The 10 Most Popular A-Level Subjects | 2024 Ranking

most popular a level

Do you have a favorite subject in school or a favorite subject that isn’t on your schedule? A-Levels are a fantastic opportunity to research topics that interest you thoroughly. 

It doesn’t matter if that’s something entirely new, like psychology, economics, or sociology, or if it’s something you still don’t have enough of. 

The issue is that there are many potential topics to consider, and choosing one is not always simple. Knowing which disciplines complement one another is crucial because they could lead to a certain degree or job. 

Whatever your motivation, we’ve chosen the 10 most popular A-level subjects in 2024.

What Are A-Levels and Are They Important?

Students aged 12 and 13 who are 16 years old and older can study advanced level qualifications or A-Levels. 

Here, students usually focus on three or four particular subjects of their choosing. In order to be admitted to a degree, universities typically require applicants to have strong A-level results (or a comparable alternative). 

So, doing A-Levels may be the best course for you, whether you’re considering attending university or want to keep your choices open.

See also: Are Universities Public Sector In The UK?

How do I choose the right A-Levels for me?

Your academic strengths, hobbies, and long-term goals should all be considered while choosing the best A-Levels.

Start by thinking about the things you excel at and enjoy studying because you’ll be more driven to do so. 

Check the entry requirements for any job route or university degree you have in mind to be sure your A-Level choices meet them.

It’s important to consider the disciplines’ workload, degree of difficulty, and method of assessment (exams, coursework, or practical practice). 

To make an informed choice, ask teachers, career counsellors, and professionals in your field of interest for their recommendations.

  • Further Maths
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Maths
  • English Literature
  • History
  • Economics
  • Modern Languages
  • Geography

Now let’s look at each of these subjects in more detail, explaining why they are so popular.

#1. Further Maths

For a good reason, they frequently regarded Advanced Level Further Mathematics as the most challenging subject.

This course covers advanced calculus, differential equations, and abstract algebra, which go beyond what is covered in standard mathematics. 

Only 13,700 students took the exam for Further Mathematics in 2019—a significantly small number. Of these, a sizable portion (about 24%) received an A*. In 2022, 39.7% of students received an A* in further maths, a rise. 

Additionally, roughly 30% of students routinely earn an A, meaning that over 70% of students in 2021 achieved an A or A*.

Do not, however, base your decision to do A-Level Further Maths only on these statistics.

First, marks in 2021 were inflated due to COVID-19 postponing exams, but even more significantly, the vast majority of students enrolling in Further Math are already studying math and are often on track to receive an A or A*. 

These students excel in mathematics to a greater extent than the general population, which is not reflected in their proficiency. 

Therefore, even though Further Maths is highly difficult, if you are already a strong math student, you may get top scores. This is one to miss if math is already not your strong suit.

You can read this: What is the Best A Level Calculator For Maths and Further Maths?

#2. Physics

Another notoriously challenging and popular A-Level subject is physics, which is sometimes required of students who want to major in engineering or the sciences in college. 

The course covers many topics, such as thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and classical mechanics. Only 8.5% of the 36,000 students who took the Physics exam in 2019 received an A*. 

This will rise to 16.4% in 2022, and roughly 20–25% of students will receive an A in physics. Even though this is a tough topic, an A* rate may turn some students off.

#3. Chemistry

Chemistry is a popular subject that requires both extensive memorization and mathematical skills. Inorganic, physical, and organic chemistry are only a few of the topics covered in this subject. 

Chemistry was the seventh most popular A-level subject in 2019, with over 54,000 students taking the test. But only 7.2% of these students received an A* in 2019, making it one of the most challenging A-level topics. 

However, roughly 25% of chemistry students receive A grades. In 2022, less than 20% of students earned a D or an E. 

As a result, chemistry is a difficult A-level subject. Due to the difficulty of the topic, many students decide to work with A-Level Chemistry tutors.

#4. Biology

Because of the extensive amount of material they must memorize and the intricate ideas they must comprehend, biology is another science subject widely viewed as popular. 

The subject includes various topics, such as physiology, ecology, and genetics. Only 6.6% of the 63,600+ students who took the Biology exam in 2019 received an A*. 

Even if this increased to 12.8% in 2022, achieving the best mark on this subject is still very difficult. However, as 20% of students earned an A, B, or C, the A-C group includes around two-thirds of applicants.

Also, read this: How to Receive Extra Time For GCSE, A-Level and University Exams

#5. Maths

Mathematics at the A-Level is a popular subject that calls for much logical reasoning and problem-solving skills.

Numerous topics are covered in the course, such as algebra, calculus, and trigonometry. 

The most popular A-Level in 2021 was mathematics, with 85,000 students sitting for the test.

In 2019, 16.3% of students received an A*; by 2022, 22.8% did. The same amount of students earned an A. 

Over 20% of the 1,000 students who participated in our poll and needed study assistance engaged an A-Level math tutor.

Read also: When Do Cambridge Offers (and Interviews) Come Out in 2024?

#6. English Literature

English Literature is significantly more popular than the other A-Levels studied so far, and each student will experience essay writing in English differently. 

No matter how well you read and write, English Literature will test your capacity for critical thought and analytical reasoning. 

Students must be thoroughly aware of literary devices and themes because the course covers various texts, including novels, plays, and poetry.

Only 8.6% of the 37,000 students who took the English Literature exam in 2019 received an A*. #Since 2017, most students have earned a B, with about 30% doing so annually.

#7. History

Another essay- and coursework-based subject that necessitates much investigation, analytical skill, and critical thinking is history. 

Students must have a thorough understanding of both the breadth and depth of historical events because the subject spans a wide range of issues, including political, social, and economic history. 

Around 47,000 students took the History exam in 2019, placing it in the top 5. In 2019, the lowest rate since at least 2008, only 4.9% of students achieved an A*. 

This increased to about 12% in 2022, but it still stands out as a comparatively significant subject compared to other topics.

Over 30% of students in 2022 will obtain a B in history, which is the grade that most students in this subject receive.

#8. Economics

The study of economics is popular and calls for strong quantitative skills and analytical thinking.

The course covers various topics, such as econometrics, macroeconomics, and microeconomics. 

Economics was less popular than Art and Design, Sociology, Geography, and Business Studies in 2019, according to the 29,800 students who took the exam. Only 6.5% of pupils earned an A* in 2019, whereas 13.5% did so in 2022.

However, a greater percentage of students—about 25% on average for each—get As and Bs.

You can check this: Guide to GCSE Exam Boards: Popularity, Pass Rates, and More

9. Modern Languages

Modern Foreign Languages, including French, Spanish, and German, are popular A-level subjects that demand extensive memorization and linguistic proficiency.

Various subjects are covered, such as grammar, vocabulary, and culture. 

Spanish was the most sought-after language in 2019, with 7,900 candidates, followed by French with 7,600 and German with 2,900.

According to the graphs below, German tends to have the highest percentage of As, followed by Spanish and French.

#10. Geography

Geography at A-level is a popular subject that includes human, physical, and environmental issues.

It is a vast and interdisciplinary subject that might be difficult for certain students because it calls for tying together complicated concepts and utilizing a variety of theoretical stances.

Only 5.2% of the 31,800 students who took Geography A-Level in 2019 received an A*.

This rose to 11.0% in 2022. Nearly 22% of geography students obtain grades A or C, with most students receiving a B.

Also, check this: What is an AS Level? Everything You Need To Know About The AS Levels

Should I take any A-Levels at all?

Depending on your goals for the future and ability to handle the effort, you should take a certain amount of A-Levels. Three A-Levels, the average student’s course load in the UK, are required for admission to most university programs. 

Students who are especially ambitious or want to leave their choices open may take four A-Levels. However, the burden associated with four A-Levels will soar, and they predicate most university offers on three A-Levels. 

To avoid overstretching yourself over four disciplines, it is frequently preferable to concentrate on earning significant results in only three.

See also: How Long Is Medical School In The UK?

What are the most respected A-Levels?

The most respected A-Levels are similar to the hardest ones. According to Dr Zhen Shao of Oxford University, the most respected A-Levels include:
– Maths
– Further Maths
– Chemistry
– Physics
– History
– French

What are the most popular A-levels?

The most popular A-Levels in 2021 by student entries were:
– Mathematics – 90,290
– Psychology – 68,315
– Biology – 63,765
– Chemistry – 55,485
– Sociology – 39,825
– History – 41,585
– Art and design subjects – 39,370
– Business studies – 35,285
– Physics – 37,560
– Economics – 32,700

Which A-Level is the most difficult to earn an A* in?

Dr. James Morrill, an expert with a Ph.D. from Oxford University, stated, “Further Maths is the hardest A-Level to achieve an A* in.
Although fewer students earn A’s in topics like Media Studies and Business, it is far more challenging to do so in Further Maths than in any other subject due to its complexity.

What IB courses are the most challenging?

English Literature, Chemistry, and Mathematics Analysis and approaches are among the most challenging IB courses.

Why is an A-level topic challenging?

An A-level subject’s difficulty level can be debatable and frequently depends on the knowledge and preferences of the student. However, several things can make an A-level topic difficult. 
These factors include the amount of material to be learned, the difficulty of the concepts, the demand for critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, and the kind of evaluation (exams, coursework, or practical work, for example). 

What study techniques can I use to ace my A-Levels?

Consistent work, efficient study methods, and a positive outlook are key components of A-Level success. Make a reasonable study schedule and organize your study materials beforehand.
To make learning more effective, employ active learning techniques like self-assessment and teaching others.
Review and modify your knowledge frequently to increase long-term retention. Setting both short-term and long-term goals and rewarding yourself when you reach them will help you stay motivated.


A-level entry might be intimidating because of the transition from GCSE. Numerous other subject pairings are effective, albeit these are just a few.

Just keep in mind to pursue your interests and attempt to balance them with topics that may be complementary.

Look at the prerequisites for any university programs you have in mind to determine which A-Level topics are required to apply.



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