daughter year 12 struggling(39 Posts)
My daughter who is in yr 12 despite her average Gcse results ABBBBBBBBB decided to take maths, biology, chemistry and classics for a-level; on the count that she would put up with the extra work because she really wants to be a scientist. However , when I recieved her first report I noticed how badly she is struggling with chemistry and maths, what should she do next?
Drop Maths, too much rote learning and effort involved if she's struggling. It's the most well-regarded of her options, but it's really not worth struggling through it if it's going to have impact on her other results. My college (I left pretty recently as well) didn't let anyone who didn't have an A* do it for a reason.
What sort of scientist does she want to be?
Well, she was thinking about it but it would mean that she would have to change her future career and she doesn't want to.
Either a biochemist or microbiologist
You don't need maths to get onto a Biochemistry course. Just biology and chemistry. Have a look at UCAS. My friend studied it, and she definitely only needed biology and chem.
If she gets atrocious grades due to struggling and spread herself too thinly, then that's when she'll have to change her future career.
See I would drop the classics. She needs maths for both bio and chem.
If she is driven and putting the work in she will succeed with some support- it's a big jump from gcses.
Does she know what she is struggling with, or is it a blanket everything? Has she spoken to the tutors?
When I say needs- it's supports them.
Statistics, molarity and loads of other things I can't remember off the top of my head are easy if your maths is fairly strong.
Drop a subject, classics seems the obvious one as it doesn't relate to her career plan. She can always continue to take an interest in classics without the exam.
The other thing I would say is that many young people underestimate how much more work is needed at AS than GCSE. It isn't enough to go to lessons and do the homework you have to do more.
I would suggest that she set herself a timetable to do a continuous revision process. In every subject and in each topic do as many practice questions as possible. Do past papers regularly, they are all available on line.
Can you get a tutor? My DD (yr 12) goes to a chemistry tutor with her friend and that has helped lots. Also doing lots of past papers in all subjects. DD has particularly done lots of maths past papers (and soloman ones) and is finding them fine now - and she got an A as gcse not A*!
DD has worked every day of half-term - at least 4 hours a day and often more - she is getting up at 8am so she can still go out later.
Maths is a lot harder than Classics to get a good grade though, which is why I say drop the Maths. If you're struggling and don't have that A* natural ability then a U is not uncommon to get. With Classics, as long as she practices her exam technique and knows the content- it's an easy A or B.
You need to look at it like this. For Biochem, even at an ex-poly- you're gonna need AAB. ABB with a good personal statement/extra currics/general strong application. How is she going to get those grades?
If she can't get a B in Maths, which is fucking difficult- then she will not be able to get onto the courses that she needs.
DS2 is in Yr12. He is doing Biology and Chemistry as 2 of his subjects, he isn't doing Maths, but still getting As. I'd talk to the teachers, but if she were mine I wouldn't make her carry on with a subject she is struggling with.
I'm not denying that Maths, Chem and Bio is the ideal choice- but seeing as OP's DD is struggling with this subject set when many don't and has average GCSEs, I honestly don't think it's doable. Too much pressure and rote learning to try and bring it up will do a lot more damage.
Drop it down to three, go for As in her Sciences and see Classics as the mandatory B (or even A?!) for getting her on the courses that she needs to be.
AAB in Biology, Chemistry and Classics is much better than BCCE in Biology, Chemistry, Classics and the much desired Maths.
I'd agree with TheAwfulDaughter (and was a senior lecturer in a science department of a RG university for nearly a decade). I know plenty of excellent chemists who do not have maths A'level because to be honest, the maths you need for chemistry is more about being numerate than anything else. Being able to confidently rearrange equations and use log functions are about as much maths as you need for A'level chemistry.
IME most science degrees include maths and stats modules in the first year which cover the areas needed for the degree. There is an awful lot of maths within A'level which will never be used as a scientist.
Further, my old department carried out analysis of which A'level subjects students came in with and how well students performed on the degree and for our subject (don't want to be too specific, but similar to biochemistry) and found no correlation between coming in already with maths A level and doing well on the course.
Awful can you explain why you keep mentioning "rote learning" when talking about Maths? It's a long time since I studied Maths but one of its bonuses (for me) was that you didn't have to learn anything - if you couldn't remember it then you just went back and worked it out from first principles. What do they have to 'learn' these days?
milliemac11 You said first report, so does that mean you are due a second one soon? Has there been a parents evening, and are the teachers concerned she is not hitting targets? Or are the targets lower than you would like, being set using GCSE grades?
Also going through yr12 with DD1, this 6th form study seems to be a totally different ball game. Much more about independent learning, work ethic, and maturity. It seems as though the GCSE grades are almost irrelevant. DD is also struggling with 2 subjects, one of which (Physics) she had A* GCSE. Maths was the lowest of her GCSE marks (mid A) and she is finding it OK, well as far as aiming for a B goes anyway, which may not be OK by MN standards.
With maths, I think it's also about why they didn't get an A* at GCSE. It's possible to get an A without knowing any of he harder A* material. In DDs case, she is better at the difficult stuff, more analytical than numerate, often losing marks on easier questions with silly arithmetic slip ups.
Could you get your DD onto some past papers and see if there's a pattern in the kind of questions she is getting wrong?
Also agree it may be worth trying a tutor, even if just to assess whether its worth continuing but dropping after AS.
Senua Agree, the rote learning is more at GCSE. As the maths becomes more advanced, it is much more about working it out. Although I think some of the methods don't stick without lots of practise.
My DD struggled when she tried to do A-level maths and she got 12 A's at GCSE. It took her a long time to decide to drop it but she was much, much happier afterwards, and got all A's in the ones she kept going with.
senua I am not a Mathematician, but from seeing close friends do A-level, and living with a MA Maths student- it is a lot of repetition, doing the same type of sums again and again until you 'get' it.
I had friends who got A*s at A-level, who did less of this- because they just got the formulas and methods right, understood the maths and could go back and rework it if the answer wasn't correct.
Seeing as OP's DD isn't just getting this- in order to succeed at A-level, it will be like balla said, a lot of repetition in order to get the methods to stick properly. Similar to rote learning. Which is fine, whatever works- but time consuming and exhausting when you are struggling with other subjects.
My DD is in year 13 and has similar career ambitions. She also struggled with the transition to A level (similar subjects).
You and more importantly, she, need to get to grips with what form this struggling is taking. Chemistry & Maths are very much building subjects so is there something she didnt 'get' at GCSE level? This can sometimes be the source of a lot of problems.
One of the things my DD struggled with was the 'vocabulary' of A level chemistry. This cost her a lot of marks at AS.
Dont forget that there are some excellent universities one level down from RG. Many of these are 'new' universities with some excellent science schools and the latest equipment. A good degree from one of these universities could easily lead to a masters/PhD from a RG university.
Maths isnt rote learning but it is a lot of practise. This time last year ds teacher said he was going to fail. He got himself into a right mess but wouldnt ask for help. We ended up with a meeting and teacher devising a plan. We also got him a tutor. She was good because ds would go through old papers, find what he was struggling with and go and talk it through with her. He didnt see her every week just in half terms.The maths department does have an open door policy for their alevel students. The student can walk into any class their teacher is in and ask for help.
Ds does have a talent for maths and asks really deep questions that stretch his teachers, but a level is still a lot harder work than he thinks it is. Ds is also dyslexic and makes silly mistakes. He did half a paper with the calculator on wrong setting. He now takes two calculators in to exams, labled. He also will carty the wrong figure forward.
As for A* gcse. The school produces a very detailed analysis if their mock exam. We just got one for dd. Its interesting as both dd and ds had gaps in the "easy" questions but got marks on subjects they hadnt covered yet which were basically the A* questions. The teacher does feel its because they rush the easy stuff
I agree that dropping maths will not be an issue for university admissions. As has been said, universities make sure to cover the essential maths for the course in their own modules- especially the statistics side of things as this is not a compulsory module at A-level.
As has been said, having poor results across the board because she was struggling with maths will make it harder to get a university place. Universities will sometimes offer slightly lower grades to those with more science subjects, but this will only be, say AAB instead of AAA and not all universities do this.
However, she also needs to be aware that dropping an AS could limit her university options, as some universities will ask for a 4th AS in their offers.
I think it comes down to how badly she is struggling in maths and chemistry. I think it is worth talking to her teachers about what they think she will get at AS in these subjects. If for both they think she will get a C/D or lower, then it will be very hard work to get both up to an A/B. If she is on track to fail these subjects, she really needs to think about dropping one. If she is on track for an A/B in classics, she is much better carrying on with this. If she is looking at getting less than BBC overall for her AS levels, she will struggle with getting a place at university.
Maths A-level is hard for people who don't "get" it, and there will be another step up next year.
If she is really struggling with chemistry, is she sure that a biochemistry degree is for her?
I do think a tutor might help if you think she has gaps in her knowledge.
IME, gcse chemistry is too broad and does not rigorously cover the fundamental principles of chemistry sufficiently. Students therefore move up to A'level with the bottom rungs of the ladder they are climbing not securely in place. Once this is sorted, most can then make quite rapid progress at A'level.
One point to bear in mind, however, is that degree level education will be insufficient for most scientific careers and even outside academia a PhD is essential for most areas of science. Where she does her PhD (and more importantly, who supervises it) is of much greater importance and will define her career path much more than where she studies as an undergraduate (within reason).
I concur with the general advice on this thread, that Maths would seem to be the subject to drop if she would be able to achieve v high grades in her other subjects...
However, if she is struggling to achieve the grades in the subjects (especially Chemistry) that seem most relevant to her expressed career interests, I wonder if it might be worth going back a step and looking again at all her career & degree course options? If this is just a hurdle in Chemistry that she needs to overcome & henceforth all will be well, that's one thing. But if she is setting out on a course & career path in academia where she might struggle the whole way to shine, she is not going to be very happy.
As a careers adviser, I'm sure that she could benefit from talking it through - not least to give her the confidence to persevere with A levels if she starts to lose confidence in herself, knowing that there are alternative options...
Hopefully your DDs school has engaged a qualified & impartial Careers Adviser that she can arrange to see. If not, it is possible to see an adviser privately. Search the professional register of www.thecdi.net for an experienced & qualified adviser in your area.
As a start, she might like to explore the options with her A level subjects on: www.bestcourse4me.com
I would drop classics and free up some time to get to grips with maths and chemistry.She really needs to grasp the nettle andget her head round the things she doesn't understand There is lots of excellent resource on the internet- for example 'khan academy' , and get hold of some proper text books which explain it all step by step rather than relying on the classes and teachers notes.
worrysigh How do I find out which non-RG Universities (and not ex-polys) are good for science? DS wants to do a Physics/Engineering based degree. His ambition is to go to a RG but despite getting all As at GCSE, he is finding the transition to AS level difficult and his mock AS level results were not good. He is doing 3 sciences & maths atm but thinks he will drop Biology after AS.
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