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Doing 4 a levels

(227 Posts)
Lunchonawagon Thu 03-Oct-19 21:46:57

Dd currently doing 4 a levels- history, maths, biology and chemistry which she started with the premise of doing maths to AS and then sticking with the others for A2. However, she’s now saying that she really loves all her subjects and wants to opt out of the maths AS exam to do the full a level (have to let the school know), saying that she doesn’t want to stop doing maths and also that she’s much more likely to get a place on her chosen degree (medicine) with maths. My concern though is that she will have much more work than her peers, who’ll be sitting the same exams having had more time to prepare, with less free periods (5 hours a week less) to study in. Am I underestimating her or am I right to be concerned about her mental health and grades next year?

OP’s posts: |
LIZS Thu 03-Oct-19 21:54:43

If she only needs 3 subjects, take 3. Dd did 4 and slipped a grade so did not get onto her first choice course. Had AS been an option she would have done that instead.

avocadochocolate Thu 03-Oct-19 22:09:36

What sort of grades is your DD getting? Mine is also doing 4 and is predicted A* in all of them, so my DD can clearly manage. Perhaps yours can too?

Talk to the school. They know your DD and must be able to advise. Good luck!

Lunchonawagon Thu 03-Oct-19 22:12:16

avocadochocolate She’s only a month into year 12 so obviously no grades yet but if GCSEs matter at all she did very very well (all 9s- she didn’t get my brains grin) but that was with hard work.

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noblegiraffe Thu 03-Oct-19 22:45:26

It’s early days yet. The maths AS is basically the Y12 content of A-level so she can make up her mind after Christmas (exam entry deadline Feb). The usual advice for medicine, however, is to focus on getting the best grades possible in three subjects, which the offer is based on, rather than potentially dropping a grade by stretching to four. She also needs to be looking into organising as much work experience as possible, which would be easier with three subjects.

AfterSomeAdvice1234 Fri 04-Oct-19 07:38:04

Honestly she should drop one. I was in the exact same position and the second part of maths and chemistry a level are much more challenging - it's a leap up and she'll need the extra time to spend on them to get the top grades. Good luck!

MrsElijahMikaelson1 Fri 04-Oct-19 07:41:16

My DD wants to do exactly the same A levels and wants to do medicine-she knows she needs biology’s chemistry and maths but completely adores history! Am thinking about maybe doing an EPQ in history instead as I think those 4 are hard work.

Theovertoad Fri 04-Oct-19 09:12:20

Same 4 A levels here.. same dilemma. 4 weeks in. I think it’s too much . I’m waiting and seeing at the moment.

Babdoc Fri 04-Oct-19 09:16:10

She would be best advised to do Maths, Chemistry and Biology and get top grades, to get into Medicine.
History can always be a hobby or side interest, and there’s always the option to read around it or study it as an adult, perhaps as an OU course.

Ginfordinner Fri 04-Oct-19 09:34:53

As far as I know only chenistry and biology are the recommended subjects for medical school. The third A level can be any subject. HYMS actually prefer the third subject to be a humanities as it demonsrates a breadth of education. This was said at the subject talk BTW.

CountFosco Fri 04-Oct-19 10:40:05

Why was the plan to drop maths? Would history be the better one to drop, there might be more synergy between the maths and science (although I am very glad I learnt how to write essays from my history teacher and I'm a scientist, different time and education system though).

Lunchonawagon Fri 04-Oct-19 15:28:01

countfosco her school doesn’t offer an AS in history whereas it does in maths. And with her really wanting to study history she thought the AS would be a good compromise

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CRAZYSQUIRREL Fri 04-Oct-19 17:28:46

You could have her take an AS and then continue on to A-Level in maths. If it becomes too much in the second year, then she can easily drop it with an AS but if not, she can take the A2 exam.

TimeforanotherChange Fri 04-Oct-19 17:48:30

Our very brightest, utterly brilliant Y13 student last year was doing History, Biology, Maths, Chemistry - and just about had a breakdown at Christmas from the strain.

Ended up having to drop History at Feb half term - and went on to get 3 A*s so it was the right choice to make. She was highly intelligent but it nearly killed her. I think you do have to think about the strain this kind of workload will put on your DD.

PeterJOgilvie Fri 04-Oct-19 17:50:09

She should absolutely continue the Maths A Level, especially if she would like to do Medicine at University.

You might want to encourage her to ask her a maths teacher that she likes to offer her extra support as they'll always want to help out one of their students that are keen.

Suki2 Fri 04-Oct-19 17:53:13

My son is taking 4 A levels; he's in the upper 6th and is predicted 3 A*s and an A.

One of his reasons for doing this was to increase his chances on applying for Oxbridge; whether or not it really does increase his chance I have no idea, but this has been one of his big motivators. It has been a lot of work but he's very organized and managed to fit a very active social life in there as well! He also has a very time consuming extra curricular hobby (sports related).

Could Oxbridge be a possibility for your daughter? I'm wondering what is really motivating her to take on the extra work. Of course if she really likes studying that in itself could be enough. My son has always enjoyed studying but that is by no means his whole life.

Good luck to her!

Kazpollard42 Fri 04-Oct-19 18:02:31

My daughter went through exactly this. Those subjects have a heavy workload and she would be better to concentrate on getting 3 good grades rather than risk a 4th which is not needed anyway. It will massively restrict her study and revision time and she only needs 3 so it’s a bit of a waste taking 4 imo. Daughter dropped her 4th (was taking maths Chem physics biology ) as workload was huge. Was still huge with 3 hard subjects but manageable. Mental health has to come first! X

naoch4n Fri 04-Oct-19 18:11:00

I'm currently studying 4 and if she's capable of getting A* its worth keeping it.
However I'm almost sure all medicine courses only want 3 (check with the universities though) and couldn't care less even if you got a U in the fourth one (this is what Imperial College said), in which case it really is a waste of time to do 4. Focus on the BMAT and UKAT.
If she wants to do anything else then 4 makes her a stronger candidate.

Safiya80 Fri 04-Oct-19 18:19:23

OP, my DS is at an independent where a high proportion of them got all “9” grades etc and this is kind of the norm (or maybe the odd 8 or 7 for some). They are explicitly told NOT to do a fourth A-level. They have contacted all unis for advice on their A-level programme, including Oxbridge, RG and Ivy League and the feedback is that they would far prefer an EPQ rather than a fourth A-level. This is because the EPQ demonstrates the independent thought and research ability required for uni dissertations. Alongside this they are looking for a full and balanced CV - voluntary roles, other commitments / talents / interests - whatever these may be. They have a very high success rate and nearly all pupils get their first choice uni. They say if you can’t narrow down to 3 A-levels, you’d be better off doing the IB.

Ginfordinner Fri 04-Oct-19 18:24:59

This is because the EPQ demonstrates the independent thought and research ability required for uni dissertations.

This is where history could be advantageous as the students have to do a non exam assessment, which is similar to a mini dissertation. DD had to do one for A level geography and wrote 6,000 words.

Safiya80 Fri 04-Oct-19 18:31:18

Maybe Gin. Are there different boards for A-levels? DS is doing Geography A-level and I think all the A- levels are now linear?

Lunchonawagon Fri 04-Oct-19 18:42:50

Yes her history does have a coursework element where she does a mini dissertation type essay on a certain topic.

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Ginfordinner Fri 04-Oct-19 19:53:20

I don't know how the history NEA works, but DD had a research element to her geography one and spent a lot of time (and blood, sweat and tears) on hers. The difficulty was that it was the first year of the new specification, and even the teachers didn't know how to guide the students.

Safiya80 all A levels are now linear. DD took hers in 2018, and the subjects she took were linear.

CapturedFairy Fri 04-Oct-19 20:03:01

Ds is doing 4 A levels but 2 of them are maths and further maths, the others being physics and computer science.

He wants to do computer science and the RG uni he is looking at says that whilst they value an EPQ they do not consider it when offering a place.

I think for medicine there is an unspoken we like maths A level which I am sure has been discussed on here not so long ago.

It is far better to ace out 3 A levels than possibly do less well with 4.

Decorhate Fri 04-Oct-19 20:13:03

You have to be extremely strategic if you want to get a place in a medical school. An extra A Level in a subject she enjoys is not worth risking not getting a place. Personally I would say Maths is more useful long term, even if some medical schools would accept History.

Before A Levels were reformed it might not have been an issue for a bright pupil but the new A Levels involve a lot more papers in one sitting and imo it’s not as easy to get the top grades.

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