Changing A level subjects already - help needed

(20 Posts)
glaurung Wed 19-Sep-12 19:20:07

Dd started A levels in maths, physics, chemistry and biology this term, but is struggling with maths and wants to switch to something else. In spite of an A* at maths GCSE she just did rather badly at an algebra test which the school think is a reasonable predictor of an E at A level. She doesn't like maths much and only chose it as it goes with the sciences, so it seems sensible to switch imo.

So, tomorrow she is speaking with the head of sixth form about switching. She'd like to try Psychology (probably will be full already), Geography or RE instead. Can anyone offer any insight as to what any of these are like at A level, in particular how much long essay writing is involved and how enjoyable they are? What subjects do your dc enjoy most?

prettydaisies Wed 19-Sep-12 20:32:22

I think it will depend on your DD to be honest.
Mine is doing further maths, physics, English lit and geography. She says geography is the light relief in the week! But she will have to write essays. What does the school think about doing physics without maths?

DeWe Wed 19-Sep-12 21:00:39

If she's struggling already in maths she may well struggle in physics too. When I did physics you needed a good grip on algebra.

glaurung Wed 19-Sep-12 21:20:04

I do know what you mean about the physics and maths (chemistry is also quite mathsy too), but the A level she is doing isn't as bad as some mathematically and I've told her already she will have to keep working at it (at home) to support that. She's always been a bit Jekyll & Hyde with maths - I remember in year 8 she came second top in the year in one test and then bottom in another. She's never really liked the subject so has good and bad days in rather dramatic fashion, but if her heart's not in it then I really don't think maths will go well, whereas physics/chem do stand a chance imo as she's more motivated.

How does geography A compare to GCSE? She did well at GCSE, but made up half the facts for her case studies on the day.

Ladymuck Wed 19-Sep-12 23:02:15

You would have to talk to the physics teacher first. I would almost say it is a waste to do physics without the maths to back it up.

Ladymuck Wed 19-Sep-12 23:02:52

And by this stage it will be timetabling that will be the main issue rather than just spaces.

senua Wed 19-Sep-12 23:12:02

Ds says that, for most subjects, there is a leap from GCSE to AS Level but not so for Geography - it's more gradual.
He finds Psychology easy but boring. Learn loads of facts & regurgitate.

What's the plan after A Levels? Will that help her to decide?

glaurung Wed 19-Sep-12 23:18:40

The thing is though, she's interested in and actually very good at physics so although she could never take it further without maths it would be a shame not to do the A level imo (I have a physics degree). She can always pick up maths later if she wanted to and had the motivation. I know I can support her with physics A level, so I'm not really too worried from that perspective. I know the timetabling is an issue, but it's a big sixth form, so there should be plenty of choice in that option block - we will find out tomorrow. Her current preferences are 1) Geography, 2) Psychology and 3) RE and maybe keep going with maths if none of those are available.

GnomeDePlume Wed 19-Sep-12 23:25:40

Has your DD changed school for 6th form? My DD has and has found that there are topics that continuers have covered and that new starters (like DD) havent.

glaurung Wed 19-Sep-12 23:25:54

senua thanks for that, I think it confirms her current thinking. After A levels no particular plans. Not sure she will want to do a degree if something else presents itself, odds are probably about 50:50 at the moment. I actually think having a subject with a bit of writing involved would be good for her and show some versatility. She got surprisingly good GCSEs but isn't really an academic child and is quite keen to just get a job (a proper one, rather than a satuday job) and earn some money. She's good with people and generally better at science subjects than the others.

glaurung Wed 19-Sep-12 23:28:32

yes gnome she has just changed school again. She changed at the beginning of year 10 and again soon after the start of year 11, so she's quite likely got lots of holes in her knowledge, but it didn't manifest itself at all in her GCSE results (which was something of a surprise).

GnomeDePlume Wed 19-Sep-12 23:58:28

IME schools are very good at teaching to the test without necessarily teaching for knowledge IYSWIM. This could help explain the disparity between GCSE & these tests.

The thing we have explained to our DD is that these early days tests are there to identify the students who dont have the heart for the subject at A level.

If your DD likes a subject then she should stick with it as she will get into her stride with it. The gap between GCSE & A level isnt impossible.

If your DD doesnt like a subject then now is the time to change.

DevaDiva Thu 20-Sep-12 00:04:55

I'd arrange to go in and speak to the head of sixth form with your DD. now is the time to change if she wants to and a less sciency (not really a word) subject could be a good rounding to her learning. Good luck can't wait for this stage with my DCs honest govner

glaurung Thu 20-Sep-12 00:08:08

She's adamant that I'm not to go in with her. We have reached a compromise that I will drive her to school early and wait in the car park.

Startailoforangeandgold Thu 20-Sep-12 00:40:20

Maths A level is awful if you don't enjoy it.
Biology, chemistry and physics complement each other perfectly well.

You can't take physics further without maths, but believe me unless you love maths, maths and further maths you don't want to!!!

Yes that's a lot of !!! Look at my user name, once I dreamt of studying the stars. Then I sat through a year of university maths lectures and hi tailed it over to biology.

Biology's lovely, only a bit of stats and no impossible problem sheets.

Good luck Ops DD and I hope you find something you love earlier than I did (even if I'd never have met DH without the star gazing).

glaurung Thu 20-Sep-12 00:54:16

Thanks for that startail. She did a star gazing GCSE (which she loved), and would empathise with what you are saying entirely I think.

glaurung Thu 20-Sep-12 09:12:22

Well to do geography would have meant changing groups for the other subjects, so she's opted for psychology. I hope she enjoys it - it might be right up her street. We shall see.

senua Thu 20-Sep-12 09:48:15

Psychology could fit in nicely with her sciences. A lot of the findings come from studies so there is a fair amount of debate over 'was this experiment properly conducted => are the results valid' or 'if we change this variable, what change do we get in the outcome' (they luurve the study of twins separated at birthgrin) or 'was this experiment ethically sound' etc etc.

phlebas Thu 20-Sep-12 10:14:24

my dsis is doing chemistry, biology, psychology (& she did Eng lit at As) ... she says the psychology is leagues easier than the others (she's predicted A* for everything) but she quite enjoys it. I did maths A level eons ago & good a good grade but only with lots of tutoring ... I wouldn't recommend it until you love maths.

phlebas Thu 20-Sep-12 10:17:43

meant to say dsis hates maths & really struggled to get an A at GCSE

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