A Level maths - too difficult? Choosing for the wrong reasons? (sorry -long)

(67 Posts)
circular Mon 19-Nov-12 07:40:42

Much as I hate to put a spanner in the works now DD has finally decided on her subjects, am wondering if maths is a wise choice for her.

She had no great love for any subject apart from music.   Also chosen French as she loves the Country and the culture, and would like to do a year of her degree in France. 
Her best subject as far as consistent results are concerned is Physics, so her 4th choice (although could be swayed to Psychology).

Maths was always one of her choice. She is very logical, always been in top set, will probably get an A unless she has a really bad day. 
What is worrying me (as a frustrated mathematician) is that she puts the minimal amount of work in and often doesn't appear to understand the basics (neg numbers, dividing fractions). 
Also she was going through a past paper this weekend, and claimed to have only covered enough to answer about 65% of it.
They had a very poor teacher in yr8 and 9 that could not control the class, so there may well be a gap, but I thought they would have covered at least 80% of the syllabus by now.
I try to help, but get screamed at at as we think differently ( she's better at applied, I'm better with numbers). So it usually ends up with me writing out a worked example and leaving it for her to go through when she has calmed down.

As mentioned in other threads, she will struggle to find a local sixth form place as competition so fierce. Maths is one of the clashes preventing her staying at her own school.  I get the feeling that if she includes maths on her external application for schools that want an A minimum, she would need an A* prediction.

One school she is applying to (90 min travelling) allows maths A level with B grade GCSE if from top set. Would it be wise to take maths with a B? They are the only school we have seen so far that offer both the Mechanics units which would suit her better. Others do M1 and S1.
 
Not a clue what she would chose instead of maths except nothing essay writing. 
 

MagiMingeWassailsAgain Mon 19-Nov-12 07:54:10

I am probably way out of touch, but my experience was doing the GCSE a year early after being in the top set forever, the failed maths a level completely.

A level was just massively hugely more difficult. An incredible jump from GCSE.

In hindsight I wish I had done subjects I loved instead of the ones I thought I should take for later on. FWIW I easily got A in french GCSE but scraped a D at a level and hated French after doing an a level in it.

This is all back in the early 90s before A* existed of course.

bruffin Mon 19-Nov-12 07:55:13

A lot of schools wont let you take physics if you are not taking maths.

DeWe Mon 19-Nov-12 09:39:54

My dm tutors maths. She sometimes has people that got a B at GCSE and want to do A-level. She wouldn't recommend it if they've worked for GCSE. If they've not really worked very hard for GCSE then sometimes they pull up their socks and really work hard for A-level-one she had even got an A.

However those that got a B, part of their problem was that A-level is done assuming they know all the CGSE work. So usually they were floundering because they didn't understand the basics they were building on. If they never really had tried to understand it at GCSE dm can work with them to understand it. If they understand it then she can work on the next stage. If they've spent two years already trying to understand the basics with help, then they're goign to really struggle to get the next stage even if dm gets they comfortable with the basics.

However A-level physics is very maths based, much more than GCSE. She will (I think) struggle, (because they assume some A-level work,) without A-level.

I would look at seeing if you can get her a tutor for maths. She may only need a few lessons, but if she can nail (and it sounds like you think she can) what she doesn't understand it will be really for the best. Children often work better for an external person (not parent).

One school local to dm takes them to do A-level as long as they've got a C. She sighs when she gets contacted by one of those for tutoring. Problem is often the parents either go "C at GCSE = C at A-level" or think "If the school accepts them to do A-level of course they're going to do well". The fact is that most of the B grades get nothing at A-level (not even a "N"-do they still do the near miss grade?) and they've never had a C grade get anything. She feels it raises their expectations when they'd be better concentrating on something they can get a result for.

hatsybatsy Mon 19-Nov-12 09:48:52

OP- is your daughter in year 11? surely there's no need to finalise A level choices yet?

Maths - was always my thing, was in the top set, did O level a year early yada yada.... and then I really struggled at A level. I did scrape a B but I hated every minute of it.

TBF it doesn't sound like your daughter is a maths whizz - and unless she wants to have amaths related career, I think she might be better chossing something else. Definitely do not do maths on the back of a gcse B - it will make for an unhappy A level experience

glaurung Mon 19-Nov-12 11:47:07

She sounds very similar to my dd who really rather loathed maths but then took it for A level anyway, but did badly on the first algebra test, which the school thought was a reasonable predictor of outcome. I think it predicted her a D/E with an outside chance of a C or U, which she wasn't happy about so she switched to Psychology which she actually enjoys and is doing much better at. Dd was predicted an A at maths GCSE and (somehow) achieved an A*. She was always rather muddled about the basics too and got the dividing fractions question wrong on the GCSE (flipped the wrong fraction upside down before multiplying as she thought it didn't matter - and then even though it was a calculator paper she chose to use her manual answer over the correct one her calculator gave, sigh!).

If I were you, I'd advise your dd to apply to her own school not doing maths as well as some of the others (either with or without maths). That way she can keep her options open and decide on the maths issue nearer the time (after results day even). Maths A level may be doable for her, but it would need a lot of determination and hard work from where she is now, which it sounds as if she mayy not be prepared to give, so she may be better advised to do another subject.

MordionAgenos Mon 19-Nov-12 12:07:07

My DD1 will not consider A Level maths even though she is predicted and on course for an A*. She feels that, apart from the fact that there are lots of other subjects she would rather do, she does not find maths sufficiently 'easy' and sees so many of her classmates who do, that she is convinced she isn't good enough.

noblegiraffe Mon 19-Nov-12 12:55:44

Although as a maths teacher I am keen to see students opting for A-level, at my school we decided to raise the entry requirements from a B to an A simply because so many students on a B dropped out or failed AS and it wasn't fair to give them false hope. There are students who get an A who also struggle and drop out or fail, as the jump from GCSE seems to be quite a challenge. Even if she scrapes an A, if she's not dead set on it, perhaps she should take a different option as she would need to devote a lot of extra time to it.

KittiesInsane Mon 19-Nov-12 13:07:36

DS got an A* at GCSE and is struggling at A level.

Mind you, he had a predicted C/D grade, and worked his socks off to pull off that final grade.

NewFerry Mon 19-Nov-12 13:35:55

Has your DD spoken to her Maths teacher? I should think they would be best placed to assess realistically whether she will cope and achieve a good grade. If she is consistently good at Physics, and is looking at taking the mechanics modules, then maybe she could cope.

However, I echo what others have said, it is a tough A-level. At my DS school, students wanting to take Maths are given a (short) text book to work through during the summer break. This helps bridge the GCSE - AS gap I think.

A level maths is tough and not to be undertaken lightly. DS1 is doing maths and FM and reckons even some of the A* students are finding it tough and many have dropped out. A level requires much more independent study than GCSE. I doubt you can do Physics without doing maths as well.

ggirl Mon 19-Nov-12 15:54:52

My dd chose the same A levels as yours, maths, french, physics and music

She got and A* a yr early for gcse maths and found Alevel hard , she only did physics to As level.

Depends if your dd is set on doing degree that needs maths I would advise choosing something else .

ReallyTired Mon 19-Nov-12 15:57:33

I think that if your dd wants to do A level physics then A level maths is a good idea. Not doing maths closes off a lot of options. Maybe she would benefit from a tutor to help her with holes in her maths. I can sympathise with being screamed at. My ten year old has told me that I am clueless about maths (inspite of having a physics degree)

A-level maths is very different to GCSE. I got a B for both GCSE and A-level. In many ways I found that A-level maths was easier than GCSE. Twenty years ago A-level maths was doing lots of complex sums where as GCSE involved understanding lots of word problems. I suggest she looks at BBC bite size or Khan Academy to improve her understanding of fractions or negative numbers. There is so much for free on the internet she can't really blame poor maths teaching.

Would it be possible for her to do 4 A levels to begin with.

bruffin Mon 19-Nov-12 16:51:02

Ds has just discovered Khan Academy, he thinks it's brilliant. He is yr 11 doing maths, further maths , physics and philosophy.

musicmadness Mon 19-Nov-12 18:09:00

I did maths and further maths and didn't find it difficult TBH, maths has always been my thing!

My school allowed anyone with a B or above to enter for A level and most people seemed to find it very tough. I tutored friends who were on a high A at GCSE who were dropping to C/D or lower at AS level, if she is not very maths focussed I think she will struggle.

She may well need to take Maths if she wants to take Physics though, the physics A level uses maths A level calculations. It needs to be both or neither TBH, assuming she wants to do Physics more than Maths. A lot of schools only allow you to take Physics if you are doing Maths to AS level at least.

circular Mon 19-Nov-12 19:14:19

Thanks for all the replies - plenty food for thought here.

MagiM - When you took maths GCSE early, what did you do the next year? One of the sixth forms we have seen were concerned that DD is sitting Maths in March, as if she gets her desired grade then, may not have done any maths for 7 months.

Bruffin - not come across anywhere with maths being compulsory for Physics yet, just preferable. But some want an A in Maths and B in Physics to take Physics

Can understand the overlap in Physics and Applied Maths (Mechanincs) but some schools only do one M and one S module, so don't touch mechanincs until the second year of Maths.

DeWe - That's really useful to know. DD is definitely in the camp of not putting the work in. She generally rises to the challenge when it get;s serious and has historically always done better in the real exam than any tests/mocks.

hatsbatsy - yes yr11. We have to make most of the sixth from applications in January. All of the (oversubscribed) schools we will be applying for warn that it is unlikely choices can be changed. I understand there's some room for manouvre on results day, but depends on how full the courses are.
No -definitely not a maths whizz and does not want a Maths career. Wants to do a Music degree and teach Music.

glaurung - yes they do sound alike. DD can get confused about the simplest concept., but can understand some of the more complex stuff.
We see the sense in applying for other subjects BUT everything else has been ruled out. It's frustrating - she doesn't NEED maths, actually prefers it to Physics but feels obliged to do Physics as she is better at it than any other subject.

Newferry - yes she has spoken to her teacher, who says she should be able to do it but will need to work hard. Says she is more than capable of getting an A, probably not an A* but would love to be proved wrong. Mock coming up soon, but it won't be possible to get more than A in that from the work covered.

ReallyTired - I have a 10 yr old too. DD helps her with her maths grin
20 years ago - if only. I did A level maths over 30 years ago. A massive jump then as the O level was 'modern' and the A level traditional. Got an A at O'level (no A* then) and sailed through the 1st year of A level, still on track for an A. Then crashed and burned on the applied in the second year and ended up with a C.
Not sure what you mean by 4 A levels to begin with? Thought it was usual to start wtih $ AS and drop one?
That Khan looks brilliant. Will show DD but could easily get addicted myself.

It looks like the general consensus is 'Don't do Maths if you don't need it unless you really love it' I can feel (another) serious talk with her coming on.
Not a clue what else she can do though. Maybe being an A/B grade student overall, she should be setting her lower and looking at more vocational subjects. She's at an averagish comp where she is considered a 'high acheiver' so it would be ublikely that they would allow 3 AS only.

DS1 did maths GCSE a year early and then did statistics in y11. He got A* in both but not everyone did.
The school said Stats was useful if they did A level, however DS has not found that to be true. He kept up to date in Maths by working at home but I doubt that most of his peers did (might be one reason some of them are struggling with the A level?).
I am very much against early entry because I think it benefits the school more than the pupil.

safflower Mon 19-Nov-12 19:50:53

DS did maths very early, has always been a whizz at maths. He started the A level, and dropped it after a month. The leap from gcse to A level was huge.

MagiMingeWassailsAgain Mon 19-Nov-12 19:56:51

I did the OA level (not sure that still exists! I'm at the wrong end of my thirties now) and I failed that too. I know - why on earth did they still let me do the A level??

noblegiraffe Mon 19-Nov-12 20:19:18

My school also does statistics GCSE with the top sets, but they do it in Y10 and then their maths GCSE in Y11 so there isn't a big break where they don't do any algebra. It's ridiculous that some schools do it the other way around, it really affects their chances at A-level.

ThatVikRinA22 Mon 19-Nov-12 20:23:36

my son got an A at GCSE maths and an A* at physics.

he flunked both subjects - he did 3 years to claw something back but he really struggled.

he is now doing a computer science degree, but dont underestimate how tough the leap from GCSE to Alevel is - it really really caught him out and he was often very distressed - he also has some special needs (AS/dyspraxia/dyslexia) and i think the lack of support didnt help.

titchy Mon 19-Nov-12 20:33:07

She clearly doesn't need either maths or physics. Both are hard, so why doesn't she do one 'fluffy' subject for fun, and one semi-soft? Maybe new subjects such as psychology, philosophy, sociology, media studies? She still has two traditional subjects and presumably is a decent standard musician so RG standard institutions should make offers on that basis.

Milliways Mon 19-Nov-12 20:52:24

My DD took Maths just because she thought the Uni's she applied to (for languages) would want this to show she could do "hard" subjects. (She took Maths, Eng Lit & 2 languages to full A2 + history AS)

She never found it easy, but she was determined - so she basically did every past paper available over & over until she perfected them! She managed an A in the end, but it was a real slog.

prettydaisies Mon 19-Nov-12 20:55:29

DD did GCSE maths at the the end of Y10. She then did additional maths in y11.

circular Mon 19-Nov-12 21:05:45

nobelgiraffe - DD's school used to do that but scrapped Stats from her year. Now the lower sets take Maths in november to get 3 shots, the top set in march, so 2 shots if necessary. More about maxing the A*to C's I guess.

titchy - What you are saying sort of maths sense. We sat in on a psychology presentation and she was consindering it instead of Physics. But then saw the A2 year was heavy on essay writing so said she would be starting with the mindset of taking AS only. She would prefer to have a choice what to drop. Media and Sociolgy have never appealed.
At one point she was considering Geography but is finding it increasingly difficult., and no longer enjoys it. Same with Chemistry. Her Biology has improved recently, but she has always found it more difficult than Physics.
She enjoyed Drama but dropped it for GCSE, and although could pick it up for A level, thinks the written element will be too much for her.

She really cannot write - she worked her socks off in English language last year, had 10 hours individual tuition and attends a study centre for 1hr20 each week, She scraped a B after a re-mark.

I'm secretly wondering whether she is trying to keep her academic options open in case she does not make the grade in Music.
As for RG institutions, perhaps, but most want at least ABB for Music.

Dragonwoman Mon 19-Nov-12 21:19:30

Philosophy isn't a fluffy subject! It's actually very hard to get a good grade.

titchy Mon 19-Nov-12 21:39:34

Yes you're right dragon - I was putting philosophy into the 2nd tier, rather than the fluffy 3rd tier (cambrudge suggestions).

Ah, so she doesn't write. Hmmmm. Psychology and Music Tech? Maybe psychology and maths but drop maths after AS? For RG offers A in music and Bs from any other two would be ok.

glaurung Mon 19-Nov-12 21:49:08

I think it's very sensible to keep as many options open as possible and have a backup plan if the music doesn't work out. No question maths is extremely highly regarded, it's more a question of whether she will do well enough at it for it to be worthwhile or if she'd be better getting a higher grade at something else. Psychology seems to be a marmite subject that people either like or loathe. You need a crystal ball to know in advance how your dd will take to these. Physics at A level is also a lot harder than at GCSE. With the essays, dd doesn't like them either, but finds with things like geography and psychology where you are writing about something specific it's a lot easier than real English essays. The writing side of geography and even biology gets tougher at A2 than at AS as well as psychology.

I found my thread from last year when dd was choosing subjects here, it may be of interest, as may the one where she was switching subjects www.mumsnet.com/Talk/secondary/1568412-Changing-A-level-subjects-already-help-needed.

Horsemad Tue 20-Nov-12 17:59:57

I'm having similar thoughts about my DS's choice for A level. He is in Yr11 & is hoping to do Maths, Further Maths, Chem and Physics!! At the recent 6th form evening, the maths dept were saying 'unless you are passionate about maths then don't bother.' He's very bright but VERY lazy & I personally think he'll struggle - he's not a natural at maths so it's going to be interesting. He wants to do Computer Science which all ask for A level Maths so he's got to do it.

kalidasa Tue 20-Nov-12 19:49:09

It's out of date (I did GCSEs mid-90s) but like everyone else I remember a big shift post-GCSE, though in my case it was in my favour. I did GCSE maths early and had always been solidly in the top set but not right at the top; in the term or two after we took the GCSE we did AO or OA or something? Some sort of intermediate thing anyway (this was before intermediate AS). And it was so much more interesting. Suddenly I saw the point of maths and really enjoyed it. I was also suddenly one of the best as lots who had been better than me and less prone to silly mistakes at GCSE struggled with the new stuff. It was odd as I'd never thought of myself as very good at maths really. If I'd had that experience earlier I would definitely have done A level maths - especially as I moved for sixth form to a school where almost everyone did A level maths and I think the teaching of it was fantastic - but it was a bit late by then, I'd already chosen other stuff.

So anyway just thought it was worth pointing out that the big change presumably works to the advantage of some people. Worth being sure she wouldn't be in that category?

circular Tue 20-Nov-12 20:51:09

glaurung - thanks for the link. Read the choices one with interest, but second link did not work. So how did it go for your DD after it changed and what is she doing now?

titchy - she's not keen on music tech, composing and production are the bits she least enjoys. Only school we've seen so far offering it is her own, and that's just the BTEC. Thought about the really fluffy 'Performing Arts' A level. No exam, all coursework, and also clashes with French (and maths) at her school.

I have spoken to DD again asking her if she is realy sure, and she says she is. It's her choice, but I wish she would look a bit more closely at some of the subjects she has ruled out - maybe RS or Geography.

Maybe I should be glad that she is chosing 'proper' subjects - many threads seem to be about trying steer the DC's away from softer options.

Thinking back now over the GCSE option choices when I convinced her not to drop triple science in favour of either Drama or Catering. She regretted it for about a week, and then said it was the best decision she made.

circular Tue 20-Nov-12 20:58:16

kalidasa - It's highly possible she is in that second category. Since the start of this term, they have only been doing the A/A* topics, and she is one of only 3 or 4 in her group that generally gets them first time.

I'm guessing that is why her teacher (new for this term) is saying she won't have a probem.

My concerns come from her not knowing fairly basic stuff, or sometimes where to start on answering a question, and missing the really obvious.

glaurung Wed 21-Nov-12 19:42:18

Sorry about the link circular, let me try again here

She's still very glad she switched to psychology, enjoying that and biology most of the four and finding chemistry the hardest. She's been quite ill this term with suspected whooping cough (in spite of being vaccinated) and missed a fair bit, so I'm not sure how the Jan exams might go. We shall see.

strictlovingmum Wed 21-Nov-12 20:29:50

DS final year of A levels, doing maths, further maths, physics and chem, A* in maths at GCSE's, solid hard working mathematician who indeed found maths very hard at the beginning of AS.
6th form where DS is, would not even consider taking students with B in maths at GCSE, and also physics department strongly advised physics with maths.
His study day consist of five hour a day, three dedicated to maths/further and two hours alternating physics and chem, good luck to your dd if she goes down this route.
Horsemad, good luck to your DS if this combo is what he really wants to do, hard is understatement when it comes to this combination of subjects, but it is the top combination, tell him to brace himself.

Horsemad Wed 21-Nov-12 21:32:16

Thanks strictlovingmum to say I'm dreading it is an understatement! I really hope he proves me wrong and totally exceeds my expectations.

Good Luck to your son in his final year, what does he hope to do ultimately?

circular Thu 22-Nov-12 07:31:44

Thanks Glaurung glad the switch is working well for your DD. Guess you need to act sharpish in those first few weeks if subject not right. The Geography comment about it being the smallest leap is interesting. I put that one to DD but to no avail.

Horsemad - Is the Further Maths really necessary for computing? (or is he looking at a Maths or Physics degree first?) That's where the real passion is needed. Agree maths & sciences, but what about a contrasting 4th subject (English, History, Geography, Philosophy, Economics)?  If your DS is looking to work in I.T, communication skills are also key. 

StrictlovingMum - good luck to your son, that sounds heavy going. I know DD will have 4 hard subjects if she goes ahead, but at least the music will be her light(er) relief.

Not sure I fully understand the need to take maths with physics in (some) schools where they take S1 with AS and M1 with A2. So no mechanics until 2nd year. Unless the AS pure is needed for AS physics? Would it work to drop maths at AS but continue with physics, or is vice versa mor normal?

It"s so hard when you see them making life more difficult for themselves than necessary. 
But DD is convinced it will be much worse if she has to write essays. Although the written work in French doesn't bother her. 

glaurung Thu 22-Nov-12 09:28:58

circular, you may find that maths is a good choice for your dd. The fact she learns new topics quickly and actively chose the subject is a pretty good sign. With my dd she preferred the other subjects and disliked maths and I think needed to go over topics several times before she got them (often only to forget them again later). The other subjects they (or you) were considering seem similar as does their dislike of writing, but that doesn't mean they are similar in other respects too. I think if you are prepared to practice the questions and have a reasonable intuition for it, maths can be quite an easy A level, but you almost need a crystal ball to know in advance. I would say a lot of dc do seem to change their minds about their subjects and switch in the early weeks of the course too, so if she does find she's made a mistake with her choices it's not the end of the world (though timetable and space issues can prevent the desired switch sometimes).

Horsemad Fri 23-Nov-12 16:59:41

circular he doesn't need FM, but seems adamant he wants to do it confused I have suggested either English, Geography or History as he has a real flair for these sibjects.

I took maths not because I loved it, but because it was my easiest subject. Didn't work hard at it, but it had no essay writing! That, and the fact that it took me ages to get things like dividing fractions and negative numbers sounds like your dd. I ended up doing maths at A level and university. A level was harder work, but so much more interesting than GCSE that I finally found I loved the subject. So... I guess I'm saying don't necessarily dismiss it.

Oh, and my mum was a maths teacher and I never listened to her try and explain it either!

Horsemad Fri 23-Nov-12 17:19:59

Haha MamaChocoholic! I have my doubts whether my DS will accept his dad's help even though he will almost undoubtedly need it!

circular Sat 24-Nov-12 13:11:04

Mamachocoholic - that sounds a lot like DD. She's getting the neg numbers now, and she's been doing some algebra stuff that has involved fraction division so getting back to basics as they are needed, rather than just for the sake of it.

It looks like she will stick with maths and physics, so we have the bigger problem now of finding her a half decent sixth form that is preferably also strong on Music.

Having now been to her own sixth form open day, she feels more strongly about the subjects than staying there. Seen 3 others so far, and finding it's typically between 40 and 80 places for hundreds of applicants. And these are "good comps",  
No more open evenings till Jan now, but need to start getting the forms filled in. They"re all different too! 

Seriously worried that she may be without a place. When it's so selective, what can an A/B student do 

socharlotte Sat 24-Nov-12 17:26:26

Think carefully about physics.It is difficult particularly at A2.Much much harder than maths

Honu Sat 24-Nov-12 21:05:53

I am a maths tutor with a lot of A level students among my pupils.

A level maths is a whole different ball game from GCSE and rewards a different set of talents. At GCSE those who work hard and are accurate do well. To succeed at A level you have to have some maths flair as well and be able to 'see round' the questions.

I haven't yet seen anyone recommending the mymaths website to fill in the y8&9 gaps - most schools have a subscription to this and a bright pupil should be able to use this to plug any omissions.

circular Sat 24-Nov-12 21:46:22

Thanks Honu.
Yes DD's school does use Mymaths, much of the homework set on it.
She does do some of the extension work if she wants more practice on a topic, but has not thought of going back over earlier years work.

Hoping it's not too little too late as the immediate problem is to do well enough in the mock to get an A* prediction. Without that she may not get any school offers, as there will be so many applying for maths that do have that.

For me the difference was that at GCSE you were expected to learn and apply a set of rules, whereas at A level you were expected to understand where the rules came from. So while it took me ages to learn to remember which formula was for the area or perimeter or a circle at GCSE, at A level I only had to know how to integrate to derive the formula for a volume of a sphere or any object.

circular, if your dd is keen, then explain to her the situation. if she wants to move schools so she can do the courses she wants to, then she will have to prove to them she is the best person for their place, by getting an a* prediction. Can you ask her teacher what she needs to do to get that predicted grade?

exoticfruits Sun 25-Nov-12 07:48:34

As people say, it is a huge leap from GCSE to A'level.
DS1managed it and ended up with an A but DS3 went to the first lesson and changed subjects. It depends on the individual.

AnnoyedAtWork Sun 25-Nov-12 07:54:23

Haven't read all the other threads but if she is taking physics it would be a good idea to take maths especially as her other subjects seem a bit random ( what does she want to do at uni?)

I say this from experience as I was doing physics history and German, wanted to do biology but was convinced by head teacher to do maths instead, I hated gcse maths but loved a level and ended up doing it at uni. If you want to do physics at uni you need maths a level too

circular Sun 25-Nov-12 10:21:33

Mamachocoholic - Findng the same. A recent practice paper question that was essentially algebra frustrated her as she could not remember the formula for the volume of a cone and a sphere.
Yes, both her and I have spoken to the maths teacher about the sixth form situation. The teacher's only known her this term, and so far has not seen anything that would put her above a middle 'A', so a lot will hinge on the mocks this week, as well as her work the rest of the term. Suspect there will be an edn of term test too, as they are tested every 6 weeks now. DD is defintiely not working her hardest (she generally doesn't, until it's the real thing) and also has 3 music exams this term amongst other things.
Parents meeting early Jan, so will get a final chance to discuss before most of the applications due in.

Madamet - Physics has been chosen more recently as it;s her best subject. Maths was always on the agenda as she's not an essay writer and knows she can get help with it at home.

She wants to do Music at university, more biased towards performance. Hopes to teach music, preferably instuments but keeping options open there. Primary school teaching with a music specialism lower down on the list. in which case at least one core subject is necessary. Otherwise, for a Music degree at an RG University, most subjects will do.

glaurung Sun 25-Nov-12 10:59:22

maths A level would be a real bonus for primary school teaching.

Milliways Sun 25-Nov-12 14:28:49

My DS's goal for many years has been to be a Primary teacher (maybe with the TeachFirst scheme) which is why he wanted Maths, English a science & humanity in his A levels - to cover the core curriclum, and he hopes to do Maths as a joint honours degree - which leaves his options open for secondary teaching if Primary does not work out.

circular Sat 29-Dec-12 13:54:17

DD has now decided to stick with Music, French, Physics & Maths. So these will be her choices in ALL external applications.
She has applied to her own school explaining the clashes, and it is unlikely that they can be addressed. So to continue with that application, needs to come up with two alternative options to take Maths & Physics. Although she cannot see herself taking ANY other subjects, she feels she needs to do this for a last ditch insurance option (ie. If she gets NO external offers, or does not make the grade in maths).

We started by looking at all the other GCSE’s she is taking and ranking in order of preference, giving Chemistry, Biology. Geography, Eng Lit, Eng Lang. Then went on to completely rule out Geog & Eng. She has A predictions for both Chem. & Bio (and ‘a’ in first modules), finding Chem difficult this term although prefers it to Bio which she has never liked, although is performing better at.

Then went on to look at possible subjects not taking for GCSE, and came up with Psychology, Drama, Computing & Media as possibilities. All other subjects now either ruled out or clash with Music or French

So, two subjects to choose, from the remaining three option blocks. Both Chem and Bio in separate blocks, although Bio clashes with Media. Psychology, Drama & Computing all in same block.
To keep the primary school teaching option open, she will need to keep at least one science.
Would Chemistry on its own make sense? Or would it be better with Psychology?
Would Drama be too heavy a workload on top of Music?
Is Computing pretty pointless, especially without Maths?

Somehow, Music, French, Drama & Chemistry does not sound quite right.
Is Music, French, Chemistry & Psychology any better?

HELP – we are on the verge of putting all the non-clashing combinations in a hat.
(although this is only for the insurance choice, she could end up taking them if unlucky)

titchy Sat 29-Dec-12 16:19:50

Doesn't seem any point in computing or drama. Psych and bio would be a good fit. Psych and Chem would also work - does she know which she'd drop at A2 - that might help? Music French and psych seem like a good combo to do to A2.... and would keep option open to do BMus or BEd.

circular Sat 29-Dec-12 16:40:55

I think if she did Psych she may want to drop that because of the essay writing. But then again, if chem was too difficult, that may be better to drop.

Wants to do BMus if she can, then the teaching qualification after.
Not sure if that makes a difference as to whether she would still need the core subject to A2.

titchy Sat 29-Dec-12 18:23:37

Does she definitely need a science to do primary? French and music would both be good primary offers.

circular Sat 29-Dec-12 18:41:49

I remember reading somewhere that, for primary teaching, at least one core subject (Eng, maths, science) is required. In addition, other curricular subjects (MFL, humanities, art/music) are desirable.

So fine with her preferred choices of Music, French, Physics, Maths.
But may need to tread carefully with the alternatives - doubt if Psych counts as a science.

But not sure if that's just for going for a BEd straight after A levels.
May be different if taking a BMus first.

titchy Sat 29-Dec-12 19:01:55

You need all three core at GCSE but not A level - google GTTR entry requirements.

circular Sat 29-Dec-12 19:24:41

Thanks Titchy, that's good to know
Can't think where I got the A'level core subject requirement from though.

cakebar Sat 29-Dec-12 22:00:39

I have just read the thread for the first time, and was so glad to see that maths is still on the table. My own experience was an A* at maths GCSE and a maths teacher that consistently told the top set that maths A level was too hard and to avoid. The 6th form college didn't do much to dispel that. I didn't even consider it. Having subsequently studied computer science and worked in a technical field I think I could have managed and have regrets. Is there any wonder that we think there is a lack of good scientists/engineers etc when we discourage children from continuing maths study to 18. The worst that can happen is she starts it, then has to switch after a term if she can't cope. Good luck to her.

I did chemistry stand alone and had no issues, it was an enjoyable subject, a good mix of maths, logic, practical experiments and understanding impact on the real world. I don't think there is much point in computing a level.

circular Sat 29-Dec-12 22:37:09

cakebar The original doubts came more me, as DD does not seem interested enough in Maths. it's more a case of being the less of two evils with essay writing. Unfortunately, she did not work hard enough before her mock to socre well enough for an A* prediction, so will be applying to schools with only an A prediction, which will lessen her chances of getting a place. Hence the needing to choose other siubjects to stay at her own school.
She will be very disappointed if she cannot do Physics though, as that's the only subject she does have an A* prediction in.

I did A level maths (and Computing) myself. It was a big jump from O'level then, but there were C grade students taking it. We were warned it was difficult, but not discouraged.

Maybe it has got harder now (or GCSE is easier than O'level). I was told at one sixth form open day that statistically, students with a B at GCSE Maths do not get more than a D at AS.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 30-Dec-12 09:53:53

Is she OK to take Psychology without the additional statistics teaching that she would have got via the Maths A level? I know (years ago!) everyone in my school doing Psych was strongly advised to do Statistics as well. One to check, or maybe anyone with more recent experience of Psychology A Level could comment?

circular Sun 30-Dec-12 11:00:36

Psychology is quite a popular one at DD's current school - usually have 4 AS groups for it. They insist on GCSE grades of B in Eng and Maths, with B in a science desirable. No mention on compatible A levels.
Maths GCSE contains more statistics than I remember for O level, so maybe that's why.

oldpeculiar Mon 31-Dec-12 23:00:29

physics a level , especially A2 is difficult, I think most people would agree harder than maths a level.It bears very little resemblance to GCSE physics.
I think they should have covered most of the maths syllabus by now, especially the top set.I would be speaking to the maths department as it seems as though she possibly has some fairly major gaps in her knowledge. eg negative numbers and dividing fractions are covered at primary school in Y5 I think

circular Tue 01-Jan-13 12:01:12

oldpeculiar - re physics, at some of the 6th form open evenings, we have been told that of the 3 sciences, physics is the one that has the smallest leap from GCSE. Does it depend on the boards? Currently taking OCR, all of the schools we have seen either do OCR or EDEXCEL.

They are still doing new stuff in maths, but I think nearly completed the syllabus. Hope so anyway, as taking GCSE in Feb/Mar. I have spoken to DD's maths teacher re her ability to take Maths A level and they feel she is capable. She has been predicted an A at GCSE as she only got a B in the mock (was not possible to get more than an A, due to work not covered).

She has cracked the negative numbers now, though fractions not coming natuarally yet. Yes, I recall doing both these at primary, but DD2 in yr5 at good primary not done them yet.

Biggest worry is finding a school. She has her heart set on a school that is great for music, but has about 600 applicants for ~ 50 external places. Although the maths min. requirement is A, I am sure there will be enough applications with A* predictions to get the places, so cannot help thinking she is more likely to gain a place without Maths. Of the few external students I have known gain places at that school, ALL have had straight A*/A predictions (although not necessarily acheived them, and most not musicians). DD's predictions are A* for Physics, B for Eng & Geog and A for everything else.

We have other schools to see. All the schools we are looking at are between 500 and 1500 in the FT list, so don't think we are aiming too high for an A/B student.

I do wonder though, that the 3 with the best music departments are the highest on the list.

wol1968 Thu 03-Jan-13 12:32:43

I did A-level maths when I didn't really want to (I'd have preferred biology but clashes prevented me). Got an A at O-level, but A-level was a huge jump, with a different school, different teachers, different exam board. Plus I think we got a Pure Maths teacher who came from the Professor Binns school of class engagement. The only one out of our group who got a decent grade was the one who was banging on the staffroom door four days out of five - I didn't have the motivation or energy for that. It was a miracle I scraped an E in the end.

If your daughter does go for Maths, make sure she has good external support should the school teaching not fulfil her learning needs.

Copthallresident Thu 03-Jan-13 13:50:31

My daughter did Sciences and Maths at A level and Chemistry was the one that tripped people up, including students with places for Medicine. I would be very sure you want to, and can do, Chemistry before you embark on an A level, by far the biggest leap from GCSE to A level. I would certainly not do it to fit in with a school timetable.

Maths on the other hand was one even those doing it because they thought they should, rather than wanting to / being good at it, did OK on.

My second daughter is in no way a natural Mathematician, doing all essay subjects at A level, but to our amazement cleared an A* at GCSE. If your daughter gets her head down and just works away at past papers, with text books or your worked examples to look up anything she cannot do, she can surely get an A* .

I am in awe of anyone who can do Music A level, surely the subject, if any that you absolutely need talent to do well in. I think I would focus on getting her somewhere that will give her the best chance of pursuing that interest and talent.

circular Thu 03-Jan-13 17:27:38

Copthall - I've heard that about Chemistry too. Been told (by several 6th form students taking both) that Physics is by far the smallest leap.

I am sure DD is capable of an A* in Maths. But there is no way the school will predict it, so that will go against her on the applications. So the student that get's predicted an A* and gets an offer, but subsequently gets an A, will still get their place. But the student that gets a predicted an A and does not get an offer, but subsequently gets an A* (or A) will not.

Seems to be some unfairness going on with the predictions too. Schools without 6th forms being more generous, schools with 6th foms being less so as the student can always stay there.

Difficult to say if she is a 'natural' mathematician, as she thinks so differently to me in maths (I was supposedly a natural, but cannot do Physics). As long as she understands a maths problem, she is surprisingly fast and seldom slips up. I can help her to an extent, finding suitable questions on line etc. which we have been doing this week to try and fill the gaps. Not sure I will be much help at A'level, especially if she does the mechanics options.

Yes, her first choice of school is the best one for Music. Not exactly applying for any 'top' schools, all between 500 and 1500 on the latest FT list. But the 3 which have outstanding music provision (none have music specialism) are ranked the highest - so probably the hardest to get offers for.

circular Thu 03-Jan-13 17:39:44

wol1968 - I'm her only external support for Maths currently. Works OK when she is wiling to listen, but I am not a teacher, and did A'level in 1979. Also OU foundation and level 2 Maths stuff more recently, so not completely rusty.

I would be willing to get her a tutor if she was struggling, but she does not want one.
She willingly still attends a weekly study centre for English, where Maths is also avaialble. May discuss the possibility of changing over, as the English is more geared up for language, which she has already taken, and the tutor does not seem to be much help with Lit.

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