How many A levels?(23 Posts)
Hi, with the reform of A Levels, how many is usual to take? DD is year 11 and considering looking to do definitely Music and Biology and a further two out of Geography, Psychology and Law, so wants to do 4. Is that likely to be too much?
Hi. You will get different answers because there seems to be a bit of regional variation. However, since the reforms, almost everyone (round here) does 3. A friend of DD who got straight A*/A in GCSE is even only doing 3. I would advise speaking to the school / college. At the most she would start 4 and drop one. Please feel free to drop into this thread www.mumsnet.com/Talk/further_education/3010071-New-Batch-of-Year-13-parents-this-way and ask the same question - lots of very friendly people who are a bit further down the line than you - some of which have DCs who took 4 and can advise you on what it's been like.
Friends children who applied to Oxbridge this year were asked for 3 grades. They were doing 4, which meant there was some choice as to which to 'miss' on, but my point is that even top unis only require 3.
At our super-selective they are doing 3 going forward but can do Further Maths as a 4th if they are doing Maths. Uni offers are based on 3 grades generally even Oxbridge and Medicine.
3 with an A, will look more impressive than 4 at B or C.
Also look at the possible uni courses and how many ucas points would be needed.
I have a son in Y11. At his school, it depends on GCSE grades. If he gets 60+ points in his best 8 subjects (e.g. 88887777) then he'll have the option of doing 4 subjects if he wants to. Otherwise he can only do 3.
DS's school do 4 subjects but drop one after AS level.
The government is only fully funding 3 subjects at 6th form so many schools are moving to only offering 3 from the start of Y12, with possible exception being made for Further Maths as a 4th.
There was an article in the daily mail recently that:
“Pupils who take four A-levels do better than those who take three, says teacher.
Jonathan Godfrey said that even if pupils are at the same level when they do their GCSEs, those who take four A-levels achieve better grades
Mr Godfrey, who has been principal of Hereford Sixth Form College for 18 years, said that taking five subjects would be best.”
Not sure what to make of that, but thought I’d put it out there for discussion?
I think he is talking a load of b******s.
DD started off with 4 and dropped one after AS exams. She was on her knees with tiredness. She is in year 13 and the lower levels of homework coupled with the extra free periods she has at school is noticeable.
When AS levels counted towards the final marks they only had to remember a year's worth of work at exam time. Now the A levels are linear they have to remember two years worth of work for the exams, so 4 A levels now would be quite taxing for most students.
In the past I do think it depended on the child and the subjects, I have had one doing 5 AS and went on to do 4 A levels , with very good results. DD has just done 5 AS and it was much harder for her. There is no way she could manage 4 A levels next year, even allowing for the fact one of her subjects is Maths, so is half done already.
In most subjects there is no AS level at the end of one year so the option of doing 4 then down to 3 is not doable. Dd school do mostly 3 or plus further maths. They also do EPQ so thats worth half an A level and some Unis give one grade lower offer if A star at EPQ
"and some Unis give one grade lower offer if A star at EPQ"
Many don't because they recognise that not all schools offer EPQs. DD started with 4 subjects and dropped down to three after AS exams, but she found it a massive struggle doing four. She is finding year 13 a lot easier so far now she is doing three subjects but this feels like the calm before the storm.
Many don't because they recognise that not all schools offer EPQs.
That's not the reason. It is quite common for maths, physics and engineering courses to offer a discount for further maths, even though not all students have the option of being taught further maths.
There are several reasons for not offering a discount for EPQs:
- EPQ performance is not strongly correlated with degree performance in many STEM subjects
- EPQs carry relatively few UCAS points under the new point system (less than an AS, if I recall correctly). Even high ranking universities are interested in the total tariff points of their incoming students, as this is what appears in tables, and so they want to encourage students to have as many points as possible. Allowing dropped grades in an A level for an EPQ is not good from a tariff points perspective.
I do think it is important to distinguish between what happened in the (recent) past and what will happen going forwards with the new A levels. Under the reformed A levels, far fewer students will have more than 3 subjects.
"That's not the reason"
That was the reasons given at a couple of medical school subject talks we attended earlier this month. So yes, it is the reason in some cases.
Medicine is never going to be representative of general admissions policies, so one should not extrapolate from "a couple of medical school talks" to "many universities".
Surely the answer lies in what the OP's DC wants to do at university. These A levels do not say this young person is a scientist because there is no maths. So what is the intention? These choices are a bit of a mish mash of A levels that do not really say this DC is looking at a highly competitive course. Does she want to study music? Therefore three is fine. I would suggest Geography is the best fit with Biology and Music because Law isn't valued very highly and Psychology is best with Maths, as is Biology.
Just to share another thought. My dd is now at University. After doing her GCSEs, she was confident she wanted to go down one route - chose her favourite GCSE subjects and thought she knew what she was taking to University study level.
Turns out, the subjects at A-level were so completely different from the GCSEs she had loved and sailed through, she really struggles, and really disliked the 'route' she thought she was set on.
Fortunately she had started with 4, so had options about what she could drop. With "only" 3, she would have been stuffed.
It is a transitional period so hard to say. Mine did 4 AS levels (some old system and some new) and then 3 A levels and just gone to university. their school is still doing that number this year. I think it probably makes sense.
Of your daughter's choices: "Music and Biology and a further two out of Geography, Psychology and Law" one of my children did music to AS and found it very hard to decide between keeping that or economics (another very good A level I recommed by the way) and went for economics to A2 in the end - very hard choice. Geography and biology are facilitating subjects. Law I really would avoid if she can. Do research law A level on line in regards to university entrance.
If your child can manage academically I would recommend geography, biology, psychology and music for AS and then drop one of those for A2. and if possbile keep up geog and biol as they are the facilitating subject ones which give the greater university options.
DS is in year 11 currently, and will be choosing around Christmas. Went to a sixth form open evening yesterday. The "norm" is 3, but for those who achieve 5 GCSE's at grade 8 or above, they can choose 4 and are free to drop one anytime during the L6. Got this from the horse's mouth - the head herself. (The 4th isn't Further Maths - (that's on top as both Maths and FM is a single subject for timetabling etc), so theoretically, you could do 5 if you choose 4 and FM!). As DS hasn't a clue what he wants to do as regards degree nor career, it's enabling him to take a broader choice to keep options open. Bad enough getting his current 10 GCSEs down to 4 for A level - would be even harder to choose just 3.
DS1 sixth form offer 4 so they can continue offering a wide choice of subjects as students 4th choice are generally the same subjects. What they find is that over 40% of students who drop an a level it is not their 4th choice and 30% of them go onto a degree linked to the original 4th choice. At his sixth form Psychology is named as the course which is most students 4th choice and yet the lowest drop out, but the school would find it difficult to offer if the choice was reduced to 3.
Boul, that is consistent with my children too. One was doing science A levels mostly but ended up dropping one of the sciences and keeping on the economics (even though originally they had been sure both of chemistry and physics would stay through to upper sixth).
Doing 4 good A level subjects is a good idea if you are up to it and then drop to 3 for upper sixth/A2 or whatever we call it now. I think most grammar schools will be doing that too.
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