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If you are a high school student in the Philippines who’s under the K12 program and will study in the UK for your undergrad, you will need to take a progression degree to bridge the gap of the Philippines high school education system gap to the UK’s. One of the main options that Philippine high school students can consider taking is the Advanced Level Program (commonly known as A-level).


What is an A-level Program? It is a subject based qualification that allows students to progress and prepare to their intended undergraduate degree.


Choosing the right A-level subjects can be a daunting task for even the most capable of students!  The subjects you study will influence the degrees which you can apply to, and therefore potentially your future career.  Different universities can have different requirements and strict subject grade standards. It is important to check specific subject requirements for any degrees you are interested in. 


Unlike high school in the Philippines where students study various subjects, in the UK, students will focus on 3 subjects to study for A-levels.  Some students may choose to study 4 subjects for their A-levels…however this is something which we advise against since:


1) Top universities only make offers based on 3 subjects only.  As such doing a 4th subject offers little benefit if you have ambitions to enter, for example, a high-ranking Russell Group university.


2) A-levels can be quite demanding and so 4 subjects will simply increase your workload and stress, therefore decreasing the chances of obtaining top grades.  It is always better to achieve 3 A*s, as opposed to 2 A*s and 2 Bs, for example. 


Perhaps the most logical way to choose your A-level subjects is to work backwards.  Consider where you would like to be in life 10 years from now?  Is there any career path that you would like to follow?


Upon deciding your chosen undergraduate degree, you can then the most appropriate A-levels required for entry to university.

When deciding on your A-levels, it is important to note that certain A-level subjects will open up more university course options (this is especially true for the top-ranking institutions). 


Until very recently, the subjects most commonly required, preferred or respected by top universities to get on to a range of degree courses were called “facilitating subjects”.  The Russell Group previously defined facilitating subjects as the following:


•   English literature

•   History 

•   Modern languages (e.g. French, Spanish, German etc.)

•   Classical languages (Ancient Greek, Latin)

•   Mathematics and further mathematics 

•   Physics

•   Biology 

•   Chemistry 

•   Geography 


Whilst the above list still provides some relevant guidance regarding subjects respected by top universities, the Russell Group have since replaced facilitating subjects with a new guide called

“Informed Choices”.  This decision was taken in May 2019 to allow the inclusion of students who wish to study arts or creative subjects, or subjects such as economics or psychology. 


A useful website created by the Russell Group to help students the most appropriate A-level subjects for yourself can be found here:


Some universities and courses may have lists of subjects which will disadvantage applicants, which is something you should also research and consider.  For example, London School of Economics have a list of non-preferred subjects which include:


•   Accounting

•   Art and Design 

•   Business 

•   Design Technology 

•   Drama

•   Film Studies 

•   Health and Social Care 

•   ICT

•   Media

•   Physical Education 

•   Travel and Tourism


Be aware that certain university courses will absolutely require specific A-level subjects.  Examples of these are as follows:


•   Medicine/Dentistry/Vet Science – chemistry essential, plus at least one from biology, maths and physics. 


•   Economics – maths is usually required, very rarely do you need economics. 


•   Law – no essential subjects, although universities may prefer you to have subjects which show logical ability and the ability to write (e.g. a mix of arts and science subjects).


•   Computing – maths is essential for a few universities, and useful for all. 


•   Engineering – maths and physics are generally essential.  Further maths often preferred. Chemistry is essential for most chemical engineering degrees. 


So there are a few factors to consider when selecting your A-level subjects.  However the number 1 rule above anything else when choosing your A-levels is to only subjects that you enjoy and are good at!  It is pointless to choose a subject which you find boring or difficult (even though your parents may have other ideas!).  Your teachers will also be able to help you with this, and so do not be afraid to ask for advice. 


Having the opportunity to study A-levels in the UK will be both rewarding and fun.  It is a great opportunity to experience different cultures, teaching styles and make new friends (both UK and international).   UKEAS will  guide you in choosing degrees and in assessing your capabilities as a student.

 If you are interested in chatting about A-levels in the UK, then UKEAS and MPW will be delighted to help.  


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