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A Level subjects - too essay based?

(25 Posts)
Dancergirl Wed 28-Sep-16 09:12:35

Dd is in Year 11 and has to choose her A Level Choices by February.

We had a very informative meeting at school recently where pupils and parents attended talks on the subjects they are interested in.

Dd is thinking of English Literature, History, Government and Politics and Psychology.

I'm just a bit worried about the amount of essay writing involved in these subjects but there isn't really anything else she wants to do. She did consider Spanish briefly but isn't really a natural linguist and not too keen.

t4nut Wed 28-Sep-16 09:21:00

They are essay based, but if she chooses to go on to University anything she goes for will have a large written component so its good to get used to it.

Those are an extremely good fit as each will look for her to construct and present coherent arguments and analyse evidence. There will be a number of overlaps in contextual materials and theories.

OhYouBadBadKitten Wed 28-Sep-16 18:49:19

Does she need to do 4 or would she be ok with dropping to 3? a lot of colleges now strongly discourage 4.

Dancergirl Wed 28-Sep-16 19:30:09

She would do 4 in Year 12, then choose to one AS at the end of that year, then continue with the other 3 for A Level.

yeOldeTrout Wed 28-Sep-16 19:32:42

Is that normal, they really HAVE to choose by Feb of yr11?

NicknameUsed Wed 28-Sep-16 19:33:26

One of DD's friends is in year 12 and doing those subjects, and is massively struggling with the workload.

titchy Wed 28-Sep-16 19:47:56

That's LATE to be choosing ime! Mine had to choose when they submitted their sixth form applications at the end of year 10!

Obviously there is a bit of wiggle room to change the choices should GCSEs go pear shaped.

BackforGood Wed 28-Sep-16 19:50:07

YeOldeTrout - yes, that's normal to have chosen their preferences by then. There is some movement after GCSE reults come out, but schools need to know which courses they can run, who they have to teach which subjects etc.

Dancergirl - it's a pretty normal combination for ASs (not that all schools will choose to do ASs under the new spec). If they are leaning towards humanities subjects then there will be lots of essays. However, they won't need lab time or practicals time like some other subjects. People should always choose subjects they enjoy for A-level. They are a big jump from GCSE and the pupils need to want to be there.

NicknameUsed Wed 28-Sep-16 20:12:39

"That's LATE to be choosing ime! Mine had to choose when they submitted their sixth form applications at the end of year 10!"

That's way too early. It is usual to apply for 6th form in year 11. The 6th form open evenings are held in November round here and applications have to be in by around February, but I can't remember exactly when.

BackforGood Wed 28-Sep-16 20:14:26

Same here Nick

yeOldeTrout Wed 28-Sep-16 20:38:58

Oh FFS sad. You guys aren't crazy.

Although I know plenty of local kids apply quite late, Our local 6th form likes applications from 1 Sept of yr11, so it's not too early for me to get yr10 DD looking. Problem is she's currently full of angst about it all, so I hope she doesn't implode at having to make decisions.

Argh. Still, I guess there are opportunities in this.

Bobochic Thu 29-Sep-16 10:14:30

I think your DD should do Maths rather than Psychology.

Dancergirl Thu 29-Sep-16 10:25:08

There's NO WAY she will consider Maths! She can't wait to drop it.

RedHelenB Thu 29-Sep-16 10:45:48

Psychology isn't essay based.

t4nut Fri 30-Sep-16 15:39:15

I think your DD should do Maths rather than Psychology.

Entirely different aptitude! Like saying do Art instead of PE.....

Don't worry too much about selections now anyway - that's mainly for the school to forward plan. She can change her mind when she gets her results.

stream26 Tue 15-Nov-16 19:18:37

It really depends on your teachers- how many essays they decide to give you- and also of course how long it generally takes you to do an essay!
We do History and English Literature, with French and Mathematic and for me I know I would struggle with another essay subject! I suppose you could count French as an essay subject but they're only small essay! (In you case it's Spanish)
For English Literature advice good article
For History you really have to be commited so if you'd be prepared to switch it with Government and Politics then maybe it doesn't mean that much to you. If you're interested enough in the history then you should be fine.

EatonGate Tue 15-Nov-16 20:16:09

Does she have any idea what she might want to study at university? If it there's any chance it might be psychology, she might want to think about studying another science subject instead of Government & Politics, as some universities have this as an admissions requirement.

It also depends on where she might be aiming but Cambridge has both Government & Politics and Psychology on a B list of subjects that they consider less suitable university preparation,( ) and some Russell Group unis also look slightly less favourably on them.

GnomeDePlume Wed 16-Nov-16 13:06:38

Dancergirl what does she want to do post A level? Choosing A levels should be an iterative process: she may need to go a few times round the loop looking at post A level, revising possible A level choices and back round the loop again.

This should be a fun activity, visualising the future, imagining being at this or that uni. Do I like the look of the course/location? Can I imagine myself doing this?

DD now in Y12 does this a lot with her sixth form friends - they call it 'the future game'.

Do encourage her to read the A level specifications in detail. These are easily googleable. This is important. One of my DCs dropped plans for History A level when she found out the major theme was the Russian Revolution.

All three of my DCs reported that their friends were finding psychology both different from and harder than their expectations.

History and Eng Lit are facilitating subjects. RG unis will be looking for these. The other 2 will be hard work but some unis may not want them.

catslife Fri 18-Nov-16 08:30:14

Pyschology is a Science subject (the new specification is more Science based) but there are essays. If your dd really doesn't like Maths, your dd may need to rethink this one - there is quite a lot of maths (mostly statistics) in Pyschology. My dd (now Y12) considered this A level subject and had a "taster" session where the teacher confirmed this.
Provided your dd takes both English Lit and History in Y13 she should be OK even for RG unis (2 out of 3 facilitating subjects is fine).

Needmoresleep Fri 18-Nov-16 08:49:50

If she were a better linguist taking a language along with humanities is not a bad idea. In general there is less competition for English or history plus a language at good Universities , than there is for the single honours. Plus having a language does no harm when subsequently looking for a job.

bojorojo Fri 18-Nov-16 13:50:15

I totally agreed, needmoresleep. Languages are a facilitating subject and can result in a lower offer from a university if continued with a highly popular subject to degree level. However, History and English Lit are facilitating and together with Government and Politics will be essay intensive. However, all are good preparation for university and if two out of three A levels are fascilitating, that is just fine. Therefore definitely do English Lit and History.

One thing I would say though, is that two of these subjects are, presumably, new for her. Mostly schools do not study Psychology or Govt and Politics at GCSE. Sometimes there is a steep learning curve to get up to speed in new subjects. Is she ok with this? Would continuing a subject be easier?

dovesong Fri 18-Nov-16 13:53:18

I'm a natural essay writer and did three of those subjects plus another essay based one, and loved it. Helped me out during my degree too. If she likes writing essays I'm sure that's fine. Psychology isn't particularly essay based anyway. If you're naturally good at writing based subjects, English is a breeze and history is equally easy once you've figured out how to write an essay for it, plus a bit of fact learning.

ElodieS Fri 18-Nov-16 13:57:24

I think these looks like a pretty good set to me, and although there will be lots of essays, if she prefers essay-based subjects to maths, sciences and languages, she'll still find that easier I expect. IME government and politics is fairly easy if she likes and is good at history. Psychology might be a bit different though, it's worth checking out how scientific the curriculum is as it's technically a science I think. If she wants to do an essay-based subject at a competitive university they will look favourably on a strong set of essay-based subjects and the skills she develops will work well across the whole set.

TinklyLittleLaugh Fri 18-Nov-16 14:00:32

It's pretty much what my DD does (Art instead of Psychology for AS). She finds them a good fit in that lots of the skills, and even some of the content, are transferrable; for example she has used some of her history knowledge when writing about a novel's context in English Lit.

Lots of degree options too.

bojorojo Fri 18-Nov-16 14:51:57

I think it very much depends on what History syllabus you have studied at GCSE as to whether you get on with Govt and Politics and find it easy. G and P tends to be sold as a very up to date subject where pupils can debate the politics of the day - sadly it is not really like this and it is quite formulaic regarding content and not particularly exciting for young people with lively political views. You do need to learn quite a lot of political processes - DD found it surprisingly boring with no room for putting forward your views, however well argued.

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