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Help - wrong A level choice for medicine

(65 Posts)
itwillbebetter Fri 04-Nov-16 08:46:51

DS1 is 6 weeks into 6 form. He took A levels in Physics, Chemistry and Maths with the hope to do degree in either pure physics or medicine. When we researched medicine it seemed that Chemistry was preferable over biology (which seemed odd) Son is now leaning to medicine more than physics and is starting to panic that biology would've been the better bet.
Should he think about dropping maths to try and catch up in biology? He can only take 3 at his school.But by dropping maths he rules out degree in physics if he doesn't make medicine.
Also I am concerned that his GCSE results will not be strong enough. He got 7 A*/A's but also 3 C's (in subjects that are not relevant to either physics or medicine) Would the 3 c's damage his chances against those with a raft of all A's, or will a strong personal statement and work experience override that?
Too many decisions!

Abraiid2 Fri 04-Nov-16 08:49:56

Chemistry Is the important a level for medicine and there are plenty of medical schools that don't ask for biology; or for one of biology OR chemistry.

hellsbells99 Fri 04-Nov-16 08:51:15

Chemistry is the essential subject. Quite a few universities ask for chemistry and biology but not all. Student room gives a lot of information on what the different universities want and then check each universities website. I know a second year medic who took AS biology in year 13 to help his application but not the full A level.

Abraiid2 Fri 04-Nov-16 08:52:55

Some medical schools such as Cardiff, Nottingham, Leicester and Birmingham place more emphasis on GCSEs than others do. English language is another GCSE you really do need an A or A* in or at least a B to be competitive.

Some medical schools such as Exeter place more emphasis on A level predictions or achieved grades plus UKCAT.

PurpleDaisies Fri 04-Nov-16 08:54:10

I've never seen any undergraduate medical degree where you don't need chemistry abraiid. I don't think you're correct in candidates needing biology OR chemistry. It's true that don't need A level biology for many medical degrees.

Op does your son have any work experience? That will hamper his application much more than not having a level biology.

mudandmayhem01 Fri 04-Nov-16 08:55:22

You can only pick 4 medical schools when you apply through ucas, there are plenty to choose from that accept chemistry and any second science or maths. Also his GCSES are fine, look at Liverpool university as an example of how scoring for GCSE is undertaken by some universities. 6 weeks is a long way in and it would be very difficult to catch up.

MidnightHag Fri 04-Nov-16 08:57:42

Surprisingly, Chemistry is the only must- have A level subject and Biology is not necessary. With regard to the GCSE grades, research is key. Some units do look for a lot of A* s but a lot don't. My son only got a couple, but still got into Sheffield (Russell group). What will help: being predicted all As at A2. A good BMAT result and good work experience at the "dirty" end of medicine. My DS did a year of being a HCA in our local hospital.

Bluntness100 Fri 04-Nov-16 09:01:49

Tough one on the GCSEs, bottom line pretty much all kids try to have a strong personal statement. Work experience can be helpful.

University Places are offered based on predicted grades and also clearly performance at gcse, and yes, someone with ten As is a better performer on paper than someone with seven.

However, as my daughter has just went through the application process a year or so ago, each uni has different entrance levels, so some require three As at a level. Others an A and two bs, it depends on the uni and how "good " they are i.e. A Russel group uni will have stricter entrance requirements than a non Russel group.

Offers tend to be conditional and then they are made unconditional the day the a level results come in, so he will get a place.

I would say of my daughters friends and my friends kids, maths is the one a level that seems to cause the most problems, it's a very hard subject, and even kids with an A star at gcse have struggled to get anything close at a level and it has cost them the uni place of their choice and ended up at different unis via clearance. Nearly all thought doing maths was a mistake unless it was something they loved. How does he like math? If he thinks it's going to be tough, drop it now.

There is so much pressure on kids now, it's awful,

Abraiid2 Fri 04-Nov-16 09:04:29

East Anglia
Don't require chemistry A level.

catslife Fri 04-Nov-16 09:04:48

Now that many sixth forms are only offering 3 subjects in Y12 rather than 4 (and dropping one at the end of Y12), I think there will be a bit more flexibility on A level requirements.
You are correct that Chemistry is the key A level subject. The new linear A level Chemistry has a slightly higher mathematical content than the old syllabus and Maths skills are definitely needed for Physics as well. So I wouldn't recommend dropping Maths and starting Biology. For medicine he needs high A level grades across the board and Maths will help with both the other subjects.

mudandmayhem01 Fri 04-Nov-16 09:07:27

GCSE requirements for medicine
Obviously many students have far higher than the basics, but my school had three students who got into medicine last year and their GCSE grades ranged from 5A*s 2 As to 7 A*s and some Ba and Cs. They all got A*AA or A*A*A at A level though. Work experience and a genuine commitment to the 6Cs of care is vital.

pestov Fri 04-Nov-16 09:08:41

Leaning to medicine at the start of y12 is rarely good enough. He needs as much work experience as possible coupled with strong academic achievement. To get the honest answers look at each uni on
UCAS to see typical offers including GCSE profile, and work from there. AS Biology may not be an option due to new linear syllabus

Veterinari Fri 04-Nov-16 09:10:05

Medicine and physics are quite different courses leading to different careers. Has he done any medicine-related work experience to help him refine his choices? This would be necessary for a medicine application anyway. The subjects he's chosen are fine for either course, but he needs to consider his aptitude and relevant experience to select an appropriate university course.

Abraiid2 Fri 04-Nov-16 09:10:09

They both say biology or chemistry A level, as does, I believe, Peninsula.

One of my children is applying this year and I have spent some time combing websites.

Chuckie88 Fri 04-Nov-16 09:10:17

Only chemistry is essential. You won't find a medical school that doesn't accept an undergraduate student without chemistry. There's some research that show a correlation between good chemistry grades and good medicine students. Biology is very useful but isn't always a mandatory subject depending on where you apply to.

Re GCSEs again it depends on which subjects your son got Cs in. Bad news if they include English or Maths. That would be a hindrance.

At this time your DS subjects are fine for most med schools but he will need to apply strategically to places that suit his A level subject mix and GCSE grades eg not Oxford.

PurpleDaisies Fri 04-Nov-16 09:15:17

I'm amazed that Newcastle does say biology and/or chemistry. That's definitely new in the past few years. Biology isn't such a good differentiator as chemistry when you're looking for the top students but maybe since the widespread use of the BMAT they find that's better instead. There's still a hugely restricted choice without chemistry and I'd seriotslh question why any prospective medical student hadn't chosen to take it.

PurpleDaisies Fri 04-Nov-16 09:16:24

Only chemistry is essential. You won't find a medical school that accepts an undergraduate student without chemistry.

We're out of date chuckie-there are one or two.

Abraiid2 Fri 04-Nov-16 09:18:03

From the Newcastle website just now:

AAA including Chemistry and/or Biology at A or AS level and excluding General Studies and Critical Thinking. For Biology, Chemistry and Physics A levels, we require a pass in the practical element. If only one of Biology and/or Chemistry is offered at A or AS level, the other should be offered at GCSE grade A (or Dual Award Science grade A).

mudandmayhem01 Fri 04-Nov-16 09:18:33

I think pestov point is the most important, students who have been successful in getting into medicine have generally been dedicated to the cause from Y10/11. The sort of student who if I am putting up a poster in the sixth form common room about a day's clinical experience at a local hospital will say oh I have already emailed the hospital about that one Miss!

Abraiid2 Fri 04-Nov-16 09:21:40

Nothing like coming onto MN to start you doubting yourself!

Here is UEA:

A Level AAA including Biology/Human Biology and either Physics or Chemistry. Science A levels must include a pass in the practical element.

Chuckie88 Fri 04-Nov-16 09:29:09

purple and abraiid. I am indeed out of date. Where else apart from Newcastle and UEA accept without chemistry?

Abraiid2 Fri 04-Nov-16 09:32:07

Peninsula? Not sure if it's changed, though,

lljkk Fri 04-Nov-16 09:38:25

UEA: "'A2 Biology is our required subject along with a second A-Level Science from Chemistry or Physics. Chemistry is not mandatory as the relevant Biochemistry required for our degree is taught in A Level Biology."

on same page, though, it looks to me like OP's DC GCSE results might not be good enough, though, UEA taken into account the top 9.

I couldn't find any info on Newcastle to contradict other posts...

Requirements summary for all UK medical schools booklet looks very helpful for OP.

Medicine is a huge merry-go-round of tests & hurdles. What about biomedicine instead? Or paramedic medicine.

Chuckie88 Fri 04-Nov-16 09:42:55

Just looked at Peninsula website and they seem to be asking for both chemistry and biology A grades for 2917 entry.

Chuckie88 Fri 04-Nov-16 09:43:34

2017 entry ... oops

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