Figuring out which A-Level subjects to choose can be difficult as there are so many things you may need to consider. This includes what subjects you’re good at, what subjects you enjoy as well as what subjects can help with future applications. If you’re not quite sure what you want to do next, it can help to pick A-Level subjects that keep your options open. One way to do this is to choose from subjects that are perceived as being the most respected A-Levels.
Be advised. The information that this ranking is based off is explained at the end of this article. Please understand that this list is not definitive. Perception of an A-Level subjects’ respectability is highly subjective. Your opinion may differ from the ranking displayed in this article. Please vote in our poll to have your say. We try our best to update these rankings as often as possible.
Most respected A-Levels: Student Perception
Below you can find the visualisation A-Level subject difficulty rankings (top – most respected, bottom – 13th most respected).
(*) Perception of which A-Levels are most respected voted by students. You can learn more about how we collected this data at the end of this article.
Continue reading to learn more about which subjects students feel are the most respected. This article will outline the top 10 and give you some insight into why students may have chosen these subjects.
10. A-Level English Language
2.45% of the poll considered A-Level English Language as the most respected A-Level, putting it in 10th place.
In A-Level English Language, students learn about the linguistic side of the English language. This will be done through analysing and evaluating different texts, as well as studying how children develop language and the different varieties of English that are spoken.
Students may consider A-Level English Language as one of the most respected A-Levels due to it being a core subject and allowing you to develop many transferable skills. These include writing skills and critical thinking skills, both of which would likely be useful for any degree that you may want to study or a range of jobs.
To learn more about A-Level English Language and why students may consider it one of the most respected A-Levels, check out this Think Student article.
9. A-Level Foreign Languages
3.87% of the poll considered A-Level Foreign Languages as the most respected A-Level, putting it in 9th place.
A-Level Foreign Languages refers to a wide range of different language A-Levels that you can take. The most popular of these are in French, Spanish and German but you may also be able to take A-Levels in Italian, Mandarin and other languages. Unlike at GCSE, students don’t just study the grammar and vocabulary of a language but also the culture of where the language is spoken.
A-Level Foreign Languages may be considered one of the most respected A-Levels as language skills are a great skill to have. This is especially as the world is becoming increasingly globalised and more companies are operating on an international scale. This means that A-Level Foreign Languages can give your CV a great boost as people with language skills are increasingly being sought after.
To learn more about the benefits of studying languages, check out this Think Student article.
A-Level Foreign Languages may also be considered one of the most respected A-Levels as it is valued by universities. This is because both A-Level Modern Languages and A-Level Classical Languages are considered facilitating subjects. Facilitating subjects were subjects that the Russel Group universities considered to be good A-Level options, although this is no longer used, they show which subjects the top universities respect most.
8. A-Level Biology
4.9% of the poll considered A-Level Biology as the most respected A-Level, putting it in 8th place.
In A-Level Biology, students continue their learning of biology and how organisms function. This includes topics on cells, energy transfer in organisms, ecosystems, gene expression and more. To learn more about these, check out this page by AQA.
Students may consider it one of the most respected A-Level subjects as it is one of the main science subjects. Due to this, A-Level Biology is often a requirement for studying science subjects when continuing education, particularly for degree subjects such as Medicine or Biomedical Sciences.
Also, as a largely academic subject, A-Level Biology was also one of the facilitating subjects, as mentioned above, showing that universities respect it highly. To learn more about why students may consider A-Level Biology one of the most respected, check out this article by Online Learning College.
7. A-Level Psychology
5.16% of the poll considered A-Level Psychology as the most respected A-Level, putting it in 7th place.
In A-Level Psychology, students learn about the mind and behaviours. A-Level Psychology students will particularly study topics such as attachment, memory, social influences and research methods in psychology. To learn more about the A-Level Psychology course, check out this page by AQA.
It may be considered one of the most respected A-Level subjects as it is both one of the sciences and an essay-based subject. This means that the course will allow you to develop a wide range of skills that are favourable to university study and employment. These include critical thinking and analysis as well as strong research skills. To learn more about this, check out this article by Learn Direct.
Students may also consider A-Level Psychology as one of the most respected as the subject of psychology is largely on the rise in both popularity and status. In 2023, A-Level Psychology was the 2nd most popular A-Level course and the most popular degree subject. For more on these A-Level and degree popularity rankings, click here and here to see their respective Think Student articles.
6. A-Level English Literature
6.13% of the poll considered A-Level English Literature as the most respected A-Level, putting it in 6th place.
In A-Level English Literature, students study a range of texts such as poetry, plays and novels from different time periods. Similarly to GCSE, these texts will be analysed by looking at different themes, characters and features of the novels themselves.
A-Level English Literature may be considered one of the most respected A-Levels due to the skills you can gain from it. This is particularly as it can enable you to develop writing and debating skills, both of which can be absolutely crucial for various degree subjects.
Improving your written communication skills is also important for working environments. To learn more about why A-Level English Literature might be considered one of the most respected, check out this Think Student article.
Also, A-Level English Literature is highly regarded by the top universities for students taking a humanities course. To learn more about this, check out this page by Trinity College of the University of Cambridge.
5. A-Level Physics
6.51% of the poll considered A-Level Physics as the most respected A-Level, putting it in 5th place.
In A-Level Physics, students will advance their scientific study of physics, specifically covering areas such as electricity, waves, mechanics, nuclear physics, radiation and more. To learn more about this, check out this page by AQA.
It may be considered one of the most respected A-Level subjects as once again, it is one of the main scientific subjects. This means that it will often be a requirement for science-based degree programmes, particularly ones like Engineering and Astrophysics.
This may make students consider it one of the most respected as it is valued by universities and can be a useful A-Level to have. To learn more about this, check out this article by Online Learning College.
4. A-Level History
6.71% of the poll considered A-Level History as the most respected A-Level, putting it in 4th place.
In A-Level History, students study specific areas of history in-depth and develop their critical thinking and analysis skills in order to evaluate how reliable historical sources and interpretations are based on their context and wider information. The exact historical topics that are studied will depend on the exam board and what your school has chosen.
To learn more about what is studied in A-Level History, check out this Think Student article.
A-Level History may be considered one of the most respected A-Level subjects as it allows you to develop key analytical, evaluative and debating skills, which could prove to be useful in a range of humanities degrees and career paths. A-Level History is often regarded as a good basis for prestigious degree options, such as for studying a Law degree.
Similarly to A-Level Foreign Languages, as mentioned above, A-Level History was also on the list of facilitating subjects, showing that it is also highly respected by top universities. To learn more about all this, check out this guide by CIFE.
3. A-Level Chemistry
7.67% of the poll considered A-Level Chemistry as the most respected A-Level, putting it in 3rd place.
In A-Level Chemistry, students will advance their studies by learning about more in-depth and advanced chemistry concepts. Students will cover organic, inorganic and physical chemistry split up into topics such as spectroscopy, thermodynamics, isomerism and more.
To learn more about the A-Level Chemistry course, check out this Think Student article.
It is considered one of the most respected A-Level subjects as it is another one of the main science subjects. This means that it is often a compulsory subject in order to study degrees, such as Chemical Engineering and Pharmacology.
As one of the main sciences, it is also one of the facilitating subjects as mentioned above, meaning that it is highly respected by universities. To learn more about this, check out this article by Online Learning College.
2. A-Level Further Maths
22.37% of the poll considered A-Level Further Maths as the most respected A-Level. This puts it in 2nd place with substantially more of the poll considering it the most respected A-Level than for the previous ones.
A-Level Further Maths is one of the hardest A-Level subjects, in which students learn about much more advanced mathematical concepts. To learn more about this, check out this Think Student article.
Due to its difficulty, students may consider it one of the most respected A-Levels as doing well on it shows off exceptional academic and mathematical ability. As 39.7% of students got an A*, much more than the average across subjects, A-Level Further Maths may also be respected as it shows off dedication and commitment to the subject.
For scientific or mathematical degree paths or career options, this can be incredibly useful. To learn more about this, check out this Think Student article. For more on this statistic, check out this page on Ofqual’s website.
1. A-Level Maths
29.59% of the poll considered A-Level Maths as the most respected A-Level, putting it in 1st place.
In A-Level Maths, students will advance their mathematical studies, with particular focus on the main areas of pure maths, statistics and mechanics with each having their own topics. Some of these topics may include integration, kinematics, forces, statistical hypothesis testing, logarithms and differentiation. To learn more about A-Level Maths, check out this page by AQA.
A-Level Maths may be considered one of the most respected A-Levels due to it being so challenging. This is because it shows that students have advanced and specific mathematical knowledge. This can be useful for a range of degree options, particularly ones with a scientific basis, such as Physics, and even some social sciences, such as Economics.
To learn more about why students may consider it one of the most respected subjects, check out this article by Bright Young Things.
How were these rankings decided?
Over the past few years, we’ve asked thousands of students what their opinion is on the most respected A-Level subject. When we refer to student polling, we are referencing the results of these polls. If you wish to add your vote to the list, please navigate to the questionnaire above.
How was the polling data collected?
Between January 2021 and January 2023, we displayed a poll on this page which prompted readers to vote on which A-Level subject was the most respected. Within this timeframe, we collect 1,551 votes, excluding submissions that were disregarded from the data set due to formatting issues or other errors.
Listed below are some key limitations of our polling methods that could’ve swayed results:
- Static ordering of subjects on voting form: A previous iteration of our survey form listed A-Level subjects in the same order each time. It could be argued that this would favour the subjects that were listed at the top. This issue has been fixed in our updated voting form below.
- Voting form displayed only a subset of A-Level subjects: Previously, only a small selection of A-Level subjects was displayed on the survey. We have since expanded the size of this selection on the voting form.
- Potential bad actors: Despite having anti-spam software in place, it is possible repeated entries were made by single individuals. With respect to privacy, we don’t ask for more information than we need and as a result, it is almost impossible to identify submission users to check if they are unique.
This article is a member of a series of A-Level ranking articles listed on this site. If you find our data and analysis within this article helpful, you may also wish to take a look at our other articles below: