The subject you choose at A-level greatly impact your future; we all have the power to decide which subjects to study, however, certain subjects get more respect and admiration from universities, colleges, family and friends.
The traditional science and maths subjects are generally considered more academic, have heavier workloads, and tougher exams. As a result, such subjects are held in high regard and esteem.
What are the most respected A levels:
- A-Level Further Mathematics
- A-Level Modern Foreign Languages
- A-Level Physics
- A-Level Chemistry
- A-Level Mathematics
- A-Level Biology
- A-Level Psychology
- A-Level Economics
- A-Level History
- A-Level English Literature
- A-Level Accounts
What makes an A-Level Subject Respected?
The respect that is associated with an A level subject depends on how academic the subject is, the difficulty of the subject, it’s value in the current job market and the relative workload of the subject.
Those subjects which require minimal studying such as Media Studies, Drama and Music are not considered very academic. This is because (although incorrectly) many universities and possibly your social group feels that anything that does not include reading and writing is not really considered work. This is the perspective associated with the “Mickey Mouse” subjects.
The difficulty of maths and science-heavy subjects are undoubtedly greater than Art and Commerce related subjects. This is because the subject content is tougher, the exams relatively more challenging and the fact that many students shy away from science subjects further reinforces this idea.
Further Mathematics is unquestionably the most difficult A level subject and a good grade in this subject is a ticket to admission in many prestigious and high ranking universities. Even for studying Computer Science at the undergraduate level, many universities require Further Maths, instead of Computer Science at A level.
Many universities have specific scholarships for students who have done well at Further Maths A level.
Much of the Mathematics at university for many degrees include Engineering, Computer Science, Architecture, and other Sciences can be covered by studying Further Maths at A level. Hence you can estimate the relative difficulty of Further Maths and see where it gets its prestige and respect from.
Further mathematics would probably be highly regarded in your social circle for being an extremely academic, tough and challenging subject. If you were to take this subject you can almost guarantee bragging rights.
Modern Foreign Languages
Many languages such as French and German can be studied at A level. Studying these languages is considered an achievement by many students and universities.
Foreign Languages not only require you to read, write, understand and speak (Yes Speak), but also expect you to know about the country (history and politics) that speaks the language and possibly even know phrases and words that you do not know the meaning of in English.
The speaking exams are another challenge in this already difficult subject. So if you plan on taking any of the modern foreign languages you can expect some seriously difficult exams, but lots of respect at the same time as well.
Math is considered a very popular and well respected A level that has a lot of marketable value. It is also a facilitating subject for many degrees at university. Many universities may require students to study A level Mathematics in order to study other subjects such as Economics and Computer Science at the university level.
Hence, Mathematics is a highly respected and prestigious subject. The only hindrance to taking A level mathematics is the difficulty of the subject. I recognize that A level Mathematics is considered quite difficult however it is one subject that you can easily master with lots of practice and completing several problem sets.
Physics, Chemistry and Biology
Physics, Biology and Chemisty are traditional science subjects that come with a lot of difficulty.
The skills required in each of the three subjects are vastly different and so is the subject content. There is very little overlapping in the subject content of the three subjects.
Physics labs include simple experiments with many calculations and identifying the limitations and improvements of various experiments. The theory paper and tricky MCQs are the most burdensome when it comes to Physics.
Biology labs mostly focus on creating and analysing slides. Biology has an endless syllabus and requires loads of memorizing.
Chemistry practicals are perhaps the most grinding and demanding. There is always a new challenge with chemistry experiments and you never really feel in control when doing the labs. Organic chemistry is a nightmare for most students.
Overall the sciences are considered pretty difficult and someone taking three science subjects has all my respect.
Economics and Accounts
Economics and Accounts are considered difficult subjects but are definitely not at the same level as the traditional maths and sciences. At the same time, they are more challenging then softer A level options such as PE, General Studies and Sociology.
Economics and Accounts have a large syllabus and initially might seem challenging. However, with enough past papers in your rearview mirror, you should not be having a difficult time with these two subjects.
Hence the respect these two subjects generate is quite limited and mentioning them in your applications or to friends will not turn a lot of heads.
History and English Literature
History and Literature are subjects that have a lot of essay writing, as a result, they require strong analytical, reading and writing proficiency.
History is largely memory-based, with little application, however, it does require you to present and explain your points in a manner that shows to the examiner that you truly understand what you are talking about.
English Literature is not a subject that has a precise and accurate answer, unlike some of the traditional sciences. There is no right or wrong answer in literature. Explaining your points and providing solid evidence from the text is sufficient to show the examiner you truly understand the question and subject content.
Just like Economics, History and English literature are moderately respected at A level.
What are the Least Respected A level Subjects?
In short, any A level subject which is not academically demanding, has a relatively small syllabus, and requires minimal application are factors which determine a less respected A level subject. This list includes PE, Sociology, Drama, Photography, Dance and General Studies.
Here is the complete list of the least respected A level Subjects:
- General Studies
- Business Studies
- Product Design
- Health and Social Studies
The list contains subjects which have little respect in the eyes of universities and fellow students. These subjects are considered “soft options”. Students often claim they should be doing subjects they enjoy; which is perfectly true. However; students must realize that certain subjects (unfortunately) have little marketable value.
When you decide your A-level subject combination make sure you have a balanced approach. Do not take those subjects just because they have perceived value and respect in the eyes of your peers, employers, and universities. You do not want to end up in a career that is well respected and pays well, but you hate your life because of your job.
At the same time, you do not want to take subjects and dive into a career that has little marketable value and you experience difficulty finding a job that pays over minimum wage. Hence, the best option would be to take a mix of those subject that you really enjoy such as Drama and Music and combine them with marketable subjects such as Mathematics and Economics.