17 April, 2014
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Choosing subjects in A level can be tough for prospective sixth-form students, especially to those who are still unsure of their university plans, let alone their future careers. Those planning to go on to higher learning institutions have to be mindful of the subjects required to be considered a place in their course of choice. As A levels subjects can have an influence on a student’s career pathway, it is advisable for the student to put some thought into choosing what to do for the two years in the sixth form.
What is A level? A level –Brunei-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Advanced level –takes two years of study after completing the O level exams. Students sit for an examination at the end of each year, the AS level in the Lower Sixth form and the A2 in the Upper Sixth form. The AS level can be a stand-alone qualification, but completing the A2 brings it up to A level standard. Most students take four subjects in AS level before specialising in three subjects in the A2. A wide range of subjects may be offered at the local sixth form colleges, but the Ministry of Education stated on its website that “students may choose a combination of three or more subjects according to approved subject combinations”. So how do you begin choosing the combination of subjects? Research, research, A good way to start is by going through the entry requirements stated in university prospecti or websites and the job listing. For example, a degree in Architecture might require a mixture of science or maths and humanities or arts subjects, so you may choose to do Maths, Physics and Art for your A level. With a little research-elbow grease, you will eventually get a feel of the subjects relevant to your interest. Speaking to current students and attending sixth form college and university Admissions/Open Days can also provide you with a lot of information. The tutors and career counsellors can be approached for advice and suggestions. Don’t forget to check the availability of the subject and the entry requirements at the sixth form college as well. You don’t want to turn up on registration day only to find out the college doesn’t even offer the subject you’re interested in doing or you didn’t get the minimum grade in your O level. The education exhibitions with university representatives and career advisors, and job fairs are also good places for your research. You can even order prospecti from overseas universities through their websites, and some would even deliver it to your house for free.
Love what you do While subjects required in your post-sixth form plan have to be considered, it is also important to choose subjects which you enjoy and are passionate about. Do not pick subjects just because they will look good on your application form or because your parents told you to do them or because everyone else are doing it. Consider choosing subjects that you have an aptitude for and those which piqued your interest. Remember, there is more to A level than just getting the grades. How many subjects to take? Meragang Sixth Form Centre (PTEM) head of careers Donald Foulkes said doing four subjects gives students a chance to study a subject they enjoy, regardless of its perceived usefulness, or its lack of, in their intended course in university. More subjects could also open more options for the students after A level, said Foulkes. For example, a student who did all three sciences and mathematics would be eligible for science-related courses in universities. The student could apply for courses ranging from the physics-based ones like engineering to the biology-based ones like health sciences. Doing a contrasting subject, such as Art and Design for those already taking three sciences, is also possible, he added. However, he cautioned that extra workload comes with additional subjects, so the student must be motivated to cope with it. Doing four subjects may not be for everyone as some students might not be able to cope with the extra homework and study time commitment. And that is okay. Only take additional subjects if you think you are able to handle them.
So what happens if you get it wrong? As the school term progresses, you might be doubting your chosen subjects. If you feel that the subjects are not working out for you, talk to your tutors or career counsellors immediately. It is better to seek advice for it sooner than later so the issue can be addressed effectively. However, keep in mind that some things might not turn out the way you expect it to be at A level. A subject you thought you’d enjoy might be challenging for you to keep up with, while the one you were sure to find difficult might be surprisingly interesting. And that is just part of the fun in A level.
The Brunei Times