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Any advantage in taking A2 Maths a year early in application to medicine?

(30 Posts)
Gigimama Tue 23-Oct-12 01:10:54

Dd is now in Year 11 doing her GCSEs. She took Maths GCSE in Year 10 & is doing additional Maths this year. Her teacher is encouraging her to do AS & A2 together next year with the view of doing Further Maths A level in Year 13. She is aiming for medicine and will take up Physics, Biology and Chemistry on top of Maths. She can of course drop one of the sciences after AS & and do Further Maths but she can also carry on with the 3 sciences and not do Further Maths. Just wonder whether there is an advantage, or disadvantage in doing A2 Maths a year early? Some universities state that they prefer all the A levels in one sitting but surely they are frowning upon retakes rather than doing a subject early! Anyone with any advice please.

BeckAndCall Tue 23-Oct-12 07:42:04

The way it works with Maths and further Maths is that they do enough modules in year 12 to gain an A2 but if they do carry on with further Maths they don't cash in the modules until after all the A2 modules have been done in year 13 so that they get the best combination of grades.

If they don't keep up the FM but have started off down that track then they would have enough to get a definitive grade at year 12.

So it more takes care of itself, than being an active decision.

If she is doing 3 sciences plus 2 Maths at AS stage, that would be a huge amount of work, tbh. Maths and FM is not just like doing more of the same - the different modules or 'types' of Maths do take individual learning: stats is not like mechanics - it all takes different learning.

Gigimama Tue 23-Oct-12 12:46:46

Thank you. Now I understand a little bit better. To take this option, the workload will be equivalent to 2 AS subjects in Year 12. That will definitely be too much to do alongside all 3 science subjects. So better stick to 3 sciences + Maths for AS and drop one of them at A2. Thank you again.

michaelaB Tue 23-Oct-12 17:48:57

Be careful! Some Med schools insist on all A2s to be taken in the final year ie Y13 so by taking maths A2 in Y12 and further maths in Y13 you will be excluding these medical schools. Check their entry requirements.

prettydaisies Tue 23-Oct-12 17:57:34

I think a lot of med schools will only consider, as part of their offer, 3 a levels taken at the end of y13. They like to see that you can work hard at three at the same time. Not a problem as long as you take 3 A2s at the end of y13 as well.

Gigimama Wed 24-Oct-12 02:28:54

The more I hear, the less attractive this option becomes! Some says that medical schools (at least some of them) do not count maths & further maths as 2 separate subjects. If that is true, it seems to me that by taking 3 sciences & maths to AS level in Year 12, she can keep the options of dropping any one of the 4 for A2, wheras by taking 2 sciences & 2 maths, she cannot drop any subjects - in dropping further maths, she would have cashed in her A2 maths already and won't have 3 A2 taken at the same time; in dropping 1 of the sciences, she will have only 2 A2 subjects that count as maths & further maths may not be considered as 2 subjects! The up side of the option is that she can end up with 4 A2 subjects (2 sciences & 2 maths) but the cost is less room for manoevre. Am I right in such assumption?

mummytime Wed 24-Oct-12 09:41:15

Everywhere accepts Maths and Further Maths as separate A'levels. The issue is; some places will only offer on the A'levels obtained in Upper Sixth. So if your daughter got A* in Maths in lower sixth, they will ignore that and their offer will still require her to get A or A* on Maths in upper sixth.

This is why my DCs school doesn't sit a whole A'level in Maths in lower sixth, they sit most of the Units for Maths A'level and one Further Maths Unit, then in Upper sixth they finish the Maths units and do the rest of the further Maths. Local independents who do still do all of Maths A'level in lower sixth warn their students about this (but expect all pupils to get A/A* anyway).

alreadytaken Wed 24-Oct-12 11:46:16

For medicine there is no great advantage to 4 A levels and no real advantage in having further maths. However she will have to be sure of 3 As at A2 and some will look for at least one A*. Nothing she does should put that at risk.

Medical schools do like to be sure applicants can cope with the workload. therefore they want 3 good A2 grades in one sitting. Some will also expect to see a good grade at AS for a fourth subject, that is less important if doing 3 science A levels.

She would probably be fine with A2 Maths taken a year early and Chemistry, Biology and Physics at A2 in one year, although as schools often change their ideas you should always check with admissions at each school she is considering.

She also needs work experience and volunteering. Start planning that now.

Gigimama Wed 24-Oct-12 14:31:34

Thank everyone for your inputs. Guess I need to have a good chat with both DD and her maths teacher. Seems to me she'll be better off sticking to 3 sciences and 1 maths. Alreadytaken, thanks for reminding me about work experience and volunteering. We are trying to line something up for the summer holidays, but she'll need to get a good set of GCSE results first!

BrigitBigKnickers Wed 24-Oct-12 14:43:07

Be very very wary- as friend of mine took some A levels early and didn't quite get the grades he wanted for medicine- he retook them in the upper VIth- got great grades but was not accepted for medical school as they were retakes even though the original ones had been taken a year early.

He decided to do an anatomy degree and then mangaed to get into medical school after that, meaning that it took him 8 years to qualify as a doctor as opposed to the usual 5.

Tressy Wed 24-Oct-12 14:49:19

I know that some universities want 3 A levels taken in year 13 and possibly an AS level taken in year 12 and Further Maths wouldn't be counted. Your DD will need to research the entry requirements for the ones she is interested in now before she starts her A levels.

Hope it goes well.

Cahoots Wed 24-Oct-12 23:55:12

You need to look at the actual University Entry requirements as there is a lot of misconceptions about. Particularly with regards to Medicine. The entry requirements change yearly and the only correct informationis that found in each uni's admissions policy.
For example some Uni's such as liverpool or Barts do not accept Maths and Further Maths as two seperate A'levels.
Also, you should be aware that taking a 4th or 5th A'Level may lead to those A'levels being included in your offer. See here for an example.
Some Unis give you NO advantage for having studied more than 3 A'levels for example Leeds

All (I'm 99% sure confused ) Medical schools want 3 A'levels to be taken at one sitting.

Your DD could start next year with the intention of taking her Maths in one year plus her 3 science AS's and can see how it goes. It is not a problem to drop back to doing maths in two years if she changes her mind soon enough and she doesn't have to worry about what subjects to carry on until A2 until after she has her AS results. You have got ages smile In the meantime you can both carry on researching what type of course she wants to do and the exact entrance requirements.

alreadytaken Thu 25-Oct-12 13:10:36

Something in the summer holidays might be hard to find at her age. I was thinking more in terms of the long term volunteering with the disabled or in a nursing home/ hospice that demonstrates long term commitment. If her school does DofE it will also count for that.

There are many other scientific careers that offer less disrupted lives and sometimes better pay, do make sure she really thinks about why it has to be medicine. She'll probably find if she makes it to work experience that at least some consultants will try to put her off.

If she looks at dropping a science subject don't let her drop Chemistry.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Thu 25-Oct-12 20:28:04

As a mother with 2 DC currently studying Medicine I have to say it is more important to ensure your DC can show interests outside Science/Maths; ability in that field is assumed. DD spent her interviews talking about her involvement in the Jubilee Sailing Trust which helps all young people, including the disabled, enjoy sailing. DS was mainly asked about the impact of his father's death and how he had been inspired to follow in his father's footsteps(he was a GP). However it was all about their life experiences and I think their maturity was the telling factor. I get the impression that they are looking for the extra qualities needed to show you can deal with the profession. I would encourage community service. DD2 works in an Nursing Home Sat and Sun mornings and it has given her a real insight into other peoples lives.I would focus less on subjects and more the personal qualities she can demonstrate in an interview.

IloveJudgeJudy Fri 26-Oct-12 13:44:53

already taken (sorry for hijack, OP) could I ask you to give some example of other science careers, please?

Also, DD loves science, but also interested in history. She's in Y11 and was wondering whether to do Chemistry, Biology, a language and maybe history instead of maths. Is that a bad idea?

Theas18 Fri 26-Oct-12 18:10:35

Ilovejj. You need to read the requirements carefully from each med school. Don't rely on forum info. ( I'm not saying anyone here doesn't kmow their stuff but it changes and varies from place to place).

In my understanding a language /history/biology/chemistry at AS, moving to biology/chem plus one of the others at A2 would be fine and even desirable, as long as the grades are excellent. Unless she is a native/ bilingual speaker of the mfl then they ar all academically rigorous subjects - which is what they want.

(ds is looking to apply based on biol/ chem/Maths/music at AS dropping the Maths for a2 )

Tressy Fri 26-Oct-12 18:22:00

Mine did Chem, Bio, Hist at A2 and Maths at AS. She got into medicine with these subjects.

socharlotte Fri 26-Oct-12 20:37:43

I can't see the point in doing a 4th subject at A2 especially are not a dead cert for 3A*s.I would have thought there were better uses of that time.

alreadytaken Fri 26-Oct-12 20:46:12

IloveJudgeJudy if they like the idea of a caring profession pharmacologist, medical scientist (many and varied jobs - see careers website If they aren't bothered by that chemical engineering for, say, a large food or household product company, drug development, environmental science, forensic science, meteorologists, science journalist - how many do you want? If they are good at maths all the financial careers pay well.

Chemistry is more or less essential for medicine, A2 biology isn't for all medical schools but widens the choice of medical school, some like Physics or Maths and a few like to see a non-science subject, most will say they take any vigorous A level. A language may provide the option of going to a European medical school and is considered academically vigorous as is history.

You do need to be aware that medical admission departments will encourage applications but at interview stage many applicants offer a lot more than the minimum requirements. Given a choice of music or maths at A2 it might be better to drop music. Maths also offers more career choices if medicine isn't an option.

It is important that applicants have interests outside medicine and have ways of coping with stress. Do check requirements, preferably at open days by talking to the people who actually interview.

IloveJudgeJudy Sat 27-Oct-12 00:36:41

Theas Tressy and already thank you very much for your posts. I will tell DD about them tomorrow.

Once again, sorry for the hijack, OP.

Gigimama Sat 27-Oct-12 07:19:48

You are welcomed IloveJJ. These are all relevant informations. Thank you everyone. I had a chat with DD and I think we more or less decided on 3 sciences and maths for AS and take it from there. Just one other question - would PE (or is it called physical science?) be considered a vigorous subject at AS or A2 level? Seeing that alreadytaken advice theas18 to drop musci rather than maths. I just wonder if such creative subjects are all considered less vigorous?

socharlotte Sat 27-Oct-12 08:11:25

Ha ha PE is certainly a VIGOROUS subject, not sure it is RIGOROUS though!

alreadytaken Sat 27-Oct-12 09:05:14

PE wouldn't be considered suitable for medicine. There are lists on the Cambridge website and the Russell group guide here

One thing I forgot to say is that 60% (roughly) of applicants to medical schools get no offers. So applicants do need all the information they can get. Some will look to European medical schools instead, Malta requires a language at AS level.

gigimama there is no reason why she shouldn't do A2 maths a year early if she can do so without putting her grades in other subjects at risk. If she then ends up in the 60% and decides medicine isn't for her she has a lot of other choices.

Tressy Sat 27-Oct-12 14:18:50

No to PE and probably Art. Best stick to English, History, Geography or a language in addition to the compulsory science courses.

Tressy Sat 27-Oct-12 14:22:14

Sorry not 'compulsory' but required sciences.

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