A Levels – Where should I start?
I think I can say for quite a range of people that A Levels may be one of the most challenging and nerve racking experiences you go through in this life. The myths and stories that I heard when I was younger about the difficulty and the perplexity of A Level subjects haunted me.
Hard work = success
It was not until I started sixth form that the concept of hard work and success became the key. I, like thousands of teenagers, went through the headache of not knowing which subjects to take, which qualifications to take and where to take them. I knew that a law degree was something I was interested in but wasn’t sure how to get there. There are no typical A level subjects to consider for a law degree. Students have been able to take law at university with A Levels in Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, English, Politics and so on.
One thing that I would be conscious about is that some universities have a preference in subject choice and this should be taken into account. If you are considering applying to a Russell Group University such as Oxford or Cambridge (sometimes referred to as ‘Oxbridge’), I would highly advise you to research what they ‘like’ their applicants to have as a prerequisite. For example, certain universities differentiate between ‘hard and soft‘ subjects and this has the potential to affect offers from law schools as some prefer you NOT to have studied law before you study it at degree level.
Where should you study?
Another thing to bear in mind is that the institution you study at is important. I decided to change to a different sixth form as I knew that they had a specialised knowledge in the subjects I was taking. This is a scary step as you are not only leaving friends and teachers, but you are thrown into an unknown world in which you are alien. It would be lying to say that it was not difficult to move, however as time went on I became more confident and pushed myself outside my comfort zone which is a great trait for an aspiring lawyer.
A level or AS level?
Choosing your A levels and qualifications however is only one step into your journey. You now need to do well in them! As I am writing from personal experience, all my desired universities were in the top 20 in the league tables. This meant that high academic achievement was imperative. I cannot stress the importance of AS Level as it not only acts as cushion for your qualification but it also determines your place in law school. A majority of the highest law schools ask for A*AA-AAA which shows the rigour and the competition to get in. Therefore, putting all your effort in is extremely important. Organisation and motivation are one of the many ingredients that you need to do well and achieve your grades.
Legal work experience
However, sometimes grades are not just your passport into university. Participating in extracurricular activities and carrying out relevant work experience is something that makes your application stand out from the rest. If you are an AS student I would recommend researching and contacting firms asking for work experience – be bold! Given you don’t have much time on your hands, keep it relevant to your goal (e.g. law firms for law students). In year 12, I completed work experience for a week in Foot Anstey, a law firm in Plymouth (I live in Kent by the way!) and this year I have secured two work experience placements in highly ranked law firms.
Spread your wings
It is important to have relevant work experience on your CV, however it is not only law related work experience you can get involved in. For example, I have an interest in politics and I wanted to explore this further. I did so by carrying out work experience in the House of Commons with a political think tank and becoming a part of the cabinet in a local youth party. The possibilities are truly endless – be creative!
Worth it in the end…
In conclusion, as vigorous and as painful as the process sounds to get into law school, it is truly worth it at the end. I personally would not have found my passion in politics and law if I had not taken government and politics and sociology in my A Levels. Take subjects that make you want to think outside the classroom and shape you to be a better individual. The competition is fierce to get into a leading law school, but once you are there you know it is because of the hard work you put in.
© Mems Ayinla, 2013
Comment by the Editor-in-Chief, Gary Lee Walters
I really like this post; it shows commitment to the legal profession at an early stage. Mems clearly knows what she wants and is not afraid to go out there and get it, being bold will serve Mems well – great stuff!