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biology at university - is it more or less essential to do chemistry at A2? and is chemistry one of the 'much harder at A level than gcse' subjects?

(36 Posts)
Majorca Sat 17-Oct-09 16:25:16

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mumonthenet Sat 17-Oct-09 16:39:20

my dd is also thinking about biology (animal). No experience cos at the same stage as you but my impression is that another science is always good.

Especially if she wants to go to one of the more academic uni's. Not essential but adviseable if she really is interested in this subject ....and she can handle it.

So, important, - that they do what they are interested in.

Fivesetsofschoolfees Sat 17-Oct-09 16:52:19

My understanding is that if you want to do a pure science at university, you have to have two sciences going in (the one you are studying and another).

I know that in my DS's case, he is interested in doing Physics at Uni, and the school says he needs to keep his Chemistry going if he wants to get into a decent course.

For biology, there is a huge amount of biochemistry, so it is good to have chemistry as well.

As for whether Chemistry is a big step up from GCSE, I would say that it is. You have to step away from the wishy washy Global Warming agenda the government insists on and get into the real business of electrons!

PlumBumMum Sat 17-Oct-09 16:58:50

I did Microniology at UNI and needed biology and chemistry going in,

Chemistry was one of my best subjects in GCSE, and I found it a big leap in A level, but that was 14 years ago (now I feel old) and I had a really crap teacher in chemistry A level

PlumBumMum Sat 17-Oct-09 16:59:16

Microbiology of course

Majorca Sat 17-Oct-09 16:59:54

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asdx2 Sat 17-Oct-09 17:26:17

DS found the leap between GCSE Chemistry and AS chemistry huge tbh bigger than his other choices by far (maths, further maths, physics) and he was a very able student going in with an A*.He certainly had to work harder than he did to get A2 maths (A grade) in just 1 year.

Majorca Sat 17-Oct-09 17:35:34

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DH's cousin (doing Biology, Art and German at A-level) is looking at Zoology and finding that a lot of places want Chemistry for that, so I would expect it to be even more the case for Biology.

If your DS is keen on doing something biological at university but doesn't want to do Chemistry A-level, apparently the Zoology course at Reading sounds like a lot of fun and doesn't require Chemistry (similarly some other Zoology courses don't)...

asdx2 Sat 17-Oct-09 17:43:56

Ds stuck it out and put his head down that was the only difference between him and his two friends who dropped the subject after the first test (school set)
Maths is his thing so he didn't find the leap a problem. At GCSE he enjoyed chemistry and was seemingly more able at it than physics but at A level he found physics the less demanding of the two.

Lilymaid Sat 17-Oct-09 17:44:50

If you do chemistry to A2 it will give you a wider choice of course at university. Several universities have it as a course requirement for Biology/Biological Sciences - e.g York. I know that Exeter and Durham (at least one of the Biology courses) don't require it. I know next to nothing about Biology but would have thought that doing it as a degree without having Chemistry A2 might be difficult.

Fivesetsofschoolfees Sat 17-Oct-09 18:44:20

FE course don't exactly require an unrelated science but they do value it.

One thing about the huge step up to A-level is all the students are in the same boat.

Majorca Sat 17-Oct-09 18:46:58

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golgi Sat 17-Oct-09 18:49:44

They're not necessarily all in the same boat, those who have done separate science instead of dual award have a slight advantage in my opinion.

I did biochemistry degree, definitely needed chemistry, as do a lot of biology courses - but not all.

Even at A level, those students who are doing chemistry as well find some topics easier (e.g. biological molecules, respiration and photosynthesis)

salvadory Sat 17-Oct-09 18:58:03

I went to Edinburgh to study biological sciences and can recommend it due to its modular nature. Whilst I studied a lot of modules where my chem A level provided some background it was very possible to go down a purely microbiological/immunological/anatomical route that really didn't require any chemistry. Also they did (and still do) run a course in the first year which is along the lines of chemistry for biologists which should provide a good base for further study.
If she's not a fan of chemistry and would get a better grade in something she enjoyed more I'd recommend her doing that, chemistry A level is not that fun even if you love chemistry, would be made much worse if you were only doing it if you felt you 'had to'.

asdx2 Sat 17-Oct-09 19:06:31

Yes to be fair Ben is mathematically gifted but he did have to work at chemistry whereas he could wing the maths and further maths and "got" physics. He advised his sister not to touch chemistry as he hadn't enjoyed it and was purely stubborness that kept him going.

snorkie Sat 17-Oct-09 19:06:45

How does your dd find Chemistry GCSE? Ds has always found science easy and interesting & the 'step up' to AS wasn't scary at all - in fact he is doing it alongside his GCSE. An awful lot of the topics are the same, just more detail and it's more mathematical too. If she has read science books outside GCSE textbooks you might find she knows a fair bit already & if her mathematical problem solving is good I don't think it's too bad a jump.

WallyDoodle Sat 17-Oct-09 19:28:47

It is not so much of a step up as doing Biochemistry at university (which most first year biology courses would expect, when I was there it was the only course everyone had to do) without having done A-level and having had a few years break since GCSE. It will help when she is at university and I think it is more important to have a slightly easier first year at uni when you are adjusting to living on your own than a slightly easier A-level year. It will also seem particularly hard if almost all her course mates have done chemistry and she won't have the same level of teacher help that she will at school.

I found that doing Biology and Chemistry together was quite complementary, that there was a slight overlap and they could be tied together, which took any edge off one subject seeming horribly hard. It was a while ago though and if she hates it and isn't too stressed about getting into a top university, then she shouldn't stress herself out and make herself do it.

Majorca Sat 17-Oct-09 19:39:06

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Majorca Sat 17-Oct-09 19:47:19

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DevilsEnticeMadness Sat 17-Oct-09 19:57:11

If you study Biology at uni you often have compulsory chem units in the first year, which are a struggle without having done chemistry at A level. Chemistry is prefered because the work between biology and chemistry is very closely linked. Would advise at least AS chem. Making work for self if don't.

Would suggest that if you get a good teacher the leap would not be to difficult but it depends of the depth of understanding of the subject. Being able to learn and remember is enough for GCSE but at A level it is essential to understand and apply.

DevilsEnticeMadness Sat 17-Oct-09 19:58:08

Would suggest you get her to look at some as level books to help her decide. She will be able to judge for herself then.

snorkie Sat 17-Oct-09 20:01:30

What other A-levels is she considering Majorca? If she is sure about the Biology degree, I think Chemistry is probably a strong choice for her (even if she isn't sure, a Chemistry A level keeps a lot of degree options open, so is still a good choice). If she's finding the GCSE OK she should manage fine as Chemistry is a popular A level, chosen by a lot of students (as it's the science that is most useful for a broad range of things later) and most of them do manage it OK even if they do find it a bit of a jump. Even if it's the wishy washy 'How Science Works' bits of the GCSE she finds easy I still think that will stand her in good stead for the A level.

DevilsEnticeMadness Sat 17-Oct-09 20:04:10

{hgrin] at wishy washy how science works.

golgi Sat 17-Oct-09 20:05:03

The wishy washy "How Science Works" is pervading A levels as well now anyway, and the coursework follows the same idea (ISAs).

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