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If you’re aiming for A/A* in maths Alevel is doing it in a year not a good idea?

(46 Posts)
Untangl3d Sat 25-Apr-20 04:48:11

Ds has seen a double maths Alevel course with Maths in the first year than FM in the second. Uni courses he’s looking at want v high Maths Alevel grades. I’m thinking this option might not be a good idea as doing Maths in a year will lessen your chance of the highest grades.Thoughts?

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ItsReallyOnlyMe Sat 25-Apr-20 05:07:41

That is the model that a lot of the schools use to be honest, as FM needs the Maths syllabus. It is very possible to take just Maths A level in 1 year - perhaps even retake in Year 13 if the grade is not high enough (though you would have to declare the first grade in UCAS applications).

My DS's school had this model up to 2018. His was the first year when they delayed taking both exams until Year 13 - and at parents evening the Head of Maths said he decided to change it because top performing schools took both in Year 13.

His cohort actually did very well (6 A* 1C), higher than in previous years. But with a very small sample it's difficult to know if this was due to the new structure or not.

YinuCeatleAyru Sat 25-Apr-20 05:20:13

A levels were a number of decades ago for me. however, when I did them, maths and further maths were both modular courses with a choice of 10 modules that could be taken at any time over the 2 years and 2 modules made an AS level, 4 made a full A-Level. my peers and I in the top maths set of a selective school were all able to take and get an A grade in the easiest paper after just one term of A-Level study, and took a couple more that summer etc. Obviously your DS's course will be different but in my experience it worked fine to examine the basic units early. the further maths course covers the same topics as the non-"further" just going into greater depth and complexity, so if a student is taking the further maths course then they will need to be securely working at A-grade standard for the non-further course material a year before they take the exams for the further maths A level anyway, so they might as well get any exams they can done and dusted early. the only thing I would worry about is whether it would affect university entrance - some universities may not count A levels taken a year early towards their required UCAS points for admissions as they value the evidence of managing a full academic workload. if DS is taking 4 subjects and will still have 3 of them at the end of the 2 years that's fine but be cautious if he is only taking 3 total and this scheme will only leave 2 to take at the end.

MontysOarlock Sat 25-Apr-20 08:35:59

Ds1 is year 12, his A levels are maths, further maths, physics and computer science. So obviously they all overlap in terms of content. He wants to do a computer science degree so needs maths and further maths, not computer science! And is also aiming for Oxbridge so needs A* A* A A.

He has almost completed the entire maths A level in year 12. Then they move onto FM at the end of this year and into year 13 but sit both exams in year 13 as FM helps with maths and this is how you achieve the highest grade for yourself.

Ds1 sat the old AS level maths paper in December so basically 4 months after starting maths and got A*. He did get a 9 at GCSE though.

Bear in mind that doing maths and FM means you have 50% of your lessons in maths at sixth form, so you have to love it.

Ds has 10 hours of maths per week whilst the other subjects are 5 hours each. There are still 5 hours of free periods in his timetable plus an assembly and a tutor group class. Plenty of time to do homework in sixth form and ask for help from tutors if needed.

He helps other students who are just doing maths as this helps cement his knowledge too.

Does this help you?

Soontobe60 Sat 25-Apr-20 08:41:06

My DD did maths over 2 years, and further maths over the second year, but started it in June. She dropped one of her other A levels though, so ended up with 4 A levels, Maths, Further Maths, Government and History, plus AS in Sociology. She did get 10 GCSEs at A* or A though so is quite bright with a very strong work ethic.

I'd say if your DS is strong in maths, he should be fine.

Untangl3d Sat 25-Apr-20 09:09:27

That is all really helpful. Just suddenly realised that the college blurb saying maths in year 12 and FM in 13 might actually mean sitting both in 13. Going to email for clarification.

When you do it like that do your maths skills keep running along ok in year 13?

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LIZS Sat 25-Apr-20 09:11:14

It was a format often used when AS existed and gave option to resit weaker papers in y 13.

Effzeh Sat 25-Apr-20 10:12:06

We looked at a number of sixth forms which had different models for students doing M + FM.

Dd is going for a college that she liked for other reasons, which has the sequential rather than the parallel model, ie. they do maths A-level at the end of Y12 and FM at the end of y13. The students doing fast track A level are in a separate set from those doing single maths, and have twice as many lessons as those planning to take in y13, so I don't think they're disadvantaged. And arguably there's an advantage inasmuch as if they don't get the grade they want or find it all a bit much they can retake, or just drop the FM.

I think there are advantages and disadvantages to either model, but the Y12 Maths Y13 FM is a common way of doing it, so shouldn't cause a prob for uni admissions.

TheLastSaola Sat 25-Apr-20 10:24:46

When I did maths and further maths in the early naughties, I did: three exams in January lower sixth, four in June lower sixth (so had over maths a level at that point had I chosen to), three in January upper sixth and two in June upper sixth.

A few people in my class did more exams in upper sixth so got as levels or even an a level in further further maths.

This was in a state sixth form college. We were time tabled double other subjects, and as you get smaller class sizes (12) and the pick of the best teachers, I think it's easier to get good results, if you are bright enough, by doing it this way.

lanthanum Sat 25-Apr-20 11:17:01

The maths skills are used in further maths - they're no more going to forget them than they would forget their year 12 work if they did the two in parallel.

If he's capable of doing further maths then getting a high grade in single maths shouldn't be a problem.

noblegiraffe Sat 25-Apr-20 11:23:36

It used to be that the schools that ran this model sat the A-level in Y12 and the FM in Y13 but you could resit modules and they were shared between A-level and FM in order to maximise the grades in both, so the A-level was cashed in in Y13 even though sat in Y12. Now they are both totally separate stand-alone A-levels.

I’m assuming that they study for the A-level in Y12 and sit it in Y13. If not, then they are risking universities disregarding the maths result and only accepting results from exams taking in Y13.

Ask them about their results for the last couple of years.

Effzeh Sat 25-Apr-20 11:29:53

Daughter’s college definitely sit the Maths Alevel at the end of y12, for students wanting to take FM in y13.

Untangl3d Sat 25-Apr-20 12:00:46

It’s a bit vague. It’s a double maths course. Says you take an AS ( one presumes in FM)in the first year , have double the amount of maths lessons per week. Study Maths in first year and FM in second year.confused Results look good but will ask for clarification when asking re when exams are sat.

OP’s posts: |
Untangl3d Sat 25-Apr-20 12:05:50

How able and maths loving do you need to be for FM? Ds should get an 8 at gcse. How does it work as a 4th? Is it a whole extra A level amount of work?

OP’s posts: |
noblegiraffe Sat 25-Apr-20 12:16:02

It is a full extra A-level of content, but the students who take FM are generally good enough at maths that the maths A-level doesn’t take as much independent study as it does for other students so that frees them up a bit to study a 4th. It does impact their timetable though so they are in lessons a lot while their peers have frees, pushing their studying time more into the evening.

It’s common to offer AS FM in Y12 so that students who are finding it too much can then drop it and still have a qualification. However you can’t sit AS FM in Y12 if you aren’t studying FM till Y13 so I’m not sure what the college are doing there.

Untangl3d Sat 25-Apr-20 12:25:00

No it’s odd. I best email. How good do you need to be in your experience? Is it really just a good idea for the obvious Oxbridge tiny minority( 1 or 2 in the year) as a 4th? As a third do you need to be maths obsessed and not just competent to be doing maths Alevels? He’s naturally good at maths , likes it but not obsessed.

OP’s posts: |
Untangl3d Sat 25-Apr-20 12:29:28

Think the AS is actually the maths . When you look on the Alevel maths course it mentions it there.

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Untangl3d Sat 25-Apr-20 12:30:14

The stand alone A level maths, not the double.

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Xylophonics Sat 25-Apr-20 12:55:15

My DD is doing maths and FM, and will be doing them both at end of y13. Was going to be doing AS this yr but is obviously not doing that now.
Worth checking with the college.

Witchlight Sat 25-Apr-20 15:21:41

Maths a level at A/A* is extremely doable in 1 year, especially if expecting to go on to Further Maths and degree level.

DS did it in 1 year because he didn’t want to concentrate on it, but wanted to do Economics at university. He felt the need to show he “could do sums”, while doing social sciences and humanities.

If he is looking for very high maths grades, the assumption has to be he can get A* at basic Maths in a year.

Hanfulofdust Sat 25-Apr-20 15:30:42

That's how you almost always do two maths A-levels. If you're looking at a STEM or maths course at a top uni you should definitely do double maths. Students you are able at maths often find two maths A-levels fairly easy workload wise - some say it's less work than one of their other A-levels.

MontysOarlock Sat 25-Apr-20 17:42:49

You don't need 4 A levels for any university subject even for medicine or Oxbridge. A lot of 4th subject A levels are Further Maths as you may as well ace out 3 A levels in 3 different subjects rather than drop some grades juggling 4 unrelated subjects. Maths and further maths go hand in hand.

Ds1 knows some students in his class will drop the FM element as they go into year 13 and just do maths A level and 2 other subjects. But the minimum grade to do maths in the first place was a 6 at GCSE and a 7 for FM. Ds got a 9, as he did in his other A level subjects.

What course does your Ds think he might want to do at uni and what other subjects is he looking at for A level? What grades does he need and do those courses specify the subject? So for computer science it says maths and futher maths.

Hanfulofdust Sun 26-Apr-20 10:28:31

@MontysOarlock No what you're saying is complete rubbish. I help students with Oxbridge (and other top uni) applications in STEM subjects and it would be very unimpressive to come from a school which offers double maths and not take it. It will put you at a massive disadvantage when you take the admissions exams and go to interviews since everyone else will have done twice as much maths (which for all STEM subjects is at least half of the exam/interview). If you come from the type of school which doesn't even offer further maths the interviewer may take this into account and allow for lower scores. So while further maths isn't specifically required it's certainly expected.

You would also find yourself behind when you get to a top uni because 90% of students will have taken further Maths and universities hold your hand much less than schools so you'll be expected to catch up very quickly.

I wouldn't advise a student to take further maths though unless they got at least an 8 in their GCSE (unless they under performed for some reason). It's unlikely you'd be looking at going to a top uni in a STEM subject with a 7 or lower ability in Maths (unless there was some specific reason for the low score and it didn't reflect your actual ability).

If you're not looking at top universities single maths will be enough although further maths still very useful.

Witchend Sun 26-Apr-20 11:30:15

That's the way it worked when I did A-level Maths and FM, although we did do the exams at the same time.
I think we'd done the single maths in my group by mid February. If you're doing further maths the single is quite simple. There were 3 of us (out of a group of 6) that would have expected to get full marks barring occasional slips, at that point, and the others would have expected to be well into the A category (no A* then).

However if he's only doing single maths, then I would say he'd be better to take his time and do it over 2 years. For us, the sooner we completed the single maths, the more time we had to spend on FM, which was a bit harder, plus obviously we had not quite twice the lessons (I think we had 14 lessons for double maths, or it might have been 13, as opposed to 8 for single maths/other A-levels)

MontysOarlock Sun 26-Apr-20 13:11:15

@Hanfulofdust err where on earth did I say don't do the double maths? I didn't.

All I said, which is correct, is you do not need 4 A levels. That is a fact. Some of the students my son is with are doing maths, further maths and physics. No 4th subject. The vast majority of children doing 4 A level subjects at my son's outstanding sixth form are doing further maths.

I asked what other subjects is the Op's child looking to do and that if Fm is a struggle then you can usually drop it rather than get a low grade so you can concentrate on getting a maths grade up.

I also suggested that they look at what uni courses are asking for. Obviously if that says maths and FM then he needs to do maths and FM. Some maths courses say with Fm you are likely to get a 1 grade reduction offer so AAA rather than A* AA.

As someone who clearly deals with many sixth formers as you do in whatever capacity that may be, you will know that some children know exactly what they want to do at Uni and like my own son visited the Russel Group site to reverse engineer his GCSE options in year 8. Some don't have a clue. Some want to do a particular degree but then struggle with the A level content. Not every child ends up at Oxbridge or an RG uni. Sometimes you have to lower or change your expectations.

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