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A Level Options to keep Doors Open

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    Hi guys,

    My GCSE predicted grades are 7A*, 1A and 1B... Realistically I think I will get 6A*, 2A and 1B, but who knows! I did triple Science, double English, History, Geography, German (A) and Music (B). On top of this, I completed a Free Standing Mathematics Qualification (advanced) for which I am predicted an A. I already completed GCSE Maths with an A grade (one mark off an A*, cheated out of it but oh well!)

    I've already applied and been accepted into a good sixth form for the following subject combination:

    History
    Sociology
    Psychology
    Government and Politics


    Yesterday I emailed the admissions administrator to ask whether I would be able to take Mathematics on top of this without taking lessons but teaching myself. I'd do this over the Summer and in my own time (I enjoy maths, but I wouldn't enjoy the overlap with what I've done already and I don't like working at other people's pace) and drop one of the five subjects in A2.

    I was thinking - is it worth me completing Mathematics at A level if I want to apply for Cambridge? If I, say, got A*A*AA without the Mathematics and one of those A* subjects was the more demanding History, I'd have a good shot at Cambridge? Or would it be a much safer bet to top it up with a more traditional subject such as Mathematics to prove my ability?

    If I went to Cambridge, I'd be looking at reading Sociology & Politics however there is a strong chance I won't want to go to Cambridge and will look to Southampton to study Criminology. Why? Ultimately, I want to join the police and progress up the ranks through the HPDS. Getting a good education would not only make this much more likely, however would give me a good backup if that didn't work out.

    So yes.... sorry for the long windedness. Should I take Mathematics as a fifth subject at AS, and to what extent would this increase the likelihood of being accepted at Cambridge in a social science type subject?
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    It's better to get AAAA than AABBB, but if you could do it without that much extra effort then it's certainly not going to damage your chances. Just focus on those AS grades first, it's a step up from GCSE
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    Gotcha, brother! But ultimately, I'm just wondering about whether Mathematics would even help that much for a purely essay based and non-scientific type of degree just because it's a traditional subject?
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    well I think Cambridge colleges will be looking for more 'A' subjects, currently you have one 'A2' subject (history) so having Maths also which is an 'A1' subject would be preferable.

    It might also be a good idea to do English lit.
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    You could do it instead of one of the other subjects?

    Mathematics with Statistics should help for Social Sciences because you'll be able to understand and do quantitative research better, but it probably won't be an entry requirement (you should check), and therefore wouldn't really affect admissions, except perhaps if you apply to a very subject-snobbish college like Trinity (in which case, check their famous suitability lists).

    However, personally I think it would be much easier to get an A in Maths (because it is conceptual and methodical) than in Psychology (which requires a lot of rote-learning). So personally I'd go for four As in Maths, History, Politics and Sociology (which you could drop after AS, or not).


    PS. just saw the title. If you really want to "keep doors open", you should definitely do Maths!
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    (Original post by llys)
    You could do it instead of one of the other subjects?

    Mathematics with Statistics should help for Social Sciences because you'll be able to understand and do quantitative research better, but it probably won't be an entry requirement (you should check), and therefore wouldn't really affect admissions, except perhaps if you apply to a very subject-snobbish college like Trinity (in which case, check their famous suitability lists).

    However, personally I think it would be much easier to get an A in Maths (because it is conceptual and methodical) than in Psychology (which requires a lot of rote-learning). So personally I'd go for four As in Maths, History, Politics and Sociology (which you could drop after AS, or not).


    PS. just saw the title. If you really want to "keep doors open", you should definitely do Maths!
    This is an exceptionally useful post, thank you very much! Something I am making a real consideration now

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Updated: June 20, 2012
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