WHS Sixth Formers’ Guide to Choosing Your A-Levels

Y11 Subjects

With GCSE mocks coming to an end Year 11s may have a better idea of which A Level choices they might make. With Wycombe High’s broad range of subjects on offer, it can be quite exciting and challenging to decide which are best suited for you.

In order to help make the decision a bit easier, News Crew have interviewed current Sixth Form students from each subject who were more than happy to give their opinions and advice to Year 11 before making their choice. If students need any more information about subjects at A Level seek out subject teachers or the Sixth Form Team for further information.

Art – Hazel
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

To keep up with each individual task rather than thinking you can commit to a project more widely.
What do you enjoy most about the subject?
The liberty and freedom of it, it’s very individual and everyone is able to do their own personal thing.
What has surprised you the most?
How difficult it is to do well at the start.

Biology – Safa
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

The amount of new vocabulary and scientific terminology you have to learn, most of which is in Latin.
What do you enjoy the most about the subject?
The human side of Biology, the parts that are more relevant to us.
What has surprised you the most?
The amount of content there is, I really underestimated it, but still enjoy it despite there being so much to learn.

Business Studies – Zoe
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

I wish I knew a bit more about the exam format. I didn’t know one of the exams was about a whole case study.
What do you enjoy the most about the subject?
The class discussions we get into and working together as a class to help understand concepts better.
What has surprised you the most?
How similar it is to GCSE, the first year of the course is very similar to the GCSE course.

Chemistry – Oumaima
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

How complex the topics are, they are quite hard to understand and get your head around.
What do you enjoy the most about the subject?
The Maths elements of it, doing calculations because they are more straightforward.
What has surprised you the most?
That the first module includes lots of GCSE work but pushes it on to the next stage which is harder!

Classics – Annabelle
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

That it was going to be so fun.
What do you enjoy the most about the subject?
The teachers are great and it’s really interesting, especially learning the culture.
What has surprised you the most?
How invested I was going to be in it, that I enjoy doing the work for it.

Drama – Tina
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

Based on having done it at GCSE, I felt prepared since it is quite similar.
What do you enjoy most about the subject?
The practical element, the acting part because it’s nice to have a change and have the chance to be more creative and have a bit of fun.
What has surprised you the most?
How quickly our class has gotten along, including transfer students, and how quickly everyone settled in.

English Literature – Liv
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

The difference between GCSE and A Level. The depth of the response required is much greater in an A Level essay compared to GCSE.
What do you enjoy the most about the subject?
Analysing the text: I find textual analysis and the different interpretations of a particular sentence so interesting, as it allows you to gain a wider understanding of the text as a whole.
What has surprised you the most?
The independence that the teachers give us and the different lesson styles. Much more of the work is our own responsibility and we can no longer be completely reliant on the teachers. That you have to have a complete understanding of the text before you even begin an essay - you can’t just waffle and hope for the best. It’s necessary to have analysed and understood the text as much as possible otherwise you can’t write an essay on it.

French – Iman
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

How similar it was to GCSE but with slight differences, but it remained generally accessible.
What do you enjoy the most about the subject?
The opportunity to debate topics related to the course.
What has surprised you the most?
That I have retained a lot of my skills and strengths.

Geography – Iman
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

It doesn’t cover GCSE content as much as I thought it would.
What do you enjoy the most about the subject?
The topics we cover are very interesting and current and affect our everyday.
What has surprised you the most?
The new structure of marking for certain questions.

Government and Politics – Leonie
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

A bit more about politics before I started, I felt like it would’ve been good to know a bit more.
What do you enjoy most about the subject?
How interesting it is and how it relates to current events.
What has surprised you the most?
How everything works, how the political system functions as a whole.

Product Design – Zahrah
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?
That you need to manage your time well to ensure you meet deadlines.
What do you enjoy the most about the subject?
The variety of design elements; CAD, 2D and 3D, pen and pencil rendering, etc.
What has surprised you the most?
The workload is a little more than GCSE, but so are all A Levels. Some of the new theory content I have never heard of, but there are some cross overs from Year 11.

History – Riya
What do you wish you knew before taking this A Level?

That you would be taking two topics at the same time with different teachers.
What do you enjoy most about the subject?
Learning the material, you can better understand what life was like during the periods, it’s interesting because you can compare it to how we live nowadays and how it has affected the change.
What has surprised you the most?
The amount of fact learning there is to do to use them as references for your points.

Maths – Manushri
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

The different demands from GCSE to A Level which meant adjusting the way you work.
What do you enjoy the most about the subject?
The satisfactory feeling after spending a long time on a difficult problem and then finally solving it by yourself.
What has surprised you the most?
That maths can be quite easy if you understand the basics and then build your knowledge on top of that. It’s hard to start off with no proper understanding of the foundations of the subject.

Further Maths – Hannah
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

It’s okay to be confused and not know exactly what you’re doing when you see a question. Sometimes you just have to start doing something even if you have no idea where it is leading to.
What do you enjoy the most about the subject?
I like having explanations to things that seem to not have had answers before, like what happens when you get a negative underneath the square root.
What has surprised you the most?
I’ve been surprised by lots of maths questions - when you initially look at the question it seems too challenging, but with some working, you find that it is something you can complete.

Music – Evie
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

I actually felt quite prepared for the A Level, because I knew it was going to be quite tricky.
What do you enjoy most about the subject?
The practical element which involves singing or playing an instrument.
What has surprised you the most?
How time consuming it was, the exercises take quite a while to complete.

Philosophy and Ethics – Emily
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

RS is different at A Level compared with GCSE, it’s more philosophical and evaluative.
What do you enjoy the most about the subject?
It’s a discussion-based subject and we have really interesting debates in class.
What has surprised you the most?
That the essays are actually interesting to write and research about.

Psychology – Maya
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

There are lots of dates to remember and it’s quite fact-based.
What do you enjoy the most about the subject?
Learning about the different case studies and experiments there are.
What has surprised you the most?
How unethical I find some psychological studies that have been undertaken!

Physics – Thando
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

More maths in it than I was expecting, but it still comes in handy.
What do you enjoy the most about the subject?
The theory behind some of the principles, the practical experiments and having debates.
What has surprised you the most?
Not much, it was pretty accurate to what we were told.

Spanish – Stella
What do you wish you knew before picking this A Level?

That you need to acquire a lot of cultural knowledge over the course through independent learning by reading Spanish novels, keeping up with Hispanic news and even watching TV or Netflix shows in Spanish. This background knowledge helps with essay writing.
What do you enjoy the most about the subject?
The subjects relevance to modern day society in topic such as equality, LGBT rights and the influence of celebrities. Speaking with others who also love to learn the language.
What has surprised you the most?
The amount of vocabulary you learn and eventually will have to know was a lot more than I anticipated. The literature is very similar to English Lit but in Spanish so I will still have to learn quotes.

Vianne Alhayderi, Year 12, Head of News Crew



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