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How to boost low AS grades - any advice please?

(19 Posts)
WorrySighWorrySigh Sun 18-Aug-13 16:17:58

DD had disappointing (to her) AS grades for 2 out of 3 subjects. A for Biology but D and E for Chemistry and Maths respectively. Both the lower grades were at the higher end of the grade boundary so all is not lost.

I think she is understanding the subjects but falls down when it comes to the exams.

So question practice seems to be the order of the day.

I am planning to get her the Revision & Practice guides for all 3 subjects from CGP.

Are there any other resources to try please?

Unfortunately we cant afford a tutor for her.

Moominmammacat Sun 18-Aug-13 17:10:23

Am in a similar boat here and can't add much other than school say don't bother resitting anything in the subject you're dropping because the results will come too late for UCAS. There are no resits until June and it will be heavy doing AS and A2 in the same sitting but I don't see a way around it. It might be better applying to uni post-results, when you know where you stand. If she does come up a lot, she will have applied to the wrong sort of uni, and although there is Adjustment, life is a lot clearer when you apply with your results. Good luck.

StrangeGlue Sun 18-Aug-13 17:25:52

Is she at the sort of school/college she can have a talk with the teachers and build a plan for the next year? Has she been assessed for learning difficulties and/or stress as understanding but falling apart in exams sounds like a specific problem which could be looked at. What are the school/college's support services like? Do you have maths/chemist friends who'll help her instead of a tutor? Check ted talks on the areas as they're really engaging. Look into one off revision master classes for her. She can probably pull them up to Cs but the actual answer to your Q is 'hard work and effort'

It's not the end of the world*, DB got into uni with A, D,E got a 2:1 and on to v competitive graduate scheme.

*depending on subject.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sun 18-Aug-13 18:14:47

Yes, she will be able to talk with teachers. No learning difficulties or excessive exam stress, she came into AS having achieved straight As at GCSE.

I think the problem is the approach she takes in answering the questions. She needs to look at this again. It isnt simply a case of chucking down everything she knows on a given subject.

Because she is wanting to study a science subject at university she isnt keen to take a year out. She will have to apply at the level of predicted grades and hope for the best.

lljkk Sun 18-Aug-13 18:35:25

Talk to her lecturers and clarify what was missing in her exam work?

StrangeGlue Sun 18-Aug-13 18:59:29

It'd be worth talking to the support services they aren't just for those with SN. A few techniques and she could be away as she sounds v bright.

kritur Sun 18-Aug-13 19:36:50

Ok as I've said on the vet thread as well. A grade D/E is not just due to poor exam technique, there is a chunk of fundamental content she does not know/understand. Even if she did suffer from 'brain dumping' as I used to call the student who writes everything they know on a topic in a Q she would probably be about a C. Boosting her AS is possible and to be honest the reforms to A levels may help as she will have time to get her head around things before she is assessed. Which CHEM exam board is it?

TheAwfulDaughter Sun 18-Aug-13 19:43:01

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

WorrySighWorrySigh Sun 18-Aug-13 21:46:53

I think the issue she has with Chemistry is the use of language - there is a very specific vocabulary to use. DD does know this but in the heat of an exam she defaults back to what worked for GCSE.

Not sure what went wrong with Maths. She needs to talk with her teacher about this one.

To be clear she got an A for Biology, D for Chemistry, E for Maths. I think the exam board for Chemistry is AQA (she isnt here at the moment to ask).

noblegiraffe Sun 18-Aug-13 23:11:04

If she only got an A at maths GCSE then it is not unusual to find the leap to A-level very difficult and go on to get an E (many others drop out completely before this). Will she be allowed to continue maths with an E? At my school we would require a D.
If she does want to continue maths, chances are her algebra let her down. What did she get in C1? C2? The applied module? C1 contains a lot of methods which are A* at GCSE so students who only got an A struggle to pick them up quickly, while for A* students it is revision.

If she does continue, then if the school has a mymaths login, she should go on this to the A-level section. This contains interactive lessons and quizzes for all topics, and is probably better than working through a textbook.

mindgone Mon 19-Aug-13 00:16:24

My DS has just done these same subjects at A2 and done very well, after disappointing AS results.
My best advice:
-First, request photocopies of her papers, so she can go through them with a teacher, and find out exactly where she fell down.
-Next, look up the exam specifications online, and work to them, and their exact language.
-Do loads of past papers, and mark them with the mark scheme (apparently also available online)
-There is some great help available online for maths called 'exam solutions'
-Hang around with the kids who do really well at these subjects eg. The ones wanting to do medicine, and ask them for their revision tips.
-Memorisation! We still have revision cards stuck up in the bathroom! And try just writing things down repeatedly until they stick.
-renewed determination and a can do attitude!
Best of luck, it's tough! wink

secretscwirrels Mon 19-Aug-13 15:56:41

When she was preparing for exams did she do dozens of practice papers? That should have sounded a warning?
It can't be just revision / exam technique I think?

Lots of DC with A*s at GCSE seem to flounder at AS. many of them are bright and didn't need to work that hard at GCSE so they under estimate how much harder A levels are.You have to do more than the work set in class. The ones with top grades spend all their free periods and lunch breaks in the library.
Several of DSs friends have got very poor AS results and are repeating the year.

WorrySighWorrySigh Mon 19-Aug-13 17:47:51

secretscwirrels I do really think this is the problem, the lack of exam question practice. She did work hard for GCSEs, though she was at a very poor school (made the BBC's bottom 20 schools in the England, yippety skip!) with high staff turnover so there could be yawning great gaps in her knowledge. She has now changed schools (not possible earlier because of catchment)

We are cross with ourselves that we didnt spot that her study approach wasnt good. She knows that she has just one year to turn this around.

Many thanks for all the good advice received.

kritur Mon 19-Aug-13 19:03:19

Ok from what you say the GCSE is the issue here. If she is AQA for Chem then CHEM4 in the A2 builds upon CHEM2 in the AS so as she works through the A2 she needs to revisit the AS as it's the perfect opportunity to ask questions of her teacher. What was her ISA/EMPA prac like? That is a problem for many students. Could she look at her timetable and see if there are AS lessons in her free periods that she could attend?

WorrySighWorrySigh Mon 19-Aug-13 19:19:30

I think the intention is to resit Chem2 in July as she did particularly badly in this. If memory serves she was fine in her ISA. I will certainly talk to her about attending extra AS lessons where she has free periods.

WorrySighWorrySigh Thu 22-Aug-13 02:28:10

DD sent through her results to me (we are away at the moment)

Maths - Core 1=C, Core 2=U, statistics=D

Chem - ISA = A, Unit 2=D, Unit 1=E

So plan is to resit Maths Core 2 and Chem unit 1 alongside A2s next year.

After some reflection and much discussion with DH my opinion is that she completely underestimated the amount of work necessary. She believes that she worked hard but I suspect that the truth is that while books were out a lot, she was hoping to do most of her study via osmosis.

While it isnt the end of the world she is going to have to rethink her Uni application plans.

kritur Thu 22-Aug-13 06:09:08

Underestimating the amount of work is very common and it is very difficult these days for kids growing up and learning in a society that constantly communicates and doesn't ever seem to be 'quiet'. A few things I used to recommend to kids when I had a 6th form tutor group.

-Do school work in a quiet but public area of the house. Bedrooms are used for social media, telly etc. She needs a zone and in that zone she works, without her phone, laptop etc (there is little need for them in sciences and maths, her textbook should cover everything).
-Open her textbook whenever she is doing her homework, ditto her notes. This reinforces the idea that she's not supposed to just 'know' things following their first teaching.
- No such thing as no homework. If she has 5 hrs teaching per subject a week then she should be spending at least that on homework and private study. Rewriting her notes, doing additional textbook problems, reading ahead about the next topic to anticipate difficulties, producing mind maps of notes are all additional things she can do.
- Sleep! Many, many teenagers never really switch off. Her mobile phone needs to be off (not on silent) 30 mins before she goes to sleep as screens disrupt sleep patterns due to the wavelengths of light entering the eye. The father of a girl I used to teach made a wooden box for outside her room. Her mobile had to be in it by 10pm, if it wasn't then she lost it for a day (suicide for most teenage girls!). Her grades dramatically improved because she was able to concentrate.

secretscwirrels Thu 22-Aug-13 15:35:40

WorrySighWorrySigh those maths grades are quite low and I hate to say this but the A2 level maths gets much harder. Have you given serious thought to repeating the year? There are no January resits and if she just retakes the whole lot along with the A2s next June it will be much harder to pull back from.

WorrySighWorrySigh Thu 22-Aug-13 17:03:50

kritur - thank you very much for those excellent tips. I will get DD to take them on board.

secretscwirrels - I will discuss whether resitting the year is a good or even possible option with DD. One of the important things is to discover precisely what went wrong with the Core 2 paper. One way or another she is going to have to sit it again.

Many thanks again for all the advice!

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