How Hard Is A-Level Business Studies? 

How Hard Is A-Level Business Studies?

In A-Level by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

So, you’re considering taking A-Level Business Studies at college. It is a hard A-Level, but could you take it on?

In this article I’ll be taking a look at the pros and cons surrounding A-Level Business Studies. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll know what A-Level Business Studies is really like!

A-Level Business Studies is not that hard compared to other A-Levels in terms of difficulty of content. You just need to be able to understand the concepts and ideas behind the content, and be able to put them together. As long as you’re adept at extended writing and interpreting data, A-Level Business Studies will not be too much of a struggle for you. The A-Level’s mild difficulty is shown by it’s pass rate – which is 98%.

How Hard Is The Content In A-Level Business Studies?

A-Level Business Studies

You know what the content is, but how hard will it actually be?

All A-Levels are hard, that’s the point – they’re supposed to push your abilities and test your limits. They separate the top end of students from each other, so employers know who to pick. 

Having said this, the actual content of A-Level Business Studies isn’t too hard compared to other A-Levels. The facts and figures you need to know are fairly simple to grasp.

The only problem is the volume at which they come in. There is a LOT of information that you need to know for your A-Level Business Studies exams. 

And for that reason, it’s a relatively hard A-Level to take if you don’t focus. You have to be focused and motivated to be able to succeed in A-Level Business Studies.

Due to the topics in A-Level Business Studies being full of very easy-to-digest content, most of the difficulty that comes with A-Level Business Studies is simply down to how much you can remember. There really aren’t many topics that actually make you think and come up with an intelligent answer. 

Therefore, it is my opinion that the grade you get in this A-Level is determined by how good your extended writing skills are, how good your memory is and finally how effectively you can regurgitate content that is in your head onto an exam paper. You really don’t have to be super intelligent to achieve a pass in this A-Level – you just need to be determined.

If you check out my article on how hard A-Level Maths is or my other article on how hard A-Level Further Maths is, you will see what I mean by this A-Level being about determination not necessarily academic ability.

So, how can you make it easier to manage? 

The content is easier if you manage to make it work for you. Different students have different ways of processing information, and so it’s important to find the right one for you.

It also helps to make links between the content areas. As I’ve previously said, most of the A-Level Business Studies course is interlinking, meaning you can learn it all faster.

It also helps if you persistently study in out-of-college hours. Revision of your lessons will help you to retain all that information, leaving you better off in the long run. 

And as I’ve already said, choosing other A-Levels that are similar to A-Level Business Studies is a good idea. Their likeness to each other means that you’ll get used to learning their information quicker.

But also make sure that you have the right amount of time off from studying! If you spend too long revising your notes and such, it’ll eventually stop going into your brain.

What Topics Do You Study In A-Level Business Studies?

A-Level Business Studies Topics

You might’ve mastered the topics at GCSE, but what comes next in the world of Business Studies?

Well, the short answer is all of the topics below:

  • What is Business?
  • Managers, Leadership and Decision Making
  • Decision Making to Improve Marketing Performance
  • Decision Making to Improve Operation Performance
  • Decision Making to Improve Financial Performance
  • Decision Making to Improve Human Resource Performance
  • Analysing the Strategic Position of a Business
  • Choosing Strategic Direction
  • Strategic Methods: How to Pursue Strategies
  • Managing Strategic Change

These are the 10 main topics – inside each of these topics are many sub-topics where the content is further explored. The topics above where gathered from the AQA A-Level Business Specification, however, the content is very similar across all exam boards.

Throughout GCSE Business Studies, you should have covered the basics. This means business objectives, marketing mixes, stakeholders etc.

In A-Level Business Studies, you cover a similar range of topics during Year 1 – just in more depth. After that, you start to study much harder topics as you grow in your understanding of the working world. 

Decision making comes into the course quite a lot at A-Level. You learn about how to make decisions, what kind of decisions are made in a business, and the different types. 

These topics may sound easy now, but trust me, they’re surprisingly hard!

There is so much information needed for A-Level Business Studies, and it all interlinks.To be able to excel in this subject, you need to be able to connect the dots between topics.

To make it harder, most students that take A-Level Business Studies don’t even take the GCSE. This means that the content they start to learn is brand new.

I am a student in college, and at the time of writing I’m studying A-Level Maths, A-Level Further Maths, and A-Level Business Studies.

I didn’t take the Business Studies GCSE, but I’m finding A-Level Business Studies actually quite fun. I’ve found that as long as you keep on top of your work outside and inside college, then it shouldn’t be too hard. 

As I’ve said, it’s all about learning the content-heavy syllabus. If you know your stuff, then the rest should come fairly easily to you.

As you progress into your second year of A-Level Business Studies, you’ll start to find that it gets harder. This is due to the depth of the content, but as the work progresses, so will you hopefully.

You’ll find it easier to process the information in A-Level Business Studies as you get used to how it all works.

What Are The Exams Like For A-Level Business Studies?

A-Level Business Studies Exams

Exams for A-Levels are different to exams for GCSE in the first place, but how do A-Level Business Studies exams fit in?

A-Level Business Studies requires great extended writing skill to be able to do well in the exam. There are lots of questions where the marks you can get are achieved by writing long paragraphs about the content.

There are short answer questions, too. Questions that have 3 or 4 marks require short, succinct answers for full marks. 

These questions usually come towards the front of the paper, to prepare you and lead you up to those larger, heavier content-based questions. 

In your A-Level Business Studies exams, you’ll also find a section on multiple choice. This is there right at the start to help you warm up your business head.

As long as you know your knowledge, this part should be a breeze! By far the easiest part of the A-Level Business Studies exam, if you know your stuff that is.

In addition to those heavy 9 or 16 mark questions, the exam will also include some case studies. 2 to be exact. 

These are in the exam to show that you can apply your knowledge to real life situations. If you can do well in case studies, you’re set for the rest of your exam! 

The actual exams themselves come in three parts – paper 1, 2 and 3. Each of these papers contribute 33.3% of the marks to your final A-Level mark. Each paper is 2 hours long and is worth 80 marks.

This is not too different from GCSE style timings, as most GCSEs tend to be an hour and a half long .

Hopefully this means that the exams will feel comfortable and natural to you – meaning more marks.

What is The Pass Rate of A-Level Business Studies?

A-Level Business Studies Pass Rate

The short answer is that 98% of students who take A-Level Business Studies achieve A*- E (a pass). 

This is not to say that it is an easy A-Level, because it’s not! If you take A-Level Business Studies, you will still have to work hard to be successful.

There are lots of students passing A-Level Business Studies each year, but only a few reaching that top mark. If we look at the grade table for A-Level Business Studies we can see that only 3.4% of students who took the exam in 2018 achieved an A* grade.

The full breakdown is below:

  • 3.4% achieved an A*
  • 11.8% achieved an A
  • 29.9% achieved a B
  • 29.7% achieved a C
  • 17% achieved a D
  • 6.2% achieved an E
  • 2% failed

There is no excuse! If you take A-Level Business Studies, I expect you to be aiming for those top grades to improve those percentages.

How Independent Do You Have To Be When Studying A-Level Business Studies?

A-Level Business Studies Library

I’ve talked about independent study in out-of-college hours previously, but just how much can it actually be?

As I’ve previously stated, you’re expected to complete the same number of hours outside of lesson as you are in. This is so you can keep up with the heavy amount of work that the course brings along.

This is one of the major differences between GCSEs and A-Levels, as you’d only have to revise when exams loomed around the corner.

It’s good that the course pushes you to revise though. If you plan to go to further education (e.g university) then the work you do will be almost entirely independent.

Depending on what A-Levels you chose, you can end up studying for a seriously long time on your own!

However, you’re not completely on your own. There are lots of resources available to help you out when studying A-Level Business Studies. 

For example, make the most of your teacher/tutor! They know the most about your course, and are always happy to help you improve your knowledge.

It can also help to organise group work with other people doing A-Level Business Studies. There are lots of opportunities to brainstorm and work together in A-Level Business studies, so why work alone?

If you do prefer to work alone however, you can make use of a large base of information – the internet! There are loads of resources available online to help you out with your independent studies.

Some great online resources are Revision World and S-Cool. 

So, even though A-Level Business Studies (like all A-Levels) is very independent, there are lots of things to help you out. Don’t let the independence deter you from choosing this A-Level as you will eventually need to become independent anyways – A-Levels just speed the process up.

How Much Harder Is A-Level Business Studies Compared To GCSE Business Studies?

A-Level Business Studies Work

So, you’ve taken business studies as a GCSE and come out on top. How much of an increase in difficulty is A-Level Business Studies compared to GCSE?

Firstly, if you are wanting a direct comparison between the pass rate of A-Level Business Studies and GCSE Business Studies, here it is:

  • A-Level Business Studies Pass Rate: 98%
  • GCSE Business Studies Pass Rate: 64.5%

The reason for this difference is two fold.

Firstly, everyone who takes A-Level Business Studies has chosen to do so, this isn’t always the case for GCSE Business Studies students. What this means, is that almost everyone studying Business Studies at A-Level has a passion for the subject and will be determined to get a good grade. However, at GCSE many people didn’t chose to be there and are doing the subject out of necessity, therefore, they lack the determination and ambition to get a good grade. Resulting in a lower pass rate for the GCSE students.

Secondly, the data cannot be compared 100% accurately. This is because a pass at GCSE is a C, whereas, a pass at A-Level is an E. Therefore, the argument could be had that it is easier for A-Level student to pass than it is for GCSE students.

GCSE Business Studies is designed for students finishing secondary school to learn skills for running a business. This is similar to A-Level Business Studies – you’ve finished secondary school, and you’re learning about running a business. However, there are some notable differences between GCSE Business Studies and A-Level Business studies.

For example, you don’t just learn how to run a business at A-Level. You go in-depth into how a business works, the different types, and how to be effective in the marketplace.

Not only is this new content, it’s also fairly difficult to wrap your head around. It requires a lot of practice and good revision skills to be able to master the Business Studies A-Level. 

The work is also a lot more independent than that of GCSE Level. You need to do just as much study out of class as you do out of class.

The independent study for A-Level Business Studies is similar to that of GCSE revision – there’s just more of it.

This means that half of the content you learn comes from your own study. As you can clearly see, unless you’re good at independent revision, you’ll really struggle at A-Level.

There is also a LOT more content to learn for A-Level Business Studies. Once you’ve grasped the key concepts and ideas behind the course, the next step is to build up your knowledge.

Because of the vast amount of information needed for exams, it can be hard to keep up with the work. This is because the course only lasts for two years – trying to cram all that content in is a nightmare! 

What Revision Materials Are Available For A-Level Business Studies?

A-Level Business Studies Revision Library

At this point you must be seriously considering taking A-Level Business Studies. But after hearing how independent you have to be, what help is there?

We’ll start off with the most obvious one – your notes. Making notes during class is a great way of not only remembering what you’ve written, but preparing for later revision! 

When you make notes in class on important information, it helps your brain to process that it needs to be remembered. Therefore, you remember it better.

Also make sure to look at exam board approved textbooks. These kinds of textbooks have been approved so that you know they have all the right info in.

Another great source of information is the internet. There are loads of e-textbooks available for you to use online!

You can also try student forums for help on specific areas of A-Level Business Studies that you don’t understand. Don’t forget, some of these students are older than you, and have gone through the same process. 

But be careful! Not everything you read online is true. Picking up false information unknowingly and using it in your exam can lead to stupid mistakes. 

You can also try chatting to your teacher/tutor about A-Level Business Studies. Let’s face it, they’ve been through the course more times than you ever will.

This means that they will be able to explain most anything that comes up that you don’t understand. Don’t be afraid to ask, they’re there to help you understand A-Level Business Studies! 

And if all else fails, you can also try talking to fellow classmates. It’s likely that someone else in the class is understanding the topic when you don’t, so try asking for help.

What Textbooks Do You Need For A-Level Business Studies?

A-Level Business Studies TextbooksI don’t think I need to tell you that you can’t use your GCSE Business textbooks, when studying A-Level Business Studies… With that being said, what A-Level Business Studies textbooks should you use?

Firstly, there are two types of A-Level textbooks you should get if you want the best chances of doing well in A-Level Business Studies. These two types are: Revision Guides and Classroom Textbooks.

Revision guides don’t really explain concepts in detail, they are more used for recapping content you already know. Hence the name, revision guides – they are used for revision, not for learning.

When you start revising for A-Level Business Studies, your revision guide will be your revision bible. Providing you get the right one, your revision guide can help you SO much. So, which revision guide should you get for A-Level Business Studies?

You have to make sure that your revision guide is written for your exam board! So below are my revision guide recommendations for each exam board:

I highly recommend you get the ones above as they cover Year 1 and Year 2 A-Level Business Studies content.

In direct contrast, class textbooks do explain concepts in massive detail. Class textbooks are normally used for learning concepts that you didn’t understand in class. Therefore, they can also be extremely helpful during the 2 year learning period for A-Level Business Studies.

Once again, you have to make sure that you get the right class textbook for your exam board. Below are three lists (for each exam board) and you need to get every textbook under your exam board list. Unless of course you are happy going without classroom textbooks, but they really do help.

Classroom Textbooks For Edexcel A-Level Business Studies (Need Both):

Classroom Textbooks For AQA A-Level Business Studies (Need Both):

Disclaimer: If you are trying to spend as little as possible, the classroom textbooks are not absolutely essential, they’re just really helpful. So if you are on a budget, just get the revision guides as they are the most helpful out of the two types of textbook by far.

Can You Take A-Level Business Studies Without The GCSE?

A-Level Business Studies Work

It’s too late at this point to change your GCSEs to accommodate GCSE Business Studies. So, is it plausible to take A-Level Business Studies without the GCSE?

The answer is, yes.

As I’ve said, the course has a lot of information you need to learn. But, most of the GCSE stuff is covered in the first year anyway! 

I’m currently studying A-Level Business Studies at college, and I didn’t take a Business Studies GCSE. As long as you can keep up with the work, I don’t see why you should have any problems with the course. 

Having taken the Business Studies GCSE will help of course, but not hugely. Most students taking A-Level Business Studies haven’t done the GCSE either, and so you’re all in the same boat! 

We’ve also seen the statistics and grades achieved by students for A-Level Business Studies last year. With only 2% of students failing the course, I’d say it’s safe to assume you’d be alright.

Do You Need Any Special Equipment For A-Level Business Studies?

No, not really. I am currently doing A-Level Business Studies and all I got equipment wise was this equipment pack from

Where Could A-Level Business Studies Take You?

A-Level Business Studies Career Paths

A-Level Business Studies is great for college and all, but where can it take you after education?

The answer is, mostly anywhere. A-Level Business Studies covers such a broad range of topics that it’s applicable to most things outside of college.

Some good examples of what jobs A-Level Business Studies could lead to: 

  • Accountant 
  • Advertiser 
  • Public Relations Related Jobs 
  • Sales 
  • Retail Management 

To find a more extensive list of jobs that A-Level Business Studies could lead to click here.

It’s good if you’re looking for entry level work. Having an A-Level in Business Studies will set you apart from other employees and increase your chances of promotion or employment.

It’s also great if your plan is to go into university, too. Having an A-Level in Business Studies shows the university that you’re used to lots of work and difficult content!

But where A-Level Business Studies really shines is in apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are a way to learn more about the working world and help you get to where you want to be.

Going into an apprenticeship with A-Level Business Studies will be second nature, as you’ll already be adept with the working world. 

If you work hard enough whilst in college, you can get any job you want to. A-Level Business Studies should make it easier to get to that job, though.

A-Level Business Studies is primarily for leading you into corporate jobs. It will help you to get those high-paid, high-experience jobs as you work your way up the hierarchy.

As you start to change between different jobs later on in your life, you’ll use your knowledge from business studies to help you out.

Employers will see your A-Level in Business Studies and realise that you have a good idea of how a company works. This will help you stand out against other potential employees. 

What Other A-Levels Are Good With Business Studies?

A-Level Business Studies Revision

So, you’ve decided to take A-Level Business Studies, but you’re not sure what to take with it. Here’s a few pointers for you…

A-Level Business Studies is a very flexible A-Level, and therefore it works with most subjects. It’s great to take as an A-Level to fill up your options.

If you’re looking to go to university and study a specific course, then you’ll want to choose subjects that contribute towards that end goal. 

For example, if you wanted to go into Law in university, you could take Business Studies, Law, and Mathematics. This a nice mix of academic subjects, that all revolve around common themes.

Taking A-Levels that fit nicely together like that is a good idea. It will be easier to complete your independent study for them, as they’ll all be fairly similar.

However, it can be nice to have a subject that is a little different from the rest. This way, you don’t get bored from doing the same sorts of things all the time.

In the end, it all depends on what you want to do after college. A-Level Business Studies can pair nicely with most subjects, and so the choice is entirely up to you. 

If you know what you want to do, try talking to one of your tutors/teachers for advice on what to take. They usually know what they’re talking about, and might be helpful when making that final decision.

If you’re not quite sure what you want to do after college, have no fear! I’d suggest taking A-Levels that keep your options open, whilst still guaranteeing you a good future. 

There are a few A-Levels that are good with Business Studies in general. Subjects like Mathematics, Accounting and Economics are a great match with A-Level Business Studies. 

If you want an extensive list of good A-Level combinations that universities absolutely love, check out this article.

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