DISCLAIMER: This article is completely opinion based and subjective in nature. Please don’t opt for an A-level and blame us afterwards. Thanks!
Alright, here it is. The article that we wish we had read somewhere when we started A-Level. Choosing your subjects is the most daunting of the many tasks you need to finalize in your first month of A-Levels. Not only that, it can also be extremely risky if you don’t plan it well and trace it all the way to your university ambitions.
Now to be fair, it was really hard to find A2 students who don’t absolutely despise everything that they’re doing at the moment (hey, A2 is pretty stressful) and ask them to give an essential overview along with their opinions of a subject that they’re taking, we went through with it because we believe that it is very important that all first-year students get to know what they are getting themselves into. Also because we love our readers, we really do.
Chemistry: Now have you ever wondered why it hurts when you put salt on an open wound, or why you put acid in food to preserve it? I haven’t. But that’s not why I’m here. On a more serious note, chemistry is all about the challenges you’ll face along these two years. Whether that means starting a new topic every day of the week, or studying day in and night out, this subject is tough but will undoubtedly be taking you places. In A1, you’ll be doing three papers: P1(MCQs), P2(Theory), and P3 (Practical). The syllabus is pretty diverse and long but it’s worth the effort — for some at least. It covers everything from basic O-level topics like stoichiometry to more complex topics like energy and organic chemistry. So if you’re opting this subject, strap in for a bumpy ride through the adventure that is A-Level chemistry!
– Abdullah Yusuf Malik
Physics: A-Level physics has a diverse syllabus. From basic kinematics to radioactivity, the syllabus covers the fundamentals of physics and builds upon concepts made in O-Level physics while also introducing new ones. Physics starts with the basics: measuring techniques, units, etc. Once those are done, the subject begins to take off. It covers a wide range of topics from dynamics to electrical circuits to waves. However, although the syllabus seems worryingly long, the thing with A-Level physics is that once you get a hold of the theory and concepts, you’ll be able to solve past papers easily so I wouldn’t worry about the syllabus length. Lastly, I’d say that Physics gets more interesting in A2 when you start studying satellites, stars, quantum physics, etc. So if you’re a science enthusiast, A-Level physics is the way to go.
– Faheel Haider
Biology: A level Biology is a sizable jump from O level biology. From increased coursework to in-depth analysis of every chapter, you are taught what you will be applying in your practical life if you choose the medical field. A-level Biology consists of five exams: P1 (MCQs), P2 (AS structured questions), P3 (practical), P4 (A2 structured questions) and P5 (planning and analysis). If you’ve given O level biology, you’ll be familiar with P1 and P2 however the difficulty level increases within all these exams. Studying A level Biology requires critically thinking out of the box and applying all your knowledge from within and beyond the subject. From a theoretical explanation of how our human body systems work to detailed examination of the DNA and genetic, from investigating deadly diseases that ended civilizations to studying the ecosystems and interdependence, A-level Biology is literally brain food.
– Rahma Arshad
Mathematics: As someone who struggled with O-Level mathematics, A-Level mathematics can be considered less hectic compared to other STEM subjects, especially if you’re someone who took additional mathematics in your O-level. The subject has four papers in total; P1 and P3 are taught in A1 while M1 (Mechanics) and S1 (Statistics) are taught in A2. For me, the level of difficulty has remained fairly the same uptil now and each paper builds on previously learned concepts. For instance, Paper 3 builds on Paper 1’s concepts while M1 builds on forces and kinematics from physics. All in all, if you’re someone who’s worried that you won’t do well in mathematics because you struggled in O-Level, then with practice and consistency you should not have anything to worry about.
– Faheel Haider
Further Mathematics: I took additional mathematics in O-Level and decided to challenge myself in A-level as well by opting for Further Maths. Several people warned me about the subject, calling it scary, hectic and many other things. However, I still decided to give it a go and it turns out, in terms of homework and assignments, further maths was the least demanding of all the subjects I took. Additionally, if you’re taking maths as a subject as well, further maths will prepare you in advance for the things you’ll be studying in maths so you’ll be able to flaunt your knowledge the next time your maths teacher asks you a question. The subject is divided into two sections: P1 is Pure Maths. It’s basically learning all about the true meaning of maths. There are no word problems which is a plus if you find those tricky. P2 is a bit different; it has word problems because it covers mechanics and statistics. Questions in further maths aren’t necessarily divided by topics, instead they reference many sections of study which keep concepts fresh in your mind.
– Khadjia Niazi (Batch of 2019)
Computer Science: As someone who hadn’t taken computer science as an O-Level subject, I was a little worried during my first few classes. However it soon becomes clear that that would not be an issue: A-Level computer science revises older concepts in a good amount of detail, while introducing new ones too. With four total papers – two revolving around theory (P1 and P3) and two around programming (P2 and P4) – the syllabus is vast yet intriguing, covering everything from logic gates to CPU architecture to the internet. Though taking the subject is not compulsory for majoring in software engineering or computer science at a university level, it can still prove to be a beneficial experience for anyone interested in pursuing that field.
– Musa Ali
Humanities and Arts
World History: I took World History as an extra subject thinking that I would drop it within a few months, but I pretty much fell in love with it after a week of classes. The thing with world history is that it has a broad syllabus. The subject gives you a lot of topics to choose from which makes it diverse and more interesting. Apart from the vast syllabus, the subject also allows you to study topics which explain modern world affairs. For instance in A1, we studied P2 (French and Russian revolutions) along with P3 (Lenin and Stalin). These topics allowed me to understand why France is the way it is today, how and why the Soviet Union came into being, and why Lenin and Stalin continue to have a considerable number of admirers around the world. They also showed how monarchies eventually collapsed in Europe and how communism took over Russia. Similarly, we’re doing the P1 (League of Nations) in A2 which — even though it failed — helped set a basic structure for the United Nations. Also, the subject doesn’t give you a grade unless you can thoroughly analyse and assess world events. It forces you to show an analytical approach and discuss events in your own words rather than memorising an excerpt from a textbook. In conclusion, I would recommend World History for anyone interested in learning more about the world we live in today and enhancing their writing and analytical skills.
– Faheel Haider
Sociology: Sociology is easily one of my favourite subjects in A-Level. The subject enables you to analyse and observe the world we live in. From our family to our school to the values that define us, you’ll look at everything from a sociological lens. It’s perhaps the only subject which you can prepare for by looking at the world around you, including your friends, your conversations with them, and how you interact with them. In addition, the subject is mostly about learning and understanding theories and applying them to the real world. You’ll start off with the basics, learning about the three greats of sociology: Marx, Durkheim, and Weber. After this, you’ll study a number of other theories and movements. One of the best things about sociology class is that it’s mostly discussion based which means you won’t get sleepy in class. Instead, the subjects includes so many different views and opinions, you’re bound to pitch in yours during class too. So if you’re someone who can’t stand another long boring science lecture, sociology might be your calling.
– Faheel Haider
Government and Politics: Politics has always been one of those subjects that has fascinated me the most. The major focus of politics in A-Level is on the UK political landscape and the stakeholders that take part in global politics. Now the fact that both of these are always changing and so unpredictable makes Politics one of the most interesting subjects in A-Level. Students are encouraged to keep up with the ever changing world of politics by reading the news and articles. This not only increases the general knowledge of a student regarding the world and how it works, but this has also made me more interested in reading the newspaper as a whole. I think that politics is a subject that everyone should definitely try once before finalizing their A-Level subjects. If done well, this can be the easiest subject to grasp for students and the most interesting as well!
– Muhammad Owais Sabri
Psychology: If you’re thinking this will help you read your newborn crush’s mind: I’m sorry, you’re terribly wrong. A-Level Psychology isn’t about mind reading and hypnosis, despite the common perception that that is all it’s about. However, don’t be discouraged. The subject is still pretty fun and interesting to delve into. While you will be dealing with various methods of research and seemingly tedious research studies, you will also be learning, bit by bit, about the one thing that intrigues us all: the human mind.
– Fatima Farooq Chishti
Law: “Kids, this ain’t gonna be nothing like Suits” was the first thing my law teacher said to us during orientation week and I couldn’t agree more. A-Level Law is definitely not a piece of cake and is also, perhaps one of the least scoring subjects. However, if you’re passionate about it and have a genuine interest in it, then it will end up being your favourite subject. In these two years, you will study the basics of the English legal system including contract and tort law. Along with memorization, you will also make use of your analytical skills and remember to brush up your English as this is purely an essay based subject. Opting for A-Level Law is not a prerequisite for undergraduate level law degrees but it will surely give you an upper hand in university. Things will be a little intimidating at first but I can assure you that the law teachers at Lacas will always be there to guide you and make the concepts interesting and fun to learn.
– Zainab Farhan
Business Studies: The leap from O-Level to A-Level was rather a big one. It was hard figuring out what subject combination would suit me best — choosing sciences seemed to be the most obvious decision. But I needed something different; something more practical, something that would enhance my thinking abilities and allow me to analyse real life situations. Eventually, my search led me to business studies. I found it to be a subject that mainly focuses on the business environment, strategies and economic issues. Hence, the course immediately grasped my attention and enveloped me in its awe-inspiring details. Despite being unfamiliar with the subject, it allowed me to understand topics perfectly: the subject seemed to be in sync. I’ve studied A-Level Business for a year now and so I say that it has provided me with independent thinking skills that have built my confidence and equipped me with a toolkit for tackling complex and unfamiliar subjects. It’s safe to say that the subject is essential for successful progression to higher education or into professional employment.
– Faraz Ali Khan
Economics: Economics for A-level is one of those business subjects that is usually underestimated both in its difficulty and in the general application of it in the real world. To be fair, it is a pretty hard subject but it precisely shows you how a business is supposed to work, what types of business are done, then it further goes into the economy of a country. So it takes the most basic of business knowledge and invites you to learn more about how things are working around you. This allows you to see a different perspective in everyday lives when you hear subjects like exchange rates, or gross domestic product. Majoring in any part of economics provides a very healthy and stable job in any part of the world, most importantly studying economics could help you plan out your own business.
– Ayan Usmani
Accounting: Accounting is the systematic and comprehensive record of financial transactions which have occurred in a business. However, unlike a common misconception, it has no connection to the principles of maths. People who have an affinity with numbers should opt it because they will develop a love for its complexity. Accounting allows you to learn technical skills while also developing a business mindset. Thus, accounting is a fine subject for those who want to go into business.
– Khadija Atif