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A level subject choices and UCAS

Uploaded by maxtheA | Jun 8, 2008 | UCAS Personal Statements
maxtheA asks:

I'm a young aspirant (still in GCSEs years) who needs some advices on choosing best A-levels subjects for Business-Related Careers and about the UCAS Personal Statement.

I know that I'm still in my Year 11 and you may suggest that I'm still young for this matter (as what my PA said to me). However, I'm bit confused at the moment because of the 'soft' A-levels that the Russell Group had published. I decided to take Business studies, Economics (through distance learning), Mathematics and ICT or Product Design for my A-level next year, but I think I have to change my chosen subjects due to the fact that some of my chosen subjects are in the list of the Russell Group as unsuitable or 'soft' A-levels. So, my problem is : ' What subjects should I take in A-levels to get into a Business Degrees in a top Universities like LSE?'

I am really passionate on studying business-related subjects like management or business administration, and so I am preparing myself to be qualified to get into top universities.

Also, about the UCAS Statement (which I will write 2 years from now), is it an advantage to have 6 A*s in GCSE? Because I only have 3 predicted A*s. Would this undermine my UCAS Statement to study at LSE though I only took GCSE for a year (I only arrived here last year)?

English is not my first language and my teachers from our school said that I'm doing well even though I only took GCSEs for a year. I even learned some of the subjects by reading and have to adapt quickly in an environment where the pressure of education is vast.
Thank you very much!
God Bless!

P.S. what’s the different of Further Mathematics with Maths? Thanks ?

etutor answers:

From what you say I don't know if you are an overseas (i.e. non EU) student. If you are, then of course you are required to pay full tuition fees, which is a significant advantage at Russell Group universities, since they receive a much greater income. Hence their grade requirements for overseas students are generally lower - including at the LSE. Otherwise, don't expect any grade offers below ABB for the Business courses; AAB, and even AAA, are much more likely.

But I'll assume that you are a home (i.e. EU) student. It is never too early to be thinking about your UCAS application and Personal Statement, so I don't agree with your PA ! In general, Russell Group universities, wherever competitive subjects are concerned, tend to look for a minimum of six A grades at GCSE, though they don't all have to be A stars. If you can achieve A stars in both Maths and English, that is a distinct advantage. You wilol of course need to ensure that your referee makes it clear on the form that you only had a year to study for your GCSEs. He/she should also make it clear that English is not your first language though, judging from what you have written here, your command of English is excellent. As you are in Year 11, I assume you are sitting your GCSEs at this present time, and so the question about subjects refers to your choice of As levels for next year.

You are certainly right about 'soft' A levels. Indeed, many of the Russell Group include Business Studies in this category. They would normally see Economics A level as a far more robust preparation for a degree course in Business Studies/Management than Business Studies. It is unusual too, and generally inadvisable to study BOTH Economics and Business Studies at A level, since admissions tutors tend to believe (in my view quite wrongly) that there is a considerable overlap between the two. And the fact that you mention distance learning suggests that your school/college doesn't offer Economics as an A level subject?

Maths is absolutely critical, so you must certainly choose it. If you can cope with Further Maths as well, then it is the ideal subject choice, though be warned it is very considerably harder than Single Maths, as I know from my own experience! You'll need to take tutorial advice on this - essentially if they say you are a cert for an A grade in Single Maths, then Further Maths is on the agenda. If not, forget it, as it will be a constant struggle.

ICT as an A level isn't too bad a choice, though many of the Russell Group won't be impressed by it. Product Design is a complete non-starter. Anything in the Design area is, rightly or wrongly, regarded as a soft option.Indeed the same tends to be true of any subject ending in 'Studies'. History is very well regarded, and would be a much better bet. Your ideal four would e Single Maths, Further Maths, Economics and History. You could substitute ICT for the Further Maths if you're not up to it.

Good luck in your exams. I do hope this advice is helpful, though I recognise it may not all be what you want to hear. Do come back to me if you have further questions.

1 student responses



Yes, you are right!  I'm going to study Economics next year through distance learning because our school doesn't offer it. Also, I am really interested in this subject which is why, in my point of view, I'm taking a gamble cause I'll study this subject independently and I will only meet my tutor once a week. In addition, I am really worried because if I messed this up, my dream to study at top unis will be over. Moreover, is A-level Economics hard to study? Nonetheless, I'm very optimistic with my future and my teachers commented that I can do it because I am a 'workaholic'.

I am an overseas student at the moment but after 3 years of stay here in UK, I think I will be a home student (and this would really help me because the costs of tuition fees in universities are very costy).

About the subjects that you have suggested, I will study the four subjects (Futher Maths, Single Maths, Economics and History) but my teacher said that I will only take AS Further Maths because I'm the only one taking the subject next year. But if I did well in my AS Further Maths next year, there is a possibility that  I will study A2 and drop my weakest subject (though there is a chance that Further Maths will be my weakest subject - but I hope it will not be).

Thank you very very much! And your advice is really helpful!

More powers!  


P.S. how do I reply to your advice? Should I just post it in the response box or post it again as an 'Ask an Etutor'?

responded Jun 12, 2008 5:43:17 PM BST
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