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Homeschooled DS - should we skip gcse Maths and just do a level?

(43 Posts)
bubbleymajor Wed 08-Mar-17 22:53:25

Hi not actually sure how this would work. DS is very good at maths. I have looked at both and believe there are lots of differences in gcse and a level and find a lot of gcse work is never used at a level. What would happen if he had an a level in Maths but not a gcse in it? Will that affect him in any way?

grumpysquash3 Wed 08-Mar-17 23:11:43

I am not an expert, but I would say that in situations where someone uses their brain (e.g. an employer) it wouldn't matter. However, where applications are scored electronically (e.g. Uni applications) your DS may not make the minimum requirements which include GCSE maths.
TBH, if he can do A level, he will find GSCE super easy, so he could just take it along the way....

Neverknowing Wed 08-Mar-17 23:16:57

Definitely do GCSE because there's a lot of jobs you can't get without GCSE even if A Level is a higher qualification smile plus its fairly easy if you're good at maths, he could Probably do both.

ScottishProf Wed 08-Mar-17 23:32:14

Let him do A level work whenever he's ready, but unless you're actually planning for him to go to university earlier than usual, there's zero advantage in having him take the exams earlier than standard. Let him learn lots of maths, and then take the exams with his peers and get the top grades that are current at the time. If he isn't already into UKMT challenges, that's a good place to start.

Spam88 Wed 08-Mar-17 23:38:57

I have post graduate physics degrees and have still had to show proof of my maths gcse for things, so I think it would be best not to skip it.

bubbleymajor Wed 08-Mar-17 23:44:55

Scottish our plan would be for him to take more a levels (so uni at same time as everyone else) but so he has a larger variety of choices and knowing exactly what he prefers.

HemiDemiSemiquaver Thu 09-Mar-17 07:26:00

If there are topics covered in GCSE that aren't used in A-level, then it's probably still worthwhile learning those topics themselves, as that might be expected knowledge in other areas, or just of interest to a mathematician - there shouldn't be much that he wouldn't just pick up automatically really and that would be pretty trivial for him if he's a-level material. (things like certain statistics or geometry things that are perhaps not used again). The new GCSE especially starts to include work that would have been A-level. Just planning what he needs to do in order to get A-level sounds rather exam driven rather than driven by interest in the subject? Getting as broad an education as possible at GCSE level always seems a good idea, as you never know when you might find in handy later on, and it all changes the way you think about a subject even when you never use specific bits of information again.

Unless it's a cost issue or a difficulty in getting a place to do the exam or something, there doesn't seem many good reasons for skipping it. Even if it's just a practice at writing external exams, it would be useful.

HeyRoly Thu 09-Mar-17 07:34:34

I think it would be very unwise to skip it, because employers might question why he never sat Maths GSCE, even if he has Maths A Level. GCSEs in Maths and English are essential for a lot of employers.

lougle Thu 09-Mar-17 07:35:59

GCSE maths is a 'gateway' qualification for nearly every profession I can think of. Legally, you cannot enter a vocational medicine course, nursing course, teaching course, vetinary medicine course, etc., without proof of GCSE maths. No matter how good your maths is, or what other maths qualifications you may have.

Crumbs1 Thu 09-Mar-17 07:38:27

Yes agree, maths gcse is an essential for most things. Universities usually have minimum criteria that includes maths/English gcse

lavenderandrose Thu 09-Mar-17 07:40:34

Well, that's not quite true, Lougle.

It's GCSE Maths or equivalent, otherwise non U.K. (excluding Scotland) qualifications would also not be accepted.

However OP in this context it is correct, bonkers as it is - he does need the GCSE. It is irritating, I agree!

ScottishProf Thu 09-Mar-17 07:49:36

There's still no advantage in taking it early. Anything he goes on to do that needs A level maths will need him to actually know the content, and university admissions will rightly be worried if it's a while since he took maths A level that he's forgotten the content. Honestly, it's easy stuff; if he's a strong mathematician he'll easily be able to brush it up and sit the exam whenever. Also, it's such a popular subject that you're unlikely to run into exam timetable problems. Look at it this way: if he's a strong mathematician he isn't going to want to just not do maths after he's got the A level and before he goes to university, so at some point he's going to have to do some non-standard maths. It will be simpler all round if you let that be before, rather than after, he sits the A level.

JustRichmal Thu 09-Mar-17 07:58:32

Because some of the things in GCSE are not covered in A level, I also would advise taking it.

I also agree the UKMT challenges are good, but it is not always possible for home schooled children to do them. It depends if there is a school in your area who will let him sit it alongside their students. It is still worth a look at the UKMT website as the questions are so different from GCSE or A level and build up other abilities in maths.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 09-Mar-17 08:07:55

I thought the new gcses were now including some content formerly in A level ? (My dd is in yr 13 so still on all the old specs so I may have misunderstood) - you are looking at the new specifications for gcse and A level presumably?

But apart from that - the surprising thing about A level maths is that quite a few people who are good at it find that they forget parts which they don't use. Having a significant gap between doing A levels and university might not be a good idea if he's likely to do something which requires strong maths ability in practice not aptitude.

There are enough A level maths modules to constitute 3 A levels - DD knows a lad who is doing 3 maths and Russian - not sure whether it works if you aren't doing them concurrently but if he's really into maths maybe he could do gcse a year early, then a maths A level and then all the rest in 6th form.

JustRichmal Thu 09-Mar-17 08:19:49

If he did A level maths early, he could move on to further maths A level which, depending on his age, might mean him doing further maths close to the usual age of doing A level. There is also the MIT courses on the web, if he then wanted to move on further in maths before going to Uni.

OhYouBadBadKitten Thu 09-Mar-17 08:25:55

How old is your ds bubbley?

user7214743615 Thu 09-Mar-17 12:50:06

If he did A level maths early, he could move on to further maths A level which, depending on his age, might mean him doing further maths close to the usual age of doing A level. There is also the MIT courses on the web, if he then wanted to move on further in maths before going to Uni.

But if he actually wants to continue into maths, physics or computer science at university he would still potentially be at a disadvantage from having forgotten A level and FM content before starting. Why do something that might exclude him from top university courses? Why not extend beyond the narrow maths curriculum and just take the exams at the usual times?

SugarMiceInTheRain Thu 09-Mar-17 12:53:46

Definitely GCSE, even if he's beyond that level, because, as others have said, you need proof of it for loads of things. Even if you have an A-Level in the subject hmm . I did English A-level but still needed to prove I had the GCSE for job applications. Ridiculous, but there you go.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 09-Mar-17 18:02:41

See also the warning near the bottom of this about taking A levels early https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/a-levels-and-highers/choosing-a-levels/university-courses-requiring-specific-a-level-subjects-or-grades/

noblegiraffe Thu 09-Mar-17 18:10:59

I had to show my GCSE maths certificate for my current job of maths teacher even though I have a masters in maths.

Just because there's GCSE content which doesn't appear in A-level it doesn't mean it's not worth doing.

IamFriedSpam Fri 10-Mar-17 14:13:07

In certain situation (e..g if you want to do teaching) you might need a GCSE in maths specifically. I also think that it's probably a good idea to do it. I have taught a student who went straight on to A-level and I think he would have benefited from taking the GCSE. If he's very good at ,maths he should be looking at alternatives to just moving as fast as possible through the syllabus. Has he looked at maths challenge and maths olympiad papers?

happygardening Sat 11-Mar-17 04:35:24

Some years ago I observed a group of exceedingly high functioning home schooled children; primarily math/science savants, some were international prize winners. None did GCSE's all went to top universities.
I would have thought you would be better posting on the home ed section for the most knowledgable advise.

user7214743615 Sat 11-Mar-17 09:34:49

I would have thought you would be better posting on the home ed section for the most knowledgable advise.

Or, how about contacting admissions tutors from top universities such as Oxbridge, UCL, Imperial etc? (I for one would be happy to repeat in an official capacity the advice given above.)

IamFriedSpam Sat 11-Mar-17 09:48:48

I have done Oxford admissions (in a mathematical subject but not maths) and I can tell you they wouldn't care that he didn't have a GCSE in maths - they have candidates that have done all kinds of international qualifications (including those who have moved around so done some French some Spanish exams etc.). The GCSE in maths is required for some jobs not university entrance. If he really is that good at maths he should be doing maths challenge with a view to going forward to the British olympiad team. If he isn't at the level of getting a gold in maths challenge he'd benefit from GCSE maths.

If he's that capable it wouldn't take any time at all to learn and would be a good grounding for A-level. People don't realise with maths that it's so much more than just learning and understanding the syllabus. It's incredibly important to have had a broad experience and practise at different type of problems. Kids who are rushed through the syllabus too quickly (even if they manage to get top marks) are often at a massive disadvantage when they begin to get to more challenging material.

user7214743615 Sat 11-Mar-17 09:53:59

I agree they wouldn't care about the lack of GCSE maths (other RG universities might, I don't know) but they would care about taking Maths/FM A level several years before starting a mathematical course.

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