Year 9 Subject Choices & Studying Medicine ??

(43 Posts)
RockinHippy Thu 18-Aug-16 11:32:51

Its a bit more complicated than normal as bar EOTAS tutors, our DD has missed 18 months of school due to ill health. She goes back to school to join year 9 in September, which she is both really looking forward to, but is naturally very nervous too.

She is a worry wort by nature & is already stressing about the year 9 subject choices, as she rightly feels that she has missed so much scool, yet she has a big decision to make & little experience of many the subject choices, so I'm hoping for some pointers for her please.

She has her heart set on studying medicine, has done since she was about 8 --we still hope she will go for a less stressful career choice rarely she mentions if she can't be a doctor, forensic science looks interesting, so unless she changes her mind, it looks likely that she will chose to go for a science career.

She is very bright, loves school & learns easily, despite being very ill has managed to more than keep up with her Maths, Science & English lessons, passing a mock GCSE in Maths as a confidence booster. So having spoken with her school, who are great, we are very hopeful that the time missed wont have too huge an impact on her schooling in the long term.

What could help her, especially with putting her mind at rest as far as GCSE subject choices go, would be knowing what subjects are best to take if you want to study medicine?

Does the choice of University make a difference, (we have a good one locally that she is keen to go to) or are there basic core GCSEs that are needed to get in ?

Also are languages needed, this is a topic she is hoping to drop in favour of concentrating on what she needs, as she is going to be way behind & doesn't enjoy languages anyway, she finds them more stressful to do well in as its not her strength. She is a bit obsessed with staying in top study groups for everything as the kids in those groups are more learning focussed & so less disruptions, so she has really piled the pressure on herself even more so with languages in the past. She can do it if she needs it, but hoping she doesn't to save her some stress as its going to be a tough time for her anyway ??

Both DH & I had careers in the Arts, so we dont really have a clue blushconfused


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Mindgone Thu 18-Aug-16 11:54:03

The best thing she can do at this stage is triple science, and get good grades in all the subjects she takes.
Good luck for Y9, she sounds very determined, which is great.

titchy Thu 18-Aug-16 12:07:51

Triple Science and maths - A or A*. Plus at least 4 other GCSEs and English. Don't worry about a language.

A Levels - Chemistry vital, Biolpgy pretty important. UKCAT or BMAT (external tests) vital. Work experience, and not a week shadowing someone, but week in week out helping at care home, working with WRVS at a hospitla, old age home very very very essential.

She mustn't set her sigghts on one uni only. Medics take whatever is offered to them - very few get several offers and have a choice to make - most only get one, maybe two, offers.

She will need to be fit enough - I can't emphasis that strongly enough. Physically fit to be on her feet a lot, and to put in hours and hours of study on top.

bojorojo Thu 18-Aug-16 12:17:33

I think everything titchy has said is correct. My DDs friend trained with St John's Ambulance and volunteered in a hospice - week in, week out. She also did PE A level (that might my be its full name) as this was more body focussed than Biology. Medicine is very competitive and looking around at other universities is vital. I personally think going away to uni is part of growing up and becoming a rounded person. I think all doctors should be rounded!!!

There are lots of other medical careers that she could consider . I think you need to do a lot more research on the alternatives.

Needmoresleep Thu 18-Aug-16 12:45:41

A quick answer to the GCSE question is to get as good grades as possible, particularly in science (which she will continue to A level) and English.

Medical schools all have more good applicants than places and will filter in different ways and some filter partly by GCSE. The more boxes you tick the more choice you will have on where you can apply. A range of subjects is good, as it shows all-roundedness, but not at the cost of grades.

Work experience can wait a bit. Different Universities give different priority to it. DD was never asked about the 6 week full time stint she did in a care home after Yr 11, but found the shadowing she had done useful when it came to answering questions about hospital procedures. There is also a balance to be struck between giving 100% to a medical schol application and living a teenage life. DD was a prefect, played sport and did quite a lot else. This may have meant that she did not do enough UKCAT or interview practice, but she then got into a medical school that claims to attach weight to roundedness.

I think bojorojo is wrong about PE A level. Do "hard" science/maths A levels if you can. (And if you can't think carefully as getting in is only the start - it will get harder.)

I also think bojorojo is wrong about not going to a local University. There is some evidence that medical schools like local applicants. They will have a better understanding of the patient demographic, and also are more likely to stay in the area once they have completed their training. Many medical schools foster links with local schools. Plus medical school is five years. Not paying for accomodation makes a huge difference to total debt, and so there will be quite a lot living at home. At the end of the day though, you look at the criteria used by each medical school to select for interview, and you apply to those whose criteria you meet.

bojorojo Thu 18-Aug-16 12:50:17

Not wrong about PE as a fourth A level! Maybe local is good but often there are not enough junior posts to go round so you have to move anyway to get a job so local knowledge goes out of the window.

BellaVida Thu 18-Aug-16 13:11:22

She will need good GCSE's in sciences, maths and English. No languages necessary. A levels preferably in biology, chemistry and another 'strong' subject such as maths.
If she is not sure about going straight into medical school, she could always do a degree in bio sciences, then decide what field she wants to go into.


RockinHippy Thu 18-Aug-16 14:53:14

Thank you, lots of really useful info smile

I'm especially pleased to see that bar sciences/english/maths, (all of which which she likes & excels at) that a good all round choice of subjects could be beneficial to her getting into Med School. We were hoping that covering more bases could give her more career options if she later changes her mind, but weren't sure if that could actually work against her given such a science based career choice.

PE (I'm presuming that is Physical Education?) might be a problem for her though - I'm presuming you need a GCSE in a subject in order to take an A level, which she will muss out on. Her current state of fitness, after a year & a half in a wheelchair & an Ehlers Danlos diagnosis rules out P.E. even as a lesson for now, though we are hopeful that will change with good tailored PT which she will eventually get at GOSH, though sadly not quick enough for our liking & our local kids hospital PT dept have been very slow & so far offered her nothing. So shes just too high an injury risk for PE right now & is likely to be for some months yet.

Financially & health reasons mean that staying closer to home makes far more sense, especially as it means she wont need to work to supplement her spending money (shes a teen & loves her clothes & make up). We've also brought her up with the ethics of saving for, rather than getting into debt for something & she really hates owing anyone money, even to us, so I've a feeling she will be very stressed by huge student loans, she has said that herself. This is one of the reasons shes very keen to stay close to home, plus she loves where we live & has said that can't see herself living anywhere else as we do live in a very tolerant little bubble & she can get very annoyed at the narrow mindedness she has come across elsewhere. So I really hope you are right that some Med schools do prefer local students, she could certainly write up a good case for that.

As far as fit & healthy goes, thats the bit that worries us the most, but that said, we have recently had a big break through with her ongoing health problems, turns out that she also has a functional B12 deficiency & adequate B12 injections have had a pretty miraculous affect on her welbeing, we still have a way to go with getting her enough B12 to keep her very fit, but I'm confident we will have all that in place within the next couple of months.

She has the determination of steel though, shes proved that time & again, not least when she refused to go to hospital during her SATs exams, turned out she was actually very, very ill & was admitted for 2 weeks after her last SATs exam & she still did really well. Plus shes lucky to be able to learn with little effort, so even with the health problems, she won't let it stand in her way & as she says herself, her own experience with hospitals will make her a better doctor - like I say, she is very determined we just hope she switches to something less stressful

Can I please ask - what are UKCAT & BMAT ?

OP’s posts: |
Decorhate Thu 18-Aug-16 17:44:28

Agree with Needmoresleep that for GCSE it's important to choose option she will do well in. This often means the academic rather than creative subjects. My dd regretted doing Drama - if she had done Geography it would have been relatively easy to get a high mark by studying hard, whereas you need a certain natural ability to do well in creative subjects.

My dd has just finished her first year of medicine. She did Maths & the 3 sciences for AS and dropped physics for A2. Chemistry is pretty much compulsory for for most medical schools, and if someone doesn't want to do Biology I'd question why they think they will enjoy medicine.

There is absolutely no benefit to taking PE instead of Biology & it probably isn't viewed as a facilitating subject by many unis anyway. I'd only suggest it if your dd was particularly talented in that area as an "extra" subject. Most applicants will have done the combination of subjects my dd has done.

I wouldn't worry about work experience yet & there is plenty of time to be strategic about which medical school to apply for when she is older.

RockinHippy Thu 18-Aug-16 18:24:30

Thats great, thank you Deco

Thats actually much better than I expected. She loves biology & chemistry, physics not so much so, but I think that was a much down to her only experience of an actual physics, rather than science lesson was with a teacher she didn't like much, but I think she realises that she does need to do it anyway. Maths & English should be easy enough for her & she is actually very creative, especially with music & drama & she always does very well with these subjects.

I think she would have given up the more creative subjects in favour of gaining more academic GCSEs, thinking thats what she needed to do to follow her dream, so thats actually great news from our POV toosmile. Her only weaker subject is languages, which thankfully she wont need, so I think shes going to be very relieved to see the replies on this thread

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Needmoresleep Thu 18-Aug-16 18:34:25

There is a whole industry around medical school applications. You could spend a fortune and some clearly do.

However as a first step look at

then perhaps at a couple of University websites.

Birmingham, Nottingham and Cardiff are considered to give relatively high weight to GCSEs. Their criteria will change a little year to year, but will give an indication of the standards they are looking for. No need to do more than 9 GCSEs. This then gives a bit of margin for a weak grade in one.

Bristol's criteria are another outlier is that they give very heavy weight to non academic achievements. Somewhere on The Student Room menu is a table summarising criteria by medical school. It does not seem to be updated regularly but is a useful first tool.

RockinHippy Thu 18-Aug-16 18:40:26

Ok, I take it back, shes just informed me she liked her physics teacher, but just hates physics

Will she actually need physics ?

She tells me that she will have other options which she thinks might be more relevant, such as Nutritional Sciences. She thinks she will have to do Physics, but is hoping another subject might work instead ?

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RockinHippy Thu 18-Aug-16 18:42:41

Thank you Needs that looks very useful info, I will pass the link onto her

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Needmoresleep Thu 18-Aug-16 18:53:07

At GCSE she should take as many trad subjects as possible. Yes she might get away with nutritional science but it could restrict her choice of medical school.

She should do triple science if she can. Not least because with increased use of imaging within hospital mediccine, it will be important in some specialisations to have at least a basic knowledge of physics. Physics A level is less important, though one of maths or physics along with Chemistry and ideally Biology is a strong combination.

Decorhate Thu 18-Aug-16 20:17:14

She will have to do physics as part of her GCSE course (and I would also encourage her to do triple science - if she's good at science it's an easy way to get 3 GCSEs.

I doubt if it's essential for A Level. At one stage my dd thought about doing history instead.

Re the foreign language, most schools would encourage pupils to do one for GCSE - my daughter did German & hated it and the teacher but still managed to get a good mark.

bojorojo Thu 18-Aug-16 22:17:48

It was Bristol that liked the PE! I don't think Biology is expected everywhere.

goodbyestranger Thu 18-Aug-16 22:38:07

My advice would be to be very careful about statements made as fact on this forum! Certainly if it were true that you had to work week in week out in a hospice/ care home type setting my DS wouldn't have got a single offer, let alone three out of four (Oxford, Imperial and Birmingham said yes; Bristol said no before interview). What he did do was work regularly for several years at the same cafe to earn money, because he needed to, but not in any medical setting. Agree completely with all Needmoresleep says too, re. subjects, grades etc.

Needmoresleep Thu 18-Aug-16 22:51:26

I don't think anyone is saying that A level biology is required everywhere. However it is required in a number of places and the general message was that in Yr 9 you keep as many doors open as possible.

If at the start of yr 13 you find yourself with a low UKCAT score you either take a risk with BMAT or hope your GCSEs are good enough for those that give strong weighting to GCSE. And you probably don't want to rule out places looking at biology A level.

This is essentially what happened to DD, though she also decided not to take BMAT. Luckily Bristol are a bit of an outlier and focus on the personal statement.

DD looked at taking PE A level as she had four sports at County level or above. In the end she decided it was not worth it. She had already picked up quite a lot via her training so there did not seem much point. Instead she took electronics AS as an additional 'fun' A level and kept it up to A2 as she thinks she is interested in the interface between medicine and medical engineering.

randomsabreuse Thu 18-Aug-16 23:07:50

A while ago but my DH is a vet and has only minimal GCSEs - enough to do A-Levels only. German is the better language for sciency types to learn because it is logical and rules based at GCSE level. Or something like Russian which is even more rules based.

Would be tempted to work back from uni requirements - then requirements for 6th form to study them. Traditional academic subjects are generally better regarded

SockQueen Thu 18-Aug-16 23:14:43

Absolutely no need for PE, especially if it would put her health at risk. Other posters are right about it being both a physically and mentally demanding course though, so she will need to be ready for that.

Also, while staying local for uni isn't necessarily a problem, do bear in mind that she will have to go on placements to other hospitals in the area, which might not be easily commutable (most unis will provide hospital accommodation for students out on placement).

Send her to The Student Room, as someone else has already suggested, lots of info there.

peteneras Fri 19-Aug-16 04:52:13

Your DD would be much better off doing RE instead of PE for A level - together with 3 sciences which include Chemistry (Maths counts as a science).

Loads of ethical questions in RE which modern doctors will undoubtedly have to face in their career.

Include RE at GCSE to take it forward to A level later. This essay writing paper adds flair to all the non-essay science papers. Doctors have to write long and accurate reports too!

RockinHippy Fri 19-Aug-16 12:47:39

Thanks everyone, this has been really useful smile

Shes had a look on the student room link, plus she has managed to dig up this years GCSE choices on her school website, we also found the entry page for our local Med school, which she is adamant is where she will go. For lots of reasons that make a lot of sense anyway, not least because its on our doorstep & will make a big difference to finances. We do have a nest of hospitals within easy reach of here, so I can see that she would likely be on placements at any of those, but transport links are excellent, but thats way off yet

The Uni wants Biology & Chemistry A levels, which she loves, goes onto say that most people do Maths or Physics as a 3rd A level & that is acceptable, but they highly recommend the 3rd A level to be Humanities or the Arts as its more rounded, which sounds like a very good fit for her.

Her school DO do triple science, but only for the most able students only. She is now panicking that after so long off school, she wont qualify to take this, but she finished up by saying that she has a few months yet to convince them that she can do it. I cant see any problem with her getting accepted for Triple Science, shes more than kept up on the relevant lessons with her EOTAS tutors & is very studious & is top sets for most subjects, shes exceptionally bright, but weirdly lacks so much confidence in how clever she isconfused.

Turns out that RE is one of the compulsory GCSEs at her school, which she doesn't mind doing, shes recognised as been excellent at English & essay/story writing, she also has a good head for holding info, so any subject based on these skills she should do well in, shes also very interested in & accepting of different cultures, her friendship group has always been like the UN smile

The Uni DO put a lot of store on GCSEs too & it looks like all applicants also have to sit the BMAT (hope I remembered the lettering correctly)

She surprised us with her Arts choices, which we both hope she will change her mind. At present, shes insisting she will take the Art & Design GCSE, which though she has always been good at in the past, (G&T etc) she has lost interest, refused me to teach her anything at home, & her last few school reports were good, but not excellent. Music & Drama on the other hand, she loves, has always been good at & has managed to keep up with despite her ill health & her last few school reports were all excellent, so seems a bit of an odd choiceconfused Though there may be a new photography GCSE added & if so, she is very keen to take that one instead, again a hobby of hers & shes won competitions etc, so it could make more sense.

Her school do offer Latin as a GCSE language choice, & push to take a language. So this sounds like a good idea to me as she wont have missed anything & she will start the lessons on equal footing, something that she really stresses about with other languages, especially now having missed so much school.
I'm also thinking that it might be a useful language for medicine, would that be right ??

What is the UKCAT score please ??

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randomsabreuse Fri 19-Aug-16 12:56:22

Latin is a great language and useful for medical terms - very much an academic subject and when I did it included translation and history.

DH went to Cambridge with 5 or 6 GCSEs so in unusual (illness) circumstances anything is possible!

Needmoresleep Fri 19-Aug-16 13:08:46

Easier if you simply type UKCAT into Google!

RockinHippy Fri 19-Aug-16 13:14:40

Thanks you Random that is VERY reassuring smile

I did Needs, but it came up with all sorts, none of which looked relevant - will try again though with different wording

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