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How Many A-levels Do You Need for a University?

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Choosing your A Levels is a big decision with a simple question at its core: How many do you need for university?

Whether you’re aiming for a top-tier university or wondering about minimum requirements, we’ve got answers, trust.

The Typical A Level Requirements

How Many A-levels Do You Need for a University?

In the UK, the minimum for university admissions is typically three A Levels. These advanced qualifications are one of the main parts of your application since they assess your academic capabilities. While this is a common requirement across many universities, it’s essential to remember that it’s just the starting point. Different courses and institutions may have varying expectations, but for the majority, three A Levels is the standard.

UCAS, the central application system for UK universities, states that

“applicants typically need three A Levels or equivalent qualifications.”

However, they emphasise that

“courses have specific entry requirements which can be found on the course pages of our website.”

Course and University-Specific Variations

However, the world of university admissions isn’t one-size-fits-all. Some courses, particularly those in high demand or of a highly specialised nature, might ask for more.

For example, competitive programs like Medicine, Law, or Engineering can often require an additional A Level, or higher grades in your chosen subjects.

Similarly, certain universities, known for their rigorous academic standards, might set the bar higher. It’s crucial to research the specific requirements of both the course and the university you’re aiming for to ensure you meet, or even exceed, their expectations.

  • Medicine – Typically requires four A Levels, including Biology and Chemistry, often alongside Maths and another relevant science subject. Read how to become a doctor in the UK.
  • Engineering – Many courses necessitate Maths and Physics A Levels, with further requirements varying depending on the specific engineering discipline.
  • Law: Most universities expect three A Levels, but some might prefer Law or History as one of the chosen subjects.
  • Languages: Alongside strong grades in the desired language, some language courses might request additional A Levels like English Literature or History.
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Additional Qualifications other than A-levels 🏫

While A Levels are the main focus, they aren’t the only qualifications that universities consider. AS Levels and the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) are increasingly recognised for the value they add to your application. An AS Level can showcase your breadth of study, while an EPQ demonstrates your ability to undertake independent, in-depth research — a skill highly valued in higher education. These qualifications can be particularly advantageous if they are relevant to your chosen field of study, offering a more rounded profile to prospective universities.

How to Choose A-level Subjects?

Choosing the right A Level subjects is as crucial as the number you take. Your subject choices can significantly impact your eligibility for certain university courses. For instance, if you’re eyeing a degree in Engineering, universities will typically expect to see A Levels in Mathematics and Physics. Similarly, for courses like English Literature, an A Level in English is often essential. It’s not just about meeting the minimum number requirement; it’s about choosing subjects that align with your future academic and career goals.

Grades Matter as Much as Quantity

It’s not just about how many A Levels you have, but also how well you perform in them. Universities pay close attention to your grades, seeking evidence of your academic prowess and dedication. High grades in three A Levels can be more impressive than mediocre results in four. Excellence in a smaller number of subjects can demonstrate depth of knowledge and a strong grasp of key concepts, which are vital for university-level study.

A-level Alternatives

Universities also recognise a range of alternative qualifications.

These include theBTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) qualifications and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. Each of these has its own merits and can be a suitable pathway to university. For example, a BTEC in a relevant subject area can be an excellent practical complement to more theoretical A Levels. The IB Diploma offers a broad curriculum that is well-respected worldwide. If A Levels aren’t your preferred route, these alternatives can provide viable pathways to your chosen university course.


Understanding A-Level requirements for university admission can be a straightforward process with the right information and guidance. Remember, it’s not just about the number of A Levels, but also the subjects you choose and the grades you achieve. Each university and course has its own set of criteria, so it’s vital to do your research and tailor your A-Level choices accordingly.

If you find yourself needing a bit of extra help or guidance, especially in making these crucial decisions, consider reaching out to Edumentors. Edumentors’ A-level tutors’ expertise can provide valuable support in understanding specific university requirements, choosing the right A Levels, and even in improving your study strategies to achieve the grades you need.

Your A-Level choices are the stepping stones to your future in higher education. Plan wisely, seek support when needed, and you’ll be well on your way to the university course of your dreams. 😉


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