Will doing x3A2's after x4AS's be seen as a negative by Uni's? Would they even know?

(74 Posts)
Lurgano Thu 30-Apr-15 14:07:52

Son doing 4AS's at top grammar. School (over?) keen that he continues to do 4A2's -- but I think that there is a risk that if he does this he will end up with a mix of A and B grades when he needs 3xA grades for the course he wants to do....and I think he has better chance of achieving this with more focus on each subject.

However do Unis like to see that 4 A2's are being taken even though the offer is for 3 grades....?

If you started the year and submitted your UCAS form with 4 A2's and then dropped one as the year goes on would you have to inform the Unis?

Molio Thu 30-Apr-15 14:17:46

You mean your son is in Y12? Or Y13? Yes, if he submits the form with four subjects listed on it for A2 and then drops one, he has to inform the universities he's applied to. Any offer is based on all the info in the form and therefore the fact of taking four will be part of the equation - if not in the fact of an offer, then often in the precise terms of the offer. He has a contractual obligation to do that. If he's in Y12 it's much more straightforward to drop the subject this term after the exam rather than try to appease the school/ impress the universities - that will just lead to headaches all round and probably won't vastly advantage him anyhow.

hellsbells99 Thu 30-Apr-15 14:52:54

It is standard to do 4AS subjects and then 3 at A2!
My DD is doing just this and currently in year 13. She had no problem getting offers for a competitive course.

ImperialBlether Thu 30-Apr-15 14:59:39

No, tons of people do 4 x AS and 3 x A2. In fact my sister's students were applying to Oxford and were advised to do that and to read about the subjects more - so have three subjects you know in depth rather than four subjects you know less about.

Molio, she makes it clear he's doing AS now!

Lurgano Thu 30-Apr-15 15:00:10

He is in Yr 12 -- so sounds like he should just go with the 3 A levels -- thanks for clarifying that.

LIZS Thu 30-Apr-15 15:06:35

Dc is at a high ranking academic school and 3 A2 is the norm except for STEM candidates.

Molio Thu 30-Apr-15 15:06:44

Yes it's almost clear, just that the use of 'offer' could have made it ambiguous. Some posts aren't always absolutely precise. Anyhow, the point is that if a student drop an A2 in the final run up to exams, the student would need to get hold of his/her two offer unis pdq!

Molio Thu 30-Apr-15 15:07:43


YouMakeMyHeartSmile Thu 30-Apr-15 15:09:51

This is what I (and everyone else in my year at school) did!

MyVisionsComeFromSoup Thu 30-Apr-15 15:17:16

I know of someone who started 4 A2s with the intention of dropping one after a term or so, unfortunately the one he wanted to drop was the subject specifically named in his uni offer, so he had to carry it on.

Standard here (even with STEM uni applications) to only do 3 A2s.

Theas18 Thu 30-Apr-15 15:24:02

Don't quite get this. 4AS and 3A2 is standard.

THe issue is in the " transitional phase" when some subjects have become linear and other still offer AS -usually along side a linear A2 course.

DD2 is expected to take 4xA2 subjects starting year 12 in sept 2015 with the intention of taking all to A2 at the end of year 13. There may be parallel AS courses taken at the end of year 12. However , if I'm right, the 1st year of A2 courses may not be the same as the AS so she'll be studying two different exam specs at the same time.

It's a bloody minefield!

Molio Thu 30-Apr-15 16:29:42

Theas the subjects which are still offering AS during the transitional phase will be as they were before - a continuum. After the transition phase the AS and the A2 courses in a particular subject aren't co-teachable, which is why many schools will be doing only the A2, with no AS. Purely because of the felicity of his subject choices, my Y11 DS is doing two subjects which will still have an old style AS leading on to A2, and two which won't. Tidy!

Molio Thu 30-Apr-15 16:35:53

Visions, that's just one example of why it's not a good idea to game the system. Another would be the nasty surprise contained in DD2's offer: 'All offerees who stated that they were taking four A Levels on their UCAS form will be expected to complete all four qualifications even though our offer is based only on three'.

MrsBartlet Thu 30-Apr-15 19:57:27

Lurgano I asked exactly the same question last year as dd (also at a top grammar) "only" wanted to carry on 3 subjects to A2. She wanted to apply to Cambridge and her school kept putting pressure on her to do 4 A2s saying that it would make her a stronger Oxbridge candidate. As she got AAAB at AS, we felt that carrying on the subject she got a B in would take time away from her good subjects and weaken her chances of an offer. School suggested she could start all 4 A2 courses and drop one if it was too much but fortunately through our own research we knew that if she started all 4 then she would have to complete them. We asked several Cambridge tutors (and an Oxford one for good measure!) and they all said 3 would be sufficient as long as she could demonstrate extra reading in her subject. The amount of work she did in preparation for her Cambridge interview was the equivalent to doing a fourth A2 so we are very glad we stuck to our guns and she dropped her weakest subject as she would not have had time to prepare as well if she had a fourth A2 to do. She has a Cambridge offer and got offers from everywhere she applied (all top unis) despite only doing 3A2s.

Ds is at another grammar and I feel we will have to fight the same battle with them as they have already stated that boys at their school do 4 A2s. It just seems so unnecessary.

Molio Thu 30-Apr-15 22:26:12

MrsBartlet five of my DC have done 'only' 3 A2 and all their accounts pretty much replicate that of your DD. The sixth DC did do a fourth, but only because he wanted to add in a humanities subject to the three sciences. I would echo your point that depth is more critical than breadth at this stage and that for a good many DC achieving both isn't always possible.

tropicalfish Thu 30-Apr-15 22:42:16

What about doing medicine at Cambridge? Do you think that they are more likely to give you an offer if you are doing 4A2s even if the 4th is not a science or maths A level.

TrollshaveLittleWillies Thu 30-Apr-15 23:17:41

Tropical. There is plenty of info on what Cambridge Medical applicants are expected to have on the Cambridge website. You can also look on Student room.

tropicalfish Thu 30-Apr-15 23:28:30

I have not really found the answer anywhere. I wondered whether anyone had direct recent experience of this.

Decorhate Fri 01-May-15 06:43:13

Re Cambridge medicine, they choose candidates for medicine based on a ranking system made up of their AS marks (UMS) and BMAT score. So obv would be looking at the 4 subjects normally taken at AS level. I can't remember that having say a fifth subject at AS would give you an advantage.
I've no idea how this will change under the new system where AS's may no longer be taken.

Decorhate Fri 01-May-15 06:44:20

Sorry I left out a word - should have said "they choose candidates to interview for medicine"!

MrsBartlet Fri 01-May-15 07:27:13

Molio - it was asking the question on here last year and getting good advice from others mumsnetters that helped us stand up to the school. The school has generally been great and gets quite a few into Oxbridge every year but their advice for dd was way off. The shared wisdom and experience of mn helped us enormously! Depth in their chosen subject is definitely better than an extra A2.

Molio Fri 01-May-15 08:28:51

I would tend to say that once you've passed the bar for interview, a fourth A2 could very well help at Cambridge, for medicine. That's the caveat though, medicine is different in a lot of respects. They like to see evidence of outside interests, things which can be used as stress busters (sport, music, tiddlywinks) but also an ability to cope with a large workload, which doing four A2 does - almost especially if it's not another science or maths. The only one of my DC to do a fourth happens to be a medic (Oxford not Cambridge) and the workload is undoubtedly big. Mine did all do an EP too (except the eldest, as the school didn't offer it then). The EP plus three seems a much more productive way to go for the majority of subjects unless a student is absolutely dead set on continuing with four.

I know a lot of schools say four will 'give a student the edge' MrsB, but like you, I'm not so convinced. And if they then spread themselves too thin at exam time, I don't reckon four Bs rather than three As will save them.

TrollshaveLittleWillies Fri 01-May-15 08:56:23

Tropical. How about phoning or emailing Admissions at Cambridge and asking. Then you will know you have correct and up to date information. Entry requirements for medicine can change year by year.

Molio Fri 01-May-15 09:12:55

Trolls obviously there's no harm phoning but the admissions guys won't say more than is on the website and be encouraging. The stated requirement is only three and that isn't going to change anytime soon, nor is the capacity for hard work. It might be more interesting to ask the admissions team how many medics offered places for 2015 actually had four or more A2s, but I'm not convinced you'll get a ready answer - if you do, please share!

Across all subjects at Oxford around 51% have four A2s, but that's skewed towards sciences/ maths.

mateysmum Fri 01-May-15 09:15:48

3 A2's after 4 As's is the norm. I don't know anyone doing 4 A2's MY DS is also in yr 12 and looking forward to dropping maths after AS!

I can't see any justification in doing four A2's. It would be very timetable and prep heavy. My 2 nieces were both accepted for medicine (one at Cambridge) with 3 A2's. Much better to do 3 well and enjoy them than 4 not so well and have a miserable yr 13.

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