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Should DS resit an A level to turn AAB into AAA?

(33 Posts)
fluffyhamster Sun 27-Jan-19 14:59:53

DS is in first year of a Maths / Computer Science degree.

He was predicted A*AAA in A levels but got AABB, which was a shock to both him and us!

He chose to go to his insurance offer uni, rather than gap year and resits. So he is now at a well-respected Top 20 Russell Group, rather than his Top 10 first choice.

One of his Bs was actually in Computer Science which he was hugely embarrassed about. He says he just misjudged the volume of revision required / left it too late so didn't know enough (as opposed to not understanding it).

He's started applying for summer jobs/internships etc but has so far been unsuccessful. Someone has told him it might be because a lot of the top employers look for AAA minimum in A levels as a pre-screener. Anyone know if there is any truth in this?

Theoretically, it would be possible for him to take his A level Computer Science papers again this summer to try to improve his grade. He was about 4.5% short of an A last time.
Some of the content is similar to his First Year uni courses and he still has all his notes/ practice papers etc.
I guess if he worked hard, there is even a chance he could improve it to an A*.

Any thoughts on whether this is a good or bad idea?

I'm inclined to let him try, as he still has a thing about how he feels he "let himself down" in his A levels. However if he did improve it to an A, then it means he will have the grades that would have got him into his first choice uni and I am worried that he may begin to regret not having taken the year out, resat and reapplied.

But equally, I'd like him to have the best chances for success in future employment...

OP’s posts: |
fluffyhamster Sun 27-Jan-19 15:04:06

Oh, and his first year uni exam marks don't count towards his final degree - he just has to pass with 40% hmm to progress into the second year. So far he's achieved 75%-90% in all his work.

OP’s posts: |
ErrolTheDragon Sun 27-Jan-19 15:49:21

Has he discussed this with his uni tutor? Not having any luck yet with internships may simply be that a lot of them don't really want first years - I don't know to what extent they judge on A levels. And this year with brexit uncertainties there may be fewer internships on offer.

celtiethree Sun 27-Jan-19 15:50:13

I think he's probably failing to get an internship as he is applying for between 1st and 2nd year - employers IME target those between 2nd and 3rd, or 3rd and 4th depending on length of degree.

Personally I'd focus in doing well in his degree rather than look back,

ErrolTheDragon Sun 27-Jan-19 15:59:51

I'm not convinced that resitting would help - on a CV you usually list your qualifications with the year they were gained. Having a CS A level listed as being acquired a year into a maths/CS degree might be a bit WTF.

fluffyhamster Sun 27-Jan-19 16:06:37

The internships/summer schemes are all ones which accept/ target first years, they weren't the ones for penultimate year students, so I don't think this was the case.

OP’s posts: |
dingit Sun 27-Jan-19 16:45:48

Not computer science, and second year, but my dd has secured her placement with BBB, many of her friends with higher grades haven't.

uzfrdiop Sun 27-Jan-19 17:12:44

So he is now at a well-respected Top 20 Russell Group, rather than his Top 10 first choice.

This all sounds completely nuts.

Dropping out, retaking an A level and starting again would mean an extra year of fees, and losing at least a year, probably two.

Graduates from top 20 universities in Maths actually do very well in the job market. Indeed if salary is all you are interested in, then salaries don't actually necessarily go in line with rankings (and rankings change all the time). Doing finance or data science type options within the maths degree would put a student in a good place for jobs.

Doing a fourth year (MMath or MSc) would be a far better use of time and money than trying to move a B to an A and go to a "better" university. (Which might not even be better - the very top universities would want more than AAA for Maths, insisting on an A star in Maths and perhaps another A star too. Those that will take AAA or AAB in Clearing really aren't that different to each other.)

This is really totally nuts. As pp wrote, many internships are (a) very competitive and (b) favour second year students over first year students. For four year degrees, second year isn't penultimate, so he may well be competing against second year students.

It's also really not true about screening based on AAA.

uzfrdiop Sun 27-Jan-19 17:13:41

Also it's incredibly early to say he is unsuccessful - there are still many more schemes that haven't made offers yet.

Somerville Sun 27-Jan-19 17:16:56

Internships are weird this year because of Brexit uncertainty. I've heard that from various sources.

Anyway, he needs to work hard and get a first in his degree. That matters a lot more than one grade in one subject.

jeanne16 Sun 27-Jan-19 17:21:42

Also although 1st does not not count towards his degree, if he applies for a 2nd year internship, he will be asked for his 1st year results. He really must try to get a 2.1 or 1st in his 1st year otherwise he will really struggle to get a 2nd year internship. This is far more important than his A levels.

1st year internships are really hard to get. Try to get some work experience that he can include on his cv.

SpoonBlender Sun 27-Jan-19 17:23:26

Hell no, absolutely not.
A level results are only of use to get you to university.
University results are pretty much only useful for your first job, after which your CV content is past jobs.

It's never worth spending a whole year doing something as pointless as bumping a B to an A, when you could be working on getting a first or 2:1 or whatever in the university course. Total waste of life.

Eve Sun 27-Jan-19 17:30:05

Summer internships are incredibly competitive and often looking for lots of wider skills than just results.

Maybe work on his Cv, make sure it demonstrates team and leadership skills.

DS ( engineering degree) got turned down for all the 1st year summer internships he applied for but placement applications for 3rd year are going well. A good set of 1st year results is key plus a summer of work where he took charge of a catering team at festivals seems to have helped.

LosingHerMissMarbles Sun 27-Jan-19 17:31:28

Mine just missed AstarAA requested for uni ending up with AAAB but uni took him anyway. He was going to retake to get the Astar in his first year but decided to put his energies into his degree instead and is currently on track for a first. Better that way I think than losing a year unless they are really unhappy with the uni they are in.

LIZS Sun 27-Jan-19 17:35:33

A level grades are really only a stepping stone to the degree course. He has achieved that so it is far more likely that his applications are selling himself short rather than demonstrating what he can bring to and hopes to get out of a placement - does it reflect a specific area of interest for example. Resitting the A level is by the by, many applicants won't have taken CS A level or gcse previously.

yearinyearout Sun 27-Jan-19 17:43:13

My DS went to careers fairs in his first year of uni to find out about summer internships, every one of the employers he spoke to said they don't accept first years, are you sure these internships do? It makes more sense for them to target second years with their extra year of learning under their belt. If he does apply for internships next year, they may be more interested in any work experience he has, plus they will look at his uni exam results to date. Added to this they will know it's a resit from the dates on his CV, so it may not be worth spending the time on it.

ShalomJackie Sun 27-Jan-19 18:05:28

The way I read the OP's question was that he would just retake the A level as an external candidate alongsidee his first year uni exams.

There are many graduate programmes that do look for a 3 A minimum and it is merely a tick box exercise and they do not look at the dates taking. If he were to retake and up his B to an A he would access these programmes. Further as he goes further through his career you don't necessarily state dates for qualifications merely 10 gcses at A*, 3 A'levels at grade A.

If her DS thinks he can up his grade with minimal effort he might as well do so.

I also assumed he was just going to carry on at his existing uni with his current degree it was merely OP expressing her concern that he hadn't taken a gap year and resat then so he could have gone to first choice uni.

I'd say go for it. More and more employers are looking back to A levels when facing candidates with similar degrees. Just don't invest time that would be to the detriment of his degree.

senua Sun 27-Jan-19 18:29:57

Theoretically, it would be possible for him to take his A level Computer Science papers again this summer to try to improve his grade.
Practicalities: is it the same syllabus? what's the cutoff date for entering the exam? is it all exam or is there any coursework etc that school need to get involved in?

So far he's achieved 75%-90% in all his work.
If your first year grades are good enough, it's sometimes possible to switch to another University (thinking of his 'top10'). Is it worth investigating that? If it is possible then working for an excellent first year result would be better use of his time than an A Level re-sit.

Generally, I wouldn't encourage a backwards-looking mentality (coulda/shoulda/woulda) but suggests that he looks to future opportunities to shine (eg get a prize or enter a competition).

fluffyhamster Sun 27-Jan-19 18:41:55

ShalomJackie - yes, thank you - you've summed up the situation well.

This is also what he's been told - that there are undergraduate recruitment programmes (including experience weeks/ residential taster weeks etc) which just automatically reject applicants with lower than AAA as they are so oversubscribed. And yes, tick box exercise e.g. add your A level grades (without dates) which just makes it an automated thing.
He has 10A*1A at GCSE, so the AABB is a bit of downer for him.

But no, he wouldn't be looking to move unis or restart his course or anything .

senua - yes it would be the same board. The cut off date for entry is mid-Feb, which is why we're thinking about it now.
He would be able to carry over the non-exam assessment mark (which was 1 UMS off an A) and would need to resit two papers at a centre near his university as a private candidate.

He's already at the best uni for his subject he would get into with AAB grades - everything in the top 10 required A*AA or AAA. I can't how he could make a case for moving after his first year?

OP’s posts: |
senua Sun 27-Jan-19 18:50:03

everything in the top 10 required A*AA or AAA. I can't how he could make a case for moving after his first year?
Because he would say that he got a First in his first year at University.
I know that University trading-up is a thing but don't know the details. It may be that only lower tier Universities do it, not RG. But it's something to look into. Maybe you should do the initial investigation, rather than get his hopes up then dash them because it's a non-starter.

jeanne16 Sun 27-Jan-19 18:50:03

If he can redo the A level without it impacting on his 1st year exams, then he should do it. However he must get a 2.1 or 1st in his 1st year exams otherwise he won’t have any chance of getting a 2nd year internship.

ErrolTheDragon Sun 27-Jan-19 18:59:22

If he 'trades up' uni and goes from being one of the strongest on his course to possibly more middling, I'd have thought there would be a chance he'd be at risk of getting a lower grade of degree. As he's doing well where he is, at a good uni, doesn't sound worth upheaval, cost, and potential risk.

fluffyhamster Sun 27-Jan-19 19:04:10

Because he would say that he got a First in his first year at University.

I can't see how that would work though, as he will already have committed to accommodation etc by the time he finishes his first year at his current uni.
Also he would arrive at a new uni without a friendship group, presumably in uni accommodation with a bunch of freshers?

No, I don't think he would want to do that. Perhaps a better option would be to go for a First and then apply to do a Masters at one of the Top 10 unis.

OP’s posts: |
ShalomJackie Sun 27-Jan-19 19:07:48

If he gets a first then it opens up Cambridge as a postgrad opportunity too.

Whatdoyouknowwhenyouknownowt Sun 27-Jan-19 19:09:41

Even if he got an A, which may or may not happen, it'd be in the wrong year and clearly a resit...

Stop speculating on what might have been and let him get on with it now, it's up to him and just another twist and turn in life.

I didn't even get all my A levels& I've done ok. I'm married to a guy with straight As, 1st, top Masters, PhD, in the end it was the work he did for his professional exams that mattered for his eventual job.

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