Can I do more than three subjects?

Most students study three subjects because this constitutes a full time course. Employers and universities don’t expect candidates to have studied more than three A levels. There may be very good reasons why you want to take four subjects and we’d like to discuss these with you to make sure there’s no risk that you’re spreading yourself too thinly – it’s better to achieve three A grades than four B grades for example.


Will I have lessons all day every day like at school?

You will have a one hour lesson every day for every subject that you chose. All subjects will set you regular homework and you are free to choose whether you do this at home or at College. Time management is important to ensure that you get the most out of College life and you should arrive at college for 8:30 every day.


How much work is there?

You’ll be in class for five hours per subject per week and you can expect to do the same amount of work per subject out of lessons i.e. about ten hours per subject per week; half with the teacher in the class and half on your own. With the facilities that are available you always have a quiet space to make the most of your non-contact periods.


Are some subjects harder than others?

Unlike school, where some subjects are compulsory, you are choosing the subjects that suit you best. What you find interesting and stimulating another student may find ‘hard’ and that may be the reason they have chosen not to do it. So no, all subjects carry an equal challenge it’s just that some students prefer some to others – that’s why they choose them!


Can I do any subject if I haven’t done it at GCSE?

In some cases you have to have a GCSE in that subject, they are; science, maths, English, foreign languages and computing. None of the other subjects expect you to have studied them before at GCSE but we would always have a conversation about what is the most appropriate curriculum for you.


What if I don’t like the subjects I’ve chosen, can I swap?

You can change your mind right up until you enrol in August and even then if at any point up until the end of September you decide you’d like to change your choices we can usually do that for you.


Can anyone do Further Maths?

To do further maths, you should be looking to achieve an 8 or 9 in maths at GCSE and you should love algebra!


Can I choose all the same sorts of subjects?

Think carefully before specialising in one subject area unless you’re absolutely certain that this is the direction you’ll want to follow at University or as a career. For example, psychology, criminology and sociology would allow only a limited choice of Higher Education courses but if you’re definite this path is for you, there’s no problem.


I want to do medicine, what subjects should I choose?

Check the entry requirements for different university courses, but chemistry, biology plus maths or physics, is essential for entry to medicine, dentistry and veterinary science. However, a single science, for example biology, can be a way into many NHS related degrees.


I’m considering teaching as a career, are there any subjects I should take?

It depends whether you’re applying for primary or secondary and there’s no straight forward answer to this question as the guidelines for individual teaching courses at university do vary considerably. However, they all require you to have GCSE English and maths and usually science too. For secondary teaching, you should choose subjects you would consider teaching as you will specialise in these. Some primary school teaching courses also like you to have at least one A level that is presently a national curriculum subject though even that isn’t always the case.


What are ‘facilitating’ subject?

Facilitating subjects are the subjects preferred by Russell Group universities. They help you keep your options open when choosing a degree and these universities will ask you to have at least two A levels in a facilitating subject when you apply.

The facilitating subjects that we offer are:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • French
  • Geography
  • History
  • Maths and Further Maths
  • Physics
  • Spanish

A level reform, what is it and how does it affect me?

In September 2018 all A levels will have been reformed. This means that your final grade is based upon the end of Y13 results only. However, to maximise outcomes and student experience the following subjects will sit an AS public examination that can be taken after one year of study.

  • Biology
  • Business Studies
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • French
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Product Design
  • Spanish

The following subjects will only be formally assessed at the end of the two year A level course and do not have a public AS examination at the end of Year 12.

  • English Lang & Lit
  • Geography
  • History
  • Physical Education
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies
  • Sociology
  • Theatre Studies

Vocational reform, what is it and how does it affect me?

In September 2018 all vocational courses will have been reformed. This means that all vocational courses now have an externally examined component. The size of the examination varies between qualifications. However, what is the same for all vocational qualifications is that you must pass the exam or you will not achieve a grade overall.

You can combine any three or four subjects irrespective of whether they’re A level or vocational


What is the Level 2 Suite?

This pathway is appropriate for anybody that does not meet the requirements for the two pathways above. This is a fixed curriculum of vocational Business Studies and Travel Tourism with GCSE Maths and English as required.


Do I have to study GCSE maths and English if I don’t have a grade 4 or better?

It is a government requirement that any student that who has not achieved a grade 4 or better in Maths or a grade 4 or better in either English language or literature must continue to study them in the Sixth Form.


I’m not sure about what career to take in the future. Can you support me?

Absolutely. We are very fortunate to have an independent careers advisor who works specifically with the sixth form on one day a week. Our advisor is always available for appointments or if you just want to chat about ideas you can drop in. She can also help to organise work experience.


I think I would like to go to University, how can you support my application?

St Mary’s sixth form really prides itself in the support given to university applicants. You will be assigned a member of the talented UCAS team who will guide you through all aspects of the process. You will be supported in writing a personal statement and given interview preparation training and tips. We offer visits, a support day explaining the application process and student finance. We also offer an information evening for parents.


Will I receive any financial support?

College students can apply for the 16-19 Bursary Fund if their parents/carers are claiming an income-based benefit. This money can be used to help with the costs of transport, food, equipment or other course related costs. This £20 a week bursary is subject to the students’ attendance and commitment to studies and is paid every half term.