Best A Level Combinations


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What are the best A Level combinations?

It can be hard to know which subjects to select for A Level, but it is important to select a set which complement each other, will be useful for your future aspirations, and that you enjoy.

Whilst university may seem a long way off, it can be really useful to research where and what you might like to study, and “work backwards” to inform your choices of A Level subjects. Many courses will have subject-specific requirements, so it is vital to take these into account to make sure you do not close off options later on.

If you are really not sure what field you would like to progress to after A Levels, a good strategy can be to select subjects which complement the subject you enjoy the most. You should also take into account what you are good at; don’t choose English Literature if you don’t enjoy lots of reading for example!

Below, you will find some suggestions for combinations of subjects depending on your future area of study or interest.

Best A Level Combinations for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths)

A Level Combinations for Core Sciences - Biology, Chemistry, Physics

Any combination of sciences and maths will work well for a core science subject at a higher level. Maths generally helps with the study of these at A level, but if you are unsure about selecting it, look at university websites to see if it is essential or not for your particular course of interest.

Consider a set similar to:

  • Physics, Chemistry, Maths

  • Biology, Chemistry, Maths

  • Physics, Maths, Computer Science

A Level Combinations for Maths

Maths is obviously essential to study the subject at a higher level. Some courses may or may not require further mathematics to be studied. As maths is such a versatile subject, it can be paired with many other options, sometimes even essay or language bachesed subjects if you have a strength there.

Pairing it with complementary subjects however can keep your options open for other courses in engineering or sciences.
Depending on the specific rules in your place of education, selecting Further Maths may mean you can select four subjects in total. If only taking three, a potential downside can be that Further Maths makes your options too narrow, for instance Further Maths, maths, and Physics is a very specific field.

Consider a set similar to:

  • Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry

  • Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Computer Science

  • Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry, Biology

  • Maths, Further Maths, Biology, psychology

  • Maths, Further Maths, Physics, french

A Level Combinations for Engineering

For engineering, maths is the most essential subject. Other elements and skills from across Physics, Chemistry and Biology will also be relevant depending on the specific field of engineering you are interested in. 

Consider a set similar to:

  • Maths, Physics, Chemistry

  • Maths, Chemistry, Biology

  • Maths, Physics, Computer Science

  • Maths,Further Maths, Physics, Computer Science

More information: Best A Levels for Engineering

A Level Combinations for Computer Science

Computer Science itself is highly recommended for studying the subject at degree level, however you may find that some courses and universities deem it not essential, and place more emphasis on maths. It is worth researching this for the specific courses and universities you are thinking about. Maths however, is usually a requirement.

Consider a set similar to:

  • Maths, Computer Science, Physics

  • Maths, Computer Science, Chemistry

A Level Combinations for Psychology

Studying psychology at university level typically relies on a diverse set of A level subjects, due to its multidisciplinary nature. Although psychology A level itself is often well-regarded, it's not always required; universities typically look for a mix of science and humanities subjects, demonstrating the ability to analyse, reason and communicate effectively. Popular choices include Biology, sociology, mathematics, and English, but a variety of A level subjects can be accepted. Some courses may require at least one science subject (e.g., Biology, Chemistry, Physics, maths, or psychology), so it is advisable to research individual university course requirements carefully. It's also worth considering subjects that provide a good basis for the skills required in psychology, such as statistics within mathematics for understanding research methods.

Consider a set similar to:

  • Psychology, Biology, Maths

  • Psychology, Sociology, Biology

  • Psychology, Law, English

A Level Combinations for Architecture

Selecting A levels for a qualification in architecture is about demonstrating a balance between creativity and technical ability. Art & design, or design & technology, can help to showcase your creative thinking and practical skills, whilst mathematics and Physics can demonstrate evidence for your technical, analytical and mathematical modelling skills. These are all important in architecture.

Some universities may require you to have a particular A level, often art or mathematics, so it's key to check the specific course requirements of the universities you're interested in. If you have a particular interest in the technical aspects of architecture and materials, then further mathematics, Physics or Chemistry can be very useful. Alternatively, humanities subjects like History or geography can help your understanding of architectural contexts and the environment. You should also expect to present a portfolio of your work to universities, similar to arts courses. It is important to consider this as early as you can, to help build up a collection of work that demonstrates your skills.

Consider a set similar to:

  • Mathematics, Physics, Art & Design

  • Mathematics, Physics, Design & Technology

  • Art & Design, Design & Technology, Mathematics

A Level Combinations for Medicine

Medicine is a highly competitive university course with specific entry requirements that are not based on UCAS points. Chemistry, at a minimum of grade A, is always required by course providers due to the transferable applications of many concepts and ideas. Biology, at a minimum of grade A, is often required due to the understanding of the human body and its biochemical processes. A third subject is required but this varies by course provider, with some having a specific requirement whilst others will accept a non-science subject. The most common third subjects are Physics or maths due to their application of logic and processes. Alongside significant work experience, prospective medical students must sit a University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) or BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT), which assess their skills, attitudes and overall suitability for working in high pressure medical environments.

More information: Best A levels for Medicine

Consider a set similar to:

  • Chemistry, Biology, Physics

  • Chemistry, Biology, Maths

  • Chemistry, Biology and one other subject

  • Check the individual medical school's preferences on A level choices and use of either the UCAT or BMAT test

A Level Combinations for Dentistry

Dentistry (both surgical and cosmetic dentistry) requires a solid science-based set of A levels. Chemistry is usually the most important subject to the course provider, due to the range of applications of Chemistry used within dentistry. Biology is critical too, due to the understanding of biological processes needed. Maths is a great all-rounder A Level, though equally useful would be Physics. Some UK dental schools like a different A Level choice, e.g. a humanities subject, to give the candidate a more all-round education. Prospective dental students sit a supplementary BMAT test which tests their reasoning and temperament for a high pressure role in a dental practice. Good work experience is vital to boost a candidate's application e.g. voluntary work in the healthcare sector. 

Consider a set similar to:

  • Chemistry, Biology, Physics

  • Chemistry, Biology, Maths

  • Chemistry, Biology and one other subject

  • Check the individual dental school's preferences on A level choices

More information: Best A Levels for Dentistry.

A Level Combinations for Veterinary

A similar set of A levels to medicine is required for veterinary subjects; both veterinary science and veterinary nursing. Some courses will prioritise Chemistry above Biology, and require something similar to “Chemistry plus at least one of Biology, maths, Further Maths, or Physics”. It is worth checking the specific subject requirements at universities you are interested in studying at.

These courses will also often require a substantial amount of work experience to be undertaken whilst studying your A levels, so it is worth researching the specific requirements for the course at a few different universities, and giving yourself good time to arrange this.

Consider a set similar to:

  • Biology, Chemistry, Maths

  • Biology, Chemistry, Physics

More information: Best A Levels for Becoming A Vet

Best A Level Combinations for Arts 

There are many different arts courses available in higher education, and it is important to research how the courses you are interested in assess applications. Art itself is obviously a key subject, however an A level like fashion & textiles, or photography may be more suited depending on the field you wish to pursue. You should bear in mind that as well as A level grades, it is likely you will be asked for a portfolio of work for arts courses. Start considering this as early as you can, in order to build up a diverse collection of work, highlighting a range of skills.
It is a good idea to pair an art subject with two facilitating subjects. As having two or more arts subjects may not demonstrate a wide enough range of skills which may be involved in higher education. 

Consider a set similar to:

  • Art, English, Geography

  • Art, History, a foreign language

  • Fashion & Textiles, Business, English

  • Photography, Geography, and a Science

Best A Level Combinations for Humanities

A Level Combinations for History

An A level in History will ensure that all History degree courses are open to you but it is not essential. A History degree will involve analysis, critical thinking and language skills so any subjects which help to build these would be useful.

Consider a set similar to:

  • History, English, Politics

  • History, Psychology, English

  • History, English, Sociology

A Level Combinations for Geography

Geography is a multidisciplinary subject and your choices of A level may depend on the type of geography degree you wish to study. Any subjects which help you build evaluation and analytical skills would be recommended.

Consider a set similar to:

  • Geography, English, History

  • Geography, Sociology, History

  • Geography, Biology, Maths

Best A Level Combinations for Law

It is hard to define a ‘standard set’ of A levels for someone wishing to study Law at university.  You want to select A level subjects that develop and demonstrate the key skills that university law programs look for in applicants, but there are many different A level subjects that can tick those boxes.  The best general guidance is to select a set of fairly rigorous, ‘traditional’ subjects.  You will also want to choose subjects you feel you will be able to excel in, as the competitive nature of law programs means that grades can be at least, if not more important than exact subject choice for a successful law application.  Also note that you don’t have to take A level Law in order to go on to study law at university!  

Consider a set similar to:

  • English Literature, History, Politics

  • Law, Business Studies, Mathematics

  • History, Religious Studies, Philosophy

More information: Best A Levels for Studying Law.  

Best A Level Combinations for Economics, Finance and Business

Economics and finance courses are heavily maths-based courses and so maths is essential for these. Further Maths would of course provide an extra boost to your application. If Economics A level is available to you then this would also be of clear benefit. Beyond this, courses demonstrating a good level of analysis and evaluation would also be useful.

Consider a set similar to:

  • Maths, Economics, Business

  • Maths, Economics or Business, and a science

  • Maths, Economics, Law

Best A Level Combinations for English

Your choices of A level will depend on the type of English degree you want to apply for. If you wish to study English Literature, or another related subject like World or Comparative Literature, then for most universities it will be essential to take English Literature at A level. For degrees in English Language, or Linguistics, then an A level in English Language, or English Language and Literature, would be advisable, but not always essential (sometimes a modern foreign language A level can be just as useful). However, any subjects which are essay based, and help you build evaluation and analytical skills (especially when dealing with texts) would be recommended.

Consider a set similar to:

  • English Literature, History, and a foreign language

  • English Language, Sociology, Media Studies

  • English Literature / Language, Law, Psychology

Best A Level Combinations for Languages

Selecting your favourite and strongest language is an obvious first step, but after that you have many more options. You could select A levels which demonstrate different skills to a language, such as the sciences or maths. Alternatively, many higher education courses pair a language with another course, for example “French and Business”, so if you know which type of field or industry you may like to enter then this can help inform your choice.

If applying for a purely language-based course or classical languages, then A levels which are essay-based and use analytical and comparative skills would be very useful.

Consider a set similar to:

  • French, Business, Maths

  • Spanish, German, Politics

  • Latin, French, History

  • German, English, Business

Further reading

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Written by Jamie Wood

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Jamie graduated in 2014 from the University of Bristol with a degree in Electronic and Communications Engineering. He has worked as a teacher for 8 years, in secondary schools and in further education; teaching GCSE and A Level. He is passionate about helping students fulfil their potential through easy-to-use resources and high-quality questions and solutions.

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