List of Top 14 Hardest A-levels

Deciding which A-level you should take during your sixth form is quite tough. As these A-levels will help you together into University and in getting your career you must choose them according to your abilities. A-levels are the ones that will help you in getting the job and will help you in getting into a good university.

There are various hard A-levels that you may have to take like Maths, Further maths, chemistry, physics, etc. Further, we have explained them in detail with more other subjects.

Top 14 hardest A-levels 

Just like the hardest GCSEs, there are the hardest A-levels. However, you must remember that your employer will always look at each of your A-level. Following are the hardest 14 A-levels that you can choose from-

1. Maths

One of the most challenging A-Level subjects is math. You’ll concentrate on three subjects: statistics, mechanics, and pure mathematics. This can occasionally make it seem like you’re taking three subjects rather than just one. Thus it can be challenging to manage. To enroll in this course, you must have earned a minimum grade of 6 in math at the GCSE level.

A-Level math does have a significant role in your career as well. A-Level of  Math is frequently seen as a requirement for employment by employers. Therefore having it on your CV will look great and will increase your chances of getting selected.

2. Psychology

If writing is not your cup of tea for you then you must not take this as your A-level subject. This is because just like English GCSE you will have to write a lot of content in a small period of time. Another part that makes it hard to understand is the amount of science present in it.

In short, you will need to have an understanding of both English as well as science. To get good grades in this subject you will have to work on various skills and also on the independent work of the course. The only problem is that most of the students consider this subject easy and do not pay much attention to it. Therefore you must know what are the topics that you will be studying in this course.

3. History

A-Level history requires strong memory skills as well as a tendency for lengthy writing. You must be able to recall numerous dates in addition to being able to write essays and lengthy exam answers. This A-level content can be challenging to deal with, so if you’re not fully committed, you might find it a little boring.

This A-Level can, however, leads to excellent higher education and a few well-paying jobs if you can get through it. All you need to do is decide if you have the strength and long hours requirement for A-Level History. Therefore you must think properly before taking up these subjects. 

4. Physics

There is no doubt that this is one of the hardest subjects that you will choose. Physics is a subject that contains both theoretical and practical knowledge. In fact, this is the only science that contains the maximum amount of mathematics in it. You will almost find that 40% of your marks in physics are based on mathematics alone.

This is because there will be a lot of important equations that you will be covering in your A-levels. You will be learning nuclear physics, practical physics, oscillations, etc. To Ace this subject you will need to put in lots of effort and many hours studying it. If you cannot commit to giving hours to the subject you must not take it.

5. Biology

All science courses are quite challenging and therefore there is no doubt that you will see this course in the list of the hardest subjects. In terms of difficulty, this A-Level is at least two to three times harder than its GCSE equivalent. This is due to the fact that the course is much more independent and has fewer resources that you can take help of.

Students often struggle in A-Level Biology because they think they can put in the same amount of effort that they did for GCSEs. On the plus side, this A-Level is one that facilitates the universities. Therefore it will simplify the process of obtaining a university placement if you have this course.

6. Art

You may have not expected this on the list of hardest A-levels but the fact is it is one of the most difficult A-level subjects. Most of the students believe that this subject will only include producing artwork. However, the fact is that you will have to write long answers. This means that along with producing artwork you will also have to work on your writing skills.

Therefore you will have to spend a lot of time creating the artwork and learning the content for writing answers. If you are a gifted artist and are able to produce great artwork in a lot of creative manners then you must choose this A-level. Taking this subject will help you to develop both creative and writing skills. Remember that if you are thinking of applying for this course at the university you will have to maintain a portfolio of all your artwork. 

7. English literature

A-Level English Literature is challenging due to the subject matter and the amount of writing required. You must complete a significant amount of lengthy writing, and you must also include a great deal of detail in your communication skills.

You may find this challenging as you struggle in your solo study to develop these skills. To succeed in A-Level English Literature, you need to be dedicated, determined, and hardworking. You might not want to enroll in this course in college if that doesn’t sound right to you. However, you must only take this subject if you have received a minimum grade of 6 in your GCSE. It is because it might become harder for you if you have received a grade less than that.

8. Economics

When you are taking economics you must remember that you are taking a subject that will be a mixture of essay writing and critical thinking. You must also be well aware of mathematical principles that you can apply to social dilemmas.

You will be studying a lot of memory-based questions that will test your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This subject will also involve a lot of understanding graphs and interpreting them. There you must be able to implement mathematics in it. You will be studying micro and macroeconomics, the history of the economy, and everything related to it. Therefore you should be able to revise and remember every concept.

9. Chemistry

Again a science subject and of course the hardest one. In addition to the huge amount of material you will learn, much of it will be new and beyond the GCSE level. Thus n o matter how well you did on your GCSE exams, A-Level Chemistry will put even the smartest students to the test and push them beyond their limits.

Trends in the periodic table, organic chemistry, etc are all part of the course material. 86.4% of students in 2021 earned at least a C grade in their A-levels. This does not mean it is hard. As this subject is one of the hardest sciences, most of the schools will keep their focus on this subject making their students perform well in it. 

10. Further math

It is advised that you receive an A/A* in GCSE-level mathematics for taking up further math as your A-levels. This is because further math is a much more complex subject than normal math. The course content is similar to Maths which has been previously discussed. 

In addition to it, there is also discrete mathematics which is created by various mathematicians and is an elective module. When it comes to this subject, the most frequent mistake students make is coming unprepared and therefore having trouble understanding the coursework. Make sure you are comfortable with yourself before taking this subject. It is more often than this that may lead to pupils quitting this subject.

11. Modern foreign language

Spanish, French, and German are the three languages that are available as A-Level options for modern foreign languages. These three languages are all highly different from English and are therefore incredibly challenging to learn. The variety of skills you need to learn to succeed is one of the factors that make these A-Levels so challenging.

You need to be proficient not only in speaking and writing but also in vocabulary. Any modern foreign language A-Level is not equivalent to a GCSE. Thus you must not assume one will be simpler than the other unless you already know any one of them.

12. Computer science

The failure rate for A-level computer science is above 4.9%. You may find it too low but the fact is that this is the highest failure rate of any A-level. Just like GCSEs, you will be studying this subject at A-level in two different categories – programming and theory. The practical things that you will be doing will all come in the programming part.

It will teach you about different programming languages depending on the college you are taking your A-levels. Whereas the theory part will discuss the inner workings of the computer. The biggest thing about taking this A-level is that there is both high risk and high rewards. If you are able to understand the concepts and manage to get good grades then definitely you will land high-paying jobs. Whereas if you are not able to understand the concepts then you may end up failing the exams.

13. Design and technology

Again a subject that is related to computers and technology. The number of students taking this subject has fallen by 63.8%. This is because most of the students find the subject tough and hard. While studying the course you will have to study topics related to innovations, product designing, marketing, etc for 2 years.

Most of the students who are good at art and have taken A-level arts choose to go for this subject. This subject needs creating new ideas, concepts, product designing, etc. You will have to test your creativity level along with the use of technology. If you take this subject seriously you will land high-paying jobs and will have a great future ahead.

14. Business studies

The only reason why this subject is on this list at the last position is that many students find it difficult despite having a 98% passing rate. The content that you will be learning is simple and easy to understand. The only problem is that you have to cover each and every topic of this subject.

You will be studying all the content related to the working of organizations and businesses. To succeed you will have the confidence to use the data properly and efficiently in the exam. During your exams, you will find questions that are based on different scenarios and you will have to answer them according to your understanding. This means you should have critical thinking abilities for taking on this subject. 


Your A-levels are important factors in deciding which university you will get into and also which career you will land in the future. Therefore it is important to know which A-levels are hard to understand so that you can choose your subjects according to your abilities. Above are the top 15 such A-levels that are considered hard subjects. Therefore you must choose them only if you think you will be able to manage their coursework.

William Christie