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Is it usual to just do AS Further maths?

(34 Posts)
longingforsomesleep Mon 24-Mar-14 12:38:27

DS is in year 10 and is very clear that he wants to do Computing at University. In addition to his GCSEs he's currently doing AS maths and AS Computing, both of which he should finish at the end of year 11 and, fingers crossed, finish the A2s in year 12.

At a recent parents' evening his computing teacher told him that the best universities for computing will ask for Further Maths at A level. DS's maths teacher then said that the school only offers AS FM and, if he stays on track, he will do this in year 13 when he's finished A2 maths. I need to clarify this as the sixth form prospectus is a bit confusing and seems to suggest A2 FM might be available.

But, I wondered if anyone knew if AS FM is the norm or whether we should be pushing for him to do A2? I've never really understood what FM is about but had thought that it could be studied alongside A level maths rather than after it and that people generally took it as a full A level?

FantaSea Mon 24-Mar-14 13:17:57

My DD is in year 13 and a friend of hers has had to take AS Further Maths this year (alongside his A2 normal maths) in order to satisfy an offer at Cambridge. Before he applied he was worried that applicants who are doing the A2 FM would be prioritised as they already have their A2 in normal maths in year 12. He will end up with an A2 grade in normal maths and an AS grade in FM.

Hope that helps.

yourlittlesecret Mon 24-Mar-14 13:49:43

I'd be more worried about doing A levels in year 12. Top universities seem to prefer A levels to be done in one sitting.

noblegiraffe Mon 24-Mar-14 13:59:36

No, it's not usual. At my school students do AS in both in Y12 and A-level in both in Y13. Other schools do maths in Y12 then further maths in Y13.

If he thinks he needs the full A-level then he should consider looking elsewhere. He has been poorly served by his school in doing AS in Y11 as this will make switching schools more complicated.

EBee57 Mon 24-Mar-14 14:06:50

Both my DDs senior schools offer Further Maths to full A2, one school does AS & A2 Maths in Lower 6th & AS & A2 Further Maths in Upper 6th, the other runs them as Maths and Further Maths AS in Lower 6th and then Maths and (for those who continue - not everyone does) Further Maths A2 in Upper 6th.

Many schools & colleges - both state & independent - in this area, SWSurrey, seem to offer the full A2 option for those who are interested and able.

Have you looked at the requirements of any universities where he might be interested in studying? Their websites will have the A level subjects and grades required. I have seen some that say they expect you to take Further Maths if it is offered at your school (though that was for a Maths degree) but they realised that not every school taught it and that the prospective student would not be penalised if that was the case - this link to Imperial is more informative
www3.imperial.ac.uk/ugprospectus/facultiesanddepartments/computing/entryrequirements

Hope that helps

titchy Mon 24-Mar-14 16:27:25

Blimey 2 x AS in year 11 - presumably to be followed by 2 full A level in year 12 an what, two more in year 13? Bad idea from a university point of view....

Takver Mon 24-Mar-14 16:56:10

The two local secondaries to here only offer FM to AS level - though I know some students study it to A2 through the welsh govt FM support prog which I think is an online prog with support.

longingforsomesleep Mon 24-Mar-14 17:35:23

EBee - Imperial was the place his computing teacher recommended. They seem to ask for A2 Further Maths in the table in the link you gave but then go on to say AS or A2. His teacher said that, if he doesn't have FM he will have to do a separate maths test for Imperial which its harder to do well in than it is to get a good grade in FM.

I know many universities expect A levels to be done in one sitting and I have resisted early exams with my other kids. However, I'm more interested in DS learning at an appropriate level for his ability rather than his age. He did GCSE maths at the start of year 10 and got an A* (only dropping a couple of marks) and is finding AS maths a doddle. His computing class is small (10), he thinks his computing teacher is fantastic and loves the course. He's far more engaged and stimulated by his two AS courses than he is with any of his GCSE subjects so, in the interest of keeping him interested in learning, I think for him, personally it is a good thing he is doing 2 early AS subjects. I know what it is to have a child disengage from school so my prime concern is to keep him interested.

Takver Mon 24-Mar-14 18:39:46

Maybe worth investigating the Further Maths Support Programme?

DD is only in yr 7 I'll admit shamefacedly to having asked about FM when visiting secondaries as she's very quick at maths so far, and also I found lack of FM (it wasn't offered at my school) a definite handicap at university - studying economics so not even a really 'maths-y' degree.

TallulahMcFey Mon 24-Mar-14 20:37:33

I'm with yourlittlesecret about unis liking the A levels taken all together in year 13. This caused my daughter problems and others I know and I will make sure that it doesn't happen to DD2.

TallulahMcFey Mon 24-Mar-14 20:41:27

It does depend how competitive the course is though and I've known people get into Bath and Imperial to study sciences without it being an issue but for my daughter doing Law, it was. Medicine and dentistry are the same.

longingforsomesleep Mon 24-Mar-14 22:41:19

Really, the comments about early exams aren't helpful. I've tried to explain why I think in my son's case it is preferable to him being switched off from school. He's already doing the AS courses so there's no point in people chipping in to say he shouldn't be. I'm asking for advice on FM.

BeckAndCall Tue 25-Mar-14 07:32:36

But OP the comments about early exams ARE helpful - if you want your DS to stand a chance at an offer from one of the ultra top unis which it sounds like he has the ability for.

Ok so you can't change what he's doing in year 11, but you can plan very carefully for sixth form. If he already has A2 s in the bag at the end of year 12 places like imperial and Cambridge will still ask for 3 A2s all taken together at the end of year 13. The A2s at the end of year 12 probably won't count for his offer. So his best grades ( I'm assuming) won't be taken into account.

So even though he could be the best computing science student they've seen, and if he'd done the A2 when everyone else does he'd have an offer, he might not be in such a strong position as others when it comes to exams in the subjects he's not so super strong at - which is the basis he'd be competing on ( eg a* A A in the subjects he still has to sit at the end of year 13)

TallulahMcFey Tue 25-Mar-14 07:48:53

BecKAndCall - this was the position my daughter found herself in and in affect had wasted one of her best subjects early and then was under huge pressure to produce another 3A's - which she did but with unnecessary pressure. If we had known, she could have just not done her A2 in year 12 (perhaps have done AS FM instead) and saved it for year 13, and the unis would have been happy with that. So, I see your point OP, we're not advising you about FM but I just don't want you to fall into the same trap as us. Others who know more about FM are advising you about it however.

summerends Tue 25-Mar-14 08:22:27

Longingfor could he not maintain his interest by doing the AS courses but not taking the exams? If he ends up having to teach himself A2 further maths then he might be pleased to have an easier first sixth form year revising earlier material for AS maths and computing whilst getting to grips with further maths. Instead of taking AS maths at the end of this year he could do additional maths GCSE.

bruffin Tue 25-Mar-14 08:34:35

Do you know what exam board?
DS is doing OCR Maths and FM. AS in year 12 and A2 yr 13. From what i can gather you can mix and match some of the modules in Maths and FM so your best results go into Maths and the not so good ones go into FM results.
School is changed to AQA last year because there is supposed to be a lot more resources.

AtiaoftheJulii Tue 25-Mar-14 08:39:17

The best thing to do would be to actually email Imperial/anywhere else admissions tutors, describe the situation, and ask what they advise.

longingforsomesleep Tue 25-Mar-14 08:54:53

What a great idea Atia - I will do just that!

SlowlorisIncognito Tue 25-Mar-14 11:38:22

I agree that it may be worth discussing his situation with admissions tutors. Even though he is young, the email will look better coming from him, although of course you can help him write it.

This from Imperial: www3.imperial.ac.uk/ugprospectus/facultiesanddepartments/computing/entryrequirements

and this from UCL: www3.imperial.ac.uk/ugprospectus/facultiesanddepartments/computing/entryrequirements

May be useful.

Some universities do ask for 3A2s taken in one sitting, or may consider those without this weaker candidates.

I think if nothing else it is very important that the school explain in the reference that the unusual way he has taken his exams is their decision, not his, and that they do not offer A2 further maths.

longingforsomesleep Tue 25-Mar-14 18:29:56

Have now discovered ds can do a full A level in FM in Year 13.

I'm sorry to be snappy to those offering advice about early A levels. I can hardly bring myself to type this, but he has to choose (by tomorrow) a 3rd option for Year 11 (to replace DT and RE which he sits in May/June). He can choose from a number of GCSE and AS subjects and he wants to do AS Electronics .......

This afternoon I've had a long chat with the Careers Advisor at his school who admits that there have been issues with other students doing A levels early when it comes to applying to uni, but feels that they tend to be in relation to places for Medicine (which he's not interested in). However, she acknowledges that it could be a potential problem and wants to talk to ds to get a feel for the type of course he might be interested in and then check with some unis what the pitfalls might be.

After further discussion with ds this evening, he's now planning:

Year 11 - complete AS in Maths, Computing, Electronics
Year 12 - complete A2 in Maths, Computing, Electronics; AS Physics
Year 13 - complete Further Maths (AS and A2) and A2 Physics

Does that sound ridiculous? Bearing in mind that he's already doing AS Maths (which he says is no harder than GCSE) and AS Computing (which he loves) and wants to do Computing at Uni, can anyone suggest a better/more sensible scenario for years 11-13?

BeckAndCall Tue 25-Mar-14 18:47:36

Sorry you're under so much time pressure OP but you're falling into the same potential trap there- only 2 A2s in year 13

Can you somehow delay electronics A2 until year 13? And maybe do FM AS in year 12?

Or delay cashing in the year 12 maths a2 until year 13 and combine with FM ( I know my own DS didn't cash in any maths until it was all done in year 13 but that was typical over two years - may not apply to doing it over 4 years?)

It seems so unfair that he may be disadvantaged by taking subjects early because he's so good at them, but it's best to know now and plan for it. And school's deadline of tomorrow can surely push a bit while you get in touch with a couple of admissions tutors?

summerends Tue 25-Mar-14 18:49:32

My understanding is that it is at the least safer if not necessary for 3 A2s to be completed year 13, however many appropriate AS /A2 levels he has done before.
Would n't it be better for him to do AS further maths in year 12 instead of A2 maths and then complete A2 maths, further maths and physics in year 13?

TeaAndALemonTart Tue 25-Mar-14 19:03:06

What a nuisance, he's obviously a bright boy and yet will be disadvantaged by taking the exams early.

One of my friends DSs had this issue and didn't get into any of his uni choices because of it. He went somewhere else in the end but really should have gotten into one of the top ones.

longingforsomesleep Tue 25-Mar-14 20:02:19

So is early entry as much of a disadvantage as not doing 3 in one sitting? If he does electronics in year 11 he could sit 3 x A2 exams at the end of year 12 - would that not be good enough?

summerends Tue 25-Mar-14 20:42:40

I've heard of very bright candidates with 3 to 4 A2 in year 12 being asked for a further 3 in Year 13 for their offer ( not medicine). Another confusing factor is won't the new style A level offers apply to him as he is in year 10?
He needs to ask the relevant admissions people, detailing exactly what position is he in now and his choices. Personally I am would want that information directly rather than relayed by the school.

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