You have just completed your GCSEs and are armed with an impressive set of results ready to embark on what may be the most challenging, but most rewarding 2 years of your life thus far. Don’t worry if you have not achieved the results that you had hoped for in your GCSEs, there is still time to make a big change.
This next period is your A-Levels. Your A-Levels are a great way to gain a deeper understanding into subjects that interest you. The advantage is that you study fewer subjects than you did at GCSE level, enabling you to spend more time on the subjects that you select. This helps you explore and develop your interests, and gives you an insight into areas you may consider for further study at university. Your A-Levels will also have an important role in determining which degree courses you can apply to, and whether you get into the university of your choice. At the age of 16, it may seem quite daunting to make this decision as it will impact the rest of your life. Thus, make sure you take your time and reflect on your own goals and abilities before selecting you’re A Level subjects. Use these 5 top tips as a guideline for the things you should consider when making this choice.
Your 5 Top Tips:
Tip Number 1: Look at the A-Levels your chosen course and/or university requires
If you have already decided that you wish to pursue a specific career in healthcare, and have a specific degree in mind (e.g. Midwifery or Dentistry), then make sure you explore a range of different universities that provide the course of your choice. Some universities have particular A-Level subject requirements that you must take in order to study the degree with them. For example, Imperial College London require you to have taken A-Levels in Biology and Chemistry in order to study Medicine, however, to study at Bristol Medical School you must have A Levels in Chemistry, and then a second one in either Biology, Physics or Maths; and the third subject is up to your discretion. These requirements are with good reason, since you need to have good foundations in these sciences in order to progress in your healthcare career.
If you are interested in healthcare but are not sure which degree to choose, then look at Tip 5 for some further guidance!
Tip Number 2: Choose subjects that will help you in your degree
The previous tip told you to choose A-Levels that are necessary for your degree, the second tip is to choose A-Levels that are not essential to enter your chosen course, however, will be very helpful for your degree. For example, if you are considering a degree in Nursing, usually there are no specific subject requirements. However, some universities do prefer that you taking a science A-Level as this helps you obtain a good grounding in basic health sciences. If you are considering Mental Health Nursing or becoming a Psychologist, it may be helpful to study Psychology at A-Levels, despite it not being an entry requirement, in order to further your knowledge and understanding in the field.
Tip Number 3: Choose subjects that you enjoy and are good at
Whilst it is very important to fulfil the entry requirements of your chosen degree, you MUST enjoy the subject you decide to study. This is equally as important if not even MORE important, as your passion for the subject is what is going to keep you going when it gets tough. When you approach exam season, or when you come to a topic that is difficult, your enjoyment of the subject will enable you to push yourself even further and continue. Not to mention, if you enjoy what you are studying, you are more likely to spend more time on it, and this is linked with better performance in exams.
Tip Number 4: Choose what employers find attractive
It is very rare that a university has a requirement for all the three A-Levels you take. Usually the third and sometimes the second A-Level is up to your discretion. When choosing this A-Level, make sure you enjoy the subject, but you may also consider the skills that employers may look favourably towards. For example, A-Levels such as Maths can demonstrate a good level of analytical and problem-solving ability – these are skills that are transferrable across a wide range of degrees and professions. A language A-Level is also a good way to show a potential employer your competence in good communication skills.
Tip Number 5: Choose subjects that are ‘flexible’
The final tip is to consider subjects that are ‘flexible’. For example, it maybe that you are starting your A-Levels and you like the idea of a career in healthcare but have not yet decided on the specific university course you would like to apply to, or you may wish to keep your options open. In such cases, make sure you explore the choices available to you with your teachers and your career advisors at school. Do also speak to your family and friends to explore their thoughts and advice.
In these circumstances it makes good sense to choose A-Levels that do not limit you in the future, for example, if you are considering becoming a dentist, but also like the idea of economics, it may not be a great idea to take all maths related A-Levels without any science subjects because then if you later decide on pursuing dentistry, your application may not meet the minimum subject requirements.
We provide a free course called ‘An Introduction to a Career in Healthcare’ which may help you in making your decision. The course will help you identify your areas of interest and guide in towards making a personalised plan to achieve your healthcare career goals.
We hope this guide helps you when deciding what A Levels to study. Good luck in making your choice, we wish you all the best!