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 Post subject: Last 6th form choice
PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 4:35 pm 
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I would really appreciate other people's views on my son's choice for the sixth form.

He would like to take 5 subjects in the 6th form at least to AS level. He thinks he probably wants to do maths at university and will be hoping to go to one of the most competitive choices.

He knows he wants to do maths, further maths, physics and chemistry.

For his 5th choice he was originally drawn to history as it is a subject he has always enjoyed which is taught well at his school. However he has concerns that it may relatively be more work compared to the other choices available. His French teacher is very keen for him to take French at least to AS and she thinks he will find it relatively straightforward and make him look attractive amongst the other scientists.

His school also offers economics and philosophy and he is drawn towards these, particularly economics as many of his friends are considering it. I have no experience of these 2 subjects at A level. I am worried about philosophy at this level as instinctively feel it is a bit of a soft option, but also concerned that as he has very concrete thinking he may not enjoy it. Also concerned about the validity of doing economics at school level. I guess I am also concerned that as we have no knowledge of the teachers teaching these subjects if he finds them uninspiring it would be a great shame.

He is very academic (although terribly lazy) and school feel he would manage 5 subjects.

I am very scared of coursework as he is a boy.

I would really appreciate the opinions of those of you who have been through this.

Thanks.....


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 5:02 pm 
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Location: Berkshire
Ooooh heck, Maths, further maths, physics and chemistry is a heavy load, although to be fair maths and further maths togetherwork well. I don't know about further maths, but I don't think there's any coursework for maths.
Physics I have no knowledge of, Chemistry doesn't appear to be too time consuming as far as my daughter is concerned. Although I think the first exam in January is a bit of a shock to the system...she didn't do so well in that one, and is resitting it in this coming January. (She's in year 13 now).
She also does History which didn't have any coursework (I don't think) in y12, but has a piece of coursework to be in around Easter in place of an exam for half the A2 course, so if your son doesn't like c/w this is quite a big chunk.

My older son took Philosophy and Ethics to A Level...this is not a soft option at all, and is equally as diverse as history would be to his other options. Again there is a piece of coursework to be submitted as a part of the final A2 but if you don't do so well you can retake it in June as part of the main exam (not sure if this is the same in all exam boards, it's worth checking). I think it was a very good choice of subject, you have to display good argumentative skills ( :shock: ) along with very good essay writing etc, which would demonstrate a different ability from the maths & science based subjects he is taking.

French A Level, I have no knowledge of either, so can't advise.

Economics, I have no knowledge of but would suggest it's another subject with a mathematical bias so won't necessarily show off different skills.

I think he also needs to consider what he wants to do at University...that might change his opinion of which subjects to take into 6th form

I hope this helps.
LFH


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 5:29 pm 
My advice, since he is a boy and you say he is lazy, would be why risk doing 5 subjects when 3 (or 4 at the most) top grades would do? KES, which is one of the most academic schools in the country, firmly discourages the boys from doing more than 4 at AS and 3 at A2 unless there are very good reasons why they want to (for example, Further Maths is always allowed, I think, in addition to 3 others including Maths). Its sister school for girls (KEHS) pretty much allows the girls to do as many as they want, as girls are generally more workaholic.

It is a big step up from GCSE to A level in French, and if he wants to do well in History he would need to put in quite a bit of extra reading, so he is adding quite a lot to his workload if he opts for one of these two. Just my opinion as the mother of 3 boys, only one of whom is both academic and industrious! :lol:


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:22 pm 
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
My DS2 started at 6th form with Maths, F Maths, Physics & Chemistry as above, plus Music which he really enjoyed (And Gen Studies) He ended up dropping the Physics after AS (and picking up another 3 maths modules...) and is now doing Maths at university. He has said he wishes he'd carried on with a language (would have been German in his case) though is now involved in a scheme to keep his German up at university.

Two Maths A levels and another "solid" subject will be fine for university maths entrance, so any extra should be something different which will give him a contrast. If there's a chance he might move into engineering then languages are always useful. Don't know much about economics or history A Level, though I guess either would keep up his essay-writing skills, which not all maths/science students have...

Very often these choices aren't finalised until after GCSE results, and then people often swap courses after the first week or two - it's a hard choice to get right!


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:44 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2007 10:55 pm
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Dear Surreymum

Can only share what my DD is doing and hope it enlightens you to the workload. DD is doing 4 AS levels and going to nightschool to do a further A level in one year which is classics. Her subjects at school are History, Eng, French and Economics (having previously no knowledge of it before this year). I can say hand on heart she is working her socks off, after partying through her gcse years, and is easily doing 15 hours per week homework as her subjects are all essay based. It is a huge commitment but it was entirely her choice and I must say she is now very driven and motivated as she enjoys all her subject choices. If your son enjoys writing French essays on media topics and reading books in French it might be for him, if he would enjoy writing essays on market forces then economics would be a good choice and as for history and english the workload is immense but let him go for it if he's willing but it is not for the lazy or fainthearted! Hope this helps - good luck and harmony.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 8:02 pm 
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For what its worth I wouls suggest thinking about this very carefully.
Experience is that a 5th AS wont make much difference if applying for University Maths (although will need STEP at top places) & 6th form isnt just about studying.
Just because he can do 5 subjects doesn't mean it is a good idea - could use his time to participate in lots of interesting extra curricular opportunities (engineering schemes, business schemes, extension courses,...) to help his general maturity/development.
The school will be quite happy to encourage max number of subjects if they think he can perform well because it improves their position in league tables - it doesn't necessarily mean it is the best choicefor thr individual student...


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 8:17 pm 
I would not encourage him to do economics as his mix of A'levels will not be rounded. Because of the coursework I personally think continuing with a language may suit him better but Philosophy would show that he is not an archetypical maths geek who does not have a life or thoughts beyond numbers!

I'm not saying all Mathematicians are like this, my son is not, but the majority are and I think they would look more favourably on a more rounded applicant.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:41 pm 
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Thank you all for your comments. He has to make some provisional choices quite soon and it is very helpful to hear different views.

He is adamant he wants to at least start with 5 but is relatively open minded about stopping if it seems too much.

I guess there are no wrong choices in his selection, but perhaps the economics doesn't add the breadth of the others. I've suggested he read your comments (not as attractive as killing aliens on whatever game it is which is flavour of the month at the moment :evil: )


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:43 pm 
The problem with him reading our comments is that he will then do the exact opposite! :lol:

This thread is similar to Flamenco's thread and in the end his son dropped physics for theology. If your son really wants to do maths at uni then just make sure the further maths modules he is taking are the correct ones and if he is good enough to get involved in Olympiads and other challenges then he should walk into any high-brow uni. I have noticed that the kids who take part in these challenges always get a place at Oxbridge as this achievement sets them apart from other candidates. I suppose if he is going to sit 5 A'levels he needs to enjoy them so I wouldn't worry about perceived soft options although I'd still suggest steering clear of economics.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 12:39 pm 
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DD is doing 4 A levels but is also doing an open university course. NOT one of the 10 point courses that many schools do (YASS-young applicants in schools scheme) but one of the proper 30 point courses that actually count towards an OU degree(360 points).
There are no exams but rather TMAs (tutor marked assignments) and to be honest the courses have not been especially difficult.
In addition she does not have to pay course fees because she is assessed as constituting a "household" for financial purposes. There is just the one question on the form where you have to say how you actually eat and obtain shelter if your household income is NIL!!
She also got a grant of £260 towards buying a laptop so was very pleased.
Might be worth looking at and at least its different on the UCAS form.


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