A level Maths online

(19 Posts)
moid33 Tue 12-Dec-17 21:50:45

My son got a high 5 in GCSE maths and the sixth form college has not allowed him to do A level Maths. They wanted a 7,

He wants to do computer science at Uni. He decided independently that he would study A level Maths himself. So far so good he has been working through the syallabus. A uni student has been helping him.

His other A levels are English Language and History.

Recently he was in the top 10% of the Babras computational challenge, the highest in lower 6th and third in the college. He is off to the next round in Oxford.

I am trying to get an idea of how hard the A level is? Whether he has realistic chance of passing doing it himself? I am now thinking that I need to get him a proper teacher as his tutor.

Any thoughts?

OP’s posts: |
Ullathegreat Wed 13-Dec-17 18:12:44

Good for him! it's ridiculous that his school won't let him study maths at A Level. The how hard question is difficult to answer because what is relatively easy for one person can be impossible for another. Have you thought about one of the online A level courses, maybe combined with a tutor if and when he gets stuck? I don't have personal experience, but these all seem legitimate, www.ool.co.uk/



moid33 Wed 13-Dec-17 18:34:38

Such a nice message, thank you.

That is exactly what we are doing - an online course with a tutor. We are one term in and I am trying to think ahead.

He definitely has a brain that gets patterns, good natural chess player and this computational challenge thing I understand was pretty impressive. He goes to a pretty pucker state sixth form college with a Home Counties catchment and he was third in the College and top 10% in the country. And the college still don't want to engage.😡

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titchy Wed 13-Dec-17 18:40:37

If he that bright how come he only got a 5 at GCSE? Were there extenuating circumstances?

If not and the 5 is a genuine reflection of his ability in Maths exams then he's likely to struggle to get more than an E at A level. Statistically I think a U more likely.

moid33 Wed 13-Dec-17 19:25:09

Hi Titchy - you may well be right, time will tell. I am not a mamathician so have no real way of judging his skills. I know in other subjects he has a real talent.

Extenuating circumstances, growing up, has been tricky for him. He has missed some schooling and maybe missed some foundations.

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Oscha Wed 13-Dec-17 19:42:25

I would contact some very experienced Maths Tutors (I know several if you want to PM me) and ask them their opinion. I tutor English and often teach the entire A level out of school (eg homeschooled students or those in similar situations to your son), but it does require huge dedication on the part of the student and a strong work ethic.

LoniceraJaponica Wed 13-Dec-17 22:58:41

"Good for him! it's ridiculous that his school won't let him study maths at A Level"

It isn't. Titchy is right. If a student can only achieve a level 5 then they will really struggle at A level. DD took her GCSEs last year under the old grading system and many of the A* students are struggling to get more than a B in their work. You couldn't do A level maths at DD's school with less than an A.


moid33 Thu 14-Dec-17 06:25:50

I had a long chat last night with his tutor. He has no concerns at the moment but of course the lower 6th maths is the easiest.

That is the message that I hear, that 'A' GCSE students often struggle.
Ah well time will tell.

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GHGN Thu 14-Dec-17 06:32:56

There will be stories about people who got whatever at GCSE and went on to 'smash' A Level Maths in one night/day/week/month etc but in general, anything less than an A will be very very likely lead to a U. For a new spec, it is even less reliable for the teachers to predict good grade. If he is only doing 3 subjects, it can be a problem so you just need to make sure you keep track of his progress and prepare for the worst case scenario.

moid33 Thu 14-Dec-17 20:07:15

He is doing 3 A'levels at College and 1 outside. So 4 in total. He was doing another AS level but we dropped that earlier rather than later.

Anyway I am not a pushy mum which is maybe one of the reasons he didn't get his backside in gear for his GCSE's.

He believes that he can do and is aware that if he nails this it would be USP for his uni degree applications. Anyway if I didn't think he had a problem solving, logical brain I would try and let him down gently. But actually, maybe he can do it so I have to support him. Failure isn't the end of the world.

If that is really true about anything less than an A means U that is a s**t system. As the country is crying out for STEM graduates it is a ridiculous system.

Thanks it has been useful to work through this.

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titchy Thu 14-Dec-17 20:48:05

The previous poster meant anything less than an A at GCSE would probably lead to a U at A Level - not that anything less than an A at A level was worthless!

For B and C grade kids at gcse (so 4, 5 and 6 in the new grades) there is Use of Maths A level (or something like that!) for kids that want to continue Maths but aren't up to the A level. (Statistics A Level is another option.) Not that many places offer it though sadly - blame Gove.

If you want to give him a shot you need a tutor familiar with the new spec of A level - a student won't have that so try and supplement the tutoring with some expertise.

moid33 Thu 14-Dec-17 22:04:57

Good point titchy.

I will see if I can get some additional 'teacher' expertise.

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Ullathegreat Thu 14-Dec-17 22:28:03

How can anyone say that "anything less than an A at GCSE would probably lead to a U at A level?" Is this specific to Maths, or considered a universal truism?

GCSEs do not measure intelligence or potential. Children underperform at GCSE for any manner of reason at the age of 15/16: immaturity; lack of confidence; mediocre teaching; hormones; sheer boredom; even "giftedness", to name a few. They do a lot of growing up between GCSE and A Level. For some, the curriculum is more interesting or they have their sights set on a university place; that can make a difference.

None of us on Mumsnet can possibly know the situation or academic potential of OP's DS. So yes, it is perfectly possible that he is on track for a U; but it's equally possible that with hard work and good teaching (I agree about lining up some good tutors!), he could be on track for an A. His performance on the computational challenge indicates a degree of mathematical ability, and he clearly is motivated.

titchy Thu 14-Dec-17 22:42:56

It's specific to Maths ulla. (I think actually statistically a B grade gcse student's most likely A level grade is E not U.) Most other subjects the most likely grade is one below that achieved at GCSE.

Obviously that's on average across the entire cohort - so extrapolate to individuals with caution.

ApplesTheHare Thu 14-Dec-17 22:44:34

OP tbh it sounds like the college are trying to do your son a favour. Several close friends and my DH were studying maths at university - all having got there after finding A level maths a breeze and by consistently achieving top marks in the history of their schools, etc. - and they all struggled as it's such a massive leap up from A level. If your son is struggling now unfortunately it's unlikely he'll go on to be successful at university. Computer science is also incredibly hard at university but that's not to say your DS couldn't look at other routes in to working with computers/in IT. It might be worth trying to find out more about which parts of computer science he's interested in and why to break down the best way to get him there. Fwiw my DH ended up dropping out of maths and CS but now happily has his own computer programming business, so the super academic route isn't the only option smile

ApplesTheHare Thu 14-Dec-17 22:49:00

Ulla unfortunately a degree of mathematical ability and motivation isn't anywhere near enough to get a maths degree. Even the most talented of my friends - think ' most gifted maths student in a generation' kind of person - struggled.

moid33 Fri 15-Dec-17 00:08:26

I am only talking about Maths A level and then a computer science degree, not a Maths degree.

At this point this is what he wants to do. Who knows where we will be in 2 years time?

Anyway it is a change from talking about and just realised the time..

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titchy Fri 15-Dec-17 07:57:04

A final suggestion - put him in for AS Maths next summer - it won't count towards an A level grade, but will give him (and you!) an opportunity to see how he's really doing, rather than how the tutor says he's doing.

titchy Fri 15-Dec-17 08:12:39

A final final suggestion! If a computer science degree is the aim, not all universities need A level maths. The better ranked ones do, but some will offer a Foundation year for those without the correct A levels.

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