Guide to Courses and Subjects on Offer
The Sixth Form Curriculum
Students take three A Levels, with the exception of those choosing Further Maths, who take four (Maths, Further Maths plus two others). Students do not sit AS Level exams.
If a student strongly believes that it would be in their interests to study four A Levels we will consider their argument and in a very small number of cases will agree to it if we believe that they are capable of achieving well in four subjects. Universities do not ask for four A Levels as part of their admission requirements and taking three A Levels is no barrier to gaining places on the most competitive courses at the best universities.
One consequence of choosing three subjects for the full two years is that students need to be sure that they have picked the right subjects. We will give our students a range of opportunities to discuss and reflect upon possible choices, but they are also encouraged to carry out their own research and discuss their suitability for the course with their teachers in order to make the most informed choice possible. In particular, we urge students to acknowledge the judgement of teachers who believe that a student is likely to struggle in a particular subject.
If you have any questions regarding 6th Form arrangements, please do contact Mr Ewins (Head of 6th Form) or Ms Furlong (6th Form Administrator).
General Points about choosing the right course for you
Making a choice between subjects often proves difficult and you may find these points useful in helping you to decide:
- Interest in the subject is of prime importance. Many hours will be devoted to an A Level Course and there is a much better chance of success if you enjoy the subject. This is particularly important when choosing between the subjects where you find you have a roughly equal ability.
- The level of ability you have already shown in the subject over the previous two years is very significant. You should discuss this with our subject teachers.
- You may be considering plans for Higher Education. There may be required subjects at A Level or even GCSE for such courses. You are advised to check in university prospectuses, which can be found via the UCAS (The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) website. For example, Medical Schools require at least an AS Level in Chemistry. Current Dame Alice Owen’s students can also browse university information in the Careers Library, situated in the SALC (Self Access Learning Centre).
- You may feel uncertain about career plans and it is, therefore, advisable to plan subject combinations which keep as many opportunities open as possible.
- Even where you feel reasonably certain about career plans at this stage, it must be recognised that you might change your mind during the next two years. Entry to some courses is highly competitive and progress in the Sixth Form may not match expectation and the original career choice then becomes unrealistic. It is, therefore, unwise to restrict subject choices to one career choice only.
- You are advised to think twice about choosing an A Level subject simply because it is an essential requirement for a certain career. This is particularly true if you do not regard the required subject as very interesting, or if subject teachers predict that the subject is likely to be difficult for you.
- It is normally better to choose three related A Level subjects, e.g. Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, or English, History and French, rather than unrelated ones. However, it is possible to choose subjects from both Arts and Science if career plans are undecided. A choice of a mixture of Arts and Sciences does not usually rule out an Arts Degree, but it may rule out a Science Degree. Geography, Economics and Business Studies are subjects which mix well both Arts and Sciences.
- Finally, please discuss the choice of A Level subjects with your parents and subject teachers. If you wish to have further advice, please contact our Sixth Form team who will be very happy to guide you through the various options available.