Any opinions on this combination of AS levels please?

(54 Posts)

DD2 doesn't really know what she wants to do and doesn't appear to like much about school, except Art! We've had an absolute nightmare trying to think what AS levels might work for her, not helped at all by a v poor combination of option groupings.

She's wondering about doing: English Lang/Lit * Art * History * Sociology

Any opinions?

Thank you. smile

Have all the parents of older children gone to bed? smile

ExcuseTypos Thu 29-Aug-13 23:25:11

I think they're pretty good. They are a mixture of 'solid' subjects and what some might deem 'softer' subjects. Can I ask does she want to go to uni and what grades she is predicted?

ExcuseTypos Thu 29-Aug-13 23:28:10

Meant to say both my DDs weren't sure what they wanted to do, but did know they wanted to go to uni. They both did 2 'academic' subjects and 2 'softer' ones and both got AAB at A level, so got into good RG unis.

HeavenstoMurgatroyd Thu 29-Aug-13 23:31:53

All I would say is get some advice about whether a combined English lang / lit is considered a Russell Group "facilitating" subject (their report is here. I know that Eng Lit is considered "solid", but not sure about the combined.

Thank you. smile

Grades-wise, it will depend on how much she decides to work. She is clever but not v motivated. Her GCSE results were Bs and a couple of As, but she didn't work v hard tbh.

I'd prefer her to replace the Sociology with a language, personally - but she's gone off the idea because she got a B not an A in it at GCSE, so has decided she's no good at it.

We'll have to see about uni but she needs to ensure that her A level choices will leave her options fairly open right now.

senua Thu 29-Aug-13 23:35:33

Have you only looked at her current school, would another place have better options groupings? If she doesn't like school, would college be preferable? Has she looked at non-AS alternatives eg BTEC.

Lang/Lit is fine, I think. Just Lang is less so.

senua Thu 29-Aug-13 23:38:56

Oh, are we talking about starting AS in Sep 2013, not Sep 2014?

She wants to stay at her school -that's her main priority. No to BTEC.

BlackMogul Thu 29-Aug-13 23:40:11

Hi! I am still awake. I thought English Language and English Literature were separate A level courses. The Literature course will involve in depth analysis of books/ poems. Does she like books? This is hard if you are not that keen. History is hard too but opens lots of doors as unis like it. If she likes art, why can she not do 2 art related subjects? Will she thrive taking 3 essay subjects? Art is very time consuming. My DD did Photography, Art and Business Studies for A2 level and has a place at The London College of Fashion. Sometimes doing what you like is far better than plugging away at harder subjects you are not interested in. Try and find out what she would like to do after school so you know the subjects she needs to do rather than guess at them. You can look at the web pages of art based courses at unis and see what might interest her, then go for the A level combinations they recommend. Basically this combination is fine but does not really say this person is an arty student. Some schools don't like people doing 2 art A leves because it narrows choice of degree right down ( as opposed to essay subjects that keep doors open). If she wants to do Art, go for another Art subject if you can persuade the school and have researched what she needs to do.

almapudden Thu 29-Aug-13 23:42:23

That sounds like a good combination - Eng Lang/Lit and History are both solid academic subjects; Sociology is less academic but good practice for essay writing and analysis; Art isn't necessarily academic but it's a big time commitment and I think universities recognise that it indicates motivation and dedication, even if it's not intellectually 'difficult'.

senua Thu 29-Aug-13 23:42:55

confused In your OP you said she "doesn't appear to like much about school" but now you are saying "she wants to stay at her school -that's her main priority".

You can do Lang and Lit separately or do a combined. She is good at English. Tbh she'll probably be okay with whatever she chooses, and is far less negative at school than she is about school! She doesn't know if she'll want to do an Art degree (and indeed what that might lead to), so it's probably best to keep her options more open.

ExcuseTypos Thu 29-Aug-13 23:47:01

That's a very good point Black. As your dd likes Art very much, would she be better to do Eng combined/History/Art and then another art subject at As level?

This may make school a bit more interesting for herwink.

Dd2 got mostly Bs and a few As at GCSE, without working her socks off. She then got 4 As at AS level because she loved the courses.

Senua - this is the mind of a 16 year old girl I'm reporting! Keep your confused face on, because it is just right! smile

Sociology is the completely random one that she's thrown in.

senua Thu 29-Aug-13 23:49:39


senua Thu 29-Aug-13 23:52:30

It does help if they have a goal to work towards.
DS only became focused when he decided which career he fancied, which then decided the degree, which then motivated him to get the A Level grades.

Vijac Thu 29-Aug-13 23:58:55

Sound like a good combination to me. Religious studies or psychology would be other options instead of sociology. The latter brings a bit of science in. I think I'd steer away from a language with a b unless she will have the opportunity to spend the summer living with a family speaking that language. I think that there is a massive step up with languages, more than other subjects (though I could be wrong as I didn't actually take one myself).

Senua - I know that, but I can't make her have one if she hasn't yet got one! smile

She really wanted to do RE, but it doesn't fit with the option blockings at all. English is only in one option block and RE and her language are also only in that block. Grrr. So she can only do one of those three, when she initially wanted to do all of them plus Art.

BlackMogul Fri 30-Aug-13 00:06:37

I think the goal is the key. Lots of schools are not keen for pupils to do a language A level with a B at GCSE because the jump to A is big. DD1 is a linguist and I think you have to really want to do languages to succeed in them. At both my DD's schools girls came up with odd subject combinations as they could not decide. DD2 had enough A* and A's in solid subjects at GCSE to go on to A level, but preferred Art subjects. She saw school as a vehicle to get her to the college of choice and was determined to make that happen. Succeeding in something you enjoy always seems easier and makes school a bit more attractive!

mysteryfairy Fri 30-Aug-13 00:07:54

Is Government and Politics a possible option? I think it is better regarded than sociology and goes well with her other choices. Also at AS level options evening we got told two things that might make it a better option than history
The paper is more granular so more shorter questions and the long essay questions not as heavily weighted (this could depend on he exam board though)
There is no unit on any aspect of Nazi Germany, Hitler's Rise to Power etc whereas picking history meant revisiting that again (again dependent on the curriculum at her school)

Nothing wrong with her options at all - just seems like one that might be a good fit if she is not totally convinced of current options

G&P not available and tbh I doubt she'd be interested in it anyway.


BlackMogul Fri 30-Aug-13 00:10:07

I was lucky that my DD's had free choice! This option blocking is hardly the key to success for students, is it? I feel sorry for her.

It's an absolute pain.

HmmAnOxfordComma Fri 30-Aug-13 00:17:35

They sound like a good combination to me (personally think pure Eng Lit would be better if possible and RS would be better than Sociology but if it's not possible, it's not...). A good mix of traditional and less traditional, and also keep her options fairly open.

I second not attempting a language A level with a grade B at GCSE; the step up in languages is really massive.

I also personally think English Lit would be better (I'm an English teacher) but it feels mean to enforce it when dd is already losing out so much because of the silly options groupings.

She's actually very good at languages and the teacher would be happy to have her. The B was a product of not working v hard, rather than any lack of aptitude, it seems. But she can't do both English and a lang anyway so it's a moot point.

HmmAnOxfordComma Fri 30-Aug-13 00:45:42

She might enjoy the language element of the English course, too, if she's good at language(s) generally.

As long as she's happy that she won't be missing out on any potential choice of Uni with the combined English instead of Lit, then it sounds like the best of her options!

mysteryfairy Fri 30-Aug-13 06:47:52

Is the English Literature in a different option block than the combined English? If so could she be persuaded if it re-opens RS or MFL as a possible option?

englishteacher78 Fri 30-Aug-13 06:51:05

How ridiculous to block before their options at A level. And how even more ridiculous to put subjects that are often taken together (English/RS/MFL) in the same block! confused

cory Fri 30-Aug-13 09:42:23

Sounds like a perfectly reasonable combination if she doesn't quite know where she is going. Leaves a lot of options open and while RG universities may prefer English lit, she still has history and Arts on there to show that she can do hard work. The only thing I would say is, make sure she is aware that it will be hard work and very time consuming.

mumslife Fri 30-Aug-13 13:17:29

My daughter is doing govt and politics english lit ( regarded as best one by unis) history and RE was told they go well together but heavy essay wise but that is her strength. Was doing art but only got a c in it (big surprise but very flaky teacher) A lot of schools dont seem to offer govt and politics she was initially going to do eng lit history art and textiles as a lthough very english history type ofgirl also very creative wants to go to uni and was advised not to do two creative subjects mainly because of unis but also the time it would take

Thanks all.

English Lit and the Combined Lang/Lit are both in the same block, along with her language and RE, so no option of changing the English to allow more choice elsewhere, sadly. It's the worst set of options choices I've ever seen tbh.

SlowlorisIncognito Fri 30-Aug-13 18:59:20

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie What are the alternatives that she/ you are considering? Perhaps people could advise if any are better?

If she decides she wants to do an art degree, she'll probably have to do an art foundation year at college to build up her portfolio anyway, so from that point of view it probably doesn't matter too much which A levels she chooses.

I think English lit can be slightly better regarded than the combined A level, but again it depends what she might want to do afterwards. If she wants to leave the language side of things open- e.g. a degree in linguistics, then carrying on with some language at A level is probably a good idea.

There is nothing wrong with doing sociology, and she might find that she enjoys it. It may actually go quite well with history, depending on what kind of history she is studying. If she finds she really enjoys it, then it opens up a route to go down at degree level. If she's good at writing essays, then she'll probably get a better grade in it than she would in a MFL if she only got a B at GCSE.

Thanks. This really is the only even half workable combination, we think. Unless she does her language rather than the sociology, which will probably be more challenging work-load wise. She could do IT rather than History, but can't really see any point in that tbh.

She's adamant that she wants the combined Eng, because that is what her friends are doing and, as I said, it seems cruel to deny that as she is having to compromise so much else whatever she ends up with.

Sparklegeek Fri 30-Aug-13 20:15:20

My DS (currently starting Yr 11) is also looking at the combined Lang/Lit. He has always been v v strong at English, right from KS1! And it has always been a 'given' that he'd do it at A-level & then possibly at uni.

Now he has thrown a complete spanner in the works as during a chat we had last week, it came to light that he had no idea that 'English' at A-level & further actually means 'English Lit.' And he doesn't like the Lit side of it at all!!

I got into a bit of a panic as that is about the only subject at school that was a cert for sixth-form. So I have done a lot of research over the past week & can see that the Lang/Lit A-level looks v interesting & right up his street - but just doesn't seem to be held in the same high regard as Lit. Arrrgghh! I wouldn't be so concerned if he had chosen all facilitating subjects to go with it but at present the ones he's also considering are RS, Geography, Psychology or Computing. And 3 of those worry me too!!

I want to go back to the easy days of Biff, Chip & Kipper (there's something I thought I'd never say grin)

I honestly think that combined Lang/Lit, RE, Geog and Psychology would be fine tbh.

Sparklegeek Fri 30-Aug-13 21:54:36

Do you think Remus? I have to admit there's a part of me that thinks sod it, just let him choose what he is interested in, that's as far as it went when I made my A-level choices & my parents had no input whatsoever. But then I think, hang on, if he's going to come out of uni with 40k of debt it's got to be a degree & uni worth going to in the first place - & to ensure that he's got to be careful with A-levels! And he hasn't a clue what he wants to do after uni so I'm trying to get him to choose broadly but there's so many subjects he doesn't want to do.

Bloody hell. And one of my footballer lodgers has just informed me that Wayne Rooney is on A MILLION A MONTH. There are no words...

Tigerstripes Fri 30-Aug-13 22:07:26

I'm head of Key Stage 5 English and I've just put together information on Lang/Lit for our enrolment day. In the Information that Cambridge produces on subject choices they say that the subject is an "acceptable alternative" to Lit.
Your daughter's choices sound fine in the situation she has.

Sparkle - maybe we should send them to football club?!

Tiger - the tiny bit of research I've done so far seems to suggest that Lang/Lit is okay and straight Lang less so.

Tigerstripes Fri 30-Aug-13 22:14:11

That's right Remus. The straight Lang is more linguistics with less analysis, which is I assume why universities don't like it as much. Lang/Lit has both with more variety of text genres studied than Lit.

Cheers, Tiger.

OttilieKnackered Fri 30-Aug-13 22:16:38

I can't speak for all universities, but I'm an A level English teacher an would genuinely recommend any of the three options. English language at A level is very challenging. Most of our students that do both separately do better at Lit as it's much more like it is at school.

In comparison, English language is a lot more technical. There's a fair amount of crossover with psychology. Certainly English lit is the traditional facilitating option, but I don't think any university would consider any of the Englishes as soft per se.

Also, English lit graduates are ten a penny, English language/linguistics far less common.

OttilieKnackered Fri 30-Aug-13 22:18:12

Less analysis in language? I completely disagree. The technical detail of analysis in language is far greater than in lit.

Have PM'd you, OK.

littlemisswise Fri 30-Aug-13 22:25:09

DS1 did EngLit/Lang, History and Psychology at A2. He got offers from RG Uni's. He, has decided to defer for a year, though. He likes writing essays so he just got on with his courses quite happily.

The subjects your DD have chosen look like a good mix to me Remus.

Tigerstripes Fri 30-Aug-13 22:31:07

I like Language as a course, don't get me wrong. And I would recommend it. But the OP was asking about subjects for her daughter who didn't know what she wanted to do next and Cambridge (which I do know is not the be all and end all) says that Lit or Lang/Lit are on the list of those which mean that "choosing one or more of these will help keep your higher education options open". Lang is on the list of those that "are useful preparation for some of our arts and social sciences courses".

lotsofdirections Fri 30-Aug-13 22:37:42

Speaking to an ex pupil's mother today, he did Lang/Lit, Media, Sociology and Psychology at AS and dropped Psychology for A2. At 25 he is earning 40k+ having graduated from Bournemouth (non RG) in Media, A highly regarded course in the workplace. He has just been named as one of the top 200 people in Media under 30. Success is not traditional A Levels, RG uni etc. A passion/enjoyment of the subject is probably worth at least an additional grade.

bsc Fri 30-Aug-13 23:43:37

I'd say avoid sociology, and do a language instead, partic if politics not available.

OttilieKnackered Sat 31-Aug-13 00:01:17

Tiger, yes, I agree that's how it's viewed by Oxbridge and quite possibly Russell group as well. But firstly, it doesn't necessarily sound like OP's daughter will be applying there and secondly, I don't see university recommendations as black and white/ good and bad. The list of facilitating subjects is very short, but I don't think all the remaining ones are viewed equally. For example, I would have thought that English language would be viewed more favourably than PE if applying to a Russell group as part of a mix of subjects.

I may well be wrong on this, please correct me if so.

I think we can safely say she won't be applying to Oxbridge. smile

RiversideMum Sun 01-Sep-13 13:32:53

If her real interest is art, then is that the route she wants to be heading?

No idea, River! Not sure what an art degree could lead her to?

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