A Levels are the most important exam and one of the most popular routes for students to pursue further education in the UK. I believe the subjects you choose can play an integral role in deciding your future.
But which subjects are the hardest? Are there any that require more time, effort, and dedication than others?
In this blog post, I will discuss some of the most difficult A Level subjects and how you can prepare yourself for success. If you are also wondering what are easiest A-level subjects, I wrote a whole article where I shared the 13 best options.
The 13 Most Difficult A-Level Subjects to Study
A Levels are essential for gaining entry into college or university, and I believe that it is important you select your subjects carefully because not all A-level subjects are created equally.
Here are the 13 most difficult A-level subjects:
1- A level Further Mathematics
A level Further Mathematics is among the most difficult A level subjects to study, as it requires a deep understanding of complex topics such as calculus and algebra, as well as strong problem-solving skills.
In general, mathematics can be particularly challenging for those who don’t have a good grasp of basic concepts or logical reasoning skills. If you plan to pursue your studies at a top university, I encourage you to consider taking A-level Further Mathematics.
To achieve success with this subject, you need to be able to analyze data and interpret information quickly and accurately.
2- A level Mathematics
Mathematics is one of the most popular A Level subjects and widely considered one of the most difficult subjects at A Level, depending on your background and the ability to work hard.
Typically, A-level maths requires strong analytical skills and a good understanding of mathematical concepts such as algebra, calculus, geometry, number theory, and trigonometry.
The subject tests both knowledge and application skills; however, it can be a challenge if you don’t have a strong foundation in mathematics from earlier studies.
The sheer amount of content that must be covered in order to pass can be overwhelming. Additionally, students should put in extra effort when studying, as A-level maths requires a lot of practice and dedication.
3- A level Biology
A-level Biology covers topics such as anatomy, cell biology, physiology, genetics, biochemistry, ecology, evolution, and microbiology and is ideal for students who are interested in human health and medicine.
To excel in Biology you need to have good problem-solving skills, be able to work independently on research projects, and have an interest in science-related topics.
The good news is the coursework is relatively straightforward, and you can find plenty of online resources available to help you study.
4- A level Physics
A-level Physics is another subject that is notoriously difficult due to its complex concepts and formulas. It requires an in-depth understanding of topics such as forces, motion, energy, mechanics, optics, electricity, magnetism, and sound waves.
Moreover, A-level Physics also involves a lot of mathematical equations, which can be very confusing at times. In order to excel in Physics at an advanced level, I suggest you ensure you understand basic concepts such as Newton’s laws of motion or Ohm’s law prior to taking your exams.
Furthermore, having access to resources such as textbooks or online simulations can make it much easier to understand more complex topics.
A level Physics also demands that you have excellent problem-solving skills so you can apply what you’ve learned in real-world scenarios. In addition, it takes a lot of practice and hard work to understand the material presented in this subject fully.
5- A level Chemistry
Chemistry is another one of the more difficult A Level subjects to master due to its high-level complexity and depth of knowledge required. A level chemistry typically requires students need to understand different types of reactions between elements and how these reactions affect each other.
Furthermore, Chemistry requires knowledge about atomic structures, bonding mechanisms, and periodic trends, all topics that require considerable amounts of memorization and practice in order to master them successfully.
To successfully pass A-level Chemistry, you must have an in-depth understanding of chemical equations and reactions, as well as how molecular structures interact with each other on both a macroscopic and microscopic level.
If you are interested in pursuing Chemistry at an advanced level I encourage you to ensure you build some prior experience with laboratory experiments or have taken GCSE Chemistry beforehand.
6- A-level Computer Science
Most students find computer programming to be an extremely challenging A Level subject, mainly as it introduces them to topics they may not have explored before, such as coding.
AQA Computer Programming A-Level is divided t into three parts:
- Paper 1 (coding)
- And Paper 2 (theory)
Also, most students find the theory part to be the most content-heavy part of the exam as it requires understanding all the details behind computer systems.
7- A level History
Depending on the students, A-level History can be both a hard and an easy A-level subject.
If you don’t like reading, writing essays, and History, you will definitely find A-level history extremely because there is a considerable amount of content you will need to master.
And you will also need to develop the critical skills to structure that content for an exam. To successfully pass A-level History, you must develop a deep understanding of historical events and the ability to analyze and interpret historical sources.
8- A level Music
A Level Music is another A-level subject that most students find incredibly challenging due to the technical content students must grasp.
However, if you already play an instrument, you will find A-Level Music’s performance aspect much easier. Most students don’t realize how difficult A-level music is because music is stereotypically considered ‘soft’ when in reality, it requires both a lot of books and practical work for coursework.
And to succeed in A-level Music, you must complete all three components: Appraising Music, Performance, and Composition.
9- A level Modern Foreign Languages
‘Modern Languages‘ include a variety of individual language A levels, such as A level French, A level German, A level Spanish, A level Russian, A level Italian, and A level Chinese.
Modern Foreign Languages are among the hardest A-Levels because of the massive variety of things you are assessed on.
For example, A Level Spanish will assess your writing in Spanish, speaking, and pronunciation. You will have three papers you need to master
- Paper 1: focuses on Listening, Reading, and Writing
- Paper 2: Includes a 2 hr written exam
- And Paper 3 focuses on speaking
Generally, students will also need to orally present an individual research project, for instance, aspects of Hispanic society. In addition, most students find learning grammar challenging as it requires memorizing grammar rules.
What are the most popular language A levels? Spanish is considered the most popular language A levels, followed by A-level French (Source: British Council)
10- A Level Art And Design
If you want to develop an exciting and extensive range of creative and technical skills, I encourage you to consider taking A-level Art.
In addition, after passing A level Art, you will gain a strong understanding of historical and contemporary visual art practice through supporting contextual studies.
Art is a highly tricky A-level subject in that so many assume it is an easy ride at A Level. However, A-Level Art is one of the most time-consuming subjects; I suggest taking it if you are genuinely passionate about it.
A-Level Art will also require significant essay-style writing and analysis, which is challenging if writing isn’t your strong suit. In addition, you will also have to build many art pieces inside and outside your sketchbook to prove to examiners that you earn a high grade.
11- A level English Literature
A-Level English Literature can be both challenging and easy depending on the student’s level and interests.
This A-level subject will require you to develop your original ideas, which can be challenging for some students who prefer to learn formulas to pass.
You will accomplish two papers with A-level English Literature, including coursework – Paper 1 and Paper 2, which also includes a lot of reading.
12- A level Economics
A-Level Economics is relatively challenging, depending on your background and interest. To succeed in A-Level Economics, you will be required to understand the fundamental principles of economics.
A level Economics is split into two parts: Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. Microeconomics focuses on markets and market failure, whereas Macroeconomics studies national and international economies.
However, I believe with hard work and dedication, you will do well in any A-level subject, particularly in A-level economics.
13- A level Psychology
Even though, A level most students consider A-Level Psychology relatively easy, it can catch you off guard as it requires much more science, statistics, and mathematics-related knowledge.
With A level Psychology, you will study the human brain and how different factors influence human behavior and find yourself interpreting data and analyzing percentages for observational studies.
You will need to analyze and interpret data and write comfortably to do well in A-level Psychology.
What to read next:
- A Level Maths: What You Need to Know.
- Best Graphing Calculators For A Level Maths (And how to pick yours!)
- How Hard is A Level Maths? (Find out now!)
A Levels offer a wide range of challenging courses for students looking for higher education opportunities in the UK; however, I found that some courses are more difficult than others due to their complexity or depth of knowledge required from students by exam boards.
Mathematics A Level, Physics A Level, and Chemistry A Level are generally considered some of the hardest subjects due to their breadth and difficulty levels.
If you are considering taking any of these most difficult A-level subjects, I encourage you to do adequate research beforehand as well as familiarise yourself with basic concepts before starting your studies so you can set yourself up for success.