Exams season is once again nearly upon us; not even a deadly virus can put a stop to these events. That doesn't necessarily mean that students will sit exams in the traditional timeframe, though. The exam regulator Ofqual is in talks with other government and health agencies over whether to push the window back or even administer the exams online, should we still be locked down.

Either way, if you're preparing to sit your A-Level exams, you already have two years of study in your chosen subjects under your belt. Therefore, detailing what you can learn from the Business Studies programme is moot - you either already know because you took that course or you don't need to know because you chose other courses.

Still, your Superprof wishes you all the best on your exams and wants you to know: our tutors stand at the ready should you need a bit of last-minute test prep or coaching.

For those of you who have your GCSEs just about wrapped up and are preparing to select your Advanced study courses, this article will provide guidance about what the A-Level Business Studies programme contains.

 Why You Should Continue Studying Business

If you chose GCSE Business Studies as one of your exams, it's possible that you did so without a clear purpose in mind - that is to say, you didn't choose it because it's been your lifelong dream to be a business leader. You just needed a few more subjects to test in.

For most students - and maybe you, Business Studies was a good choice because it covers many different topics from finance and accounting to human resources and management. For anyone uncertain of where the future might take them - i.e., practically the entire teenaged population, opting for this study programme was a no-brainer.

Select Business Studies as one of your A-Levels courses
As you research your college course options, be sure to put Business Studies on your list of choices. Source: Visualhunt

Business Studies acts as a gateway to other, more specific programmes of study.

Now, you're older and wiser, and perhaps a bit more certain of where you want life to take you. Do you see a career in business for yourself or are you still uncertain of where you might end up?

Let's pivot away from that topic... 

Our exam structure is rather odd. Sure, we could get by with sitting as few as five GCSE exams but that's not really recommended, is it? Besides, of those five three would be mandatory, leaving any student hoping to eke out a decent living in the future with only two extra GCSE scores to bet on.

That's a pretty small stake, especially if you consider that the subjects you test in matters almost as much as how well you do. Let's say instead that you sat the average number of exams - eight of them, with at least two or three of them being place-holders.

Come time to select your five A-Level courses of study, two of those optional subjects will be discarded. That means that you will continue to study at least one subject that has nothing to do with your future undergraduate degree plan.

We say you will select five A-Level courses because that's typical of first-year college and sixth form students. In your second year of advanced study, you will likely drop two of those classes because UCAS only accepts three A-Level grades (though some schools have started asking for more).

It really doesn't matter what subjects those grades are in unless you're planning to major in a specific field of study, say, Art and Design or Physics.

If you, like so many others, are still undecided about your field of study even as you apply for your place at university, earning good marks on your Business Studies A-Level will at least open the door to university study.

What if, after finishing college or sixth form, you have no desire to move into higher education? That may be the best reason of all to continue with Business Studies at that level.

It's not uncommon for students still preparing to sit their GCSEs to already feel burnt out. At the peak of their teen years and impatient to get on with life, for many, the prospect of at least five more years of school is enough to drive them round the bend.

Particularly in England, where a new law mandates students to stay in school until they reach 18 years of age, choosing A-Levels with the intention of abandoning academics altogether as soon as they legally can, learning from Business Studies is one of the best programmes you could choose.

To make our point, let's take a closer look at the topics covered in this advanced curriculum.

Businesses should be innovating to remain viable
Innovation is the key to keeping a business viable. Source: Visualhunt

What the AS-Level Business Studies Curriculum Contains

So far, this article has spoken directly to those who sat their GCSE in Business Studies; that is rather misleading of us. You do not have to have any prior education in Business - certainly not a GCSE result to choose this course as one of your sixth-form options.

What if you did select that subject as one of your GCSE options? Then you will revisit some of the concepts you learned about before and delve deeper into them. Those include:

  • Accounting and Finance: cash flow and budgeting; profit and ratio analysis
  • Marketing: product life cycle, the combination of factors that influence customers and how to anticipate customers' needs
  • External influences: understanding global trends and economy, and market competition
  • Operations Management: how to add value to attract and retain customers, quality and productivity of workers
  • Human Resources: hiring, training and retaining employees, workforce motivation, leadership skills and organizational design

Besides these specific areas of study, you will cultivate your innate soft skills: how to communicate effectively and how to perform your duties responsibly and ethically. Other skills you'll hone include problem-solving, critical thinking and strategic planning.

In this course, you'll make ample use of maths but there will also be room for creativity, especially to find innovative solutions to thorny, recurring business problems.

One innovative way to build knowledge and cultivate your enthusiasm for Business Studies is role-playing a range of scenarios with a tutor. Where could you find such a master?

What the A-Level Business Studies Syllabus Contains

Your second year of Business Studies will expand on what you learned in the previous year. You will still study concepts relating to Human Resources, Marketing and Accounting/Finance, but with more advanced themes. The lion's share of this second year goes to the more theoretical aspect of business.

A prime example of such is risk and uncertainty in business. Every business' objective is to remain viable, meaning that it has cash on hand and is maybe even turning a profit. To retain viability, businesses have to take into account their stakeholders' objectives, strategize ways to achieve them and implement those strategies.

However, businesses do not operate in a vacuum. Business leaders must also consider both the market they cater to and the financial markets that might crush them. They have to speculate about competition - local, domestic and international. They must operate within the social, political, technological and economic boundaries that exist, both the ones they create and the ones that act on them.

Finally - and this is emerging as the primary driver of business dealings today, such leaders must have an understanding environmental and ethical matters, and the legal ramifications of not conducting business ethically or in an environmentally sound manner.

Change is never easy for anyone, especially not the business community. That's why this course includes a section on what brings cataclysmic change to businesses and how to manage such changes.

There is so much that this curriculum addresses we couldn't possibly cover all of that information in just one small paragraph. If only you had a guide for all that you have to learn in Business Studies...

The big business concern today is ethically-sourced products
These days, there is great emphasis on businesses of all types, from coffee houses to phone makers using ethically-sourced materials. Source: Visualhunt

What Type of Career Could You Forge with a Business Degree

The array of topics covered in the A-Levels Business Studies curriculum qualifies you for work in any number of industries. For instance, what you learned about human resources and labour capital prepared you for management positions in any job sector from retail to manufacturing and with hospitality and finance thrown in for good measure.

Your training in accounting and finance means you have at least the basic skills needed to work in a bank, an accountant's office or in a major company, maintaining their books. What you learned about marketing could see you start work in an advertising agency or conducting focus groups.

Good marks in Business Studies open so many doors for you that we had to write a separate article just to tell you about all the jobs you could try your hand at with these credentials.

The takeaway from all of this is that the skills you learn - both the career-oriented and personal ones prepare you to stake your claim on just about any sector, industry or position you'd like to have a go at.

Do you have any questions about any aspect of this syllabus or anything in this article? Let us know in the comments section, please.

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A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.