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Not doing English at higher

(34 Posts)
Nospringflower Thu 19-Jan-17 09:12:53

My son wants to study medicine, preferably at Oxford but if not the best he can get a place. We are in Scotland and so do Highers and Advanced Highers after doing National 5s in S4.

He is now at the stage of choosing his Highers and wants to drop English. He doesn't enjoy it and it isn't on the list of required subjects for medicine other than at Nat5/GCSE level.

I get his reasoning but when I was at school anyone academically able to do it was strongly advised to. Not sure if things have changed.

Does anyone think this will cause difficulties? Thanks for any advice

ttlshiwwya Thu 19-Jan-17 10:41:47

Not sure about Oxford but I went to a NHS Scotland medicine careers talk with my DS2 a couple of years ago and someone asked the same question. The response was no preference for Higher English. If I remember correctly advice was to make sure you have the compulsory subjects and then choose subjects that you enjoy/get high grades in/could be useful e.g. a language/computer science/physics/music etc. What's he thinking of doing instead of English? Not sure about the BMAT - is it easier if you have studied an "essay-type" subject past national 5?

My DS2 has chosen not to do Higher English despite a good A pass at national 5 - he hated the poetry/texts - he's doing 2 social sciences instead which he's far happier with. However he's had a fair bit of pressure from the school to take English - English teacher/Head of English/Pupil Support Teacher/Head of Pupil Support/Deputy Head - all separately tried to persuade him otherwise.

Nospringflower Thu 19-Jan-17 10:52:04

He wants to do Maths, Human Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Business Management which is the subject in place of English.

I am quite happy for him to drop it if it doesn't make any difference as he doesn't enjoy it despite getting an A in his prelim. It just seems unconventional!

AgentProvocateur Thu 19-Jan-17 11:03:31

The advice now seems to be to do the five subjects that you're guaranteed an A in, then do higher English in sixth year. (Although I find it hard to believe that higher English isn't a requirement for a career in medicine hmm)

ttlshiwwya Thu 19-Jan-17 11:09:27

My only familiarity with Oxford is the occasional Lewis episode but someone on the other thread will be able to give an insight into the Oxford interviews for medicine. Maybe the close reading/oral presentation etc. aspects of Higher English would be useful?

ttlshiwwya Thu 19-Jan-17 11:26:41

agentprovacateur - Higher English in S6 makes sense for applications to Scottish Universities but I'm guessing Oxford will want 3 AHs so NoSpringFlowers son will have 3 AHs and 1H and all the medicine work experience in S6 on top of all the UCAS application stuff.

AgentProvocateur Thu 19-Jan-17 11:52:42

Yes, that's true, ttlshiwwya - still seems bizarre to me that you can get to uni without higher English. (Back in my day, etc etc wink)

Groovee Thu 19-Jan-17 12:34:31

My Dd checked all the uni requirements prior to choosing highest so she knew what was required for example she needs Higher English at a B and Nat 5 Maths at a B. So it gave her flexibility.

ttlshiwwya Thu 19-Jan-17 12:45:04

I agree. Back in my day the standard offer for the degree I did was 3Bs at Higher and now it's 3As+2Bs. There must be much more pressure to select non-compulsory subjects you have a better chance of good grades in and thus drop subjects like English/Languages. Even if these subjects might be more useful long term even with a
B/C pass at Higher.

Nospringflower Thu 19-Jan-17 13:00:12

Thanks everyone. I found it hard to believe that he didn't need Higher English but I do think that if English isn't your thing but you are more than adequate with literacy then it probably doesnt add that much.

My partner is English, studied in England and currently works in England and he was very much saying don't do English if you want to study medicine. I wonder if us doing 5 Highers means there can be more emphasis on doing English?!

WankersHacksandThieves Thu 19-Jan-17 15:46:30

My DS dropped English after Nat5, he got an A but not a top A in it. He is very much headed down a technical type field though. He is currently doing Maths, Physics, Engineering Science, Computing Science and Graph Comm at Higher. No one tried to talk him into English at Higher. He was asked if he really wanted to drop Geography but as he hated it with a passion, that was a really straightforward decision smile

He did talk about picking it up in 6th year but I honestly don't see the point, it's been suggested that if he wants/needs a more written element to his education, it may be better to crash RME instead.

If your son is just doing prelims now at Nat 5. I'd maybe tell him that if he wants to drop English he needs to get an A and see how that goes down.

Nospringflower Thu 19-Jan-17 16:00:02

I think he will definitely get an A at Nat 5. English and French are his worst subjects but he got As in his prelims but marks were lower whereas high 80s and 90s for sciences.

Someone said essay writing at uni is harder for those who haven't done higher english.

mintthins Thu 19-Jan-17 16:04:17

Does his school have much experience of getting people on to medicine, or into Oxford? I'd suggest a chat with them if they do. A serious essay based subject would be really beneficial I'd have thought, even if not expressly stated as essential.

WankersHacksandThieves Thu 19-Jan-17 16:19:13

I'd have thought you'd need to be able to write a fairly decent essay and be articulate in written form to get an A in Nat 5 English so I'm not concerned on my DSs behalf. He is likely to do Engineering or Computing though. Will medicine need a lot of essay writing? Will it depend on what aspect pf medicine he favours?

lancaster Thu 19-Jan-17 16:28:05

A level English not a requirement either. This was also the case when I started medicine in 1997 - most people had purely sciences/maths A levels.

Lidlfix Thu 19-Jan-17 16:56:49

Get him to look at the UKCAT tests specimen papers and see if how he would fair in the language section with his current knowledge .

I quite often have S6 Medicine and Dentistry applicants who focus (strategically) on the subjects they are strongest at to bag the 5As they needed in S5. If English wasn't a strength they didn't take it in S5. They then hit the UKCAT test after a year away and some are shocked at how hard they find the language section.

StBosco Thu 19-Jan-17 18:04:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StBosco Thu 19-Jan-17 18:06:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HamletsSister Thu 19-Jan-17 18:13:53

Look at the list of facilitating subjects. I think he might find BM doesn't sound as good / useful as, say, History.....or English.

Not sure if he needs H English (English teacher here - in Scotland) but, with the new Higher, it is easier for non-natural pupils to get an A at Higher English. If he can get an A at N5 with ease then he should be fine with Higher, as long as he has a good teacher. But, pick an alternative that is an equally weighty subject.

cdtaylornats Thu 19-Jan-17 22:35:56

Wanting to study medicine is great - but what if he doesn't get the grades. Not taking English will limit his alternatives.

Nospringflower Fri 20-Jan-17 09:50:45

Thanks everyone. I will have a look at / ask my son to have a look at the language section on the UKCAT and also look at the facilitating subjects.

It seems like Scottish people, and particularly older Scottish people like me!, are especially horrified at the thought of not doing Higher English.

I'm aware that he may not get the necessary grades or that even with them he may not be accepted for medicine but he could then take H Eng in S6 or after if necessary. I know it can make life harder though!

InformalRoman Fri 20-Jan-17 11:39:53

Not taking English at Higher wouldn't restrict choices for science or engineering courses though as an alternative to medicine.

It's worth taking a look at this FOI request on Oxford Medicine applications for 2016 entry:

howabout Fri 20-Jan-17 13:41:02

When I was your DS's stage I wanted to be a vet and duly picked 3 sciences Maths and English. I was offered the chance to get out of compulsory PE by adding history higher. By the end of 5th year I had gone off all medical notions and went to Uni to study Law. Had I dropped English this option would have been closed to me. 15/16 is still very young to shut options down if you don't have to.

Kittyshopping Fri 20-Jan-17 14:15:25

Jumping in here to give my tuppenceworth. DS graduated in medicine last year from Scottish uni. His (private) school would not let them drop English as a Higher subject. It was not his strong point but I'm glad they made him do it. Yes, essay writing was a part of the degree. Communication, in the wider sense, is a huge part of medicine.

My DH was educated abroad and is aghast at the trend to "drop" core subjects at a very young age here. We specialise and stream students very very young in the U.K. Education system.

Good luck with the med school application. It's a bumpy ride!

thecitydoc Sat 21-Jan-17 12:36:25

When my son was applying for medical school in 2007 I emailed each medical school admissions officer in Scotland to ask this question as the high school had Higher English as almost compulsory. All the medical schools emailed back to say HE not required - the key subjects were chemistry and biology, with either maths or physics, and all needed to be grade A so recommended other subjects to be those he would achieve the grade A at. In the end he did HE and got 5 garde As and went to St Andrews/Manchester.

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