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IB Mathematical studies for medicine, possibly Oxbridge? Any tutors for admissions out there who could offer advice, please?

(46 Posts)
Shhhhhhhh Tue 03-Feb-15 21:04:10

My son's sixth form options application has to be in this week and his maths teacher (and head of sixth form) has just dropped a bit of a bombshell - he's advised my DS that some universities won't accept IB mathematical studies for medicine, contrary to the advice the careers counsellor gave him at the open evening last term.

I've had a quick search on the internet, Oxford do accept it, it isn't entirely clear whether Cambridge do. He hasn't really thought about where he wants to go to university other than possibly Oxbridge (because his school have told him he has Oxbridge potential) - we didn't really think of planning that far ahead!

I guess I am also wondering whether, even if a university accepts it, do they have a preference for maths over mathematical studies?

His reasoning for doing mathematical studies rather than standard level maths is that he doesn't really enjoy maths and he thinks he can maximise his IB points by doing a subject that he can score an easy 7 in.

I am also wondering whether his deliberately choosing the easy (for him) to boost his score option might count against him too, as he is predicted an A hat at GCSE?

His other options are:

Higher Level: chemistry, biology, history

(the school has suggested doing philosophy but he doesn't really enjoy the subject)

Standard Level: mathematical studies, English literature, French (ab initio)

(DS is considering continuing with Spanish as an alternative to starting French from scratch)

Is there anyone out there with any advice? I would tell him to email any medical schools he is interested in but I doubt he will get a reply in time for the application deadline.

Thank you!

lljkk Tue 03-Feb-15 21:13:14

Phone medical schools is my thought, and ask on the Student room.

uilen Tue 03-Feb-15 21:28:13

While medical schools might say that they accept mathematical studies, it is far less respected than SL maths and many IB candidates for medicine will probably have HL maths. In general mathematical studies is a poor option for anyone looking to do STEMM at university and universities will prefer maths over mathematical studies. Doing mathematics at least to SL will keep more options open.

BTW you might want to think about whether medics would be expected to have physics at SL too. A level candidates are not expected to have both maths or physics for medicine (except for Cambridge, I think) but usually have one and often have both. With IB allowing more subjects it might be unusual for prospective medics to drop physics.

Shhhhhhhh Tue 03-Feb-15 23:30:52

Thanks, both of you.

Unfortunately, it isn't possible to take physics as well as chemistry and biology for the IB. You have to take maths, English, a science, a humanity, a foreign language and one other subject.

troyandabedintheafternoon Tue 03-Feb-15 23:52:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

troyandabedintheafternoon Tue 03-Feb-15 23:53:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DurpDurp Wed 04-Feb-15 00:09:38

I'd phone the admissions departments (then follow up with emails to confirm) ive always found admissions departments to be really helpful.

Mindgone Wed 04-Feb-15 00:09:38

I have no idea at all about the IB, but I have had reason to phone admissions departments at universities, and have found them all to be very friendly and helpful. Don't worry about phoning and asking them, I'm sure they'll be happy to help, and you'll get a quick answer that you can trust.

DurpDurp Wed 04-Feb-15 00:29:37

He would really, really struggle to get into Cambridge with those choices. They count HL's as A levels IYSWIM and 98% of their applicants have 3 A Levels in science or maths. confused

horsemadmom Wed 04-Feb-15 08:20:20

Advice from DD's school was that due to the way the boxes on the UCAS form are laid out, they only fit 'maths' and unis can't see whether it is SL or studies.

Dunlurking Wed 04-Feb-15 09:04:03

Have the rules changed? When I did the IB xx years ago I was excused the Humanities because I was going to apply for medicine and couldn't get enough sciences in otherwise. The other thing I did was to do a separate Maths A level as well. Hope you can sort it out but definitely worth checking with admissions departments. I contacted all my choices before sending in my UCCA form.

uilen Wed 04-Feb-15 09:51:59

Advice from DD's school was that due to the way the boxes on the UCAS form are laid out, they only fit 'maths' and unis can't see whether it is SL or studies.

This is total rubbish. Candidates are expected to declare clearly exactly what they are taking. For a non-STEMM degree the university might not particularly care about maths v mathematical studies but for STEMM the difference is definitely important. If it's not made clear on the UCAS form then admissions tutors will ask for clarifications, if the difference is relevant to the course being applied for.

BTW even if the qualification boxes are too small (although imo they are not) there is plenty of space in the school's reference and the school is expected to comment on all subjects being taken. Actively concealing maths versus mathematical studies in the reference would be outrageous.

Bonsoir Wed 04-Feb-15 16:00:54

I agree with uilen. It would be incredibly stupid to try to conceal precisely which IB maths course you were taking on your UCAS form. Universities know exactly what the IB maths menu consists of.

Kez100 Wed 04-Feb-15 17:57:13

Also, this isn't a game when you are talking about Medicine and Oxbridge.

Surely your DS should want to do the subjects which content will put him in the best place to be successful on his Uni course. Having read the failed first year medicine thread it is obvious the real upset and practical issues that are caused by the brutality of these courses once they start. A student aspiring to medicine and Oxbridge should be choosing to work to prove they are the best of the best and not that they can game a system.

senua Wed 04-Feb-15 18:29:22

I'm no expert but isn't it misleading to talk about 'Oxbridge medicine'. I thought Oxford and Cambridge had quite markedly different approaches to how the subject is taught?

summerends Wed 04-Feb-15 21:59:00

TBH I don't want to sound harsh but I agree, it does n't bode well for his medical career if he is selecting an easy option when he is capable of more difficulty plus this is a subject that is important in medicine.

Bunnyjo Thu 05-Feb-15 11:20:18

Oh and most did chemistry and physics, not biology! You can do a seventh subject if you want, although not all schools will let you do this

Actually most universities specifically state chemistry and biology at HL, rather than physics.

OP, for any STEMM degree at university I would highly recommend maths over mathematical studies. Whatever the university entry requirements say, you and your DS have to understand that he is applying for medicine - every university is ridiculously oversubscribed and they really are in the position of being able to pick and choose the very best candidates. They will use many criteria to rank applications, but one of those will be by subject and, assuming everything else is equal, the candidate with the more relevant IB subjects will rank ahead.

ibworldacademy Tue 16-Jun-15 07:11:48

As IB Maths tutor in <a href="http://www.ibworldacademy.com">IB World Academy</a> I think for Medicine IB Maths standard level is fine. As in modern medicine teaching technology is being used and student should have standard knowledge of Maths. For undergrad admission also universities prefer to IB Maths higher level or standard level not to Maths studies.

Gemauve Tue 16-Jun-15 09:19:26

Advice from DD's school was that due to the way the boxes on the UCAS form are laid out, they only fit 'maths' and unis can't see whether it is SL or studies.

That is utter nonsense. Even if it were true, which it isn't (the predicted grades section on the UCAS website seen by admissions tutors contains boards, syllabuses, modules and course codes) it would be clarified at interview.

Applying for medicine at Oxbridge (and note that Oxford's medical degree is very academic) is very competitive, and the gap between the minimum requirement and what successful applicants actually have will be vast.

basildonbond Tue 16-Jun-15 09:27:18

Dis has just finished IB - he'd originally opted for standard level maths but all the boys doing SL were called into a meeting at the start of term and asked what their aspirations were for university. All the boys like ds who were planning to apply for arts/humanities were advised to do maths studies as it's easier and they could do it in one year, freeing up time in upper sixth for their other subjects. Anyone who was planning a science/engineering career or who wasn't sure was advised to do maths rather than maths studies

tropicalfish Wed 17-Jun-15 23:38:27

hi op,
I understand medicine at oxbridge to be extremely tough and demanding with many applicants doing 4 a levels, thus proving they have the academic credentials for the course. Maybe oxbridge medicine is not the right choice. There are plenty of other great choices.

Millymollymama Thu 18-Jun-15 15:38:45

Chemistry, Physics and Maths at higher level. This combination gives you the best chance. Competition is fierce so change the biology for physics. His school should know better if they think a student is Oxbridge standard.

QueenQueenie Thu 18-Jun-15 20:50:10

You need proper advice. As the parent of a ds who's just finished his A2s and has an offer to read medicine at Cambridge in the Autumn I KNOW that a lot of what has been said here is incorrect. There is for instance no requirement / expectation that medicine candidates will have Physics at A level / HL in IB. Almost all medicine courses require Chemistry, many require at least 2 sciences (maths / chem / biology / physics) but requirements vary. You need to do some research, looking at individual uni websites, TSR, Guardian Uni Guide etc etc.
Good luck to your ds.
PS You also need to get clued up re UKCAT and BMAT tests and some serious volunteering / work experience for a medicine application.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 18-Jun-15 21:04:33

Can he change his courses in September? We ask for choices on application, but there is flexibility, as long as new choices fit.

Decorhate Thu 18-Jun-15 21:51:13

I disagree re physics too. My dd dropped after AS. Chemistry essential. Some unis specify biology too.
Chemistry, Biology & Maths the most common combination I have come across.

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