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A level choices for medicine

(42 Posts)
Kensingtonia Fri 30-Sep-11 23:03:04

My daughter is currently choosing A' levels. She hopes to study medicine. Her school - a super selective in the London area - is adament Russell Group universities will only accept math+chem+biology and not Physics as an alternative to maths. This is contrary to what the universities publish on their websites as their admission criteria (most state biology/chem only) and from other websites I was under the impression that the BMAT etc were gaining increasing importance in selecting applicants. My daughter greatly prefers Physics to maths and wants to do English, history or a language as her fourth AS. I have no reason to disbelieve the school as they send a number of girls on to do medicine; but wondered if anyone else had a different experience. i.e. accepted at a Russell Group uni in the last couple of year for medicine without Maths A' level. For financial reasons she would hope to stay in London and would probably be looking at Imperial or UCL as preferred choices.

1morewonthurt Fri 30-Sep-11 23:49:18

Okay the school is wrong (but you already know that)

Go on what the Unis reccomend and forget about the school if they say anything show them a print out of the subjects requirements for the course.
to apply for uni you either have to do BMAT (is mostly oxbridge and postgrad but there are others) or UKCAT (more undergrad courses do this one). Your DD will be doing one of them (or both depending on where she applies)


Chemistry is a must at a level
Biology isnt actually a requirement for a few. But most do it and if you want to do medicine why wouldn't you be doing Biology. though i do happen to know UCL require Bio and Chem at ALevel
Maths or physics at AS for most I think but only to AS

I know people who are currently in med schools (all at RG ones) (in 1st,2nd, 3rd and 4th yrs) and went with Alevels in
Bio, Chem and Maths (English lit AS)
Bio, Chem and French (maths AS)
Bio, Chem and Geology (did physics AS)
Chem, Geography and Physics (bio AS)
Bio, Chem and history (Maths AS)

Med schools don't just want the grades in science, they want the extra stuff as well and actually not doing the 3 sciences can show this, show that they have something more than just sciency.

Hope That helps

kakapo Sat 01-Oct-11 03:23:47

i would have thought it would be hard to do physics without doing maths as well at A level?

AlpinePony Sat 01-Oct-11 05:27:18

OK, things may have changed - I wrote a computer programme 20 years ago about this. wink

Chemistry is an absolute must, Biology + Physics as standard. If one must offer maths as an alternative to Physics then it should be Pure & Applied Maths and not Statistics. There were however at that time I think 6 universities who would take non-standard A-levels for medicine but this meant a 6 year course rather than a 5 year one.

Kensingtonia Sat 01-Oct-11 12:20:20

Thank you 1more - I will encourage my DD to go with her own choices not the school's. It is strange that the school are convinced that the Unis won't accept physics instead of maths but perhaps they have historically recommended the maths route for stronger candidates so it becomes a self fulfilling prophesy. AlpinePony I remember a schoolfriend doing the 3 sciences and not maths and she got loads of medical school offers - about 25 years ago. Interestingly my daughter's school are thinking of dropping the stats additional GCSE because it takes up too much time.
Kakapo I think they teach the necessary maths as part of the physics course.

Gwlondon Sat 01-Oct-11 12:36:40

Get your daughter to speak to her physics teachers about doing physics without maths. She will have to learn certain maths techniques herself to enable her to do some of the physics. That way she will have an idea of what she will need to do. Physics is great (i love it and went to uni to study it) but your maths need to be good. I can't remember how much my physics and maths a level overlapped but there definetly is some overlap.

strictlovingmum Sat 01-Oct-11 23:47:45

IMO, for DS advice was to def. to take up maths with physics, reason being A level physics will require lot of maths, DS started sixth form back in September and yes there is definitely lot of overlapping of the two, good luck. smile

RedHelenB Sun 02-Oct-11 13:45:50

If the school have a track record of getting people from her school to study medicine why ignore their advice????

crazymum53 Sun 02-Oct-11 15:49:20

As Science teacher I would say that studying Maths to at least AS level increases a students grades in both Chemistry and Physics. Students who are not studying Maths struggle with the calculations required in both Physics and Chemistry.

strictlovingmum Sun 02-Oct-11 16:59:11

That is exactly what DS has been advised crazymum53, DS took up physics and chemistry together with maths so far so good, requirement to take up both sciences was A in those chosen at GCSE and also A in maths.

complexnumber Sun 02-Oct-11 18:16:46

I am a maths teacher, and therefore have biased views. But I do like this quote:

“I advise my students to listen carefully the moment they decide to take no more mathematics courses. They might be able to hear the sound of closing doors.” -- James Caballero

mrswoodentop Sun 02-Oct-11 20:10:37

Have you read the RG guidance on A level choices,I have a feeling that they speck ally mention in the FAQ section the medicine choices with regard to non sciences

mrswoodentop Sun 02-Oct-11 20:17:28

Sorry about spelling ,posting on iPhone ,obviously I should have said specially.

Kensingtonia Sun 02-Oct-11 20:26:49

Thank you all for your comments. Her school don't seem bothered about having to do maths for physics and chemistry; so I am not too concerned about that. It has a superselective intake and they teach at a fast pace so I assume they think they can teach enough maths in the course for the girls to manage. Redhelen the precise reason I posted on here was because DD dislikes maths (predicted to get A* at GCSE) and is fascinated by physics. I believe the school but I cannot believe that RG do not accept non maths A levels as a matter of course so I wondered if anyone had a different experience. DD is willing to take her chances rather than sit through two years of maths. Complexnumber, great quote though and duly noted!
I have looked at the RG websites; at the breakdown of applicants A levels where these are shown, the comments on Student Room website etc and while many of the successful do have maths there is a significant number that do not.

Ponders Sun 02-Oct-11 20:35:28

I just checked out DS2's schoolfriends' results in the local paper - the only 2 that I am certain have gone to med school this time did biology, chem & maths.

There are also 2 who are doing dentistry (not quite the same I know) - both did biology & chem, & then 1 did French & the other geog.

All RG universities.

Ponders Sun 02-Oct-11 20:38:13

oh, just remembered another - 3rd subject History smile

crazymum53 Mon 03-Oct-11 14:08:37

To keep your options open I really would recommend that your dd does Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Maths at AS. This would only be one more year of Maths and as your dd is predicted A* at GCSE AS Maths should be possible. It could be that the reason your dd dislikes Maths is that she finds it too easy and doesn't stimulate her enough - which is sometimes a problem with bright students.
Studying Maths further will widen the range of options at degree level too. Yes you may be OK going onto study medicine with Physics, Chemistry and Biology at A2 but to be honest only a very small number of my A2 students get As in Chemistry and/or Physics if they have not taken Maths further than GCSE. the standard offer for medicine is 3As at A2 level! So the risk may be bigger than you think.
Also as she seems to be most interested in Physics if your dd changed her mind and wanted to study Physics at University then Maths is definitely needed. There are good careers in medical physics, for example, that may appeal to your dd and these doors will be closed if she doesn't take Maths.

MidnightHag Mon 03-Oct-11 17:50:44

Ok: my ds has just started at Sheffield(RG uni) studying medicine. Chemistry is a must. Apart from that, go for the subjects she'll get best grades in. Sheffield set a lot of store by the UKCAT test (different from BMAT). Also some medical schools (inc Peninsula) won't look at anyone with less than 7 (I think it's 7) A*s at GCSE.

ellisbell Mon 03-Oct-11 20:40:22

if a school's advice is wrong - as it is - then why listen to it! Off hand I can't remember which one but at least one school says they quite like something other than science.

Not all universities rely on BMAT or UKCAT but the student room website has reasonable reliable information on that.

AlpinePony Tue 04-Oct-11 04:50:22

Dare I ask why the obsession with TG universities?

Reminds me of a joke:

What do you call the worst student from the worst medical school in the entire country? Dr.

wantadvice Tue 04-Oct-11 06:36:46

Ds is at a non selective school and making the same choices right now to do medicine. I am hoping he will be okay with 3 sciences and further maths (yes, even in a non super selective school....).

gettingalifenow Tue 04-Oct-11 09:03:24

Have you thought of contacting a couple of admissions tutors directly at potential unis? What they say is OK on the web site is not nec the best route - its so competitive that you will find they take those with the best chance of succeeding, not the minimum requirement: and that would def mean Maths to go with physics or chemistry.

At my DD and DS's schools (2 currently at uni) I obviously can only remember anecdotes, but just about everyone doing medicine or vets did Maths (for Vets one girl did not do Maths and could only apply 2 places) and it is a school requirement to do Maths with physics. It says something when schools take that line, they've got experience in this and have seen hundreds of clever kids so I'd think carefully....

Yellowstone Tue 04-Oct-11 23:38:44

Your school is not correct OP.

DS is in Y13 at a similar school and no-one has ever advised him his choices were wrong and the school sends lots to med school. He's taking Biology, Chemistry, Maths and History and has only applied for RG.

Yellowstone Tue 04-Oct-11 23:42:38

Sorry, I meant he's taking Biology, Chemistry, History and Physics!

ellisbell Wed 05-Oct-11 09:22:46

have just realised that when I said at least school likes something non-scientific it wasn't obvious I meant at least one Medical school says that.

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