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Business vs Economincs A Level

(27 Posts)
Piggywaspushed Thu 14-Nov-19 07:05:56

Posting this in staffroom because on other threads this always ends up with people with their own agendas posting and 'advising'. So, I was hoping some business and/or econ teachers might be able to help me!

DS2 is selecting A Levels. His selections are complicated by a desire to do Spanish A Level which is dying on its feet in local schools so he is having to shop around.

His preferred route is to stay at the local school, where (if available) Spanish clashes with business, but he could do economics. Failing this, he may need to come to my school where business is not offered as an A level (Cambridge technical : not his bag), but he can do economics A Level with Spanish.

The third choice is a sixth form college where he can do Spanish A Level - with business A level , and also economics is an option.

I have asked teachers at all Open Days to explain differences but they are a bit vague in their answers because a) hard sell and b) the stampede of people on such evenings!

For background, DS does business GCSE and it is in his top 3 favourite subjects (some of this is the teachers, who I am not sure teach the A Level) and he is predicted an 8, possibly a 9. His other subjects will be history and Spanish and he is also toying with RS.

Maths is not his best subject. He struggles with space and shape but he is very numerate. He is on 5/6 borderline in maths. DH is a maths teacher and feels he should get a 6. His English GCSE is predicted a 7 (although his teacher just plucks numbers from the air imo : I have seen his work and it feels like an 8 on a good day) and his other subjects range from 6 - 9, so he is pretty able. He is a hard worker.

His main fear of economics is the maths content; my main fear is dryness and a room full of cocky boys, but I am not taking it , as he reminded me, while I was trying to steer him to Lang Lit!!

At present, uni plan is to study Spanish, possibly in combination with business, but he may change his mind after starting A Levels of course. I realise a straight economics degree may well require maths, but research tells me not as many as people say. he could take up Core Maths next year at all three possible schools.

Any help/ thoughts/advice gratefully received.

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Trewser Thu 14-Nov-19 07:12:46

Sorry I am not a teacher! But my friend teaches Economics A level and we had almost the same discussion with her about dd2 who sounds similar for maths (got a 6, igcse). She said Business, particularly as the other two were more trad academic. In the end dd2 did RS! But business hugely popular at her school and she slightly regrets not doing it. All those who want to do Economics at degree level are doing maths A level as well.

Sorry I know you wanted teachers! If you go down the economics route my friend is a fab teacher and does tutoring via skype.

Floopsy Thu 14-Nov-19 07:17:14

Hi there

I'm an Eco teacher. Economics is based on theory whereas business is how the that theory works in the real world. If he can cope with more abstract theoretical models (that aren't always very realistic) whereas business is examining how those theories are applied. For example, Economics tries to reduce consumption of certain goods (think sugar tax) business is about how firms respond.
Classes don't have to be boring, and they aren't always full of cocky boys - the same problem could be said of business. There's a fair amount of maths in the Business course as part of the accounting section.

Loopytiles Thu 14-Nov-19 07:17:33

Economics is more useful IMO, but does require maths. It’s also like marmite and very different from business studies, which IMO is much easier.

Floopsy Thu 14-Nov-19 07:18:21

Lots of schools have GCSE maths entry requirements for A level Eco so that may rule it out for him

Trewser Thu 14-Nov-19 07:19:53

Yes our school you need a 7 to do Economics a level. Dd was borderline 6/7 but got a 6 so we had the discussion with head of economics.

Piggywaspushed Thu 14-Nov-19 07:51:06

The maths requirement in two of the schools is 4 (might be 5). In his own school it is 6. Checked those things!

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Piggywaspushed Thu 14-Nov-19 07:52:38

loopy, why is it like marmite?

DS is not a fussy learner : he doesn't complain about anything really!

The boy we spoke to last night was in year 13. he had a 6 in GCSE maths and said he was managing fine as it was all numerical maths ? DS is numerate; no issues there.

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Piggywaspushed Thu 14-Nov-19 07:54:23

floopsy don't worry: I know there are cocky boys in both subjects! Lots of Apprentice candidates of the future....

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Piggywaspushed Thu 14-Nov-19 07:57:49

By the way, I just saw the typo in the thread title! blush

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Floopsy Thu 14-Nov-19 08:20:55


I think it's like Marmite because you either love it or hate it. This is very true in my experience - you can have students who love being able to explain why things are the way they are. Being able to criticise government policy from an informed position is such an empowering experience for a lot of teenagers. For others they just can't get their heads around it.

I saw this written recently "Business teaches you how to drive the car; Economics teaches you how the engine works". Thought that was a good explanation.

Some schools will let you do both as A levels (although I would advise against it).

Piggywaspushed Thu 14-Nov-19 09:58:34

That's a good analogy.

They can do both at his school. He has no intention of doing both , and, anyway , can't do business unless they unblock it from Spanish!

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cricketballs3 Thu 14-Nov-19 17:19:17

I think floopsy has nailed it with both the analogy and the reference to marmite. I hated with a passion my economic units at uni (despite gaining my highest marks for my whole degree from the economic essays!).

I teach business L3 BTEC though not A Level so can't speak specifically about the specs but the math content required for business just requires students to be numerate for the accounting aspect (P&L, Balance Sheets, accounting ratios, break even).

What I would say though for both subjects is that they are "real" and helps students to understand the world they are living in, helps them in the future (no matter what path they take) to understand why/how business decisions are made

Piggywaspushed Thu 14-Nov-19 17:50:32

My instinctive that he would go very well in business and maybe find economics more tricky.

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Phineyj Fri 15-Nov-19 19:51:50

I'm an Econ teacher and my gut instinct is telling me Business here. The low Maths prediction is not a great sign and you need a very high level of literacy to do well in Econ too. He actually might have a better chance of getting onto a joint honours course including Economics, or Business and Economics, without doing the A-level, oddly enough, compared to a situation where he had a low prediction for Econ A-level (universities don't require Economics as not all schools offer it).

Core Maths sounds like a good idea, however.

I love Economics and also Marmite grin.

Piggywaspushed Fri 15-Nov-19 20:19:40

Thanks phiney.

I did explain that the low (ouch!)maths prediction was related to very specific issues with manipulating shapes and area. he is highly numerate (CATS of 120 for quantitative) .

I am feeling unnecessarily defensive but he is definitely highly literate!!

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Trewser Fri 15-Nov-19 20:39:46

He's looking at old style Bs and As? Surely he'd be fine for Economics?

Piggywaspushed Fri 15-Nov-19 21:36:36

He is. A*s in business, Spanish and possibly RS and history in old money, bless him.

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Phineyj Fri 15-Nov-19 22:07:31

No offence meant, @Piggywaspushed! I always recommend students look at Dorling Kindersley's The Economics Book (not very imaginative name; good book though and only about a fiver on Kindle or second-hand) to get a flavour of whether they might like the subject. If he's doing RS and History then presumably essay-writing would hold no fears for him.

You really do need to feel a connection to Economics to enjoy studying it, just like you do with your subject, I'm sure.

Piggywaspushed Fri 15-Nov-19 22:16:14

Oh, I like those books! Might look that out!

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Piggywaspushed Fri 15-Nov-19 22:16:21

Oh, I like those books! Might look that out!

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Piggywaspushed Sat 16-Nov-19 08:16:12

I have just looked at AQA's economics papers : it all looks very 'applied' to me. No study of different types of economics/different theories or of economic history. It does indeed look very much like advanced arithmetic!

Mind you, the business had quite a lot of sums in it.

This is difficult for me as I would hate both subjects. But , DS likes subjects with a bit of a moral debate in them (eg history and RS where he enjoys the ethics) but also is very good at languages (which I also was : can't decide which part of the brain that is!). I am back to wondering whether these subjects are too dry (for want of a better word!) for his taste. He'd be good at sociology, definitely, but hasn't really considered it. I thought I remembered there being a business ethics section of A Level business but can't see that in any papers.

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Floopsy Sat 16-Nov-19 11:01:05

If you google The Economics Book PDF you can get a very thorough preview IYKWIM ;)

What about Government and Politics or Philo?

Piggywaspushed Sat 16-Nov-19 11:25:54

Philosophy is one of his potential choices. He enjoys RS. Later , he is going to look at some exam papers to see how they make him feel.

He says he does not want to do politics : not sure if this is because his brother did it (and does it at uni) or whether he identifies politics as being a bit narrow. He goes to debate club and does have political views but I think he finds politics a nasty business for nasty people!

I know which subjects are taught well, and not so well, at his current school, and at mine so that is colouring my views!

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zurala Sat 16-Nov-19 11:35:16

I got As at GCSE for maths, physics and English. I started economics A level but switched to business studies because I couldn't understand the economics at all. I am not stupid either but it was incomprehensible.

I think he'd be better off in business studies.

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