Are my A Level choices reasonable?

(29 Posts)
Gcsekid Tue 23-Apr-13 18:47:59

For A level my choices are Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and English Language. I've got a few questions, firstly, I know literature is more preferred but I enjoy language much more so that won't change,but will it affect how a university see me? Also what are your opinions on psychology? I think it sounds like an interesting subject but I'm not sure it it's a 'pointless' one on a CV? I'm getting straight A's at GCSE, but I'm worried about these subjects being a lot of work and
Too much to cope with, I'd preferably like ABB/AAB, any advice would be appreciated!

headlesslambrini Sat 27-Apr-13 17:18:06

Cant you get an appointment with the schools careers adviser?

bombyxmori Sun 28-Apr-13 16:18:57

Beckandcall, agree. Colleges vary, but all Cambridge science students have to do a maths course in 1st year. It's no good sticking heads in the sand and hoping for the best. If OP is keen on oxbridge (no sign of that - just mumsnet hype I think) then she/he needs to check colleges. Yes, everyone applies for nat sci.

Notcitrus, you're not the first I've heard of to get in with no maths (maybe you're her though!) but was it not just a tad daunting to be the one with (substantially) least maths and physics? Be honest, for the benefit of those taking advice from here. Getting into somewhere is just the start. Two of my DCs went with gaps that most of their peers didn't have and it was undoubtedly harder for both, at least in 1st year, because of it. (Of course, the gaps meant they had something the others didn't, but that was rather less helpful at the time! 'Preferred' subjects are stated for a reason)

OP: you seem to be in a difficult position. You said you can no longer do Eng Lang? You seem not keen on all sciences/maths, but still want to do neurobiology from biology and chemistry A levels - and probably Psychology as the third. I would stick to your guns over a fourth and pick from the remaining block what best suits your interest as well as aptitude - so perhaps not Physics from what you say! That is, so long as you're realistic about where you can apply with these A levels and your likely grades. You'll be doing what ASs were meant to do and keeping your education broad. But before you finalise, get your school's advice, check university requirements, and email some admissions officers as suggested. Ask for the A level profile of people on the courses. You only have 5 choices for university, so you don't need to meet everyone's requirements. [Hobbyhorse warning] It's a real shame if university science students are bludgeoned into doing all sciences from age 16. No wonder they get treated as geeks and weirdos by arts students.

To play my own devil's advocate though, the point I'd make about maths is that you do need it as a scientist, you can't afford to be afraid of it. A level would allow you to continue to study it, and you'd come out more confident and competent even if you don't get a great grade and can't cope with some of it - it's easy to lose sight of the value of A level courses: two more years of study, they aren't just about the grade. But don't do maths if the thought makes your heart sink. Do, though, get some maths practice before you head off to university. (Coincidentally or not, I think Cambridge tell their scientists to practise their maths in the summer before they arrive!)

notcitrus Sun 28-Apr-13 21:36:40

Just seen replies.
I wanted to be a biologist, so first year options were chemistry, biology of cells, and then physiology (could have done organisms or geology). Actually I made a mistake above - I was the only one doing chem without physics/maths - there were a few others doing combos of the options above.

Was it difficult? Yes, but mainly because my college had rather poor tuition at the time, so we kicked out the person who did physiology, and the chem tutor was very expert but useless at tutoring. Most importantly, didn't understand the effect of the exam structure. So I spent the Christmas vacation trying to teach myself second order differential equations so I could answer quantum mechanics or thermodynamics questions for the 'physical chemistry' section, whereas friends with more clued-up tutors were told to ignore those fiendish topics and only worry about rates, which were the topic for lectures just before the exam.

My DoS's comment on choosing chemistry was "You'll really enjoy it. And learn a lot. You won't pass it, mind." - actually I scraped a third, which he congratulated me on, followed by checking I wasn't going to try doing chemistry in second year.

The Maths for Biologists course could have been helpful but was terribly taught so we actually came out knowing less than when we started. Luckily my tutor was very helpful and tried to teach us what we needed for chemistry.

I'm very glad I did first-year Chemistry and the A-level subjects I did. However I did have post-GCSE understanding of maths - it's the understanding what calculus is and what it's used for that is critical, rather than being able to manipulate equations yourself. I did stats for biology A-level and them during my MSc and managed to completely dazzle my PhD examiners who had much less knowledge of stats.

BeckAndCall Mon 29-Apr-13 06:43:33

Not my thread, I know, but that's very helpful notcitrus!

But not a ringing endorsement of the supervision system!

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