Are 4 A Levels Better Than 3?

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It may seem like a no-brainer that 4 A levels are better than 3. But what if you’re not applying to Oxford or the University of Cambridge? What if you want to study at Manchester, Leeds or York? The answer is less clear cut. If your grades are high enough and you have a strong personal statement, three A levels could be enough for most universities in England and Wales.

This blog post will discuss all the details you need so that you can make an informed decision about which route to take!

The Benefits Of Taking 4 A Levels

The benefits of taking the extra A level are clear: if you study a fourth subject, your options will be significantly increased, especially if you achieve great grades in all four. You could end up with three A grades rather than two B’s and an A grade or three A’s and a B instead of four B grades. This is especially true when it comes to applying for competitive courses such as Medicine where the range of applicants often being accepted comes down to how many A levels you have at a certain grade. Other benefits of getting the four grades are that you are more likely to achieve a place at your first choice university and increase the chance of winning an academic scholarship.

The Disadvantages Of Taking 4 A Levels

However, the main downside of taking an extra subject is that your timetable will be very busy. You may not have time to do other activities such as sport or music which were important for you in high school and could potentially make you a well-rounded candidate when it comes to applying for university places. This schedule could have major negative effects on your mental health and your social skills. As a result  you may want to consider attending an Easter Half Term A Level Revision Course. Other disadvantages include the cost of tuition, extra exam fees and just the sheer pressure that comes with such a busy timetable.

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Just ensure your heart is in the decision and you know exactly why you taking this path before you commit!

When Is It Better To Take 3 A Levels Instead Of 4?

If you are applying for a university course that doesn’t require four A levels, such as History at most universities in England and Wales, it may be worth considering taking three subjects. This will allow you to study another subject that could contribute to your personal statement or UCAS application without adding too much pressure on top of the ones that are already there.

It is important to note though; if you’re not studying English Language/Literature along with Maths and one other language (or Latin), then having only three A levels makes it very difficult for Universities to see what sets you apart from other applicants. Only take this route if you have excellent GCSE grades across all subjects including English Literature! Otherwise, we would always recommend sticking with a full timetable of four subjects.

The key is to do your research on this before you apply by looking on the internet and contacting the universities directly.


If you think your grades will be high enough to apply for competitive courses without taking an extra A level then it may not be worth putting yourself under so much additional stress in Year 12 when you could go abroad instead or focus on part-time work during term time! If you’re interested in this option then we recommend speaking to your careers teacher about the benefits and disadvantages before making any decisions.

If you are reading this blog post because there’s one specific course that really appeals to you then four A levels might be worth considering even if your grades aren’t quite good enough yet. This is why I say this since universities make use of contextual data, such as the sort of schools or college students who apply to them.

If you, or your parents would like to find out more, please just get in touch via email at or call us on 0800 689 1272

If you, or your parents would like to find out more, please just get in touch via email at or call us on 0800 689 1272

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