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A Level options

(16 Posts)
popuptent Fri 06-Nov-15 06:22:13

Would be grateful for any opinions on following options. DS has dyslexia so it's been advised that he only picks 3 and just focuses on them. Is it possible to start 4 in the knowledge that you are going to drop your least favourite early on?

Definite choices are Geography and Drama

Third option is either English Lit or Phil & Ethics

I think that English Lit is the more facilitating subject but he would absolutely love Phil & Ethics. I could see him doing Philosophy at degree level but I don't think he would need Phil & Ethics to do this. Geography seems the odd one out but he absolutely loves it. If he wanted to do Geography at degree level then would he be ok without another science? A Drama degree is also definitely a possibility.

Any wisdom to add?


wannabestressfree Fri 06-Nov-15 06:25:13

English lit is hard going I know this as I teach it.... If he has drama already as an option I would maybe steer him toward the philosophy?

senua Fri 06-Nov-15 09:16:13

DS has dyslexia so it's been advised that he only picks 3 and just focuses on them.

I hope that isn't the only 'support' that he is being given.
I agree that both of Drama and Eng Lit seems overkill.
Have a look at University websites and see what A Levels they ask for, especially for Physical Geography.
Are you only looking at the one sixth form option? Are you also looking elsewhere? Everyone needs a Plan B.

ifonly4 Fri 06-Nov-15 10:18:36

I'll be following your post with interest. Rightly or wrongly, I think my DD should continue with a core subject (someone may have a comment on this which may help you with Eng Lit), but she's loves art, music, geography & ethics - apparently some sixth forms locally are limiting it to just three A levels.

Ohtobeskiing Fri 06-Nov-15 10:31:44

In terms of keeping as many doors open as possible I would think doing Eng lit is the slightly better option.

Geography can be done as either a BSc or BA - so he could certainly do a Geog BA degree without another science at A level.

homebythesea Fri 06-Nov-15 13:56:08

On geog, most places will allow you to swap between BA and BSC depending on your preference as you go along, very few require a science A level (just gone through application process for Geog with non science DS!). The Phil&Eth is extremely essay heavy at A level- is he doing RS GCSE?

catslife Fri 06-Nov-15 14:02:32

DS has dyslexia so it's been advised that he only picks 3 and just focuses on them. Is it possible to start 4 in the knowledge that you are going to drop your least favourite early on?

The trouble is that I do know students with dyslexia who have successfully managed to study 4 subjects at AS level and also those without who have dropped a subject after mocks in January.
For most pupils the number of subjects is linked to GCSE grades so unless his dyslexia is so severe that it will seriously limit his GCSE grades, I personally would have thought that your ds should be given the option of taking the same number of subjects as everybody else.

popuptent Sat 07-Nov-15 09:20:40

Thanks for all your interesting posts. All seem very positive regarding all the choices. DS will get use of WP, Spellchecker and extra time. I am hoping that SPaG marks will be less important at A Level. He is going to need a lot of help getting the hang of essay writing and this is currently an "unknown". Can he rise to the challenge? This will mostly be down to his own determination and motivation. He is clever but has all the usual dyslexic challenges. It's heartening to hear of other dyslexic students doing well and overcoming their difficulties. He's doing Phil & Ethics GCSE. Maybe it's going to be a case of waiting to see what grades he gets - his first choice 6th form requires Grade Bs in chosen subject and English Language (which he should get thanks to it being the IGCSE with 20% S&L).

Kitella Sun 08-Nov-15 03:12:26

English lit is hard going I know this as I teach it.... If he has drama already as an option I would maybe steer him toward the philosophy?

On the Durham ranking of A level subjects Religious Studies is ranked as being at the same level of difficulty as English Lit.

By philosophy and ethics, I assume you mean Religious Studies rather than pure philosophy (AQA course)?

Is your son thinking of doing English (or related degree) at uni? If not, I shouldn't worry about doing English because that's all facilitating subjects really mean. They're required for some degrees. But if there's no chance your son would do a related degree, then the facilitating subject is of no more benefit than other degrees.

However, from Sept, your son won't be able to do just philosophy and ethics. If he's doing RS then he'll either need to also study a world religion or Biblical study. If doing philosophy, it's philosophy of religion and epistemology with no ethics until the second year. This is a govt reform change (RS), so applies to all students in all schools (although worryingly, not all schools seem to know about this yet!)

Finally, I'd be guided by what he enjoys, but don't be fooled into thinking that success at GCSE in RS will lead to success at A level. The GCSE is embarrassingly easy, and we have many students who select it at A level as it gets their best GCSE grade.... Unfortunately they soon get a shock when they start their A levels

popuptent Sun 08-Nov-15 08:35:09

Thanks Kitella
That is all really interesting. His current school is doing OCR Philosophy of Religion and Religious Ethics. Another sixth form is doing the pure Philosophy which appears more attractive but it wouldn't be first choice sixth form. Most seem to do Phil & Ethics.

He really doesn't know what he wants to do. I would say his strengths are in critical thinking, debate, drama, creative writing, but with dyslexic weaknesses in the writing (which will need to be seriously addressed). He will be ok with the course content but I am concerned about all the essay writing. It's heartening to learn that some dyslexic student are able to rise to the challenge.

Kitella Sun 08-Nov-15 15:29:10

Pop up,

I teach both and I would say the Philosophy is significantly harder, especially to get a high grade.

Unless your son is very academic, they usually fare better on the RS course.

That said, the RS course places emphasis on writing in detail about a topic, whereas the philosophy places emphasis on being able to construct an argument, and writing precisely. About 40% of the AS content is the same, but I would advise the philosophy suits a particular type of student who thrives with it. Otherwise, the RS is generally easier.

popuptent Mon 09-Nov-15 06:38:58

Kitella Thanks again. Very interesting.

I suspect that he might really like the Philosophy - I don't think his thinking has been really challenged so far. I could be very wrong though. He has big strengths alongside big weaknesses and it's the writing that concerns me the most. I guess the writing challenges would be the same for both.

TeenAndTween Mon 09-Nov-15 08:04:29

wanders in...

You do know there is a Creative Writing A level, don't you?

... wanders out again

BertrandRussell Mon 09-Nov-15 08:19:20

My did is currently reading philosophy at university. She is one of the very few on her course who had an A level in the subject, and she was quite disappointed in her first year courses because they were largely going over stuff she had done already. Gave her more partying time, but wasn't so good academically! But she really loved the A level course- it was the AQA Religious Studies and Ethics (I think- something like that). Quite essay heavy, though.

popuptent Mon 09-Nov-15 08:33:39

.... off to investigate Creative Writing....

Aftershock15 Mon 09-Nov-15 09:21:43

Of course it's possible. It just depends on the rules of the sixth form he attends. I'ld say the question is more if they will let him start 4, given their advice.

We've started A level choices for ds1. His independent school have decide to move totally to only doing the two year course where possible and the only subject he is doing with AS level is maths. They will all start 4 and drop one at the end of lower 6th. They strongly discourage more than 3 A levels unless one is further maths.

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