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Science teachers - advice please!

(13 Posts)
Noitsnotteatimeyet Mon 29-Aug-16 08:54:12

Ds has to choose his A-level subjects on Wednesday. His original plan was to do maths, computer science and whichever two sciences he got the best grades for at GCSE. His school insists on everyone taking AS levels regardless of whether or not the subject is reformed so they're still expecting pupils to choose 4 subjects with the option of dropping one at the end of Y12.

Unfortunately Ds's GCSE results reflected the amount of effort he'd put in ... So while he was 'supposed' to be getting all A* and A, he actually ended up with As in maths and computing and Bs in all three sciences.

Everything I've read suggests there's a huge gap between GCSE and A-level and I'm worried that starting out with a B will make getting good science grades really tricky. Which of the three would be the 'least impossible'?

I'm also very worried about how he's going to cope with maths A-level with only a lowish A at GCSE but that's another thread ...

hellsbells99 Mon 29-Aug-16 09:11:36

I have 2 DDs who both took all 3 sciences and maths at AS level. They would say physics was the hardest. But they both had to put a lot of work in. If your DS is prepared to work, he may have a chance. If he isn't then I wouldn't take any of them. Biology was the 'easiest' but needed a lot of remembering facts.
Has he done any preparation over summer? He needs to go over his notes, particularly topics he found difficult.

ShanghaiDiva Mon 29-Aug-16 09:21:30

Avoid Physics!
Agree with Hells - Biology is the 'easiest' - but huge volume of material.
There is a large gap between GCSE maths and AS. My ds took maths in year 10 and AS in year 11 (A* then A for AS) and one big difference is that gcse tells you what to do whereas at A level/AS you have to think' what to do I have in my maths toolkit to solve this problem'. This takes some getting used to.
Ds also found the following website
for revision as you can create a pack of questions all on the same topic from loads of past papers. Ds would print off the pack and work through it until he had fixed any problems he had.

aaahhhBump Mon 29-Aug-16 09:26:38

Not exactly in the same vein but I'm studying HND which is 1st/2nd year university level after 10 years out of education. If your Son is good with problem solving then Chemistry/Physics is easier and if he'said better at memory recall biology is better.

BikeRunSki Mon 29-Aug-16 09:34:41

He needs to chose what he is interested in. I was always going to do Maths, Chem and physics or biology, depending on what I got the higher O level grade (last year of Os) in. Accordingly, I picked Biology, although my heart wasn't in it. At half term I dropped Biology and persuaded the Physics teacher to let me do Physics. I then had to work like billyio to catch up. It was the right decision though, I ended up doing a Physics degree.

sablepoot Mon 29-Aug-16 09:35:06

My DC both found physics easier than chemistry...

ChrissieLatham Mon 29-Aug-16 09:37:04

I've always heard that chemistry is the hardest A level out of all of them

BikeRunSki Mon 29-Aug-16 09:41:04

Is is best a remembering stuff (biology) or working things out (physics)?

What does he want to do when he leaves school?

Noitsnotteatimeyet Mon 29-Aug-16 10:13:38

Thanks - unfortunately he isn't really interested in anything at all other than computer games hmm

He doesn't know what he wants to do after school other than that it will probably be something to do with computers. His work experience was in the IT department at his school and he sort of enjoyed it (ie didn't absolutely hate it...). To be fair he has pointed out that not many 16 year old boys have definite career plans and that both dh and I ended up doing something completely different from what we thought we were going to do at 16...

He's good at analysing things and dh who works alongside a lot of researchers thinks he'd do very well in that kind of field - if he can get to the point of having a job in the first place. However he can be very rigid in his ways of thinking (has ASD) and sometimes goes company down the wrong track when problem-solving and gets stuck.

He says he's going to work hard for sixth form as A-levels are important and GCSEs 'didn't really count' but he's done no preparation over the summer and I don't think he's got any idea of the scale of the gear change he's going to need to make.

There's no way he'd be able to cope with essay-based or more subjective subjects so has a fairly limited choice. Ds1 did IB at his school so this is the first time I've dealt with A-levels

hellsbells99 Mon 29-Aug-16 10:25:52

Physics would go well with his other 2 subjects and would keep the doors open in terms of engineering etc. I would consider a tutor from the beginning though if he got a B at GCSE or if school do subject clubs at lunch or after school (ours did), he needs to attend those. He will need to work every evening and go over stuff he has learnt everyday - speaking from the experience of 2 that have just finished!

noblegiraffe Mon 29-Aug-16 10:52:57

From experience, he is going to need help with managing his time. He will have free periods at school and he will need to use them to study, and also he will need to spend hours in the evening too.

Teachers will tell him that for every hour in the classroom he should be spending an hour outside the classroom studying, yet many DC don't appreciate till too late how much they need to do. They also need to do independent study and not just complete whatever homework has been set. For maths, he will need to make use of resources on the Internet (mymaths,, to improve his knowledge of A* GCSE topics (especially algebra) that come up on C1 and that his classmates may already be fluent in.

If he has not been motivated to study before, then he will need help (if he will let you!) to plan this out. If he has a free period, what will he do? Where will he study? What will he need? In the evenings when will he study? If he gets home and starts playing computer games then that could well be the whole evening wasted.

Can't advise on the sciences, sorry.

EndoplasmicReticulum Tue 30-Aug-16 16:56:25

I would recommend physics for him rather than biology (biology teacher). The new A level is less about "remembering things" and more about applying knowledge. There is also the requirement to write an essay for the A level (not AS).
I have not taught A level physics but my students who do A level maths (and are good at it) tell me that they find physics easier than biology. The general consensus seems to be that chemistry is the hardest.

Noitsnotteatimeyet Wed 31-Aug-16 09:45:15

Thanks everyone- very helpful! He found the GCSE curriculum for physics excruciatingly dull which wasn't helped by having a less than inspiring teacher. He's had a look at the A-level syllabus and thinks it looks a lot more interesting and he's been talking to current Y13s

Thanks also for all the helpful links - and we will look into getting a tutor for maths and physics early on

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