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Is it a mistake to take three A levels?

(19 Posts)
Cortina Tue 06-Sep-11 14:34:54

A friend of mine has a DS planning to take 3 A levels, to drop a language and just concentrate on three other Arts subjects. Not sure if this will prevent him from applying to some RG universities or similar in the future? He doesn't think so after some initial research.

My advice would be very out of date so just checking in to see whether
3 A levels could be prohibitive? Be grateful for any help.

noblegiraffe Tue 06-Sep-11 14:36:07

3 A-levels and an AS is normal.

Pagwatch Tue 06-Sep-11 14:39:47

Ds1 was advised to concentrate on three a levels in his applications to Oxford, Exeter, Warwick and Nottingham. 4 is not preferred by many unis.

More than three is often not necessary and 3A* will be regarded as better than 3A* and a B

What is important is how rigorous and relevant the A level choices are. And what grades he gets

Pagwatch Tue 06-Sep-11 14:40:50

What subjects will he be left with. And does he actually want to go to a rg uni for his subject?

Cortina Tue 06-Sep-11 14:52:32

Subjects are film, politics & english literature I believe - possibly adding history to the mix or substituting one for another.

He's done very well in GCSEs and just wants keep as many options open as possible. Film is a huge passion and he's very talented in this area.

alice15 Tue 06-Sep-11 16:44:33

Film is not one of the RG preferred subjects - I would think the norm would be to do all 4 for AS and then drop one, but he would probably be best to keep both English and History to keep his options as open as possible. The most academic schools don't generally offer film, in my experience.

Talker2010 Tue 06-Sep-11 18:18:38

If you are talking about GCSEs I assume that he is starting Year 12 and looking at AS courses

4 is the norm

grovel Tue 06-Sep-11 18:21:40

I would recommend doing all 4 for AS and dropping Film for A2.

Pagwatch Tue 06-Sep-11 18:36:50

Yes - all 4 at as
Then either do all four at a level. But if he wants to drop one it probably should be film if he wants a rg university.
If film is what he wants to do then rg may include the best uni for that subject.

Ds1 was briefly contemplating film direction/screen writing. A director we know said do standard academic a levels then do post grad at special film school. Ds is still interested in the writing side so doing English at uni as a good solid base.

Pagwatch Tue 06-Sep-11 18:37:40

Missed out

Do standard academic a levels, do a decent degree at the best uni you can get into, then do post grad

Mowlem Wed 07-Sep-11 01:33:46

Most students do 4 at AS and then 3 for A2.

Some universities (UCL being one of them) insist on 4AS grades for their applicants.

I wouldn't start just doing 3 AS levels.

senua Wed 07-Sep-11 10:39:48

The number one rule for deciding A Level choices is do not believe what any random person tells you. Sometimes the list of random people even includes teachers!
Go to the horse's mouth. Even if he is not going to apply to RG, you know that if he fulfils these criteria then he will stand a good chance of getting in somewhere.

slartybartfast Wed 07-Sep-11 10:41:48

can you ask his sixth form?

Mowlem Wed 07-Sep-11 20:26:42

"The number one rule for deciding A Level choices is do not believe what any random person tells you. Sometimes the list of random people even includes teachers!
Go to the horse's mouth. Even if he is not going to apply to RG, you know that if he fulfils these criteria then he will stand a good chance of getting in somewhere."

Good theory, Senua, but the trouble is that in practice universities differ in what they want, even from this guide. I tell my students to phone the admissions departments of the actual universities they are interested in applying to, and then they find that one RG university may say something completely different to the next ... and we've even had the case where one student was told two completely different things by the same admissions department at the same university!

Moominmammacat Tue 11-Oct-11 17:58:03

Wish my son had done three then he might have three As rather than ABBB. Warwick is the only place I've come across asking for four.

PastGrace Tue 11-Oct-11 18:10:58

I don't think universities often want four, but his school might alter their expectations. I was at a private boarding school and we were told that if we only did three then we needed a good reason why because the expectation was that we had the support to do four.

That wasn't meant to sound smug, merely that if he's at a strong school (state/grammar/independent/whatever) and he has the academic capabilities to do four, and the school can fit them all in, it might be beneficial for him.

I'd agree that 'standard' A levels are better, but equally his grades will be better in the subjects he likes best. If film is such a passion, it might not be such a big ask to do it as a fourth. Not sure if that makes sense, sorry.

troisgarcons Tue 11-Oct-11 21:51:22

Mine is doing 2 As's along side his remaining 10 GCSEs in y11.

OhBuggerandArse Tue 11-Oct-11 21:55:39

I don't think either film or politics is a good idea. If he wants to keep options open he should make sure that all his subjects are Serious academic ones that will give him the core skills he can take on to further specialised study later.

gettingalifenow Wed 12-Oct-11 10:36:43

The question is a bit confusing here - we are assuming he is starting his 6th form work: but the advice is all good.

He should do 4 AS levels and then 3 A2s to get into a RG uni, (unless he's doing Maths and further Maths, which he's not, in which case do all 4)

But film will not count as an entry requirement for a RG uni but probably would for other subjects in other unis, any of which might be appropriate for the boy's future aspiraitons.

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