Gary: Maybe, I Mean Maybe, I Can Choose Four Essay-Based Subjects



Class of 2022, The London School of Economics and Political Science


As a social science student who studies Sociology, psychology, history, and economics, (and mathematics in A1), I’ve always been asked about my course selection and how I cope with so many essay-based subjects in the past year.

It is unusual to choose four essay-based subjects at A-level. From the very beginning, I heard that it was difficult to get a high score in these subjects—and perhaps it is true. I asked this question to many: is it OK to have this combination of courses? At that time, Robert, my counsellor, gave a clear suggestion: give up one of them. However, due to inexplicable self-confidence, this proposal was not adopted by me in the end. My experience revealed that history is indeed a very difficult subject. During the first semester of A1, I nearly lost confidence in learning history. However, in the end, it seemed that I understand the logic behind the history essay. One difficulty I faced was the challenge of memory before the exam, and it was very hard. Nevertheless, I didn’t encounter much difficulties except for history, so that many people’s impression of me became ‘a good essay writer.’

At the beginning of A2, I considered whether I should drop history. I can’t say I’m not interested in the topics, but it is not something that I absolutely want to dig deeper into. Concerning the pressure, I chatted with many teachers and classmates. I remember that my A1 history teacher felt I should absolute drop one of the courses. Again, of course, I didn’t listen to their advice. And the result – perhaps unexpectedly, I got three third places at the school. Recalling the past two years, it was surprisingly easy and without much pressure, and I had lots of free time watching movies and doing other things every day. I did not participate in many activities because I was afraid that I wouldn’t have time. In retrospect, though, it seems unnecessary.

I just want to tell my readers that even if one’s first language is not English, even if science subjects may be easier, there’s no need to give up one’s interest for humanities. I don’t want to encourage others to choose A-level courses like me, because I know that even for my friends who are more committed to humanities and social sciences than I am, it is difficult combination of courses. However, I hope that everyone knows it is possible.


It’s a shame to say that the four years I spent in SCIE may be the four years that I have read the least. In my vague memory, I went to the library every week in primary school, and the only recreational activity was reading. I may have read many novels that I soon forgot, but there are also some that I still remember –such as the Autobiography of Joe Sutter. When I was in junior high school, I always go to the school library after school, and I even had a reading speed of one book a day in some months. It is true that this seems ‘swallowing,’ but is it partly because the logic in many books is too straightforward and identical? Today, only those books that I read for the second time will remain in my memory.

During my time at SCIE, I didn’t read a lot. Of course, I can excuse myself by saying: it’s just because I’m not reading those meaningless fiction, but books that are difficult to read like Suicide by Durkheim. But this was clearly not the case. Thankfully, at the end of my time in SCIE, my interest in books came back. In March, when I was reading Agatha Christie’s novel, that feeling from the past returned. If there is anything that has been with me all the time, it would still be OK to say, reading.


Strangely enough, if you ask my family and many friends why I like sociology, they will probably be speechless. In fact, friends I haven’t seen for a long time and friends I only talk with online are more likely to discuss some social phenomena outside the school curriculum with me. If anyone can speak for me in this matter- it may be the person who has read my personal statement! During the time at SCIE, I participated in many activities relating to social sciences, such as SSHI (Stanford humans Institute. It can be said that I learned a lot, but it can also be said that I realized that, although I chose sociology, I was less determined than many others.

I like to observe people. Over the past four years, I have traveled between Guangzhou and Shenzhen by CRH trains for countless times. Maybe because I am too familiar with the station, I found that one can see everything there. You can see at a glance that when someone faints, several staff members handling the incident encountered medical emergency for the first time; You can see from the eyes of other passengers that they are unfamiliar with the station and worried about missing the train; You can see from the manner of some people that they are regular travelers like yourself; You can see from the staff from different regions that, people living in different parts of China have different cultures; You can know the economic status of the passengers sitting beside you, their exhaustion of going out to work, or the joy of going on a holiday; And that, you can imagine their lives in a probably correct way; Even, you can know whether the strangers who are about to talk to you really need help, or are those who, although uncommon, want to swindle you out of money. I saw a mini-society at the station. But, after all, why is this, sometimes, more interesting and important than discovering one of my teachers is sitting next to me on the train?

For me, sociology can be everything, but it can, occasional, be nothing. If I still love sociology in the near future, it may be because I have lost some confidence in Sociology in the nearer future. Nevertheless, I do not regret any of my choices.