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Increasing Physics GCSE grade to do a level physics

(29 Posts)
timeforsomethingnew Wed 01-Feb-17 11:00:08

DD got a C in physics mocks in Nov. She is predicted B and wasn't too worried as she said she felt like she had room to revise more thoroughly and hadn't put as much time into that science during mock revision.

She is making a level choices now and our research shows that given her current career interests (architecture, product design, industrial design) she ought to do physics or maths. Maths is ok (she should get an A or A*) but school have generally advised not to take at a level for her set given the significant stretch. So she was thinking she would like to do physics .

She's speaking to the physics teacher this week to get more feedback on whether it is realistic or not but anyone have experience of lifting grades with concerted effort?

She is v well organised and hard working but she is dyslexic, and needs to work hard to understand what questions are asking for and make sure she answers longer questions accurately. I imagine her C is a combination of knowledge/revision and also exam technique .

NewIdeasToday Wed 01-Feb-17 11:12:09

Has she had a full assessment for dyslexia by an educational psychologist and if so did that give any suggestions about future career opportunities? I'm just wondering if Architecture would be a good choice in the circumstances?

It sounds like you and your daughter need to sit down with someone from the school (Head of sixth form?) and discuss choices that will build on her strengths. Many sixth forms expect you to have A / A* in the relevant subject at GCSE to take an A level, as the step up for A level is significant. Also physics A level includes a lot of maths - so not taking maths could be a disadvantage.

TeenAndTween Wed 01-Feb-17 11:27:14

Personally I would think that if she can't get an A (or close to it) for physics GCSE then A level would be a real struggle. A B that just misses an expected A is very different from a B that is just better than a C.

DD1 got the grade for her P2 paper up from Cs in practices to A in the real thing by virtue of finally getting the hang of plugging numbers into equations, rearranging and solving accurately. It was amazing how many marks there were for that, and she didn't need to understand the physics all that well, just pick the correct equation from the start of the booklet.

I think you / your DD need to look at papers she has done and understand where marks are being lost, and go from there.

timeforsomethingnew Wed 01-Feb-17 11:34:49

Hi newiideas - thanks for your response. Yes she has ed psych report. What is it about architecture that you think may be a struggle given she's dyslexic?

Speaking to school about it all too so will definitely get good input from them and also good support at GCSE and A level whatever she chooses. They have said that taking maths with physics not essential as they run additional clinics and teach the required maths as they go through. It's 40% maths based so they do require A/A** for both maths and physics.shes predicted A in maths and her teacher said that could be A* if she continues to work hard.

Overall she is predicted to get a good set of GCSEs with a mix of A*, mostly As and a couple of Bs. So this is more a question of picking right choices .

mummytime Wed 01-Feb-17 11:34:57

Why is she will get A or A"*" in Maths do they advise not doing A'level. If she is getting those grades then maybe she is in the wrong set (I have DC who got good Maths grades from a relatively low set, and went on to A'level).
I would talk to her Physics teacher and see what she can do to improve her grade, and if they think A'level would be appropriate for her.

If it really isn't then maybe she should look at colleges and a BTec route?

JustRichmal Wed 01-Feb-17 11:54:25

The CGP revision guide are very good. If she is in a lower set, they may not be teaching her the whole syllabus, so it will help fill in the gaps.
Also, doing exam papers then going through the mark scheme to see what the ideal answer should have been.
I'm sure I heard somewhere that those with dyslexia have better special awareness and ability to think in £D, so make better architects.

timeforsomethingnew Wed 01-Feb-17 12:18:52


I was actually thinking that this morning re Maths! They very much present it as being for exceptional mathematicians and made a point of saying it is not for everyone. Has scared her off and me too. I'm going to get her to ask specifically about it though.

Her school have 7 sets for maths - she's now in set 5. It's definitely the right set for her - towards the top of the set I think. She's in a middle set for sciences.

Good to hear about your DD and the approaches she took to get there.

School require at least A and can see why they would need that.

Aftershock15 Wed 01-Feb-17 12:20:01

Looking ahead what A level grade does she need to get in physics to get into an architecture degree? Dc school do not recommend science A levels without an A* at GCSE as in their experience this means you are more likely to get a C/D at A level which isn't great for competitive university entrance, which architecture is I assume.
When I posted this before someone said this was ridiculous so I will say this is a school that gets very good GCSE results so if you don't get the A* you probably don't have the ability. The step up to A levels is pretty big.

timeforsomethingnew Wed 01-Feb-17 12:22:15

Thanks - think she's got that guide and will check. Her dyslexia means she has to work harder for oral and written comprehension - but she's great spatially and expects to do v well in art and DT.

This is all helpful - thank you

ChocoChou Wed 01-Feb-17 12:25:55

To do physics at A level she really should get a A at gcse, no question about it.

She should do maths if she's predicted an A that's strange that the school say not to. I'd def be trying to find out why.

So, no to physics. Yes to maths !

timeforsomethingnew Wed 01-Feb-17 12:32:07

Aftershock - yes, think that's what school are driving towards.

From what we've researched As and Bs. Russell group all As probably - others maybe a B would be OK. Some unis lower that but I would need to research job prospects etc. She probably wouldn't be aiming Russell group for architecture - the next level down I'd say.

Product design /industrial design - Bs possibly - a preference for physics or maths.

The challenge is to try keep options open for her - to close down an area of interest so early seems a shame. But equally don't want to be unrealistic or set her up for failure. Also seen her work hard for things that matter to her. If she wants to do it and is capable even if that comes with more hard graft than other students then want to know she can.

mummytime Wed 01-Feb-17 12:38:46

I would say unless this is a very high achieving grammar, that if she is in set 5, maybe she should be looking at local colleges as a back up and looking at a BTec route if that is what she really wants to do.
Architecture tends to be advised against (very long course and few jobs money at the end). But there are lots of design courses. Is she good at Art/Graphics?

timeforsomethingnew Wed 01-Feb-17 12:38:50

Will now get her to have a discussion with maths teacher! I'm thinking same. I definitely wouldn't want her to do either without A.

Guess my main question was whether anyone had experience of raising a grad from C mock to A (where predicted was B)

What I'm picking up here is - possibly if she can identify the specific areas of weakness. So I'm going to spend some time in next few days to understand that and get her to speak to teacher.

CuckooCuckooClock Wed 01-Feb-17 12:54:46

It is absolutely possible to go from a C to an A.
It depends on why she got the C.
She needs to go through her mock paper and look at all the marks she dropped.
Depending on her dyslexia, she may be able to pick up plenty more marks from improving technique.
Can you get a tutor?

Also, sorry if this has been mentioned and I've missed it, does architecture really require physics? I get why it would be useful further down the path, but the architects I know definitely were artists first and picked up the necessary science (or not) on the way.

timeforsomethingnew Wed 01-Feb-17 12:57:59

Mummytime - yes pretty high achieving school - 70% of physics got A/A** and 60% maths .

Means that even the lower sets have their high grades. Only a few people got a C in maths and noone got a D or below.

She wouldn't want to move schools - v happy there so it's more about picking best options.

Cottonheadedninnnymuggins Wed 01-Feb-17 13:01:30

You don't need physics 'A' level to do architecture and I don't think 'A' level maths is a set in stone requirement either.

timeforsomethingnew Wed 01-Feb-17 13:02:51

Cuckoo- yes, seems like most courses need maths or physics. By taking physics instead of maths, she would already narrow the field. I think there are some unis which do not require maths or physics but there are fewer of them.

She's not even sure she wants to do architecture! - but physics also useful for industrial design/ produce design . So just aiming to keep her options open - i

timeforsomethingnew Wed 01-Feb-17 13:09:20

Cotton - from the requirements online, it does seem that most require maths or physics but you are right that it's not all. Will do some more investigation so can see what options there really are if she doesn't offer physics. From what we've looked at so far, possible options narrow down pretty fast. But it's not my area of expertise so I'm learning on line and taking advice from careers and uni application team at school. Certainly one architect I know does not have maths or physics but she qualified 20+ years ago at a less competitive uni.

Also, given it's such a competitive job market - I'd want her to research the employment stats for less competitive courses.

unfortunateevents Wed 01-Feb-17 13:45:46

DS1 is off to do industrial design at Loughborough next Sept (currently on gap year). He did neither Physics or Maths A level - his subjects were DT, Geography and Biology - and he had plenty of product design/industrial design options to choose from and got 4 offers - probably would have got 5 but only put 5th choice down to fill the form and pulled out of the interview process as he got all the other offers beforehand. Not having Maths or Physics did limit his choices somewhat but on investigating the course content, there was a great variation between design degrees, and for him it was obvious that the degrees which required either physics/maths were much more engineering-focused so not for him anyway.

timeforsomethingnew Wed 01-Feb-17 14:18:06

Unfortunatevents - congrats to your DS - DD's DT teacher specifically mentioned Loughborough as a corse he'd recommend she look at. He says it's excellent and a prior student is currently studying there and loving it.

Also appreciate your input that the ones asking for physics were more engineering focused. That insight is really useful as you are several steps further along than us.

unfortunateevents Wed 01-Feb-17 14:36:43

Loughborough has a great reputation for design courses and a modern, dedicated design building so definitely worth a look at. I have to qualify my thoughts on the different types of design course by saying that this is all filtered through DS1 (who might be talking rubbish! grin) However, having sat through several open day presentations it was interesting that although they mostly sounded the same to me, DS1 came out of all of them with very definite ideas about whether they sounded interesting or not, so there must be variations! He did get asked about maths at his Loughborough interview but as he had an A* at GCSE they seemed happy that this proved his ability sufficiently to think that he could cope with the maths content of the degree.

portico Wed 01-Feb-17 14:45:47

What is the exam board, andspec for the Physics, she should practise book questions, and also the exam papers, paying attention to the mark schemes and examiner reports. No messing about with learning techniques. Just practise questions, and review variancesgainst mark schemes.

aginghippy Wed 01-Feb-17 14:47:26

They very much present it as being for exceptional mathematicians and made a point of saying it is not for everyone. Has scared her off and me too.

Why are the school trying to scare students off maths? That sounds crazy. Maybe they are worried about their position in league tables. My dd's college is the opposite, they encourage students to do maths as it opens so many doors.

timeforsomethingnew Wed 01-Feb-17 14:49:34

Thanks Portico - good advice - will take a look

timeforsomethingnew Wed 01-Feb-17 15:05:34

Aginghippy - I'm going to ask them!!!

To be fair last year maths was the single most popular A level - looks like about 50-60% of students took it. They do mostly get A-B - 80% last year which reflects the selection at the front end I guess.

I suspect it's more about uni applications than league tables - the grade expectations are so high that unless there is a specific requirement for a particular course, the school recommend doing what they enjoy most and will get best grades in.

Difficulty for my DD is that if she did maths and say got. D, she's no better off than if she did something else and got an A or a B!

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