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A level History

(19 Posts)
Drabarni Fri 17-Jan-20 16:12:35

Mine has been told they can take A level History, starting next year, if they gain a 6/7 GCSE English.
This is despite not taking History GCSE, nor in fact completing KS3.

I'm sure school know what they are doing, and they were good during year 8. Report commented that even though old KS3 levels were no more the work completed was old level 8 at the end of Y8 if that makes sense.

I'm unable to speak to school atm, but we will have meetings for choices etc. But in the meantime does this seem plausible ito particular skills they may have missed out on.
The board they follow ia AQA, I believe. I know there's mention of Italian Fascism.

OP’s posts: |
cologne4711 Fri 17-Jan-20 17:28:49

Not quite the same, but I did A level RE without doing it for GCSE.

I think you can easily do history at A level without having done it for GCSE.

Drabarni Fri 17-Jan-20 17:45:17

Are there not important skills that aren't associated with other subjects, that you can only gain through continuous study?
I'm sure I read that History was one of those subjects.
It just worries me that she won't be up to it.

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Alsoplayspiccolo Fri 17-Jan-20 17:55:51

No idea whether doing A level history without doing GCSE history is a thing, but I’d certainly make sure you know just how much content there is to learn in GCSE history; from my own DD’s experience and other posts on MN, history seems to have more content than most other subjects, and I can’t imagine A level is any different.

GU24Mum Fri 17-Jan-20 18:29:15

I did A level without doing O level. I think it's one of the ones where the skills are less specific so the GCSE is less fundamental. That said, you'd need to ask why you were so sure you didn't want to do GCSE but then wanted to do A level. In my case it was because I was a bit stroppy & knew best - and loved the Tudors!

Peaseblossom22 Fri 17-Jan-20 18:32:56

I would also echo alsopkayspiccolo History dominated GCSE and also A level. The content is huge and the workload heavy. There is a lot to learn and also some very specific technique to master . I would think carefully if your dc has not done it at GCSE but I am sure it is possible

EBearhug Fri 17-Jan-20 18:38:35

History does have a lot of content, but the content at A-level can be completely different from GCSE (different periods of history) - which is good practice for those who go on to do it at university.

Key skills include the ability to read lots of info, and be able to analyse texts, and write a coherent essay, which is why strong skills in English are important.

clary Fri 17-Jan-20 18:48:10

Not unheard of to do A level history without GCSE. Similarly with psychology, sociology etc.

Obv things like MFL or maths it's not possible, but yeah, history is about skills. Why did they not do GCSE out of interest?

Comefromaway Fri 17-Jan-20 22:53:07

It’s perfectly possible as long as they have the right essay/analytical etc skills.

Often theA level syllabus covers entirely different eras than GCSE.

Dearover Sat 18-Jan-20 00:22:58

My DD is taking history. The A level syllabus has completely different topics to GCSE. A good background in other humanities and essay based subjects st GCSE will have given them the necessary skills. DD's school let's you pick up both history and geography from scratch for A level.

MAFIL Sat 18-Jan-20 00:57:24

I would think it would be ok if she has good essay writing and analytical skills. The periods of history studied will be totally different so it won't matter that she doesn't have knowledge of the GCSE syllabus. I would think that having done GCSE first probably does help with A level initially as a student who has done GCSE will be more used to the style required, if that makes sense? But it should be possible to get the hang of that fairly quickly.
If my children's school is anything to go by, the teacher's wouldn't give the go ahead if they didn't think yiur DD was up to it. With all the pressure on schools to get good exam results for the league tables they don't like to take risks these days. ( I'm assuming your DD is at a state school - I don't know if the same would apply at an independent school but I guess they also wouldn't want to risk their reputation by entering pupils for exams they aren't likely to do well in.)
It is a few years since my DD left school now, but for what its worth, she also did an A level that she hadn't studied previously - psychology in her case. I was a bit anxious about her taking something that she had no prior knowledge of but it wasn't a problem. The first half term was a bit stressful as she was getting used to lots of new terminology etc but she soon got the hang of it. She also did history actually and said it was quite different to GCSE. She said that she sometimes felt that she was studying politics rather than history at A level. The syllabus she did included things that I had lived through such as the miners' strike and the fall of the Berlin wall. That made me feel very old! It might be worth asking what topics are covered by the syllabus your DD would be doing to be sure that at least some of them appeal to her. There is a very substantial workload and if students get periods of history that really don't interest them I would think it could be a dreadful slog. My DD found it a bit of a mixed bag. She found some parts fascinating but others hard to get interested in. She did go on a brilliant trip to several former Eastern Bloc countries that made a lot of what she was studying really come alive though. Overall she enjoyed it and though she went on to do something totally different afterwards she saidcshe found the essay writing and critical thinking skills she had learned were very transferable.

AlunWynsKnee Sat 18-Jan-20 01:07:59

I did O Level History followed by an A Level many years ago but I can see that the key skill was a good essay. My O Level didn't prepare me for the A Level in that respect. We did totally different periods too so if it's still like that I can't see a problem unless they have no interest.

Drabarni Sat 18-Jan-20 19:12:20

Thanks for the replies.
To answer some questions, private school, specialist, and don't worry about results. Most of the kids are very bright, not mine.
Choice of A level not important for future study, it could be any subject, though doesn't have a huge choice.
Opted out of Humanities at end of Y8 to concentrate on Languages, and has now opted out of Languages.
My main concern is why the change in heart, if I broach the subject it doesn't go well, very independant and stubborn, obviously I'd never say you don't stand a chance but I'd hope her teachers would.

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Comefromaway Sat 18-Jan-20 20:01:18

How does she feel about A Levels? Dd enjoys hers but it’s a shame they aren’t optional at your dd’s School like they are at my dd’s School.

BruceFoxton Sat 18-Jan-20 23:31:05

I’m a history teacher - GCSE is not a great preparation for A level and therefore not having done makes little difference. Skills of clear writing and discerning reading of evidence can be gleaned largely through English. The main qualification for someone doing history A level is that they enjoy history.

Drabarni Sun 19-Jan-20 12:35:28


She's a bit meh about it all, as you know she's got future planned so A levels are just something to get out of the way. It doesn't help that the colleges only look for 2 A levels A -E and plenty are getting in with lower grades.
With this in mind I'm not sure if she is choosing it because she likes it, as has never shown an interest before.
After mocks are over, this weekend I'll have a chat, maybe download the spec and see if she'll discuss it.

Thank you Bruce, now all we need is confirmation that she is interested in Tudors and Italian Fascism. grin

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pointythings Sun 19-Jan-20 16:58:19

History A level is definitely about essay writing skills - content is very different from the GCSE. DD2 is doing A level History - she did it for GCSE too, but the only overlap is the unit on International Relations, which covers 1890 - 1945 which she also covered in GCSE with the main focus on causes of WW1. DD1 did both too - for her there was no topic overlap at all.

A 6/7 in English is essential though.

Dearover Sun 19-Jan-20 17:04:31

There must be some random link between Mussolini & performing arts (if I get the gist), I just need to work out what it could be. Meanwhile get DD to watch Blackadder series 2. If she finds it funny, A level history will be a blast.

raskolnikova Sun 19-Jan-20 17:11:21

I didn't do GCSE History but decided I wanted to take the A-Level. I loved it and got an A smile Good essay writing skills are more important.

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