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GCSE Subject Choices - Are DPs Included in Anyway ??

(25 Posts)
RockinHippy Wed 09-Nov-16 15:59:29

I should start off by saying that I am very much for its DDs life, so its DDs final choice, but as she is very ambitious & determined to go to Med school, I am a little concerned at some of the noises she is making as far as what subjects she is intending to choose next Jan.

She has also missed a considerable amount of school, so hasn't had much experience of some subjects, which does make things even more difficult & stressful for her

The main issues atm is that she is determined to take a photography GCSE - this is in the arts group of subjects. She is raving in about her "passion for photography" which I am just not seeing at all. In the same group of subjects we have others that she excels at & would be very easy GCSEs for her. She does have an aptitude for photography & has won several competitions, including school ones, but in between competition times, the very good spec camera & even the very good phone camera attachments lay gathering dust. Camera might get used for YouTube video making, but shes even lost interest in that lately.

She got very teen angst angry with me when I pointed out that a camera gathering dust, doesn't shout "passion for photography" & now refuses to talk about GCSE choices at all. DH is a photographer, we are both artists of sorts, so the subject itself doesn't bother me. I am just concerned that DD is going in with unrealistic expectations of both the course & herself, when other options would be far less stressful for her & pretty much stress free guaranteed easy pass & stress is a big issue for her.

We have a similar situation with another subject choice group, only this time she is going with a subject she doesn't enjoy at all, has missed practically 2 years of, has no relevance at all to her ideas on future careers, but her skill set could make it easy enough for her as she writes very well & has an excellent memory for facts. Other subjects in that group could be very useful in medicine/science(which is her real passion) & she starts on an even field with everyone else as one is new & the other she has surprised herself by catching up & overtaking her peers in, getting 100% marks in recent tests.

If she wasn't so ambitious, I would worry less about her current stance & that she has now made it clear she thinks its none of our business confused

ShowMeTheElf Wed 09-Nov-16 16:07:38

To get into medicine she'll need 9 good GCSEs, including maths, English language, a double or triple science, a language, a humanity. Doing a GCSE because you really fancy it is a good idea because you are more likely to do well, but she needs to ensure that she is able to do the A levels she needs based on her choices. So generally, more 'academic' choices with one or two she really loves but which aren't necessary going to enable her A levels (out of(what, 10 or 11?) will be fine.

LIZS Wed 09-Nov-16 16:17:24

Creative subjects tend to be very labour intensive and tricky to score A* in. If she is insistent she needs to ensure all her other options are where her strengths lie. Maybe let her do her "passion" if she does a solid option in the other category.

bojorojo Wed 09-Nov-16 16:22:52

Many schools will do the compulsory subjects outlined by ShowMeTheElf plus English Literature. Once these bases are covered, good schools usually allow an art based subject, so Photography is no problem, possibly a skills based one like PE, or a technical subject. Photography at GCSE should be pretty easy for a competent photographer as you do not have to spend every day doing photography. Usually the teacher will set up shoots so that the syllabus can be covered. I dont think, for GCSE, she needs a passion for it. She just needs to be competent and she probably is. She obviously will not be doing A level photography, so I really would not worry. If she likes two subjects beyond the standard ones, then no problem really.

I cannot see why anyone would want to do two years of a subject she does not enjoy. What would be the point of that? She may have to do it though if it is a vital academic one. So if you say what subject it is, then maybe it would be possible to comment further.

Allthebestnamesareused Wed 09-Nov-16 16:23:31

Most schools will set up their options groupings alongside compulsory subjects that make it practically impossible for the student to make wrong choices at GCSE.

At A level she is likely to do Maths and Sciences if she wants to go into medicine so I would say if her options allow her to do photography alongside those subjects then I'd let her. As mentioned above the arty subjects are labour intensive and not necessarily an easy option. If she really wants to do it I'd let her.

catslife Wed 09-Nov-16 16:43:19

If she is considering medicine, triple science (or 3 separate Science GCSEs) would be preferable as this is better preparation for A levels.
An essay subject would also be a good idea to have a balanced combination of GCSEs.
Provided that she has covered all the main subject areas listed above and has filled out the form correctly, there will be no harm having a "fun" subject that she enjoys as her final option. If it doesn't work out it's far better for it to be a subject that is her choice than one which you have chosen.
A lot of teenagers do change their minds about what they want to do at a later date and provided they have a broad range of GCSEs that will give plenty of scope for choices at A level and beyond.

RockinHippy Wed 09-Nov-16 17:26:23

Thanks everyone

We have looked into what she needs to study medicine before & she has looked at The Student room site etc herself, so she knows she will need 9 GCSEs. She is on track to take Triple Science & Maths & English are easy subjects for her, plus she really enjoys all of these.

She has had her heart set on medicine since she was about 8, though has shown an interest in forensic science too. On occasion having watched old classic films where acting skill is core, she has said she likes the idea of that too if she doesn't do well enough to get into med school.

Drama is a real strength of hers, something she has always really enjoyed & she excels at, so seemed like a much easier & enjoyable option for her at GCSE level than the unknown quantity that is photography - good to know photography is a relatively easy GCSE though, thank you, that has put my mind at rest a lot.

The other subject group includes languages/history/geography - none of which she enjoys, but she does pretty well, but has to work harder in. She is saying she will take history as its facts, plus essay writing both of which are strengths. We had previously discussed & she agreed that Latin might be a good option as it would be a new subject for all of her class so she can bury her massively competitive, anxious perfectionist streak that means she feels a failure if not top of clss & might be useful for a medical/science career. Though as she has caught up & is now doing very well in & seems to be enjoying Spanish that seemed a good option too - but nope, out of the blue she wants to study historyconfused
P.E. Isn't an option for her as she cant do it at the moment & probably not for some time.

Got to admit, a change of career choice wouldn't be such a bad thing AFAIAC, she is such an anxious perfectionist I just cant see an NHS career suiting her well at all sad She has recently made noises about wanting to be a midwife instead, but that is a career she really cannot do for medical reasons, which she knows confused - she is being a contrary moo atm

Leeds2 Wed 09-Nov-16 17:33:22

I have no experience of photography GCSE as my DD'd school didn't offer it, but two friends with DC at two different schools said that their DC struggled with it because it was so time consuming. Not so much the taking photographs, but having to annotate the photos and write in reasonable depth about each one. There was a lot more written work than they were expecting.

DPotter Wed 09-Nov-16 17:37:38

I think its fair to say that the days when latin was useful for medicine have long gone . Spanish would be a much better bet as it is so widely spoken over the globe.
as long as she has a good range of subjects, she'll be fine.
Looking back at the GCSE options stage - I just wonder why we put our kids through it. By the time you have the basics included, the so called choices come down to 2 - and it seems an awful lot of fuss and angst just for 2 subjects.
nothing wrong with history - good to know how the world ticks, and my niece who is a medical student did GCSE and A level Drama so it didn't do her any harm.
one thing struck me - your comment about not being able to do midwifery for medical reasons - medicine is not a soft option either for those with medical conditions - long hours, shift work, never knowing when the next meal is.....
let her choose - she's the person who is going to have to study the subjects not you. and the school should be better placed to put her right on the best selection for medicine.
oh a photography may be easy in the intellectual sense, but any artistic subject requires a shed load of work to build up a portfolio

scaevola Wed 09-Nov-16 17:52:12

Try working backwards a bit.

To get into medical school, you need A levels in chemistry and probably maths (though you might get away with physics), biology is nice to have but not usually required. Other subjects may also be welcome, as long as they are the strong facilitating ones.

The other thing you need is a track record of activity which shows your interest commitment - St John's ambulance, working in a care setting, finding relevant shadowing/work experience opportunities etc. Now, when is she going to start doing these? Because longer standing commitment is better than all crammed in at the last moment, and anyhow you need time to arrange and actually do.

The reason I post this out is because that is a demand on her time. Just as GCSEs with a performance or portfolio element can be.

Doing 'one for fun' is a great idea though, and if she is dead set on photography, then I think that's what she should do, despite you (reasonable) reservations. Because you really do need very good grades to be a doctor, and the next four years could be quite demanding.

RockinHippy Wed 09-Nov-16 18:08:01

I have every intention if letting her choose, just a bit concerned at where she is currently heading with that & why wondering what her friends are talking about choosing & if that is why I have nothing against History, its a subject I personally live as does DH, but it makes no sense at all as a GCSE choice for DD. Now she is back in school & very clearly enjoying Spanish, we had hoped she would go for that, plus come exam time, we have a good friend who teaches it at both GCSE & A level & would gladly help her through her exams.

I am concerned about medicine with her health problems, but having posted on here in the past about that, plus other sources, seems she will be fine & others do it with the same condition - our GP actually has it too, so I think its more a case of being careful about what area of medicine she goes into, rather than avoid it all together. Maternity units are another matter though as she wont cope well in a persistently warm temperature & Gas & Air is a risk to her. Ive known of people with her condition have to give it up as a career for those reasons.

I agree with the amount of angst over GCSE choices, it would be great if it wasn't so, but I suppose the flexibility works better with such varied study/career options at the end of it. Good to know schools are better at supporting them through this. Maybe I am just worrying more than I need based on dreadful careers advisors back in my day, though DD has had a sudden about turn too.

This has been good though, I am glad I posted & asked. I now know that DD needs to ask exactly what the course & exam in each subject she has an interest in, actually entails so she can choose wisely

RockinHippy Wed 09-Nov-16 18:19:02

Thank you Scaevola (x post)

The other thing you need is a track record of activity which shows your interest commitment - St John's ambulance, working in a care setting, finding relevant shadowing/work experience opportunities etc. Now, when is she going to start doing these? Because longer standing commitment is better than all crammed in at the last moment, and anyhow you need time to arrange and actually do

If this is needed now, then it is a real worry, as it is just not an option right now as she is still recovering from a long serious illness & just about managing school itself. Arranging it isn't a problem though as we have friends who can & will help with that. Her health will improve though, but waiting on treatment.

Is chemistry really a preferred option over biology for A level?
She much prefers Biology & though is academically fine with both chemistry & physics, she doesn't really enjoy physics so much at all.

RockinHippy Wed 09-Nov-16 18:36:01

Ive double checked & its Biology & Chemistry where she wants to go, which is fine

mummytime Wed 09-Nov-16 19:10:45

Photography GCSE is not easy. It involves creating at least 3 portfolios of work on different themes, these are not just taking pictures, but taking pictures on a theme, then using techniques such as photoshop to manipulate them, and showing how your images are inspired by the work of other artists. It involves learning a lot of techniques, doing a lot of analysis and a lot of self-reflection.
Some of these would be excellent skills for any future medic. Also GCSEs are not all about academic grades and future career - enjoyment should be a big part. And Photography will give someone something to talk about at interview.
As for Latin - it's not necessary for Medicine (and hasn't been for at least 40 years). Also your DD will not ultimately be competing with other students in her school who have only been studing the subject for 2 years, but with those from other schools who have studied for 4/5 years, and those from Prep schools who have studied for 11 years.

Also she may well change her mind about what and where she wants to go over the next few years. I know plenty of people who did even having done lots of "extras" to help them get into medical school.

Biology is the least relevant of the sciences for Medicine, and she may regret when she starts her degree having dropped Physics (even if they let her in without it).

MedSchoolRat Wed 09-Nov-16 19:17:56

Is chemistry really a preferred option over biology for A level?

(so I work in a MEDschool as name implies)

Something I heard today from senior bots, but not confirmed until it happens, I suppose...
More places are going to be opened up (govt plan)
Number of Applications for places are generally falling
If all the proposed places for domestic students get created, and A/A* in chemistry stays as the expected standard, then 97% of the students who get A/A* will end up in medical school.

Obviously they don't all want to be docs & that would rob other subjects of excellent scientists.
So either not that many medschool places will be offered to home students... or the threshold may actually go down.

Who knows what will happen. But definitely chemistry is The Subject to have.

Why does your DD want to be a med. doctor? Is she a problem solver?

bojorojo Wed 09-Nov-16 21:17:39

IT would not be sensible for your DD to set her heart on just one med school as you cannot guarantee entry. She can apply for 4.

As my DD did Photography A level, I can assure you that the GCSE is less onerous. Yes, you do portfolios and need to critique your work, but usually teachers take you on a trip and ensure that there are opportunities for taking appropriate pictures. It is no more work than Art and is enjoyable if you like taking photos and thinking more deeply about them. One word of warning: make sure the teaching is good. It makes a massive difference. Look at previous results.

Regarding med school: there will be, even in the future, many applicants with top notch GCSEs and with more than the bare minimum of 9. She ideally should have a language (Spanish) and a humanity (History or Geography). This is considered to be part of a rounded portfolio of subjects and, in a competitive world, is the best option. History is a very solid GCSE. Don't forget that some med schools give a lot of weight to GCSEs.

RockinHippy Wed 09-Nov-16 23:00:42

Thank you for all the added info as regards what the Photography GCSE entails, it doesn't sound like something she wouldn't cope with tbh, as she can do a lot of that already

MedschoolRat thats very interesting as regards possible recruitment changes. Though we have come across problems only this week with doctor shortages affecting appointments, so Im guessing it is needed.

Yes, she is a problem solver & very much a creative thinker too. Her reasons for wanting to be a doctor are to "help people, preferably kids" & to "be a better doctor than some she has met, one who listens" (she/we have had some bad experiences)

Though she has just told me tonight, that she is going to be a midwife, but go through med school & get qualified anyway just to keep her options openconfusedconfusedconfused I swear she is out to wind me up this week

Shes also now told me that she also intends to do a Psychology GCSE as "it looks fascinating & she will really enjoy it"

Med school is way off, if she doesn't change her mind of course but she is intent on just applying to the local one, & reapplying until she gets in, with good reason as staying home will take a huge amount of pressure off her as regards getting through the course itself, as she knows her health problems could make it harder for her, plus she has said many times that she cant imagine living anywhere else but here & there are good reasons for that too.

Once qualified she should be fine, her health should improve by late teens early 20s & as she has the same conditions I do, I know that success in a full on high pressure career is more than doable

She has until January to think about GCSE choices & hopefully she will have had a chance to get her head around the workload attached to each choice, which she thankfully agrees she needs to find out about & to choose wisely

Thanks again

LIZS Wed 09-Nov-16 23:23:00

Have you checked the school's exam stats for recent years particularly in the subjects she has less experience of. Much can depend on the teaching standards and how well the teacher gels with pupils if they only have 2 years to get up to speed. Also if she is likely to have any health issues and absence it may be worth considering how much study could be done independently or away from the classroom.

RockinHippy Wed 09-Nov-16 23:44:39

Thanks LIZ, thankfully school exam stats are well above average across the board. Though teaching quality is a good point as DD feels her current science teacher isn't great which is frustrating her a lot atm, but DD is a perfectionist, is very hard on herself, plus has had a couple of years of excellent 1-1 core subject teaching (EOTAs) which suited her way better than class tbh & it might be her perception of it is a bit skewed based on that, tests coming up soon should show up any real problems, which I doubt given how complimentary this same teacher has been about DD

RockinHippy Wed 09-Nov-16 23:48:08

Health issues & absence are a worry, though her health has improved a lot thanks to discovering & treating a second medical condition, but treatment is ongoing & getting it frequently enough may be an issue, though she does currently have more frequently than most, do we are very hopeful, that putting the usual viruses aside, attendance will be much better - currently keeping an eye on that

Decorhate Thu 10-Nov-16 06:40:59

Hi. You might also want to look at some of the "applying for medicine" topics in the Higher Education board for useful tips.

My dd is currently in her 2nd year studying medicine. Based on her experience:

It is really important to get very good GCSE marks. She did Dance & Drama GCSEs & regretted it as it is not easy to get top marks in creative subjects. She wished she had done Geography instead, for example, as she could have got a good mark just by working hard. Having said that, unless you are applying to Oxbridge you don't need an A* in every single one. But with the changes to GCSEs being introduced there is a lot of uncertainty & unpredictability.

Most if not all medical schools require A Level Chemistry. Currently that is a more important one to choose (and be good at) than Biology. But it can change all the time & you will restrict the medical schools you can apply to if you don't do both.

Regarding work experience, please don't panic. Medical schools know it is not easy to get. In fact they prefer relevant voluntary work over say shadowing a family friend.

My dd volunteered with a local group of young adults with learning difficulties once a fortnight for an hour. The NHS trust in our area also runs a programme for teenagers applying for nursing/medicine where they can get a placement in a local hospital. It was a bit complicated to apply for & dd kept missing the application deadline so had only been doing it for a couple of weeks before her UCAS application went in. You can be creative in your PS!

abeandhalo Thu 10-Nov-16 07:15:47

I did the photography GSCE is was pretty easy.

I think choosing subjects based on what you think you might want to do in the future is tricky, b/c your mind can change so much in a short space of time. It was actually when I did the photography GSCE that I decided to study that at university instead of what I had planned to do.

I think picking subjects you're passionate about and good at is a positive way to go, logic suggests it will eventually lead you to a degree / career you are passionate about and good at!

Needmoresleep Thu 10-Nov-16 09:58:47

Rockin' I would not worry too much as long as she has the three sciences, maths and English covered.

We had a similar debate with DD. She wanted to do art and I thought she should do ICT where she would get a better grade. In a way we were both right. She loved art, but not having the eight A* meant she was one point off getting through Nottingham's filter. (And others are right, in that art seemed to take as much time as her other GCSEs combined.) Her attitude was that she wants a balance in her life. Yes she wants to study medicine, but not at the expense of everything else, and indeed she feels she will be a better doctor if she maintains a good work-life balance.

I am not sure if all the advice above is correct. Requirements keep changing but I doubt you will ever need more than 9 GCSEs anywhere. Having a "fun" one is fine - beyond the core subjects I don't think anyone outside Oxbridge looks at what you took. I doubt anyone requires a language except possibly UCL. Mummytime is right about the private school kids having studied Latin for ages, though equally, if you have a good memory, it is something that can simply be learnt. I think the reading, evaluating, and writing skills that come with history are really useful in almost any context. And at the end of the day not that many medical schools place a huge emphasis on GCSEs, though obviously having a good collection of A*s keeps more doors open and can be useful if your UKCAT score is disappointing.

MedSchoolRat's point is interesting. I can see some potential silver linings in opening up admissions. The number of hurdles and boxes to tick had become seriously off-putting and I suspect plenty of kids who had the academic ability and who would have made good doctors were put off by the need to evidence huge commitment to your chosen career, essentially suggesting that if you had not decided on medicine by the age of 14 (and thus selecting the right GCSEs), you were stuffed. I briefly researched overseas training options (Ireland appealed) and was a bit hmm about kids with mediocre academic qualifications heading off to remote parts of Bulgaria. Presumably they would only qualify if they met EU requirements, but still a sense that better candidates, without the resource to fund five years of study abroad, were missing out because of the limited number of training places in the UK.

Madmog Thu 10-Nov-16 10:30:58

Your DD is still young so keeping her options open is a good idea.

When my DD choose her options she decided that as long as she had English, Maths, triple science, a language and a humanity, she would happily choose what she'd enjoy for the others. Five years on the language she loved, she hates. Out of the ones she choose for pleasure, she is definitely carrying on with one for A level as that will be required for her chosen career path.

If they want to do subjects, they'll cope with the work. DD is doing 11 GCSEs including an art subject and music (in addition to which she has to have music lessons, take part in school clubs, concerts). She does six school clubs as well. There are others who are naturally brighter and don't need to spend so much time perfecting coursework, but she copes.

BackforGood Thu 10-Nov-16 19:47:19

dd of a friend of mine now in her 4th year of medicine, was saying to me not long ago, how incredibly useful latin has been to her during her degree.....

I agree with those who say it is much more difficult to get top grades (will now be an 8 or a 9 rather than an A*) in create subjects where people's opinion comes into the marking.

My dd really regretted doing drama, as your mark was so dependent on the others in your group, and (in her school anyway) a considerable % of people who opted to do drama weren't there to work hard and try to achieve a top grade. Other subjects you can crack on yourself, but group work relies on the whole team being willing to.

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