A level choices - help!

(25 Posts)
glaurung Fri 17-Feb-12 22:44:49

So dd is taking GCSEs this summer and is predicted to do very well (predicted all A*s and As), although as a mild dyslexic she could easily under perform a little.

Now she's never been a huge fan of school, and if she could find a good alternative she'd be out like a shot, but as she can't she's resigned herself to do A levels.

So the question is which? Her best subjects are sciences and as she's not that keen on writing essays so her first thought was 3 sciences and maths. The maths was mainly because I told her it went went with the sciences and she'd keep more options open if she did it - she doesn't really like the subject.

But I'm really not sure if she's actually mathematical enough for maths - especially without much motivation to work at it. Although she's A*/A boundary at GCSE she doesn't seem very mathematically intuitive to me - she needs a lot of practice before she 'gets' something (often only to forget it a bit later on) and most importantly she doesn't enjoy it.

She's just said the subject she enjoys most is RS, so would that be a better alternative? She is also wondering about Geography perhaps instead of Physics which seems a fairly pointless subject for someone who doesn't like maths. Would two arty subjects and two sciencey ones keep open more doors or will she just moan for 2 years about having to write essays?

At the moment she seems very uncertain about all of it - Can anyone offer some advice/opinions that might help her decide one way or the other?

Trix2323 Fri 17-Feb-12 23:09:47

Stick with maths and physics, so long as the teachers think she can do it. Maths is about both aptitude and application. She can do four AS, and the move to three A2. But stick with maths as long as she can.

Good maths supports the sciences, which you say are her best subjects; it also opens many doors for later, including (for example) economics.

Geography can be fun at GCSE, but at AS it gets harder. <<runs off to help DC1 with Geography AS homework>>

QuickLookBusy Fri 17-Feb-12 23:26:56

DD1 was predicted an A*/A in maths and got a low A in the end.

She didn't enjoy the subject at all and despite her teacher saying she should take A level maths, DD told me she was able to revise and remember things for exams, but forgot everything pretty much straight away.

A levels are hard, much more application is required than GCSE and if your DD doesn't even want to be at school I would worry, if she chooses subjects she doesn't even like or has an aptitude for, she will lose interest very quickly.

I'd encourage her to do the 2 sciences then 2 subjects she enjoys.

glaurung Sat 18-Feb-12 00:27:38

The two of you have articulated my opposing thoughts! I'll bump this tomorrow and see if anyone else has any ideas. We'd like to know what sort of standard and length of essay is needed for RS and Geography too if anyone can help there?

senua Sat 18-Feb-12 09:10:29

Has she any idea of career? If she knew where she was headed then that would help greatly in sorting out the route. Did work experience give her any clues?

It's a bit late in the day to say this, but is it school that she is not keen on or this school? Would a change to somewhere else help?

QuickLookBusy Sat 18-Feb-12 09:33:29

Could she actually go and ask the subject teachers to show examples of work, so she can see what will be expected, essay wise?

I suppose your DD has to decide if she would rather tackle essays in 2 subjects she enjoys or have no essays in subjects she has little interest in.

Oh, the other thing that has just occured to me, is that at DDs' school they were allowed to change their choices of AS subjects chosen on two occasions.

Once when the GCSE results came out and secondly up until the middle of October in Lower Sixth, as long as it fit in timetable wise. Again it mght be worth asking the school about this as it does take the pressure off a bit, if they really are unsure.

glaurung Sat 18-Feb-12 10:30:56

That's a really good idea to ask to actually see what's expected, thanks QLB. Another option she may have is to start with 5 subjects and drop out of one early - the disadvantage is you get no frees and she would want to drop out early on giving her only a small impression of what was involved, but maybe better than nothing?

senua she really doesn't have much clue what she'd like to do, though she says she definitely doesn't want to go to university. I agree having a target would help enormously not just in terms of which subjects to take but also for motivation. It is school in general rather than this school unfortunately - or actually it's work rather than school as she enjoys the social side of school, just not the academics. She has the option to change for sixth form in any case and may well do so.

whathaveiforgottentoday Sat 18-Feb-12 10:38:00

I would agree with sticking with the maths if planning to do Physics or Chemistry A level. The maths helps with the sciences enormously. I would have a chat with her maths teacher and get a very honest answer as to how well they think your DD will cope with maths A level.
All A levels are hard and it helps if they are interested in the subject. There is so much individual study that without that intrinsic interest in the subject, A levels can end up being a long hard slog.
I teach A level Biology and have taught a few A levels students with Dyslexia, I do find it affects their grade a little (tend to get B grades rather than A grades etc) but those who tackle it head on and use the extra time in exams do fine.

genevacalling Sat 18-Feb-12 10:42:57

Might she be interested in an industry placement? What you say about no career plans, aptitude for science and not wanting to go to uni is making me think engineering placement and (on different track), pharmacology.

Its a difficult world out there with no clear job plan. No uni will mean no graduate training - my DS is a bit similar to your DD from the sounds of it (though not so academic), and he's hoping to be an airline mechanic. Not what I'd had in mind but I went to uni because it was the done thing and my degree is worse than useless.

Bonsoir Sat 18-Feb-12 10:44:54

The important thing to do is to think about what she wants to do after school, and choose the A level subjects that will allow her to get there.

She presumably won't want to do a heavily essay-based degree, from the sounds of it.

glaurung Sat 18-Feb-12 11:00:19

genevacalling she might like an industry placement - where could she find out about these? Other things she's considered are nursing, paramedic or some generic management training scheme. I can see her doing well in HR - she is very good with people.

definitely not an essay based degree bonsoir, she likes the idea of getting a job sooner rather than doing a degree at all.

genevacalling Sat 18-Feb-12 11:24:01

Try here (scroll down a bit). There are lots of essays in nursing I believe.

EmmaGoldman Sat 18-Feb-12 14:06:49

Please let her choose her subjects, it continues to irk that my mother wouldn't let me choose my subjects 25+ years ago!! It totally put me off school/college and I ended up dropping out of 2 lots of A Levels, eventually did what I wanted to do as a mature student...

Bonsoir Sat 18-Feb-12 14:11:56

glaurung - how about Allied Health Professions?

details here

Some are free to train for!

glaurung Sat 18-Feb-12 15:55:53

I will certainly let her choose - it's really making sure she knows the pros and cons of each at this stage so she can make an informed choice. A lot of the problem is that she's not that enthusiastic about any of them, I've a hunch she won't be all that happy whatever she chooses which is a shame.

Thanks for that link bonsoir it looks useful.

Bonsoir Sat 18-Feb-12 15:58:15

If she could get enthusiastic about a career to train for after her A-levels maybe the choice of A-level will become easier?

Trix2323 Sun 19-Feb-12 18:51:21

This link from the Russel Group may be useful. Scroll down to find a pdf of a booklet called "Informed Choices".

russellgroup.ac.uk/russell-group-latest-news/137-2011/4746-new-guidance-on-post16-study-choices/

noblegiraffe Sun 19-Feb-12 22:16:33

Maths A-level is hard and I wouldn't really recommend taking it just because you couldn't think of anything else to do. The jump between GCSE (especially if you get an A rather than A*) is quite often too much for students. If she was going to take it I would recommend that she takes it as a fifth option to see how it goes for a few weeks rather than getting locked into it. She'll probably know quite early on if it's for her.

startail Tue 21-Feb-12 16:19:34

I would defiantly say maths if you aren't a natural mathematician gets hard!
(been there got the teashirt).

If I was her I would research health related professions entry requirements, I suspect that 3 sciences and AS maths would do.
For some boil, chem, geography and AS maths might even be possible.

My BF did food science with, maths, chemistry and Geography (before AS) levelssmile

My DD wants to do marine biology and some places except geography, some don't.

I'm afraid your DD needs to have something to aim at.

I'm mildly dyslexic and still a biologist, I took the "easy" option having had a nightmare with the M word.

welovesausagedogs Tue 21-Feb-12 16:34:31

RS isn't that well respected as an A-Level course, one of my friends DD was told by the univeristy that she applied for that they don't count subjects such as RS and general studies unless she wants to do RS. But Geography is well respected has a certain amount of biology in it without being repetitive, it would probably enrich her science subjects if she did geog, but i think if she is that bright than doing RS is a waste.

gingergran Tue 21-Feb-12 16:45:42

sorry to contradict welovesausagedogs but RS is a well respected course. both my children took A level RS as one of their subjects. both got offers from russell group universities and one of them went to Oxford to do a non-RS related subject. it depends on the syllabus as if there is a ethics paper it is highly regarded

welovesausagedogs Tue 21-Feb-12 16:48:25

gingergran, it's interesting to hear that, yeah my friends DD was applying last year for Maths and it was like one of the most competitive years so maybe thats why. I don't have much experience with this stage yet, mine are only little. So it looks as if your choices won't make too much of an impact.

Xenia Tue 21-Feb-12 16:48:49

Maths A level is pretty hard. I am a bit biassed as I did English, history German and always founds arts easier although did very well in Maths a GCSE level. RS is not that well regarded as a full A level.

What about something like geography, economics (if the school does it), chemistry and biology for lower sixth?

senua Tue 21-Feb-12 19:41:22

Of course RS is a well regarded A Level. It is on Trinity's list of 'Generally Suitable Arts A-levels' (so it is given the same ranking as Economics). It is not on the RG 'facilitating' list but that contains a fairly rareified list of only eight subjects!

glaurung Tue 21-Feb-12 22:17:19

I'm glad you said that senua I thought RS was the exception to the 'studies'=soft option rule of thumb.

With 3 other 'good' subjects I'm not too worried if the fourth is soft in any case, but I'm not sure about the maths and she isn't either! I don't think dd would enjoy economics either, she'd probably get on better with psychology.

I will try and get her inspired over a future career, I agree with everyone who has said this will help.

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