How to choose your A-level subjects if you’re considering medicine
Choosing your A-levels can seem like a hugely daunting prospect. I found it quite scary in that choosing these subjects would be one of the steps in setting me to a certain field for the rest of my life. In fact, I soon realised that although choosing A-levels can seem like an intimidating prospect, they really don’t have to limit what you want to do with your life. I have many friends that have chosen certain subjects and then completely changed what they wanted to study at university. If worst comes to worst, you can still take a gap year and study the ‘essential’ subject for your new degree choice then – so it’lll all work out regardless.
For medicine, a full A-level in Chemistry is essential for all medical schools. In addition, a full A-level in Biology is highly recommended and often an AS in Biology is essential, and on a personal note, I would definitely consider this as almost ‘essential’. The vast majority of people who end up getting a place for medicine have done biology, and they often find the first year a lot easier than those who haven’t. That being said, I do know people who haven’t done biology, so if you have already chosen your A-levels, it still is definitely worth a shot at applying to medicine if you want to; you might be able to self-learn AS biology to show that you are interested in the area.
As for your other two subjects, these can be really anything. For Oxbridge, doing maths or physics as your third subject is really helpful, due to the theoretical nature of the course – I especially found physics helpful for first year. However, you really can choose anything for these last two subjects: I have friends that filled these in with subjects that ranged from Greek to Religious Studies, Art and Music. The important thing to consider here is what you enjoy. I studied Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths, because I really loved these subjects. A-levels are a large amount of work, and you’ll only manage to do well if you feel interested about a subject and committed to learning more about it.
One other problem is the decision to carry on to 4 A2 levels or to stick with 3 A2 levels. Ideally, Biology and Chemistry should be taken to A2 level, but the decision to drop one of the other two should depend on how you feel you’re coping with four. It’s far better to do three A-levels well, compared to scraping four A-levels, and the difference between 3 and 4 A2 levels for universities doesn’t have much of an impact at all.
Overall, don’t stress about A-level choices! Just have a look at the requirements for the universities you want to apply to, and pick subjects you enjoy.