Swapping A level subject nearly a term in..

(24 Posts)
Megainstant Sun 13-Nov-16 11:25:29

Dd is doing history RS and biology. She has a very low predicted grade for as biology - c/D.

She now wishes she'd done photography instead. She got an a* for art gcse's, she has a good camera and she's very good at keeping up with coursework.

She changed school for 6th form and I think she slipped through the cracks a bit in terms of advice.

GnomeDePlume Sun 13-Nov-16 13:56:38

What does she want to do after A levels?

What subjects facilitate that?

A levels are a means to an end.

I think she is probably too late to change subjects.

SuperPug Sun 13-Nov-16 14:00:28

Yes, it can be changed as long as the school is able to facilitate that as subjects are normally organised in blocks, once options have been confirmed. I have a pupil who is currently doing this and although it's a lot of work, it is not impossible.
RE: photography, great option for a relevant degree course but will probably not be included in offers for a number of courses and degree, e.g. Philosophy at King's - look at Informed Choices.

noblegiraffe Sun 13-Nov-16 14:03:37

Way too late to change at my school, the deadline was weeks ago.

If she just wants to change because of her predicted grade then she needs to realise that at this point of the course, predicted grades are bobbins. She hasn't done anywhere enough of the course to make any sort of accurate assessment of how she will perform in exams in 2 years time. In addition, the first cohort hasn't yet even sat these exams, so teachers are basing predictions on a good old guess and not much else.

So, she probably has to stick with biology, but that doesn't mean she has to get a C/D in it. She needs to talk to the teacher about why they have predicted what they have and what she can do to improve the situation. Is she working hard enough independently of homeworks? Is she studying in the right way? Is the jump to A-level causing her to struggle and what books/resources can she use to bridge the gap? At the moment it's still all to play for.

FlopIsMyParentingGuru Sun 13-Nov-16 14:06:51

I changed just before half term many moons ago. I needed grades rather than subjects so swapped from maths to geography. Worked for me, but then it wasn't a modular subject I swapped to

TheSecondOfHerName Sun 13-Nov-16 16:30:04

DS1 swapped two of his subjects at half-term, so two weeks ago. He dropped Maths & Biology and started English Literature and Government & Politics. This was possible for the following reasons:
1) The school were supportive: they were able to timetable his preferences, and the new subject teachers gave him reading to do over the half-term week so he could catch up.
2) The subjects he swapped to were the sort where a student can catch up independently by reading at home. This would not be the case for some subjects.

Megainstant Sun 13-Nov-16 17:36:27

I'm just kicking myself that dd didn't do 4. She was going to do photography as well then drop one after ASs. She's determined to keep on with biology though so I'll look into getting her a tutor.

GnomeDePlume Sun 13-Nov-16 18:05:08

The sciences at A level are hugely different from GCSE. It isnt simply a case of building on what went before. Often GCSE concepts are entirely discarded and replaced with far more complex concepts.

If you do get a tutor encourage your DD to learn how to study independently. At A level students need to learn to be selfish. It is all about getting what they need to get good grades. It isnt about studying to please the teacher.

For good grades the student has to do independent work. Going to class is not enough. I posted on a different thread (also another Biology student interestingly) some tips which my DD is using:

- read the text book, take notes from it, use this as the primary resource
- look at past papers especially the mark schemes to understand what examiners are looking for
- dont be frightened to ask questions

What is your DD wanting to do next? If she is planning to go to university then encourage her to start looking at courses, universities. It is a visualisation technique which makes the next step more 'real' and therefore makes the effort at this stage more worthwhile.

Pooka Sun 13-Nov-16 18:12:11

I changed (many years ago) from German to English lit. a term in. Was no problem for me.

Megainstant Sun 13-Nov-16 21:13:19

She wants to study history confused she's got no chance with predicted B c c/D.

TheSecondOfHerName Sun 13-Nov-16 21:33:10

DS1 is also thinking about studying History. His target grades currently appear as BBB. Predicted grades will be decided after the end of Y12 exams.

Megainstant Sun 13-Nov-16 21:50:28

Dd would be delighted with Bbb
Just hope she suddenly improves

GnomeDePlume Sun 13-Nov-16 22:20:30

^She wants to study history she's got no chance with predicted B c c/D.&

Not true

Your DD needs to go onto the UCAS site. If she inputs her predicted grades to get her predicted UCAS points (104 for BCC) and the subject she wants to study then she will get a list of universities.

CauliflowerSqueeze Sun 13-Nov-16 23:57:22

Way too late at my school too.
With approx 4.5 hours a week, she will have missed 40 hours of tuition and 80 hours of homework.

bojorojo Mon 14-Nov-16 01:36:50

My DD did Photography A level. If it is still based on AS exams/portfolio in Y12, then there is a problem. In DD's school, the deadline was March. Not May/June. A moderator comes in to look at the work and this can be before Easter. Therefore, you are talking about weeks to get her AS work up to scratch and she will have missed project time, never mind teaching.

Photography does not have homework in the traditional sense (X hours a week) but clearly portfolios take time, there is lots of experimentation and pefecting shots, and you do have to research and write them up, as required by the exam. Taking the photos is only part of it and usually someone just using a camera for fun does not have the requisite skills for success at A level.

I cannot imagine a decent university wanting a History undergrad with Photography as an A level. There might be a few who may though, but most would not see it as suitable prep for an academic degree. It is an Art.

GnomeDePlume Mon 14-Nov-16 06:37:09

bojorojo I think you should be cautious of the term 'decent university'. The OP's DD's predicted grades would not get her into a Russell Group university but there are plenty of non RG universities where the predicted grades of BCC in History, RS and ANO subject would get her in.

Megainstant Mon 14-Nov-16 06:56:24

usually someone just using a camera for fun does not have the requisite skills for success at A level. did you miss the part about her having A* for Fine Art gcse?

Anyhoo THANK YOU Gnomedeplume. The UCAS site was brilliant. I'm going to sit down with dd this week and look through it with her. If I input BCC there are lots of options open to her including a foundation year which I had no idea existed. Lots of the suggested courses are at ex polys nearish to where we live which will also be really appealing.

GnomeDePlume Mon 14-Nov-16 08:31:44

Megainstant looking through courses is really good fun and as I mentioned upstream a good visualisation technique. It is very easy to get stuck in the here and now and bogged down in how hard the work is.

I hope your DD is able to identify some courses which will give her something to aim at.

Megainstant Mon 14-Nov-16 09:00:52

Yes I agree I think it will be very beneficial.

I've also realised that she's very stress avoidant - won't put any pressure on herself so although she's getting all her work done with Bs in most of her essays, she's not doing any reading around the subject. And although she says she revises a lot I think she has her phone on as well. So she needs a bit of a talking to. If she can manage BCC rather than CCC shell have so many more options

catslife Mon 14-Nov-16 11:49:16

Usually the deadline for swapping subjects is the Autumn half term.
This may not be applicable to your dd, but dds sixth form college offers both A level biology and BTEC Applied Biology and it may still be possible to swap between these 2 courses as they are closely related.

GnomeDePlume Mon 14-Nov-16 12:21:18

I posted these on a different thread (interestingly also about a Biology struggler).

These are the study techniques my DD (y12 studying Maths, FM, Physics, Chem) is currently using:

A levels are very different from GCSE - A levels are about comprehension they are not a memory test in the way GCSEs are.

Your DD needs to learn independent study techniques:

- go through the text book(s) make notes from the text book and use these as the primary learning source and the teachers as an additional source.

- prepare for lessons in advance, find out which scheme the teachers are using (whose powerpoints they are using) and research that in advance of each lesson - not in depth but have got a heads up in advance

- past papers - read the mark schemes, know what examiners are looking for. Dont take the teachers word as gospel!

- study smart - 20 minutes on 5 minutes off. That phone should be out of sight for the 20 mins. DD uses a kitchen timer to be strict about this.

- after each lesson make a flash card summarising what was covered in the lesson. It helps to break up the learning into bite size chunks.

- make study friends - use facebook group chat etc. DD has separate study groups for Physics and Chemistry

- dont do too many subjects. Do not put any effort into things like General Studies or EPQ. Put no effort into any filler subjects done because the school was pushing 5 A levels (DD's school was trying to push 5 or even 6 A levels)

- tests: your teacher is trying to find out the best way to keep you on the course (by finding the gaps) not looking to push you off the course - unless you arent putting the effort in/attending

- be selfish, these 2 years are about getting where you want to be (apprenticeship/uni/work)

- set aside free time to do something different. This will help to make study more effective.

- do some exercise (DD is the least sporty person in the world but this was her own suggestion)

These are all techniques DD has come up with for herself. They came about from a mix of what worked for her and also input from her sister who is now in the middle of her degree. They may not be suitable for your DD but may be a discussion point.

catslife Mon 14-Nov-16 13:12:37

I should have said that the BTEC Applied biology is a subsidiary diploma which is equivalent to one A level subject.
I think Gnome that your list is very good.
The only other thing that I wish to add is that there is a myth on Mumsnet that it is only students studying subjects such as History that need to read around their subject and that scientist don't need to do so. I don't think that is necessarily true.
For most Science A levels there often is an "official" text book that is endorsed by the exam board. Many of these books are great but there are often other books around such as CGP Guides or other books that your dc may find easier to understand and explain things in a different way.

Megainstant Mon 14-Nov-16 13:36:17

Thanks gnome brilliant list. I don't think she's doing any of the things on it!

catslife she's determined to crack on. Funnily enough I've just ordered her the cgp biology book. Will ensure she reads a section and makes notes after every lesson.

myfavouritecolourispurple Mon 14-Nov-16 18:19:47

I don't know if this late would have been too late in my school, but I did switch at Oct half term so only 2 weeks or so earlier.

I went through about 4 or 5 subjects from the induction week in July before I finally settled on my third subject. I got an A in it so it worked out fine.

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