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How many AHs is it usual to take?

(49 Posts)
WankersHacksandThieves Fri 04-Nov-16 22:53:52

DS1 thinking about what to take next year for 6th year.

He is doing Higher Maths, Physics, Engineering Science, Computing Science and Graph Comm.

He is still undecided on whether to go down a Computing or Engineering route.

He wants to do Maths, Physics (as it's good to keep a science) and also Computing and Engineering. As he didn't do English (or an English based subject), he is thinking of picking up that for Higher in 6th year but I'm not sure if he'll need it - he got an A at Nat 5 English.

My thoughts were that that seems too much but he seems to be finding 5th year less pressured than 4th.

Neither DH or I stayed at school for 6th year so not sure at all what it'll be like.

Lidlfix Fri 04-Nov-16 23:57:35

4 AHs and an additional H is more than I've ever seen. DD1's bestie did 4 AHs after getting 5 A band 1s at Higher and that was considered extreme. She was a naturally gifted academic and enjoyed the challenge. Your DS might be similar and thrive too but most pupils who pick up a 5th subject tend to have an external interest such as orchestral musicians taking Higher or bilingual speakers doing Higher of their native tongue.

AH is the same SQF level as the first year of a degree where only 3 modules would be undertaken.

My DN is doing 3 AHs in a similar grouping as your DS - Physics, Maths and Mechanics he has been given 2 enhancement options to reflect the amount of self study required.

My DD1 did 2 AHs (and other Highers for interest) that tied into the degree she had an unconditional for and as a result found first year at uni easy.

Could well give your DS a smooth start to uni life but might be at the cost of a grim S6.

What does the school say and what are the typical offer qualifications for the courses he's looking sat?

WankersHacksandThieves Sat 05-Nov-16 00:44:12

Thanks Lidl - school haven't said anything yet and we wont get the Options booklets for a few months. i've not been able to find any on line.

I think his issue is that he is putting off deciding what he wants to do. From the brief look that i've had, it seems that neither engineering or computing are looking for Higher English. They all want Maths and for 2nd year entry most want AH Maths and either AH engineering or computing science (i.e. for either discipline). I've also seem Physics mentioned but I'm sure that was as an "or" for Engineering type courses.

From what I've seen on here I thought 3 AHs were the norm with maybe another specialist Higher or something added to the mix.

We haven't done anything about Uni applications - should we be doing? Neither DH or I went to Uni from school so we have no idea what he is we are meant to be doing. He got As for all his academic subjects (Band 1 (98%) for Maths and just missed band one by a mark or two for the others). He's just been selected to do the Senior Maths Challenge next week so I take it that he is still doing well in Maths. I'd be thinking that he should continue with Maths to AH as that would be universal and then maybe take Computing and Engineering and drop Physics or do Physics and drop Engineering as those two seem the most similar.

Lidlfix Sat 05-Nov-16 08:03:45

Thinking about my DD, her peers, my friends' DCs, my pupils etc I'm going to be not much use and say I don't think there is a norm for S6 . Not in the way that there is in S4 and 5; max Nat 5s and 5 Highers.

Carrying on Maths and Physics to AH for is a norm for potential Engineering applicants in my family, circle and workplace. If DS is considering Strathclyde for Engineering it is now considered a global leader and is giving ridiculous conditionals like 4 A's at AH to applicants with 5 A's at Higher! Great to have that in Scotland but making it almost impossible to achieve.

If options booklets are not out there yet do you know if all the subjects he's considering are on offer? AHs are often the first things to be cut.

In terms of applications unless your DS is considering going to uni at the end of S5 - no rush. Let him peruse prospectuses and even go to some applicant days. Talking to faculty staff at these events can provide a much clearer picture of what typical offer qualifications look like.

Direct entry into second year is very rare, even for English students coming to Scotland and paying fees. It is considered quite isolating socially and a tough gig academically as first year modules and lectures help point the way with style protocols etc. But that's an aside really.

nothruroad Sat 05-Nov-16 08:25:14

In my school pupils have to do 4 subjects in s6. For the most academic this can be 4AH but most pupils do 2-3 AH and then 1-2 Highers. I would definitely get him to check whether AH is running this year in the subjects he is planning for next year.

prettybird Sat 05-Nov-16 09:01:31

3 AHs and maybe a Higher (or other "enhancement" activities) seem to be the norm at ds' school for the academic kids - although as others have said, there doesn't seem to be a norm per se.

I concur with thinking twice about going straight into 2nd Year. 1st Year is important both socially and to get into the way of university working. Even English friends' kids who've come up to Scotland post A Levels have chosen to go into 1st Year, despite the extra financial implication.

ttlshiwwya Sat 05-Nov-16 17:04:15

Same here. 3AH and possibly a Higher for the kids with 5 A/B passes in S5. Head girl and boy and their deputies tend to do 3AH maximum.

My DS2 also chose not to do Higher English despite a good A at national 5 so if he stays on for S6 I will probably try to persuade him to do Higher English. Just to keep the teaching option open. However I doubt I will be successful.

It is worth looking at prospectuses or going to open days in S5 just so you can see what subjects they prefer or which you will study in the first year at uni. The course my DS2 likes covers maths, chemistry, biology and physics in first year so it would make sense for him to do these. Wish he'd looked earlier as he dropped physics.

weasleybreeder Sat 05-Nov-16 18:57:14

My DS is sitting 3 AHs, Maths, Physics and Maths of Mechanics. He initially was also doing a crash higher in PE but dropped it before summer as from the outset it was obvious that the workload would be too much for him. He has always been very strong in Maths but has admitted recently that despite getting an A for Higher, he is finding the AH really stretches him so I'm hoping that it will have payback when he goes to Uni. (Still hasn't decided what he wants to study but that's a whole other thread!)

WankersHacksandThieves Sat 05-Nov-16 19:21:40

Thanks all, I will come back and discuss. I have a vomiting bug, been up all night, still can't eat or drink and have no energy or concentration sad

InformalRoman Sat 05-Nov-16 23:36:43

Just to add, DS's school (high performing state), 2 AHs and 2 Highers or maybe 3 AHs is usual in S6 - a few did 4 AHs but school really doesn't recommend. If you are looking at applying to English unis (just for example - at least £27k in fees is probably a good reason not to!) then 3 AHs will be enough as long as the mix is right so don't worry about stretching to 4 unless everyone is comfortable with that. He won't need Higher English to do Engineering. DS got an early unconditional for Engineering at all 3 Scottish unis he applied to (including Strathclyde) on the basis of 5 good Highers.

Would suggest you and DS start looking at unis and possible courses that he might enjoy, as that will steer you towards the best mix of AHs.

DanyellasDonkey Sun 06-Nov-16 19:18:40

OP my son did very similar subjects to yours in S5 and then did 3 AHs in S6 as well as higher chemistry. It was a big workload but because they were all rather similar subjects he seemed to cope ok.

dotdotdotmustdash Mon 07-Nov-16 07:33:22

My DD got 5 As in her Highers in 5th year and started taking 6th year taking 4 x AH, which she had to get special permission to do. She had some health problems at the beginning of 6th year and missed some school so dropped one of them and picked up a crash Nat 5 in Mandarin.

It wasn't a bad year for her, especially as none of them were science/maths related subjects. She had an arts subject, a social subject and a language alongside her Mandarin. She ended up with ABB in the AHs and a B in the Nat 5 so it was a useful year. She's applying for 2nd year entry for a language based degree next year. She's currently spending a year in China on a scholarship.

rogueantimatter Mon 07-Nov-16 09:57:47

Here are my thoughts FWIW.

Although 3 xAH +a higher is a lot, his subjects are overlapping so it would probably be a great idea to do 3 or 4 at AH. IME not many schools do AH Eng Science however. As a pp said, it's a good idea to check which subjects will be available. I've heard that Eng Sci is very useful for engineering degrees.

If he doesn't like English, H English could be quite onerous. On the other hand, even with engineering sciences it could be a useful skill for him to have as he will presumably at some point have t write reports, evaluations etc.

Re Strathclyde Uni - I think they still give unconditionals for applicants who get Band 1s in the relevant subjects. They sometimes give offers quite early too, unlike Edinburgh and St Andrews.

rogueantimatter Mon 07-Nov-16 09:58:43

Sent too soon - hope you're feeling better soon.

InformalRoman Mon 07-Nov-16 10:40:50

Re Strathclyde Uni - I think they still give unconditionals for applicants who get Band 1s in the relevant subjects. They sometimes give offers quite early too, unlike Edinburgh and St Andrews.

Both Edinburgh and Strathclyde do give early unconditionals for Engineering with good Higher results.

rogueantimatter Mon 07-Nov-16 11:18:12

Oh! I was under the impression that Edinburgh always waits to get in all the applications before offering places. That's good. I don't envy today's teenagers.

ttlshiwwya Mon 07-Nov-16 13:14:56

Not sure about all branches of engineering at Strathclyde but I sat thru a Chemical Engineering talk this year with my DS2 and someone asked about unconditionals and the response was not to expect one. Details weren't specified except to say if you failed your AH Chemistry regardless of how stellar your Highers were then no place so I'm guessing a fairly easy to make offer but not quite unconditional. However that might be more the Chemistry department rather than the Engineering side (Chemistry without engineering also said no unconditionals).

InformalRoman Mon 07-Nov-16 19:38:08

DS got unconditionals for Chem Eng for 2016 entry - maybe they are expecting way more applicants at Strathclyde this year so are really tightening up?

Heriott Watt was the last one to make an offer - they did wait until after the January deadline.

WankersHacksandThieves Mon 07-Nov-16 21:14:56

Hi folks, sorry for disappearing - almost back in the land of the living! I've actually managed to eat some food today - body is slightly protesting...

Thanks for the best wishes and thanks for all the interesting information too.

DS really can't decide between computing and engineering. I don't think it's sunk in that he will need to make his mind up.

Looking at info available on the website, the school definitely currently have pupils doing AH in all of his current Higher subjects - all being well, he could choose from Maths, Physics, Engineering, Computing or Graph Comm. also the had Mathematics of Mechanics which I guess would also be an Option - all this depends on the columns too I would think.

He will definitely no want to teach and he dropped English as the presentation requirements make his so anxious and miserable, we felt he needed a year off and told him he needed to get a good mark in order to drop it. He got an A which he was chuffed about.

I'm not fussed which year he goes into. He isn't particularly mature in social terms but has basically just been getting on with his work with no issues for years so from that point of view he's fine. he wants to do 6th year as most of his year do and I think the extra year would allow him to grow up a bit too. I'm also keen that he take part in whatever options they have available in 6th year to help him do that.

The only options for Higher unless he crashes another one would be English, Geography or Art. he hates Geography. I'm not impressed with the Art teaching and the Nat 5 really put him off. If the school insist on 4 subjects (I have no idea at the moment) then it'd need to be 4 AHs, a crash higher or a Nat 5 that he doesn't need.

Could he pick up another science straight to Higher maybe? DS2 is telling him he should crash Higher RMPS as his "English" option. He is not untalented in English - he had a reading age of 15 by age 10 and can write well (well type, his handwriting is poor).

WankersHacksandThieves Mon 07-Nov-16 21:16:07

Loving reading about all your DC doing so well and all the Uni applications - it#'s starting to become really real and creeping up fast. smile

PurpleFrog Mon 07-Nov-16 23:01:17

Doing AHs in 6th year is a good opportunity to see what subjects are really like at University level, and can help you make up your mind what you want to carry on with. In some subjects e.g. Maths there is a big jump between Higher and University. In the early 80s I started S6 unsure whether to do Maths or Biology at University - in fact I applied for both on my UCCA form. By Easter time I had worked it out...

WankersHacksandThieves Mon 07-Nov-16 23:12:12

Glad that helped Purple - I suspect DS is waiting for DH and I to decide for him but whilst we are happy to guide him, we're not making the decision for him. He'd be suited to either. He has his first Work Experience placement coming up and he'll be working for an small App development company and we think he may have a place for a few taster days with BP from an engineering perspective next summer. Hopefully that will help him too.

Then we need to sort out DS2 who is currently 4th year as he has no clue at all and is becoming a bit of a lost soul.

PurpleFrog Mon 07-Nov-16 23:20:03

Yes, just saying that he still has plenty of time to decide! Work experience and taster days sound good...

WankersHacksandThieves Mon 07-Nov-16 23:26:21

He is very quiet but really looking forward to his work experience, the company sem lovely going by their emails smile - he is really lucky to have gotten the placement. He wrote to a lot of IT and engineering places and had very few replies and only one actual offer.

Industry (so media tells us) keeps saying how it is crying out for graduates in these disciplines - maybe if they made a little effort and allowed some keen pupils a week of their time they'd increase take up.

wigglybeezer Mon 07-Nov-16 23:41:54

You are making me feel like a slacker! Ds2 is in fifth year and we haven't even chatted about sixth year yet, we were waiting to see how the prelims went. I went to your ds's school 30 years ago and had a lovely skivy sixth year, we were allowed to go home if we didn't have classes ( and I dropped all but one of my exam classes!).
More relevantly two of my friends boys have just started at Strathclyde doing engineering and chemical engineering, they did three AH's and I am pretty sure they both had unconditionals ( one of the mothers was complaining about her son slacking off as a result and getting his first ever C!)

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