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Disappointing AS Results- Any advice?

(47 Posts)
TheHumanRace Fri 18-Aug-17 14:53:28

So DS had been hoping to apply in October to do PPE so would need 3 A's predicted.

AS results today, he got B (politics), C (bioloigy)and E in chemistry. He knew he was finding chemistry hard but had been hoping for A's in the other 2 subjects so disappointment all round.

He wants to drop chemistry and take another subject so will be looking at another year in 6th form.

He would still like to aim for PPE and 3 A's.

Should he retake politics and biology and start a new subject, or do 2nd year in those and then an extra year of just one subject? IYSWIM?

We're floundering here on what to advise and waiting for school to get in touch.

Any advice gratefully received. At the moment he feels an extra year in 6th form is a disaster sad.

BizzyFizzy Fri 18-Aug-17 15:00:39

PPE is offered by a wide range of universities, with a corresponding wide range of acamic requirements.

Obviously, AS grades don't carry now, so he could soldier on in UVI.

What I would recommend is getting a copy of his scripts to see where he went wrong.

I know it is really hard on a student to carry on to A2 when they get a D or an E at AS, but if they could pinpoint the reasons, then perhaps something could be salvaged. Obviously, he enjoyed chemistry once.

If he decides to go the 3 year sixth form route, he should think very carefully about his choice of subjects. Could he pick up RS or Maths? Or Economics, of course.

Why does he want to do PPE when he has originally chosen two sciences?

TheHumanRace Fri 18-Aug-17 15:11:54

He wants to do PPE as he enjoys politics the most and was enjoying chemistry the least. He has been focused on top grade unis e.g manchester, York, edinburgh where 3 A's were needed, and he wants to stick with this, and try for the grades over 3 years if needed.

He would like to do economics but his school did not offer it last year. Other subjects he could consider are history, english lit, business studies. His maths is not strong enough for A level, although he did get an A at GCSE, he didn't do it early.

His politics AS does count towards his final A the other 2 don't.

Thanks for offering some advice. What does UVI mean?

Gannet123 Fri 18-Aug-17 15:16:17

From an admissions tutor perspective (and I don't do PPE), the issue with restarting some but not others is that the A levels get spread over three years. So if, say, he finished Politics and Biology next year (and his AS Politics will carry over because it's not being reformed until next year) and did his first year of one further subject he could (if he doesn't do ASs next year,) do politics and biology exams next year and then be doing just 1 subject, rather than 3, the year after - which spreads the load. Competitive universities would not like that - they want 3 A levels at one sitting. It might be worth identifying which universities he's targetting and contacting their Admissions departments to find out what their policies would be in that situation - it's quite an individual thing. But they might want him to start 3 new A levels from scratch....
Anecdotally, the sciences were really tough this year and a lot of students fell short of predictions, so there may be some flexibility there. You can only ask....But picking up Maths would help - some tutors on competitive courses may be concerned about weak performance in sciences for a subject where strong maths would be a real benefit, so picking up Maths could assist with that.

SuperPug Fri 18-Aug-17 15:30:10

Depending on unfietgoes

SuperPug Fri 18-Aug-17 15:32:08

Aargh phone keyboard issues.
Is it perhaps better to restart? I'm not sure if your son was given the best advice re: A Levels. From experience, I thought that Maths A Level was a requirement for most PPE degrees. And a better selection of A Levels would be Maths/ History/ Politics/ RS/ English.

TheHumanRace Fri 18-Aug-17 15:42:32

Maths A level is not a requirement for many PPE courses, some which are very maths/economics focused such as Durham and LSE want maths most others don't.

I didn't know that A levels spread over 3 years could count against him. Blimey that makes a decision even harder!

He wouldn't want to to totally restart 3 subjects as he loves politics, is usually good at biology and was expecting A's in both of these this year.

BertrandRussell Fri 18-Aug-17 15:50:04

Where s he thinking of going?

voilets Fri 18-Aug-17 15:54:13

My DS took a 3rd year. He achieved A B C in yr 13. Got a job and went to school partime and retook 2 A levels. So he then achieved A and A* and carried forward his B.
Is at a top RG course, very competitive and is thriving . Now going to Yr 3 of a 4 year course.

Gannet123 Fri 18-Aug-17 15:58:21

Email the Admissions teams - they will advise. They may accept resits or taking A levels over 3 years, but not on the same terms as students doing it over 2 years. They may be more lenient due to new qualifications. They are the only ones who can tell you what their policy is and that will inform your decision. The experience of others may be different - within one university, the admissions policy may differ from course to course.

TheHumanRace Fri 18-Aug-17 16:01:08

He was thinking of applying to:
manchester PPE
Leeds PPE
Nottingham PPE
Edinburgh
International realtions

LockedOutOfMN Fri 18-Aug-17 16:02:13

Agree with SuperPug. Could you and your DS have a meeting with the school's Higher Education adviser to clarify the options that are available to him now?

BizzyFizzy Fri 18-Aug-17 16:05:56

His Biology will be a clean slate next year as it's a reformed subject. He needs to find out what went wrong - by getting a copy of his scripts, and also analysing grade boundaries (he might have been one mark off an A).

Biology is a very tricky jump from GCSE to AS, because it suddenly becomes very specific and very wordy. As he progresses with his Politics studies, his literacy and critical thinking will improve which will complement Biology.

The universities you are looking at are AAA - AAB. Are As realistic in Politics and Biology. Is a B out of reach for Chemistry?

With Sciences being reformed, it's a clean slate, but he needs to understand why he has not risen to the Chemistry challenge. It's a totally new subject compared to GCSE as it very much deals with things that can't be seen, and very much draws on process and logic.

However, the AS modules in Chemistry are much easier when taken as part of A2. A2 students are much more fluent in Chemistry after an extra year's study. My DD got an A in her AS by 1 mark, and missed an A* at A2 by 1 mark - so she basically improved by a whole grade. When I was teaching modular A-level, I would automatically re-enter students for module 3 as they would always improve their new skills and learning.

A lot of students in his cohort will not have sat AS exams in Biology and Chemistry. They will be going straight to A2.

LockedOutOfMN Fri 18-Aug-17 16:08:33

Leeds prefer Maths, OP, and, in my - narrow - experience, only give offers for PPE without it if grades are superb at GCSE / AS. I think it would a long shot, especially without Economics A Level either.

As his biology and chemistry results this year don't count towards his final grades I would focus on improving in them over the coming year, perhaps with the help of a tutor? If he looks at the entry criteria for the courses that interest him (grade criteria, I mean), then he will know what he needs to aim for in June.

I wish him every success.

reallybadidea Fri 18-Aug-17 16:09:04

You know around 90% of PPE candidates at Oxford do have A Level Maths? What did he get in it at GCSE?

BizzyFizzy Fri 18-Aug-17 16:10:33

The universities you have listed will all be AAA - AAB. He needs to come up with a range. There would be no point in narrowing down to, say, Manchester and Leeds, because if he misses one, he will miss the others.

I recommended to my kids to have 2 AAA, 2 AAB/ABB and a BBB/BBC.

Bobbiepin Fri 18-Aug-17 16:15:15

I would be very sceptical about starting an AS for a year as AS qualifications will not help him get into university, especially not those he is looking at. If he's already on e A levels (assuming he dropped one mid year?) then he needs to finish with those 3. Although chemistry won't carry through it would be very difficult to make such a huge improvement in one year.

If this is a career path he is set on, then you may want to consider resitting year 12, maybe with morr suitable subjects.

Aftershock15 Fri 18-Aug-17 16:41:15

He will not be able to apply to his choices this year anyway as surely his predicted grades will be too low to even be considered. So even if he carries on he will need somewhere with lower grades for this UCAS round and then hope his final results are much better and try and upgrade or reapply for the following year.

SuperPug Fri 18-Aug-17 18:22:07

It's very difficult for A Level students at the moment.
I was referring to Oxford and other unis which do require Maths. You mentioned your son hoping for AAA so I assumed that these unis were, initially, within his grasp.
Generally, the advice pre A Level in terms of suitable A Levels for certain degrees isn't great. If he's applying for a competitive course and a competitive uni, the more traditional A Levels are a safer bet. So I would be inclined not to choose Business Studies. Not because it is an easy A Level (it isn't), but unfortunately it won't always be taken as seriously as Economics etc.
However, many excellent unis with courses that should already be full were part of the clearing process. Is this an option?
Generally, the leap from C/B to A is possible but I would be concerned about the E. If he is set against restarting, perhaps an A Level in a year (although I imagine this would be intense and require extra tuition) be a possibility?

BubblesBuddy Fri 18-Aug-17 19:17:17

Wouldn't the Economics part of PPE be a stretch without Maths A level? Politics would be easer to get into. I would have thought History may have been a better choice than Politics too for PPE.

Do many lower tarif universities offer PPE? It tends to be RG ones I thought. I would be more realistic over choice of degree personally.

LockedOutOfMN Fri 18-Aug-17 19:23:34

Aftershock15 The unis will only see his B for AS Politics and his GCSE results.

OP, what were his GCSE results like? For Maths GCSE he will need an A or A* I believe for the 3 unis you mentioned for PPE, (as he hasn't done Maths AS or A Level) and most if not all others. If he doesn't, a politics degree might be more appropriate, or international relations.

What does he want to do?

crazycatgal Fri 18-Aug-17 19:32:37

@BubblesBuddy why would history be better than politics for PPE? When I was at uni (last year) most students on Politics or PPE courses had already studied Politics at A level.

I would also suggest to OP that perhaps he should look into an Economics A level if possible? One of my friends was studying a economics degree without the A level and found it hard and dropped out.

Lucysky2017 Fri 18-Aug-17 19:45:23

Why not consider an easier to get into subject but at the best university he can get into? Also my sons' friends this year who have not got into first or second choice universities have all been the boys who applied to places they had not much chance of getting into. Some did not have a good second choice back up with much easier grades and now pay the price.
Also looka t his GCSE grades and see if they are really putting him in the AAA level or if he's more likely to be BBC at A level and applying to the BBC kind of level of university.

d270r0 Fri 18-Aug-17 19:54:48

I think the best thing for him to do is carry on with the A levels for politics and biology, but also resit the AS exams he did badly in. He can also choose a diffeent subject to sit AS next year.

Then in his third year he will be able to continue with the A level for the third subject, but also have another chance at physics and biology to resit any modules he might possible need to.

It all depends on the school and whether they will be happy for him to do this but I think its the best option.

BubblesBuddy Fri 18-Aug-17 20:14:34

crazycat. Looking at the most competitive course, the most useful subjects are listed as Maths and History. Politics is ok as a third subject but the others are preferred and offered by the majority of candidates. No doubt other universities are less bothered but would anyone want to study economics at degree level without maths A level? A total struggle one oils think.

Most Politics courses do not require Politics A level. It's nice to have but not as good as History. Lots of schools don't offer it either.

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