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Subjects to avoid?

(66 Posts)
longingforsomesleep Sat 25-Aug-12 14:16:55

Bit of a tongue in cheek thread but, with three teenagers at secondary school, there are things I know now that I wish I'd known when they started!!

I've posted on the GCSE PE thread and I think this is one subject I wish we'd avoided for ds2. Seems it's not uncommon for this to be the worst subject for bright kids - certainly the case for ds2 and we thought it would be a soft option for him!

DS1 did music GCSE and only got a D. He wasn't a brilliant musician to be fair, but the music department were keen to have him. He got good grades for his performances but flunked the exam (mock and real thing). Just didn't seem to get it. May just be him of course, but strikes me as quite a hard GCSE unless you're very good at music. My youngest is keen to take it but am a bit wary.

Psychology also gets very mixed results at our school - lots of Us in the January and June AS modules. Apparently it's one of those exams where the examiners are looking for very specific answers ....

Horses for courses and I'm sure I'm now going to get lots of posters telling me about their kids' A*s in the above subjects!

But before my youngest embarks on option choices, I wondered if there were any other subjects posters felt might be harder than others?

BackforGood Sat 30-Mar-13 23:56:51

Hope so ! grin

Theas18 Sat 30-Mar-13 23:44:55

Backforgood you'll probably find she's more keen with a defined outcome to prepare for. Mine (especially ds) do better with a target...30/4/13 for AS recital here!

Theas18 Sat 30-Mar-13 23:43:01

Our experience has been avoid art unless it's your life's work and you can't live ŵith out it!

Music is a relatively easy choice in our family, but it's what the kids do out of school, a lot, so it should be. Because they are classical choral singers the have a good ear and inherent grasp of harmony just by soaking it in, evn if they don't know the words for what they hear to start with. It's a lovely start to a GCSE to do a performance and get good marks. However I think, like art, if it isn't "inbuilt" it could be a struggle that sucks the enjoyment out f it.

Dd1 didn't much enjoy English lit at AS. Pulling apart texts in such fine detail killed them for her so that she adjusted the subjects she took to A2 to dop English.

DS isn't enjoying AS Maths much. However it's a means to an end he knows. Maths in a grammar school at all levels is dominated by very high achievers. Realising being in the 2nd stream (though still on target for a*) could make one kids think they are "rubbish" if they are used to being "top" at primary. DS learned early on that the top stream went at lightening speed and he'd never manage that, so wasn't bothered.

Over all my feeling is at any level , don't study things you don't enjoy, unless you absolutely have to. I'd even stretch that to telling a non linguist to not take a mfl if they were allowed to drop it. E bacc is or school not kids to worry about. The further through your education you go,clearly absolutely loving what you o is vital. Don't study what others think you should- do what you want. Even at a level there are very few subjects that "absolutely don't go together" . You don't, for instance have to commit to "arts or sciences" . An art subject that is academically rigorous plus sciences means you can take either path, though maybe a single science in an arts portfolio makes taking the science at uni a bit more tricky but I bet it's still possible (unless you were perusing physics without Maths I guess!)

BackforGood Sat 30-Mar-13 23:34:56

Wish I'd not opened this now.....dd1 has just opted for music, and she's not the most enthusiastic at practising grin

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sat 30-Mar-13 23:18:02

Dd is nearly at the end of having done maths, eng, eng lit, 3 sciences (not sure anywhere lets you do only two of them), history, geography, French, German, RE. Although that was what she wanted, and she had no interest in anything like art, she did miss doing anything 'fun' in her week. There were bits, like short critical thinking or PE etc, but actually I think in some ways it was a shame not to be doing anything a bit more interesting and less academic sometimes.

ThreeBeeOneGee Sat 30-Mar-13 23:12:37

DS1 will be making this decision next Spring.
The ones he has to do Maths, English language, English literature, Triple Science and German. I think he'll choose History too.

He knows he wants to choose two from:
Classical Civilisation.

They all seem sensible enough to me...

circular Fri 08-Feb-13 22:20:55

Music does seem hard to get a high grade in. DD1 is Grade 6/7 standard and has Grade 5 theory distinction. Although she is scoring full marks on the perfomances, composition is her weakest (A/B at best) so unless she does really well in the exam is unlikely to get the A* she hopes for.
Not put her off chosing music A level, and still intends to go for a music degree.

A recent shocker with French is how difficult it is to get a decent marks in the listening paper. Managed A's in the CA's, but only a C in the first mock listening. Hopefully will improve in time for the real thing, as another A level choice.

Her only real regret in subject choices is Geography. Chosen as she enjoyed it in years 7 to 9 (much due to the teacher) but has found the GCSE course boring. Still on target for a B, but wishes she took RS instead.

teacherandguideleader Fri 08-Feb-13 20:51:26

No single subject is a waste of time if a child has a passion for it. I remember my mum refusing to allow me to do one of the subjects I really wanted to do as she thought it would be a waste of time for me. I now teach it.

scissy Fri 08-Feb-13 17:18:34

if your dc wants to go into the IT industry I wouldn't bother with ict gcse, sadly very few schools offer 'computing' at gcse level. I'd focus on maths, physics and electronics/systems instead. As for other subjects, agree about art (lots of work and very subjective) and music.

Sparklingbrook Fri 08-Feb-13 17:03:20

DS1 is in Year 9. No mention of Options as yet. Unless he's chosen and not told us. shock I have written Xenia's list down in readiness.

lainiekazan Fri 08-Feb-13 10:52:02

It's a real shame that these days kids (or mums!) have to play the "will they get an A/A*?" game when deliberating over GCSEs.

Ds loves Music GCSE but he is grade 7 piano and plays guitar in a band (my poor ears). He will sit for ages composing bits and pieces so for him it's not a chore. I can imagine it is more of a struggle for those who have not done much music in the past, but I suppose it's just the same for those who are doing, say, French and have to work at it when there are others in the class who are clearly going to find it easier because they holiday in France every year/have French parent etc.

Startail Thu 07-Feb-13 23:35:32

German, only taken by bright pupils and still our schools grades aren't great.

DD1 is doing art and music, only six months in and so far Art seems to be tootling along nicely, but she likes messing.

I can't understand music at all, no Idea what they are doing and how the hell it's examinable.

DeafLeopard Thu 07-Feb-13 23:14:24

Just bumping this for anyone else going through the trauma of choosing options in Year 9.

VoldemortsNipple Wed 29-Aug-12 22:17:55

Making music and studying music are worlds apart*

VoldemortsNipple Wed 29-Aug-12 22:16:28

DD will tell anybody who listens, don't touch music GCSE with a shitty stick.

It actually turned out to be the only A she got. grin She has no traditional musical education and can read only basic sheet music. She does have a good ear for music and enjoys working out how to play tunes. But she assures me thataking music and studying music are worlds apart.

The advice I gave to my dcs was, if you really need it you will be studying it anyway. As for the others, take advice from the teachers that really want to teach you and think you will do well in their subject.

DD was toying over history or drama. History was planning on taking as many dcs who wanted to take it, the teacher was trying to sell it by saying they were going on a foreign trip and studying from certain textbooks.

On the other hand, the drama teacher knew DD from school productions. He was enthusiastic about his subject, had asked DD and her friend to consider it as he was confident they would do well. He really sold it to them. DD picked drama and is now going on to study it at A level.

BeckAndCall Wed 29-Aug-12 19:58:48

Cold sweat at the memory of GCSE and A level art.......

Absolutely takes over your life/lounge but if you love it, you love it....

You certainly do need the aptitude to do music - some people just get it, but I'm sure it can be learned like any other subject. But it's a breeze if you can just do it...

Otherwise, beyond the core list - I agree with Xenia on the first 8 you should do - then you can certainly afford the next two to be things you enjoy...

NoComet Wed 29-Aug-12 18:35:30

DD won't go near history GCSE, horrible depressing syllabus with a huge section on the holocaust.

Given history have spent Y7-Y9 giving out more HW than the rest of the school put together, she just couldn't face it.

Xenia Wed 29-Aug-12 16:27:42

I think my older 3 chidlren did music GCSE and they had 2 or 3 grade 8s each and I don't think found it too difficult. I certainly taught myself O level music and sat it alone at school in lower sixth but I had distinction in grade 8 theory and I think then there was some exemption from some of the music GCSE for music theory exams or something. Anyway I think it is a nice extra one to do but have your core 8 traditional academic GCSEs first and then do not add too many of the extra on as better to get 8 or 9 with very good grades in solid subjects than a load of more modern ones which some traditional employers will not count.

FozzieMK Wed 29-Aug-12 16:18:00

Another vote for Music. My DD has grade 5 flute and grade 6 singing and found it incredibly difficult. She took her GCSE this year and scored well on composition and performance (one flute and one singing) but badly on the writing about the 12 given pieces. Pleased to say she got a C in the end but the class started out in year 10 with 5 and ended up with just 2 taking the exam in year 11.

LavenderOil Wed 29-Aug-12 14:47:02



jessabell Wed 29-Aug-12 14:06:14

daughter took art Gcse now doing it at a level. She loves it. The work load never bothered her. Straight A student at GCSE. Just got results for as level ART,GERMAN did well in. PHYSICS, MATHS not so well. Going into college to see what she will take next year. She thought she would do okay but the jump too much for her.
Oldest took MUSIC GCSE did very badly in. Teacher left halfway during course. Never liked new teacher.
Youngest just about to start doing GCSE he taking French History and Product Design Two bands at his school He on the lower band they do not like them taking the subjects hes chosen but he more interested in these than the others Not a sporty/ musical/arty person.
Take subjects you think you will enjoy.

Fireytiger Wed 29-Aug-12 12:49:19

The key to being successful at gcse's is knowing what the subject department can offer. For example if the department is consistently achieving 75 percent A-C then you could presume that your offspring has a good opportunity at achieving well. Also compare the departments last three year set of grades with the school average: the school may be achieving 85 percent, yet that particular department may only achieve 33 percent. You need to know about the quality of teaching in each area to make a good and successful decision.

Yellowtip Wed 29-Aug-12 12:40:17

All my DC have picked their own subjects, both for GCSE and AS/ A2. If they're wavering over a final choice at GCSE I do tend to say maybe try an Art/ Drama one, to lighten the load (in terms of variety, not effort or time).

I can't imagine doing anything but standing right back, particularly at AS and A2. Even though some choices have sometimes surprised me.

YokoUhOh Wed 29-Aug-12 12:28:49

Renaldo I teach at a normal comp and my Y11s achieved almost 50% A/A* this time around. My trick is to get the vast majority of coursework done in Year 10 and spend from Christmas onwards in Y11 purely on the exam.

EduCated Students are a mixture; most of them are just super-keen on music (in bands etc.), I barely ever get any 'dossers'. I try to touch on the topics they'll meet at GCSE (minimalism, jazz/blues) in Years 7-9 so that they've had a taste and know what to expect, content-wise.

AlexanderS Wed 29-Aug-12 12:28:16

"I've posted on the GCSE PE thread and I think this is one subject I wish we'd avoided for ds2"

I have to say that I think choice of GCSE subjects is a matter for our offspring, the ones who are actually going to have to do the course, not us.

When I was at school my parents left this decision up to me, though my mum did say I should do History because she had it in her head that it's valued by employers, and I did do it as one of my options in the end in addition to Music. Has my History GCSE ever helped me get a job? Has it f ck. It was ok to study, I got an A in it as I did Music, but I look back and think it might have been more fun to do Drama. As long as you get 5 grades A* - C it doesn't really matter what subjects you do (as long as you have English Language and Maths of course).

DS is a long way off from picking GCSEs but when the time comes I wouldn't dream of telling him what to do.

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