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Are you a student deciding on your subjects in your A Levels/IB Diploma Program ?


I would like to direct your attention to the recent case of one of my students whose journey stands out, demonstrating the transformative power of proper guidance.

To begin with, I want you to bear in mind, that she had an exceptional academic record and achieved a remarkable 96% in her 12th-grade Arts. However, she chose to pursue a BSc Biology Honours from a liberal arts college, thinking her interest was in Cognitive Neuroscience/Neuropsychology. Despite her Arts background, she excelled in her undergraduate studies, achieving a 3.6 CGPA on a 4-point scale, and aimed for a master’s degree in Neuroscience/Neuropsychology. That is when she reached out to me for guidance in identifying the top US universities for her.

Together, we delved into her interests and strengths, which she was unaware of, and explored different career paths in both Biology and Psychology. After careful consideration and assessment, she discovered her true passion in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. We then developed a plan to transition her from her current degree of BSc Biology Honours to a Masters in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, aligned with her career goals and interests. Now, we are all set to begin her US university applications, which will set her on a fulfilling career path.

This case highlights the importance of selecting the right subjects in higher secondary grades. Students often face confusion when choosing subjects, particularly for their A Levels/IB Diploma Program. To make the right combinations, they must know that certain subject combinations are not encouraged by the most elite universities. For example, a very prestigious university in the UK has a considerable list of "non-preferred" subjects. Some institutions may also have course-specific restrictions. Students should also understand how AP courses can help them further.

Moreover, some universities do not consider subjects such as General Studies and Critical Thinking as part of the three A Level subjects. Students should know the correct combination of standard level (SL) or higher level (HL) courses to be eligible for programs at universities.


The initial task is to select three HL subjects. How can this be done? Keep in mind that some selective schools (particularly in the UK) set admissions criteria based on HL subjects. The next task is to choose subjects that your chosen university degree considers essential to have at HL. For instance, if you want to study Medicine, you will need HL Chemistry and probably Biology and/or Math as HL. I have already mentioned in one of my previous write-ups how another student of mine had the wrong combination of HL & SL subjects, which he realized only when we started applying for Medicine courses in the UK.


So, if students aren’t sure what degree program to pursue, keep options open by taking some “facilitating subjects” — or subjects that are most frequently required for admission in top universities and that provide a pathway to a range of degree options.


Undoubtedly, many students face confusion and uncertainty about their career decisions after completing 12th grade, and some may have opted for courses, unsure of where they will lead them. But it's never too late to seek professional guidance that can help them achieve professional success. Remember, the right path is waiting to be discovered!

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