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A level choices

(18 Posts)
PissedOffNeighbour Sun 22-Oct-17 16:07:16

DD is in year 11 and considering her A level choices. She fancies medicine or veterinary medicine, but I honestly don't know whether she will get the grades, but hopefully she will. She would like to study biology, chemistry and either English language or English literature. Her preference is for language but I don't think this is as well regarded as literature is it? The sixth form she favours allows them to start 4 subjects and then give one up after 6 weeks. Would these subjects be a good choice and would choosing language over literature be a bad idea? Thanks.

MrsLandingham Sun 22-Oct-17 16:15:28

You are correct. English Literature is a facilitating subject, whereas English language isn't.

I don't know if the biology / chemistry / literature combo would be acceptable for medicine or veterinary science, but it should be fairly easy to check on the university websites.


Rose0 Sun 22-Oct-17 16:19:38

I think for medicine/vet medicine a few universities like the third subjects to be a maths/science option, so firstly if she ends up applying make sure she checks the places she applies don't specify that!

Regarding the difference between English lit/language - I don't think it will matter too much. DD's friends who did medicine had a whole variety as their third option (or fourth) - maths, philosophy and ethics, physics, history, psychology, English lit, French. English lit is better regarded and is a "facilitating subject" but for medicine the most important thing is getting those 3As so if she is more likely to do well one English langauge I'd say she should take that. They mainly just want biology and chemistry. Trialling both for the first six weeks sounds like a good idea though!

Rose0 Sun 22-Oct-17 16:22:05

Neither psychology nor philosophy and ethics are facilitating subjects and DD's friends who took them as a third are now studying medicine at various unis (Bristol, Norwich, Sheffield - for interest) so I wouldn't let it be a huge factor.

DD also had a friend who did biology, chemistry and English lit and is now doing medicine at Liverpool so it's definitely a viable combination.

Littledrummergirl Sun 22-Oct-17 16:45:48

Ds1 is currently applying for vet med. He was advised to take chemistry, biology and either maths or physics.
I agree with the pp who suggested looking at requirements for the courses before making a decision.

catslife Sun 22-Oct-17 17:17:54

Agree with PP who have stated to check the uni entry requirements.
BTW A level English Language is very different to the GCSE so check what is actually covered in the A level course before choosing this option.

PissedOffNeighbour Sun 22-Oct-17 17:26:40

Thanks very much. I did check a while ago but will recheck. The English language course content sounds interesting - especially linguistics and development of language. She really doesn't want to take maths a level and the sixth form won't let students take physics without maths. Hopefully her gcse results will be good enough for medicine but if not then hopefully science and English at a level will mean she has a wide choice of other courses.

noblegiraffe Sun 22-Oct-17 17:40:55

Medicine and veterinary medicine are highly competitive and so she doesn't just need to be looking at A-level choices, but also work experience. The students I've taught who've gone for those courses had quite a lot of relevant work experience by the end of Y12 that they'd arranged independently.

Abra1d Sun 22-Oct-17 17:43:25

My daughter recently started at medical school. She started with maths, biology, chemistry and Drama and dropped the maths after AS level. She got several offer and there was no problem with the third subject being a humanities. In fact, she has to write an essay and thinks having done an essay subject to A level will benefit her.

Abra1d Sun 22-Oct-17 17:51:30

Volunteering is now more useful I think than shadowing. Working at carehomes or helping out with activities for people with disabilities--my daughter did Riding for the Disabled.

Shadowing is good to show you know a little of what's involved in being a doctor but can be hard to arrange. And can often be hard for students to organise if they don't have contacts--though it impossible if you are tenacious. But on personal statements and at interview the medical schools seem to like you being able to say how you observed teams of different professionals working together, challenges and opportunities, etc. It always comes down to what you saw and how you reflect on it and how that relates to the guiding principles for doctors. There's a good 2018 medical school admissions thread going that has a lot of good information on it.

Fffion Sun 22-Oct-17 19:47:56


And lots and lots of work experience.

Littledrummergirl Sun 22-Oct-17 20:01:21

And lots and lots of work experience.

Oh God, the work experience wine
Ds1 started his in the middle of yr11. He is still lining up placements for this year even though they won't count to his application, the experience will only help when he's there.
He also drew on experience that he has from extra curricula activities such as NCS.

They will need to be fully committed.

Fffion Sun 22-Oct-17 20:06:03

They should count on his application - in his personal statement as evidence. If he is interviewed, they have something to talk about.

leonardthelemming Sun 22-Oct-17 20:08:46

She really doesn't want to take maths a level and the sixth form won't let students take physics without maths.

Is this absolute? I ask because I used to teach physics and, although we encouraged students to take maths, we didn't insist on it, as long as they got a good (A) grade in GCSE maths.

However, we did make it clear that they would not be able to take physics beyond A level without A level maths. But this would clearly not be a problem in your DD's case.

My understanding is that chemistry is essential, for any medical course; biology not so much (because they teach anatomy as part of the course). That may have changed though, so she certainly needs to check.

Most of the doctors I've met (haven't met many vets) did physics, incidentally.

Rose0 Sun 22-Oct-17 21:08:49

Have a look at this - it outlines the medical school requirements. Some specify biology, some say any out of biology/physics/maths, some say 3 science/maths a levels. It also helps with where to apply if your DD doesn't do as well in her GCSEs (say As and Bs rather than A*s and As - anything below and for medicine I'd be concerned) but has good A level predictions and a strong UKCAT/ a lot of work experience.

I don't know much about veterinary but I think only 7 universities offer it which is why it's so competitive, so it should be able to find information for all of them.

BubblesBuddy Sun 22-Oct-17 21:24:06

She will have to decide vet or medic very soon so she can get started on work experience. She cannot do both. Surely she knows if it's animals or people that interest her by now? If not, is she really sufficiently interested in either?

Rose0 Sun 22-Oct-17 23:24:26

I'd say it's probably best if she gets a bit of work experience in both asap to help make the decision - my DD thought she wanted to be a vet until she shadowed one and fainted during a procedure, and then thought she wanted to be a doctor until she did work experience with a scheme our local hospital runs and didn't enjoy herself at all.

For medical work/work experience definitely look at hospital schemes as well as work in nursing homes/hospitals, and get your DD to email some doctors asking if they'd be willing to have a shadow (and obviously sell herself in the email!) - she might not get anything back but she may as well try and it worked for a number of DD's friends. Also one of DD's friends worked dealing with medical records at the GP, which I think was good experience and good for her to talk about.

PissedOffNeighbour Mon 23-Oct-17 08:21:13

She had 2 days of work experience at a vets in the summer and enjoyed it very much but thinks human medicine is the way to go for her. She has been offered more work experience there - would this be useful for medicine or not?

Her current school sixth form won’t let them do physics without maths but the other sixth form she is interested in will let them. Both are state schools but well-regarded. She could start 4 a levels at this other sixth form and then give one up after six weeks - physics or English.

Will look into what other work experience she could do. Thanks.

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