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ds's A Level choices drama rumbles on... help!

(108 Posts)
lainiekazan Wed 04-Dec-13 10:04:03

The form has to be in on Friday and he can't decide.

He is definitely doing Eng Lit and History. Then he hasn't a clue. The runners are Music, Latin and Philosophy.

He is thinking of putting down all 5 but I think he'll have a nervous breakdown (or I will) if he starts off doing that many. He's worried that Music does not look good enough, he would find it difficult to achieve as highly in Latin as students at a public/private school, and that Philosophy would be one essay subject too many and, again, might not look that impressive.

Any opinions?

Beastofburden Wed 04-Dec-13 14:59:23

Oscar, the law went over from Latin to English many years ago, it wouldn't be any use now.

titchy Wed 04-Dec-13 15:07:49

He could do a broader range if he went down the IB route of course.

oscarwilde Wed 04-Dec-13 15:08:12

I work with lawyers frequently. They are fond of trotting out latin phrases grin

If it's just for the grades, then definitely the subject most likely to do well in/appeal to the universities. Not much to choose between Phil and Latin imo. From the totally ignorant (of the level of effort required) standpoint of an employer they both have more credibility than media studies but no-where near that of an A* in Physics for example. Totally unfair I suspect but that's how the market works.

lljkk Wed 04-Dec-13 19:40:36

does he have any idea what he wants to do after A-levels?

lainiekazan Wed 04-Dec-13 20:14:33

No idea at all! He is the youngest in the year and only recently was waved to the front of the dinner queue having been mistaken for a year 7...

lljkk Wed 04-Dec-13 20:24:09

At least he's got the GCSE grades to be able to go, I suppose. Rest really has to be up to him.

LeBearPolar Wed 04-Dec-13 20:30:39

I teach a number of pupils who do the English/History/Philosophy combo. Philosophy is hard unless you have a particular type of brain! So I have seen pupils get AAD at AS Level with that combination of subjects.

lainiekazan Thu 05-Dec-13 09:31:04

What type of brain would that be, LeBearPolar? Better check ds has the right sort in advance!

Beastofburden Thu 05-Dec-13 10:21:50

Lainie, if he wants to keep his options as open as possible, then:

Humanities- English, history, modern languages if possible, if not, any of those three, whichever will get him the best grade for all three.

Social sciences- English, history, maths if possible, if not, philosophy.

Good luck!

LeBearPolar Thu 05-Dec-13 12:53:43

I wish I knew! I still remember being gently told at degree level that I shouldn't choose a Philosophy based module as one of my third year options as I wouldn't cope with it. I find it difficult to deal in abstract ideas, if that helps! Maybe get him to read some bits of the philosophers they study at A Level in advance to see what he thinks of them and the ideas they're exploring?

lainiekazan Thu 05-Dec-13 12:55:47

Good idea. We looked at the dept at sixth form college and I think he liked the idea of a bit of waffle. Although the trouble with waffle is it is not an exact science!

Isthiscorrect Thu 05-Dec-13 14:10:20

DS is in yr 13 studying history philosophy gov & pol and eco. Philosophy is hard although DS did get very very high UMS for AS ;-) But it is by no means an easy option, essay heavy, a lot of extra reading, he loves it but it is a small class and a few dropped out as they found it too hard. Cant comment on either music or Latin. He has offers from a number of RG unis, still waiting to hear about the others.

superlambanana Thu 05-Dec-13 15:24:16

Beastofburden have you seen an A level Music syllabus recently?! Hardly a 'freebie'!!

Beastofburden Thu 05-Dec-13 15:28:56

Super, for me it was, as I had been at music college from the age of 12 and by 15 I had grade 8 in theory and three different instruments. I wasn't suggesting it would be a freebie for everyone.

And yes, I did double A level and it was actually a lot more difficult than it is today, sorry.

NomDeClavier Thu 05-Dec-13 19:07:45

I didn't find that practical or theory G8s helped with the analysis bit. Performance was fine, Bach chorales a piece of cake, composition not too dusty but the music history/analysis meant it wasn't a freebie. Nor did College help much.

I am 20 years younger than you I reckon wink and I don't think the syllabus has changed in between significantly although it will always depend on the board.

HanneHolm Thu 05-Dec-13 19:09:41

i have just been with some year 12 students and the ones who are happy are those who did what they find interesting not what they thought they should do

HanneHolm Thu 05-Dec-13 19:10:43

and tbh if each pupil brings 4.5k in income then they let them do what they like

the idea that there is a CHRISTMAS deadline is, frankly , ludicrous.

jsut shove any thing down then change when you get results

HanneHolm Thu 05-Dec-13 19:10:56

this school isnt in Hampshire , is it?

Beastofburden Thu 05-Dec-13 20:42:21

Nom, the thing is, I did the old double music A levels which I don't think they still offer- so of my 5 A levels, two were music: Practical Music and Theoretical Music. Practical Music a level had papers ln the performance of your main instrument. so, for instance, we had to plan a recital and why we had chosen that programme, and write on how our instrument had changed physically over the years and what that meant for performance. All of that was dead easy. Plus we had to write a Bach chorale, a Schubert song, a Haydn quartet, etc etc all of which was just a matter of remembering one you knew and fiddling with it a bit. and the aural dictation test was also easy if you had spent long enough performing. Then there was the Big White Book which was about 30 excerpts, and in the exam you got three or four and had to compare them. Again, piece of piss because you were actually given a new copy of the white book in the exam, so no need to memorise the music. Analysis was not hard for me having spent so long at quite a hardcore college.

True, I did need to do a bit of work on my set works and music history, in the Theoretical Music a level, but even then i knew quite a lot of music history, as in, i had performed most of the famous pieces anyway by then. it was still way less work than I needed to do on my other A levels. And it was almost exactly the same thing- learn your set works and write essays analysing them- the works were in English, French, German or Music but the task was exactly the same.

But the question is, will it be relatively easy and stress free for the OPs DC, and help him cash in three grade As ? Only she knows that, but there's a good chance it will be.

superlambanana Thu 05-Dec-13 20:52:07

Ah I can see how it was easy for you beast if you'd been at music college that long already. Sorry, it sounded like you thought the whole thing was a piece of cake for everyone!

OP he should just do why he enjoys most. I did English lit because I thought I needed it for the spread of subjects. I absolutely hated it and didn't do nearly as well as I could have done in a subject I loved.

Beastofburden Thu 05-Dec-13 20:56:05

Yes, I went when I was 12 and left at 15 to do my O levels.

I actually think that music a level is really only doable by kids that have music as their big hobby. I don't think you can learn it all in two years like maths or history. It's a funny one.

I get the Impression from the OP that the kid doesn't actually want to do any of the three subjects all that much. In which case, if she can't persuade him to change to a modern language, which he might also hate but would be more competitive and useful, I would say be cynical, do the one that is least work for him and aim for those three A grades.

noideawhy Fri 06-Dec-13 01:18:54

how much did he enjoy music in his gcse class so far? that should be good indication. Did he like the look of pieces in a level board recommendations? Does he like the composition part?

hard to tell how easy philosophy would be for him
did he do any any reading

during our recent 6th form visit philosophy teacher suggested the following books to understand what the subject is about:

Robinson, Dave "Introducing Descartes"

Blackburn, Simon "Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy"

Action Philosophers!: The Lives and Thoughts of History's A-List Brain Trust: The More-Than-Complete Edition

I can only assume he loves essay writing as this would be his third essay writing subject.

MiniMonty Fri 06-Dec-13 02:11:21

Music is NOT an easy A level; - it's a beast and unless you DS is well inspired (or gifted) a B/C is the best to hope for.
Philosophy is not a required A level for ANY UNIVERSITY COURSE (even including philosophy) and most universities will simply discount it at A level. You can't sensibly study philosophy between 16 and 18. It's a nonsense.

What he "enjoys" is really not the point... What is about is to set him up to hopefully achieve a chance of a fulfilling and successful life - this is the point and I'm not really sure if it should be up to him what he studies at A level - it should be UP TO YOU !

Given the advertised mix of Eng lit, Music, philosophy, Latin and History it sounds very much like you are breeding an art critic. That famously well paid job... NOT.

Surely he's doing Maths at GCSE, Surely he's doing some sciences - knock some sense into the boy and talk about the real world...

Music, philosophy and Latin - hmmmm... three years of uni studying grooviness (plus marijuana, wine women and song), plus a fantasy of making a living after uni (when he will move back in with you) and then stack shelves (while living with you) then marry a girl who stacks shelves.

Music, Latin and Philosophy - oh please - unless you are billionaires, take this a bit more seriously...

lalsy Fri 06-Dec-13 07:43:50

MiniMonty - universities do not "discount" philosophy A level. My dd is applying with it as one of three A2s, and is receiving offers including philosophy. We discussed at a couple of university open days whether to drop it or history after AS for the course she wanted, and they were both seen as useful but not essential for her course. Many arts and humanities courses only have one, or sometimes no, required A levels - that does not mean the ones that are not specified are discounted. If you look at the UCAS site, there are very few courses where A levels that are not widely available are required, rightly so.

OP, if the university aspect matters to your ds, do check the UCAS website directly. You can search on any course, it will list all the institutions that provide it, and you can check the requirements directly - do not believe anything else!. You can also check on university websites. From our recent research, agree with those that say any of his three will be fine, and plenty of doors are opened by Eng Lit and History if he doesn't like MFL - the main thing will be to get good grades and enjoy the course.

friday16 Fri 06-Dec-13 07:46:10

I'm not really sure if it should be up to him what he studies at A level - it should be UP TO YOU

Yeah, that'll end well.

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