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# DS is ambivalent about GCSE maths. Is it possible he'll enjoy A Level more?

(19 Posts)As per title really. DS is interested in taking A Level Physics and/or Computer Science, both of which suggest you take A Level Maths as well. He is fairly ambivalent about GCSE maths (although quite good at it), whereas I think he should have more of a passion for something he is going to study for A Level.

A colleague suggested that their child had found A Level maths much more interesting than the GCSE, and I wonder if others think this is the case? (I appreciate this might be very individual!)

It was a long time ago now but I did pure and applied maths, along with physics and chemistry. It was much more interesting than GCSE level maths. It’s when calculus is introduced which, although it can be daunting, is when maths really starts to get interesting!

Your son should also be thinking ahead to what he plans to do after A-levels, as maths may be a requirement (or, at least, very beneficial).

If he wants to do Comp Sci and Physics then he should do maths, however he feels about it. It will narrow uni choices if he doesn’t.

Plenty of kids take A-level maths who are ambivalent about it, because they know they need it and are therefore prepared to work at it.

Lots of others enjoy it when they get into the swing of it.

He’d be mad to do those a levels without maths, and he’ll find his university choices very limited if he wants to pursue either subject to a higher level.

A level maths is much harder but I liked that. When you say he’s “quite good at it”, what does that mean? Unless you’re very good at GCSE level, you can totally tank at a level.

A level maths is great fun. Much more interesting.

My dd wants to do this combination of A levels, it's great for several different STEM degrees.

It is a lot more interesting, but also a lot harder.... he will really need to apply himself. Will he be able to, despite his apathy?

I didn't find a level more interesting. I was good at maths, think I did maths and additional maths and got A's at GCSE. Swiftly dropped it at a level because it bored me senseless. Perhaps I'm a minority and just fluked a decent GCSE!

One of mine was totally ambivalent about doing Maths A level despite also being good at it. I let him go with his choice as I wanted him to take responsibility and surprise surprise, at the start of Year 13 he ditched that A level and swtiched to doing Maths which he really enjoyed and clearly should have taken from the start of Year 12.

Sometimes the ambivalence of 16 year olds needs a good poke in the right direction as I have learnt with hindsight! Quite often their "ambivalence" at that age involves taking what they think is the easiest option and which quite often turns out to be the opposite.

Maths is one of the few A-levels where ambivalence is less of a problem- the homework is very much closed questions so once it's done it is done.

Lots of people do maths because they "should" rather than because the love it.

Definitely gets more interesting too - stats and mechanics gives variety from pure.

Depends on the basis for his ambivalence. A level maths is way more challenging than GCSE. Will that present an interesting challenge or a daunting obstacle?

He should definitely take the A level maths. It's been a long time since I did it and I found it really hard, but way more interesting than GCSE.

It's quite possible that he will. A lot of GCSE maths is really just calculations and arithmetic and remembering formulas (you probably could teach it so it wasn't, but I don't find that schools in general do). With a good teacher at A level, he should have much more opportunity to start finding out why some of these things work. Which (imo) is much more interesting.

Interesting perspectives here, thank you.

We are currently at the point where he is planning to take it because he "should" rather than because he actively wants to. I'm just wondering whether this is recipe for disaster! I do think he'll enjoy the "once you've done a problem, it's done" element of maths. But worrying that it will be harder so he will just give up (but then maybe he won't if he knows he needs it). We went to a sixth form open day recently where one of the existing sixth formers made the point that there is a load of overlap between maths and physics so it makes it easier than 2 entirely separate A Levels - which appeals to him!

He should get a 7+ at GCSE and his maths teacher has no issues with him taking the subject at A Level (actually his words were "you should consider further maths as well") so think his ability level is ok.

I also have a maths degree myself, so some ability to support him if he's stuck with things (although whether he'll accept me supporting him is a whole other question!).

I would have said it depends what he wants to at university more than how he feels about it is the sad but in my view truth. If he is taking physics and computer science maths certainly helps and if he wants to do either of them at university then he needs a maths A level.

There is a lot of difference between maths A level and maths GCSE and if he doesn't enjoy maths GCSE he may just be bored and will find A level maths more stimulating. As I say though it's not necessarily what is passionate about which ends up being the most important

**We went to a sixth form open day recently where one of the existing sixth formers made the point that there is a load of overlap between maths and physics so it makes it easier than 2 entirely separate A Levels**

Also true of CS it's very maths based at one time you didn't need a CS A level to study for the degree but Maths and further maths.

Just going to put the opposite point of view from most on here. Based on my experience (so 30 years ago) -but still relevant I think?

I did maths because I'd always been good at it (top set, did it a year early and then the additional paper in Year 11) and it was expected.

I hated it from quite early on -but too late to switch.

I worked hard and ended up with a B but still occasionally have nightmares about it. I really feel if I'd done 3 subjects I was truly passionate about for A level I would have got better results (for As for the other 2) and that I would have enjoyed it more.

If your son is ambivalent, then maybe just step back a moment and think what does he really love and what career path is he passionate about? Just because maths is the logical fir, doesn't mean it's the only choice?

DD was also fairly ambivalent about GCSE maths but got a 9 and an A* for Further Maths. Essentially, she found the endless repetition dull. She actually used to say that she preferred a test to a normal lesson because it was less repetitive.

She is doing A Level maths to help with her science subjects. She's doing very well at it. She prefers it to GCSE but it's still not her favourite.

Why is he ambivalent? A level Maths is harder, lots of work, wanting to do it would help. But I agree with the ones who are saying it would help with the other two.

My DS will do Maths and FM for the same reason, but he wants it too.

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