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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:47 am 
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Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:12 pm
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Hello,

I was just wondering if anybody can offer any advise for my daughter please?

She's in year 11, thinking about A-level options. She is absolutely passionate about physics, has been for the past year and is desperate to take it at A-level and further, though she's no idea what to do with it yet. She is fascinated by the subject and reads books and watches TV programmes on the subject, her interest extends beyond what she is taught in class. She got a grade 8 in her May exams and in a recent test, so seems to be doing well.

However, her maths is not so strong. She scored a 4 in her May exams, and is generally working at a low 5 (data from May), though she got 6 in recent test.

To take physics, she obviously needs maths. Her school require a 6 in physics to take physics, which should be achievable, and a 7 in maths; this will obviously be hard for her to achieve, but she's a hard worker and is trying to get as much help as is available at school, so although it is still a long shot, there's some hope for her. She is starting 'to get' maths more recently, really just with lots of practice and asking for help.

In order to take A-level maths though, her school require a grade 8, which seems very high to me. There is no flexibility on this. I was told that this is because students with grades lower than this don't do well at A-level.

I feel so sorry for her as she has no idea what to take if she can't take physics, she loves it so much.

There are other sixth forms or colleges that require 'just' a 7 in maths, which will mean that she'll have to change schools (if she can get a 7). But, do you think that what I've been told by her school is true, that with a grade lower than an 8, she is unlikely to do well at A-level?

Also, do you think it's possible that she, who is not a natural mathematician, but works so hard, could achieve a higher grade than predicted and would she find A-level maths too hard?

Her school allow students to take A-level physics with a 7 in maths, but they can't take maths as they need an 8. They are the only school I know of locally that allow physics to be taken without maths (so, if she got a 7, she could stay and do this if she wants to stay there), but then her her future options would be limited.

Any advise would be gratefully received; I don't think she should give up on physics but what if her maths really isn't up to a good enough level to support the physics? She's really confused, and so am I!

Thank you : )


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:36 am 
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Most schools I've seen are asking for a grade 7 [old grade A] for A level which seems about right to me. How do they know enough yet to make those statements - the new A level two year course has not been sat yet! [Yes I know a few people taking F Maths did it this summer but not the 'bulk' of students]

You shouldn't have to take Mathematics to do Physics A level but check whether a university might require maths to do the degrees she might be interested in.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:07 am 
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Guest is the expert on Maths - in our school you have to have a minimum 7 to take any A level subject (and they get a fair few boys doing Maths and getting very high A level grades).

With my Careers Adviser hat on, though, I would have to caution that Physics at A level is VERY mathematical, and more so at University. Whilst you can take any combination of A levels that you school's timetable will allow, university Physics degrees tend to require Maths alongside and, if not, would be looking for evidence of strong GCSE maths (I suspect). I am not sure how successful she would be at Physics without a real understanding and, dare I say, liking for Maths, so you may have to try and unpick what it is about the Physics she enjoys so much - and speak to her prospective Physics A level and Maths teachers.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:26 am 
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'
I wonder if it might be worth getting some extra support to help with maths if she is really determined about it...there might be something holding her back that a short bit of tutoring would help with...it certainly helped my daughter who had a major wobble with maths in yr 10...and went on to get the grades to do A level maths...she even managed FM gcse
I struggled more with a Physics a level than my other a levels I suspect because I needed to be doing more higher level maths


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:39 am 
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One of mine had A* at GCSE and A at FSMQ in old money and still found A level maths pretty challenging. It is not for the faint hearted and the way it is graded makes a top A level grade harder too. But I think if someone is serious about Physics then the maths is going to be highly desirable if not totally necessary.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:43 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 2:28 pm
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I agree with above comments that even if its possible there is little point taking physics without maths as it will not only make the maths part of physics harder but to take it further without maths A level will be virtually impossible and certainly unadvisable.

In your position I would try to find a good maths tutor to spend some time with her and try to figure out whats going on. Its unusual ( but not unknown of course) for someone whose brain 'likes' physics to 'struggle' ( relatively) with GCSE maths.

If the problem with maths isnt straightforward and fixable then I agree that looking in detail at what attracts to physics and being creative in looking at other directions these aspects could lead. For example is it the technical side, the problem solving, figuring how things work....
Some form of engineering is an obvious option and possibly at a more practical than academic level ( which again has a strong reliance on maths). But depending what you discover there coukd be lots more less obvious options.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:18 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:33 am
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Totally agree with KB

I also suggest to help the child with some maths support, solving past papers, building confidence. Physics in A level is majority maths and maths in A level is one of the strongest subjects one can take as opens a lot of options post year 13.

Girls are given lot of support to do Physics and Maths in today's university structure, and if you can as a parent find an experience tutor, or pm Guest55 to guide you to some websites, where child can download test papers, the child can achieve 8+ with support. All the best!

KB wrote:
I agree with above comments that even if its possible there is little point taking physics without maths as it will not only make the maths part of physics harder but to take it further without maths A level will be virtually impossible and certainly unadvisable.

In your position I would try to find a good maths tutor to spend some time with her and try to figure out whats going on. Its unusual ( but not unknown of course) for someone whose brain 'likes' physics to 'struggle' ( relatively) with GCSE maths.

If the problem with maths isnt straightforward and fixable then I agree that looking in detail at what attracts to physics and being creative in looking at other directions these aspects could lead. For example is it the technical side, the problem solving, figuring how things work....
Some form of engineering is an obvious option and possibly at a more practical than academic level ( which again has a strong reliance on maths). But depending what you discover there coukd be lots more less obvious options.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:43 pm 
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There is maths in Physics A level but not as much as there used to be - even the new spec.

https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/q ... -2015.html

I would look at the spec to see if A levels are the right route ...


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:47 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:12 pm
Posts: 55
Thank you all so much for your kind advice and encouragement, I really appreciate it.

Thank you Guest55 for the physics paper link, I shall get her to look at it. Over the last six months, she has been doing everything possible to help herself with maths and has found a lot of resources and practise papers online. On average, across the week, she must spend around 8 hours doing extra maths. As a last resort, we have a tutor starting tomorrow so he can help her after she's marked the papers, to work on her weak areas.

I have mentioned to her that she needs a back up plan, just in case, but I don't want to keep on as it seems as though I'm doubting her abilities. She's struggling with the third option as it is! The language she does at GCSE, which she loves and is very good at, her school no longer do it at A-level, and nowhere else locally does it. She's desperate to take it out of school, but realistically doing 4 A-levels plus the EPQ will be too much, but that's another worry!

Anyway, thanks again! : )


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:57 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
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Good maths resources - MyMaths if the school has it.

https://www.missbsresources.com/teachin ... spassports

https://diagnosticquestions.com/Quizzes/GCSE

http://www.mrbartonmaths.com/index.html

I keep meaning to update my resource page with the new things I've found :)


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