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To do a 4th A-Level or not?

(14 Posts)
ALevelQuestion Sun 30-Aug-20 09:27:43

DD is about to start A-Levels. She is ultimately hoping to apply to Cambridge to do a degree in Economics.
She has chosen Maths, Economics and History to do at A-Level. Is it a good idea to do Further Maths as well, making 4 A-Levels in total?

Thanks for any advice.

OP’s posts: |
Gymntonic Sun 30-Aug-20 09:39:54

If she's good at maths with top grades at GCSE, it's worth doing further maths in addition to maths A level. If you're not sure it's best to talk to her teachers

JoanJosephJim Sun 30-Aug-20 09:44:49

Cambridge want A* A* A for Economics so I am assuming she is a high achiever.

Just looked, they only say Maths A level for Economics but when you look into the colleges bit several of them say A* in further maths, if taken.

Apparently lots of unis don't say FM because not all sixth forms offer it but a lot of applicants are studying FM who apply for maths based courses, not just at Cambridge but a lot of RG ones too. It does give them an advantage and shows an ability to understand more complex maths.

Ds1 is doing 4 A levels including maths and FM which makes his timetable 50% maths. You had to get a grade 7 or above in maths to take FM and a few students are looking to drop it. Ds is going into year 13 in September. He is also applying to Cambridge but not for Economics but a maths based course.

BuffaloCauliflower Sun 30-Aug-20 09:47:23

If she wants to study economics rather than maths, perhaps something more broadening like politics or a language would make more sense than FM?

nosswith Sun 30-Aug-20 09:48:47

I did the same subjects (many years ago) and would never have dreamt of a fourth A level.

nosswith Sun 30-Aug-20 09:49:07

I did not get into Oxbridge though.

BacklashStarts Sun 30-Aug-20 09:54:20

I would say yes. I think it is perfectly manageable to do 4 A-levels particularly if two of them are in the same subject effectively. I would definitely not go any higher than four though I think at that point it gets completely undoable.

YoBeaches Sun 30-Aug-20 10:30:14

If her desire is economics then no, either stick with the 3 and focus on doing them really well, or pick a fourth softer subject like economics, sociology or politics.

She'll need top A grades no matter what, that's the goal no matter how many she does.

maltravers Sun 30-Aug-20 10:39:15

Cambridge economics is very maths orientated I believe. Can she speak to admissions for a steer? Is it an option to do FM for the first year and drop if the 4 means the workload is too heavy?

ALevelQuestion Sun 30-Aug-20 10:47:56

Thank you all so much for your advice. It has all been extremely useful.

OP’s posts: |
Sparticuscaticus Sun 30-Aug-20 11:16:10

My son did 4 A levels, including maths and further maths, they are not the same subject, quite different. Further Maths is more an analytical philosophy 😬

It was hard work and despite his being a high achieving student at times he thought about dropping the fourth (Economics)

None of his university offers required 4 A levels, even Oxford, they all asked for 3 high achieving A levels. The fourth was redundant and taken at risk to the others, but he really wanted to learn about It 'for fun' which didn't feel fun when he was overloaded with assignments, working PT and trying to have a social life - 16-18 are important social years with some cool (coming of age) parties!!

At university, most degrees have units you choose to design your own degree, particularly in first year, so in a term she could end up easily doing the equivalent of a short Further Maths A level (!!) as a mathematical modelling course for economics within her degree, that may suit her needs better.

Ironoaks Sun 30-Aug-20 11:34:01

My son is about to start physical natural sciences at Cambridge. I realise that isn't economics but it's a similarly maths-based course.

His offer was A* A* A and the only subject where they specified an A* was further maths. Not all colleges have a clear preference for further maths, but some do. Most of the people on his course group chat have further maths A-level. Those that don't (for example if their school didn't offer it) are doing some self-teaching over the summer.

I would check the individual offer requirements for each college. If the school offers further maths A-level then they might wonder why your DD didn't take it. (If the school doesn't offer further maths, or there is another reason why she didn't take it, there's a place to explain this on the supplementary application questionnaire.)

ALevelQuestion Sun 30-Aug-20 12:46:57

Thank you again for all of your posts. I will get DD to contact Cambridge admissions to see what their policies are with regards to FM for getting on their Economics degree.

OP’s posts: |
CouldBeOuting Sun 30-Aug-20 14:23:52

DD did 4 A’Levels. Her school insisted on 4. She did the three subjects she was interested in and then picked another that wasn’t too “full on”. When she went to uni open days and was asked what As she was doing the lecturers were very much “why are you doing four, only three count for admissions”, “don’t do four concentrate on a good three” (Russell group unis). So she did that. In her “fourth” subject she wrote a note at the top of the page along the lines of “dear examiner, don’t waste your time, I’m not wasting mine. I don’t want or need this A level. Here follows a practice essay for the subject I wish to study at university”. She got top marks in her three and failed her fourth. Got into her first choice uni. Got a first. Now doing masters.

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