When Is It Too Late to Change A-Level Subjects?

In A-Level by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

Choosing your A-Levels can be tricky, and you may change your options what seems like a million times before you pick the right courses for you. Choosing just three of your favourite subjects to study at sixth form can be a struggle! However, if, when you choose your options, you truly believe that you have made the wrong choice, you should absolutely contact your college and let them know – taking a course you don’t enjoy will make you miserable and your grade outcome will reflect this. So, when is it classed as ‘too late’ to make a change to your courses?  

In short, the time that you will be able to change your A-Level courses varies depending on your Sixth Form College. Most colleges will allow you to change your options during September, and some may even let you change them at the start of the second term. The best advice that we can give you is that you should try and make the decision about whether or not the course is right for you as soon as possible. It is also vital that you speak to the relevant member of staff at your college if you are having any doubts in order to understand the procedure and rules specific to your college.  

Although you now have the short answer, I would recommend that you read this whole article. I will be sharing my top tips for when you should or should not alter your A-Level choices. 

How Do You Pick the Right A-Levels For You? 

First of allit’s important that when you do pick your A-Levels that you pick them for yourself, not anyone else. Don’t just take the same courses as your friends because you want to be in the same classes as them – you’ll end up doing a course you don’t like, and you probably won’t be put in the same classes as them anyway, especially if you take popular subjects like maths and the sciences.  

If you are having trouble deciding which A-Levels will benefit your future career and want to find out which combinations may be right for you, check out our other articles at Think Student such as 17 Good A-Level Combinations That Universities Love. 

How Does the Deadline For Changing A-Levels Vary Between Colleges?

The timings for picking your A-Levels will depend on your sixth form college’s rules, but there tends to be an average time when most will let you change them. Different sixth forms have different rules as to when you can change options for a variety of reasons. It would be a good idea to contact your intended sixth form before picking your options to check for any deadlines for course changesand also check that your sixth form definitely runs the course or courses you intend to switch to.  

If you contact your college and find that the deadline has already passed, have no fear! Check out the end of this article to see if any of the options are a possibility for you. 

Can You Change Your A-Level Subjects Before Starting College? 

If you have submitted your sixth-form application early to get it out of the way (like many students do) but are having second thoughts about the subjects that you have picked, amending your choices before beginning your classes is probably the best time to change them.  

If you alter your subjects before starting any courses/modules, there is no risk of missing out on important content at the beginning of the academic year, and you have the same opportunities to develop friendships with your classmates. 

Maybe you thought you had your A-Levels completely sorted but are having second thoughts after receiving your GCSE results. This is completely normal, and there are many students just like you who go through this every year.  

The best advice for this problem is to consult your sixth form’s office and let them know you would like to change your courses straight away, so that they are in the know. Changing your options before September is usually fine in the majority of sixth form colleges. If your college enrols you after results day, you may even get an opportunity to speak to someone about changing your options then! 

Can You Swap A-Level Subjects Even If the Year Has Already Started? 

It happens every year – students think they have the correct A-Level choices sorted out, but when the start the course, they decide that their subjects just aren’t for them. If you feel this way, not to worry! The majority of colleges will accept you switching A-Levels during September – at least they have with people I have spoken to.  

The thing to remember is that if you are even considering the possibility that your A-Levels may change, then letting people at your college know as soon as possible is the best course of action to take – the sooner, the better. The more you delay in telling your college, the more content you miss and the smaller the chance of changing your options gets. 

Can You Swap A-Level Options Even If You Are Already a Term into the Course? 

On one hand, this isn’t an ideal time to change your courseson the other hand, the earlier you decide to change, the better. If you are taking a course and still don’t enjoy it or find it interesting after a term, then it’s a clear sign that it isn’t the option for you. This means that you need to think about what switching at this stage entails. 

Once a course has started without you, you will have to catch up in your own time. Bear in mind that if you do decide to change, you will probably have a significant amount of work to catch up on from the weeks/months you have missed. This work is likely to be quite important and may include the foundational knowledge for you to understand your subject, so it is crucial that you try to catch up in your own time to get the best exam results that you can. 

If you are willing to put in the work to catch up, and have permission from your course providers, then switching after a term may be a possibility for you.  

Can You Change Your A-Level Subjects After a Year? 

Here’s where it gets tricky. It isn’t recommended to change your A-Levels this late in the course, simply because there would not be enough time to catch-up on a year’s worth of work while simultaneously learning the second year’s content not to mention the fact that you wouldn’t have enough time to revise your work sufficiently to have a good chance of getting a good grade at the end of Year 13. In addition, developing relationships with members of your new class as well as your new teacher may be difficult for you. 

There can be some special exceptions, however, such as wanting to take certain A-Levels in order to get into a specific university course, but you must be absolutely dedicated to catching up on missed work. People often must consult their sixth form’s leader to discuss what to do at this stage of their college experience.  

While some students end up eventually changing their options at the end of the year, some also decide to spend an extra year at sixth form to achieve the grades that they need – remember, there is no rule stating that you must be 18 to start university; many students take a gap year anyway either after GCSEs or A-Levels. 

Can You Take A Gap Year to Decide? 

If you feel like you have left it too late to change your A-Levels, there is always the possibility of taking a year out of school while you decide on what you want to do. It’s a very popular option among students who have just completed their GCSEs or even their A-Levels – I know lots of people currently taking a year out for a number of reasons.  

Perhaps you simply want to have a break from academic work or need more time to assess your options – maybe you aren’t sure if A-Levels are for you. You may even intend to start working to earn your own money after your GCSEs. This is totally understandable, and, if so, a gap year could be a really great option for you.  

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