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New guidance on post-16 study choices

The Russell Group of 20 leading UK universities has published its first ever guide to post-16 subject choices.

Informed Choices, produced in collaboration with the Institute of Career Guidance, is aimed at all students considering A-level and equivalent options. It includes advice on the best subject combinations for a wide range of university courses as well as advice on the best choices if you don’t know what you want to study after school and need to keep your options open.

Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

“Russell Group universities are committed to attracting students with the most talent, potential and ability from all backgrounds. All students – particularly those from less advantaged backgrounds – must have access to appropriate information and guidance about the choices that will maximise or reduce their opportunities and life chances from an early age. Achievement at school is the key to increasing your chances of winning a place at a leading university.[2] But choosing the best subjects at GCSE and A Level is also crucial.

“It is really important that students do not disadvantage themselves by choosing a combination of subjects at A-level which will not equip them with the appropriate skills and knowledge for their university course or which may not demonstrate effectively their aptitude for a particular subject.

More can be found here.

Please note this guidance:

Do universities prefer certain advanced level subjects over others?

‘There are many rumours about subjects being regarded as ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ and different people will have differing opinions on the matter. In general, subjects referred to as being ‘hard’ are more traditional and theoretical subjects, for example: English, History, Physics and Chemistry. In fact all the facilitating subjects listed earlier can be considered ‘hard’ with the addition of others such as Economics and Politics. ‘Soft’ subjects are usually subjects with a vocational or practical bias.

for example: Media Studies, Art and Design, Photography and Business Studies. However, there is no set definition of a ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ subject. Generally speaking, students who take one ‘soft’ subject as part of a wider portfolio of subjects do not experience any problems applying to a Russell Group University.

Critical Thinking and/or General Studies are usually better taken only as an ‘extra’, rather than as one of the advanced level subjects on which your university application will be relying.One of the best ways to keep your options at university open is to choose your advanced level subjects from the list of facilitating subjects. If you are not sure of what to study at university, why not think about your two favourite subjects from the facilitating subjects list? The section on what subjects can give me the most options may help you choose.’

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