How many subjects will I take, and how many should I include on my application?
Most students will take four subjects, comprising three A level subjects plus the Extended Project qualification – which gives all our students the equivalent of an additional one year AS level. These elements make up the core of our study programme, together with enrichment and tutorial support. Some particularly well-qualified applicants will have the opportunity to take four two-year A level subjects if they wish.
We realise that many of you will not have finalised your subjects at the time of applying. Depending on how clear you are about your choices, you are advised to enter between three and five A level subjects on your application in your priority order at the time. These subjects and their order can be adjusted later if required.
Will three A level subjects and the Extended Project provide a strong base for progression to the most competitive universities?
Yes. Most university offers will continue to be based on three A levels. Furthermore, the Extended Project qualification is featuring increasingly in university offers. For example, a university might make an offer such as:
A level grades AAB, or:
A level grades ABB, plus A or A* in Extended Project
Universities have been clear that they do not expect students to be studying four A level subjects. Here is what The University of Oxford has said on the subject of curriculum reform:
“A fourth subject to A level has never been a requirement at Oxford. Our courses require students to have not less than three A levels, or other equivalent qualifications. Some candidates do take additional AS levels, A levels, or other qualifications such as the Extended Project Qualification. Additional qualifications can be one way of demonstrating the academic abilities that will be required for the intense studying of an Oxford degree but they are not essential.”
Reference FAQ4 at: www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/course/entrance-requirements/faqs-level-reform
What advice would you give to students about choosing their subjects?
Virtually any combination of subjects is possible; we design our timetable to try to match the combinations requested by applicants.
Needless to say, you are advised to choose subjects in which you are interested and which will together support your future higher education and/or career ambitions. Those ambitions may mean that you are already sure about two or even three of your subject choices. If this is not the case, it may be advisable to choose at least one and possibly more of the following ‘facilitating subjects’, providing that these subjects play to your strengths and you would enjoy studying them: Mathematics; Further Mathematics; Physics; Chemistry; Biology; Geography; History; Languages (Modern and Classical); English Literature.
Are some subjects more likely to be oversubscribed than others?
Application patterns vary from year to year, but students should always apply for the most appropriate subjects which meet their interests, strengths and progression needs.
What happens if I am offered a place but do not achieve the required GCSE grades?
We will aim to allow you to follow your offered course even if your grades are lower than estimated, providing that you achieve at least an average B grade profile (or equivalent) and remain qualified for your subjects. Where this is not possible, for reasons such as timetable clashes or over-subscription of particular subjects, guidance will be offered about suitable alternative subjects. However, enrolment to a fourth A level subject would be conditional on your actual examination grades. Should you not achieve the grades required for any of your subjects, or if you fall below a B grade average profile, we would discuss your options with you in August prior to the start of the Academic Year.
What do I do when I’m not in a lesson?
You study! When you are not in a timetabled lesson you are expected to focus on enhancing your studies independently. It is vital for you to understand the demands of A levels before you begin and learn how to manage your time effectively.