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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:02 pm 
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Location: S E London
My son is in year 10 and as he has to take some GCSEs this year (don't get me started on what I think about that one!) he has to choose something else to do next year.

He already has maths GCSE and is taking AS across this and next year. He is taking Design and Technology (electronic products), English Language, short course RE and Core Science this year. Next year he is taking English Literature, 3 sciences (no idea why he has been make to take core science - total waste of time and effort), History, Music and German.

He has whittled the choices down to the above mentioned 3 options. Results in Psychology and Electronics were not amazing last year and Astronomy hasn't been taught before. He is probably aiming for science and maths A-levels, but most likely at another school as he is less than inspired by the science teaching where he is. I am less keen on him choosing an AS level as I would rather he concentrated on getting good GCSE results, and he is busy with music, Boys Brigade and church activities outside school, all of which are valuable activities which he wouldn't want to drop.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Thanks!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:14 pm 
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DS is currently doing GCSE Astronomy. He has done it in one year as a twilight subject! and the school generally get good results so I don't think it is too strenuous. It fits well with the sciences.
He has enjoyed it and ownership of a telescope is not required. This is a good site for more information about the course:
http://www.astronomygcse.co.uk/AstroGCSE/New%20Site/IndexNew.htm


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:52 pm 
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Agree with Minesatea re Astronomy being interesting and not too arduous. Can't imagine any of them are going to be critical for further study, so seems like a good option.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:03 pm 
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There is no A level in astronomy (at least there wasn't a couple of years ago when I was enquiring about it) so it's a nice subject to do as something different without worrying about feeling you have to take it further. It's not even needed/relevant for entering university.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:58 pm 
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Location: S E London
Many thanks for your replies and for the link to the useful website.

DS has decided to put Astronomy as his first choice - he decided that as he now has to revise all 18 science modules for exams in year 11 in one go he didn't want to be tackling another AS level as well.

He has put Psychology second choice, and Latin third, although Latin in a year seems a tad optimistic! (Actually it's not a GCSE as such and there is a lower level qualification he could take). We are hoping not to end up with the third choice but he had to put something so decided this was the least worse option.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:34 pm 
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Both DDs have done gcse psychology (DD2 had no choice because of option blocks) and both have found it dire! If we leave out the asinine "research studies" which could kindly be called dubious, the whole thing is a turgid reiteration (to borrow a quote) "of the stunningly obvious and yet to be proven"!! There is also the fact that the exam involves answering a series of highly formulaic questions in the right way and using the decreed vocabulary,

BTW I would not under any circumstances start on AS work before year 12 as you will find that universities will disregard it and you will have wasted all the work on that subject. One gcse that is fairly easily done with the aid of the textbooks is Law - not much content and half of it is general knowledge.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:36 pm 
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There are only 9 science modules.

I am concerned about doing A level Maths early as this won't be an advantage to him.

Astonomy would be my choice.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:28 pm 
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He had no choice about the maths - he is in the top set and that is what they do. I have questioned it (and the taking of early A levels generally) and the school replied that they have spoken to admissions people at several top unis including Cambridge who didn't consider it a problem. I emailed several myself and none of them said it was a problem per se but one did question the wisdom of it due to the lack of maturity of the students. Whether unis accept an early A level and only make a conditional offer of 2 more or still want 3 in year 13 seems to vary. He will still take 3 A2s in year 13 anyway. As I said, it wouldn't be my choice but that is the situation and we have to make the best of it. He took a mock AS module this past week and scored 100% so I don't think the work is too far beyond his ability but I don't want him taking another AS level although I think he will get grief from the school for not doing one.

Each of the sciences is made up of 6 modules and a controlled assessment - 3x6 = 18 modules in total. Previously they took 3 modules in year 9 and 3 in year 10 (one of each science in each exam) which, along with a controlled assessment gave them core science - they are still doing this. The next 6 modules would give them additional science and the final 6 would result in Physics, Biology and Chemistry. Now that all the courses are linear they have to take 2 exams in each science all at the end of year 11 - 18 modules across 6 exams, plus a controlled assessment in each. This results in a much larger body of information that needs to be revised all in one go, which is why I don't want to add another AS level in at that stage. Maybe a different exam board only has 9 modules - they probably divide the material up differently.

Hopefully Astronomy will run and he won't have to resort to his other choices - the only other non-AS level choice was IGCSE geography which he refused to even consider. The only other choice was several study periods but that was aimed at students who were struggling and as he is predicted A* in every subject he is taking I don't think the school would accept that choice!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:50 am 
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2childmum wrote:
He had no choice about the maths - he is in the top set and that is what they do. I have questioned it (and the taking of early A levels generally) and the school replied that they have spoken to admissions people at several top unis including Cambridge who didn't consider it a problem. I emailed several myself and none of them said it was a problem per se but one did question the wisdom of it due to the lack of maturity of the students.


You obviously got a different person at Cambridge from the one who answered my email asking what their attitude would be to an applicant who would have taken Maths GCSE in yr6 - as DS2, currently in yr5, was originally going to do but almost certainly now will not. All I got back was a "copy and paste" from their website, saying that they would want evidence that the applicant was capable of studying for and getting at least 3 A levels in one go :roll:

(BTW an anonymous person from the Admissions Office at Oxford furnished a very much more helpful response which indicated that they had actually read and considered my question - so guess which establishment currently gets our vote as a direction to nudge DS1, who has been suggested as a possible candidate for one or the other? :)).

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:47 pm 
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The science still doesn't sound right. I've checked with our Head of Science and there are 9 modules B1, B2 and B3 plus ISA make Biology GCSE etc.

As a maths department we are now very cautious about early A levels as they need to take 3 in Year 13 and offers are made on those. An 'early' low grade (and A2 modules are harder) would not be helpful.


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