Date of Publication: 10 May 2021
The process of selecting which subjects you want to study at A-Level can be one of the most important and nerve-wracking decisions in your life. Your A-Levels make up the basis of your university education and future pursuits, and you want to make sure you’re choosing the subjects which you are both passionate about and tend to perform well in.
Choosing your A-Levels is a subjective experience, and you’ll know which subjects you believe are best suited to your natural ability and interests. But with that being said, there is a general consensus that certain subjects are ‘easier’ than others, thanks to their high pass rates.
Below, we are going to take a look at the 15 easiest A-Levels, ranked from hardest to the easiest. Each of these have been selected based on general student feedback as well as overall pass rates in the UK.
Now, this doesn’t mean that any A-Levels are ‘easy.’ In fact all A-Levels are much harder when compared to their GCSE counterparts, even when just looking at the amount of content you need to cover. They’re supposed to push your abilities and test your academic limits. But by looking at those on the ‘easier’ end of the spectrum, you’ll be able to make more guided decisions on which subjects you may want to pursue in the next steps of your academic journey.
What are the easiest A-Levels to take?
Below, you’ll find our list of 15 of the most unchallenging subjects to pursue at college or in sixth form, ranked in order of hardest to easiest A-Levels.
Of course, it goes without saying that our perception of different A-levels and their difficulty is completely subjective to our own strengths and weaknesses – and when deciding which A-Levels to pick for your future, you should consider which subjects will really match your skills, interests and academic abilities.
15. Business Studies
Now, despite featuring as the most difficult subject on our list of easiest A-Levels, Business Studies still boasts a pass rate of 98%.
In terms of course content, the topics you’ll cover include; the Fundamentals of Marketing, Business Strategy, Fundamentals of Finance, and Team Structures, giving you a basic overview of business terms, processes, and procedures. However, for those already with a flair for Business and Entrepreneurship, these are likely to be topics you are already familiar with. This is especially true for students who have studied Business at GCSE level.
Your second year will go into more detail, more specifically, being able to measure and analyse success, especially when based on a number of extraneous variables. However, these are all based on real-life case studies, making the content easier to understand when applied to ‘real-life’ scenarios.
Assessments and examinations also follow a similar format to GCSE; you’ll face a series of multiple choice questions, calculations and even some full-length essay-style questions – so there’s plenty of variety to suit students of all exam-preferences and abilities. The main difficulty lies in being able to understand the content and pulling them into the format as laid out by the exam board.
14. Design & Technology (D&T)
Looking for a subject that gives you the opportunity to to design and build a product from start to finish? Meet: Design & Technology!
With pass rates of 97%, Design & Technology is one of the more difficult subjects on our list, but overall, it still remains to have high pass rates when compared to some of the hardest A-Levels that students can pursue.
One of the most challenging factors can be finding the time to actually complete the work. As a creative student, you may be studying more than one design-based or practical subject. When it comes to time management, this can actually be quite difficult to manage. Subjects such as DT, Art, Drama, and other creative pursuits can be very time consuming, especially when it comes to making sure your portfolio is regularly updated and filled with content.
But with that being said, as long as you study Design & Technology A-Level among two more theoretical subjects, you’ll probably thrive at having a subject which offers such a creative outlet. The more engaged you are; the chances of you becoming more active and interested in your learning are increased – often leading to better grades.
Despite being one of the more challenging subjects on our list, overall, A-Level Art is a fairly ‘easy’ subject, based on its content, with pass rates above 98%.
Even though Art requires a lot of technical skill, as an A-Level, the course content itself is fairly straightforward and easy to understand. The subject involves a lot of practical work, focused on developing a diverse range of artistic skills and techniques, including everything from drawing, collage, and sculpture, to photography and other forms of digital work.
The other side to the subject is based on contextual studies, where you’ll be required to explore the influences of movements that have inspired your own work. Part of your final (10-hour-long!) exam will involve producing a detailed piece of work which will also require a written journal to be submitted alongside it, documenting how you came to the creative decision you did.
This journal will be formed from all the content and research you have accumulated over your two years of study, mainly the independent study you complete outside of the classroom.
So, not only does the subject require you to have good writing and artistic skills, but also the ability to work independently and research a range of artistic sources and movements. Content-wise, it’s definitely less challenging than the traditional Sciences and other technical subjects, but it does require lots of time dedicated to research and finessing your techniques.
Another practical-based subject featuring on our list of easiest A-Level subjects is Textiles, mainly thanks to its coursework-based assessment style – albeit this depends on your own learning preferences. In 2019, pass rates were at 100%, suggesting that it’s probably quite straightforward to achieve a pass grade.
It’s important to note that there is a final 10-hour exam, where you’ll be asked to design and create your very own piece of work, such as an item of clothing, accessories or toy – leaving lots of room for creativity! Outside of this, all your other assignments will be coursework-based for you to complete in your own time.
As appealing as this sounds, just remember that Textiles, like all the other Art and DT courses on this list are very time-consuming. Instead of spending your time revising for exams, you’ll need to pull together a quality portfolio of work to demonstrate the skills you’ve developed over the past couple of years. This is great for students who love to lose themselves for hours in a creative project they’re really passionate about, but not so much for those who lack interest or have lots of other time-heavy subjects to dedicate to.
11. Drama/Theatre Studies
For students looking to escape the textbooks and pursue a practical, creative subject, then A-Level Drama or Theatre Studies may be the perfect subject option for you. A pass rate of 99.3% demonstrates how those who are passionate about the subject tend to excel at it, especially as it offers a blend of learning styles.
Drama offers both theoretical and practical study, giving students a varied curriculum. Practically, you’ll collaborate with your classmates to produce and perform your own piece of live theatre, while the theoretical aspect of the course involves reading plays, material about the plays, and writing essays based on your work. Of course, this will be supported by in-depth classroom discussions, which will ensure content remains highly engaging.
In addition to the interesting blend of learning, A-Level Drama also offers a 50/50 split between exam and coursework/practical performance work. So, if you tend to excel at one aspect of the subject, you should still have plenty of opportunity to score well on the other part of your assessment.
Geography is a popular subject for students to take at A-Level, thanks to its high pass rates (98.7%), ability to complement a range of different subjects, and engaging content. When you’re learning a subject that you find interesting, it’s often much easier to engage in your learning and absorb the information.
Of the content that you do cover, it is relatively ‘light’ and easy to grasp, thanks to the variation of learning you often enjoy. For example, many schools take students out on field trips to explore different environments and geographical areas of interest, while also holding classroom debates and discussions about complex geographical problems and their application to the real world.
Assessment usually consists of two written exams as well as a field data assessment. Although this non-examination part may require some basic knowledge of data analysis and Mathematics, the equations you need to use are fairly easy to understand and apply – often leading to lots of easy pass marks.
Coming in at position number 9 on our list of easiest A-Levels is Law. With a pass rate a little over 96%, it definitely isn’t as simple as breezing through. But even still, on paper, it seems to be one of the subjects that most students tend to pass.
According to previous students, the course content itself isn’t too difficult to understand, but it is heavy going in terms of requiring students to commit to memory for the exams. As such, those who tend to find it an ‘easy’ subject tend to have good memory retention strategies and are willing to dedicate time to learning that content off by heart.
In terms of the assessment involved with A-Level Law, it’s all exam-based, which is great news for those who tend to thrive under the pressure of the examination hall. Most exam boards offer three exam papers which are all equally weighted. These exams offer lots of multiple choice and short answer questions, as well as a few extended writing questions. This variety makes it easy to score marks, as long as you are able to memorise the course content and practice the exam style.
With a pass rate at nearly 98%, it’s easy to see Archaeology is considered to be one of the easiest A-Level subjects. However, it’s also a subject which isn’t available at most mainstream schools, meaning it’s also one of the least popular subjects for students to pursue at A-Level.
For those who have had the opportunity to study Archaeology at GCSE, you’ll probably notice that the course content isn’t too dissimilar to what you have learnt before, albeit in much more detail. Rather than just studying the history of Humans, you’ll also analyse varying aspects of Geology, Biology, Chemistry, and Geography through history.
It also offers the opportunity to conduct lots of independent research, diving into the archives to learn more about the period or people that you are studying.
For students who thrive at completing this research project-style work, you’ll probably find it quite an easy subject to do well at. Examiners look for a variety of sources, analysis, and knowledge of your topic within a wider context. As long as you have a passion for examining and writing about a variety of sources – you’ll likely excel at Archaeology A-Level.
7. Media Studies
Another subject which often features on lists of easiest A-Levels is Media Studies, thanks to its continued relevance in daily society and opportunity for creative exploration and expression.
For those with a passion for creativity, Media Studies can be a fantastic A-Level option. Around a quarter of your final grading will be based on a single piece of media that you’ve produced. You’ll be asked to analyse and assess your own work, which can be an easier way to score high marks; you know your work better than anyone else, and will be able to offer lots of detail and insight into why you made the creative choices you did.
On top of this, Media Studies can be a highly engaging course to study, especially because you’re probably already familiar with a lot of the content you’ll cover. From learning about advertising, social media, and all the trivialities that come with it; it’s likely that you are already very engaged with the very materials you’ll be learning about. Therefore, your already expert knowledge of the subject will make it easier for you to learn new content and achieve higher grades.
Many claim that it contains less content than other sciences, such as Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, and the content that is included isn’t too difficult to understand as all the topics link together, helping you draw connections between them.
However, like its counterpart Psychology, you are required to memorise lots of Sociology-specific terminology and studies. So, if you do struggle with memorising specific vocabulary, definitions, names, and figures, you should double-check with your teachers whether Sociology is right for you.
With that being said, if you can master the art of essay writing and spend a lot of time independently revising the core concepts and terminology, you should be able to achieve your academic goals in this subject.
5. Classical Civilisation
A rarer, although highly-rated subject on our list of easiest A-Levels is Classical Civilisation. Students with a particular interest in the classical, as well as a preference for subjects which require a more subjective approach often thrive at Classical Civilisation, as it’s both engaging and assessed on your own interpretations.
The subject involves the study of ancient Greek and Roman Civilisation, encompassing a large variety of disciplines including Literature, History, Archaeology, and Art History. But what many fail to realise is that you don’t need to have an understanding of Greek or Latin to study the subject.
In fact, as long as you have a passion for observing and analysing artefacts, text, and images, it’s quite possible that you will excel at this subject. A lot of the assessment revolves around understanding and learning the stories behind some of these disciplines, which can be easy to wrap your head around.
4. Information Technology (IT)
Ranking highly in our list of easiest A-Levels is Information Technology (IT), mainly thanks to the simplicity of the exams and the course content.
Many claim that A-Level IT is similar to its GCSE counterpart, in that those who are using electronic devices and computers regularly already have quite a good understanding of how they work.
Of course, there is actual content you will need to learn, but again, many believe it’s relatively simple to understand. Much of the content you need to know is around the ‘fundamentals’ of the subject, including programming, data structures, and the systems themselves. However, knowledge of programming and data are limited at IT level, as more of this content is covered in Computer Science A-Levels. Therefore, make sure you research both IT and Computer Science A-Level to see which content interests you the most.
Part of your assessment will also focus on looking at IT in the wider context of how it’s used. For example, popular modules on A-Level syllabi include; the consequences of using computing, how it affects our communication and networking, and how computing can be used to problem solve. All topics which students claim are relatively easy to understand and apply to a variety of problems.
3. Religious Studies
With a pass rate of around 99%, it’s clear why Religious Studies features so highly on our list of hardest to easiest A-Levels. It’s also one of the most popular A-Levels for students to uptake, mainly due to the wide range of transferable skills you can develop from it, thanks to its essay-based assessment format.
These assessments are largely opinion-based, backed by your ability to write them in a clear and concise manner. As long as you can master the art of the essay and form a balanced argument, you’ll be well on your way to securing a great grade.
Of course, to excel at Religious Studies – as with any subject you study at A-Level – you need to know the course content too. But fortunately, there are only a few core concepts and theories to memorise.
Students are required to study different aspects of religious beliefs, testing, values and practices of around five religions, usually including: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. As long as you can remember their key definitions and theories – you should be on the right pathway to success.
2. Food Studies
Taking us into our top two easiest A-Levels is Food Studies, which is mainly down to its practical assessments and application – which is favoured by students who tend to struggle with essay writing and other lengthy assignments.
Fortunately, the practical aspect of the assessment can also be rehearsed too, allowing students to enter the exam being as prepared as possible. Unlike other subjects where you revise lots of content and hope that your favourite topics come up in the exam, Food Studies really does test you on what you know. You’ll have the opportunity to rehearse how to correctly prepare food in a safe and hygienic way, which your examiner will assess you on.
Of course, there is course content to cover too for a written paper. However, you really aren’t required to remember a lot of content, and the content that you do learn is relatively simple to grasp – especially if you have experience of food preparation and hygiene.
Topics you’ll likely cover include handling food safely, creating healthy and nutritional meals, as well as the fundamentals of the food industry. This will mean some fact remembering, such as the appropriate temperatures to store food at safely, but facts which are often quite easy to remember with enough practice.
1. Film Studies
So, now we’ve reached position number 1, it’s time to announce: What is the easiest A-Level?
Many argue that Film Studies is the easiest A-Level to study, especially if you already are already a film buff. Much of your studies will include analysing what are considered to be some of the greatest films in history.
Now, before you dart off and start researching where you can study Film Studies A-Level, it’s worth noting that your classes won’t just revolve around watching and talking about films. In fact, there’s a lot more that goes into it.
During your course, you’re typically asked to watch a handful of films from different eras, analysing the themes, characters, lenses, and all the other interesting thinking behind why the creative teams made the decisions they did.
Of course, for movie lovers, course content like this can be deeply engaging, and therefore feel like less of a ‘chore’ to learn. You’ll look at the films as a product of the context of their time; what social, political, and creative movements have influenced the directors, and what the wider reaction was to the film then and as it has aged throughout the decades.
For those looking for an extra creative challenge, some course providers many even give you the opportunity to create your own project; a short film or screenplay, which you will have carefully plotted and established storyboards for. You’ll be asked to write an evaluation of your work, which many find easier than traditional essay writing; you’ll be dissecting your own work, drawing on your own influences to explain why you’ve created the piece you have.
It goes without saying that A-Levels are not easy academic pursuits. By nature, they are challenging; designed to test your academic abilities and prepare you for further study at university. But with that being said, there are some subjects which generally have high pass rates and rumoured by students to be ‘easier’ than some of the more heavily-theoretical ones.
These subjects include: Business Studies, Design & Technology, Art, Textiles, Drama, Geography, Law, Archaeology, Media Studies, Sociology, Classical Civilisation, Information Technology, Religious Studies, Food Studies, and Film Studies.
In any sense, when choosing your A-Levels, you really need to assess the subjects in accordance to your own learning style and interests. For example, if you are mathematically-gifted and enjoy problem solving, then you may find a subject like Further Mathematics ‘easier’ than let’s say Drama, where you need to think creatively and have the confidence to get up on-stage and perform your work to an audience.
As long as you choose subjects which you enjoy, can support your university studies, and are on target to perform well in at GCSE, you should be well on your way to making the right decision.
Explore your A-Level options this summer
With over 50 academic subjects to choose from, you’ll have the opportunity to explore a subject (or subjects) you may want to pursue at university. Your tutor will teach you the ‘Oxford way,’ leading classroom discussions, tutorials (for students 16+), and giving you rigorous feedback on any work you complete during your time with us.
Not forgetting the ultimate summer experience; outside of the classroom, you’ll engage in an enriching timetable of student activities, day trips, and social events. It’s just a small part of what we do to create the most authentic student experience possible.