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Sciences at A-Level, how big the step/how hard are they honestly?

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    I know this has come up before, but whatever :')
    Also i posted this in the wrong place at first so if you see it somewhere else that's why :-)

    Hey, so i'm in year 11 and i'm going to 6th form next year.

    Currently my options are Chemistry, Biology, English lit & lang and Geography.

    I'm hoping for an A* in chemistry and hopefully an A in Biology, but tbh it could be a B i didn't do a hell of a lot of biology revision tbh. My physics is probably a B but i got an A* in the ISA.
    Honestly how hard are science? I love chemistry and want to go into medical/geographic/scientific field so i know i need 2 sciences. I do like biology and i find it interesting but i also find it hard, but i guess it's just a case of putting the work in.
    Sciences are known as being hard as i've heard, and i want to know how big the step up from GCSE is and what is the reality of getting good grades? I want to do well in my subjects because otherwise they could risk my future so yeah :-)

    I'm prepared to put as much work in as needed, bearing in mind i do have a summer job that could turn long term though :-)
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    (Original post by tssf_skye)
    I know this has come up before, but whatever :')
    Also i posted this in the wrong place at first so if you see it somewhere else that's why :-)

    Hey, so i'm in year 11 and i'm going to 6th form next year.

    Currently my options are Chemistry, Biology, English lit & lang and Geography.

    I'm hoping for an A* in chemistry and hopefully an A in Biology, but tbh it could be a B i didn't do a hell of a lot of biology revision tbh. My physics is probably a B but i got an A* in the ISA.
    Honestly how hard are science? I love chemistry and want to go into medical/geographic/scientific field so i know i need 2 sciences. I do like biology and i find it interesting but i also find it hard, but i guess it's just a case of putting the work in.
    Sciences are known as being hard as i've heard, and i want to know how big the step up from GCSE is and what is the reality of getting good grades? I want to do well in my subjects because otherwise they could risk my future so yeah :-)

    I'm prepared to put as much work in as needed, bearing in mind i do have a summer job that could turn long term though :-)
    Hi there
    I have taken (and just completed) a level biology and chemistry, and it is a big from gcse. I got A* in all three sciences at GCSE, with 100% in one of my final chemistry modules. At the end of the A/S year I got a C in chemistry and an A in biology. To be quiet honest, I didn't enjoy chemistry at AS and only kept it because I need it for uni, but I love it now!
    For both of them, I would say its very important to keep up with the work as you get it, as one of the reasons for my C in Chen last year was leaving a lot of the work til the end of the year, mainly because I didn't like it. This year I kept on top of the work and got an A in january.
    So basically (sorry for the waffle) they are both hard but totally worth it, and if you enjoy biology then that will definitely encourage you to do the work! Nothing worse than having to put in work to a subject you hate.
    Hope that helps, and feel free to ask any questions!


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    (Original post by tssf_skye)
    I know this has come up before, but whatever :')
    Also i posted this in the wrong place at first so if you see it somewhere else that's why :-)

    Hey, so i'm in year 11 and i'm going to 6th form next year.

    Currently my options are Chemistry, Biology, English lit & lang and Geography.

    I'm hoping for an A* in chemistry and hopefully an A in Biology, but tbh it could be a B i didn't do a hell of a lot of biology revision tbh. My physics is probably a B but i got an A* in the ISA.
    Honestly how hard are science? I love chemistry and want to go into medical/geographic/scientific field so i know i need 2 sciences. I do like biology and i find it interesting but i also find it hard, but i guess it's just a case of putting the work in.
    Sciences are known as being hard as i've heard, and i want to know how big the step up from GCSE is and what is the reality of getting good grades? I want to do well in my subjects because otherwise they could risk my future so yeah :-)

    I'm prepared to put as much work in as needed, bearing in mind i do have a summer job that could turn long term though :-)
    Medical you NEED chem. Chem is a huge step up at AS and then an even bigger step from AS to A2 (at least with Edexcel). Physics is only a small step, well in my opinion anyway as I took further maths. Looking at what you want to do you will almost certainly get no uni offers without maths. The step up in maths is big. Not to put you off or anything but people who get straight A*s and As at GCSE often do badly at A level as they take the 'I can do no work and still do well' attitude through. If you can gear up your level then it's fine
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    Chemistry is really hard compared to GCSE. I got an A* easy at GCSE and then you get to A-level and it's like WTF. But if you work hard then you should be ok. I managed to get a b at AS and I worked really hard to get it up to an A. If you find GCSE biology hard then you might struggle with A-level 'cause I found GCSE bio super easy, then struggled a bit with A-level. But like you I really love biology so I've still got a good grade so with a bit of hard graft and enjoyment of the subject you should be fine.

    But seriously, I can't emphasise how hard chemistry is! I thought I'd be fine 'cause I blagged it at GCSE, but by the time January came around I was like 'CRAP'!!! If you take chemistry don't do what I did!!!
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    I'm doing a Masters research project into the transition between GCSE and the A-level sciences.

    Without overloading you too much with stats, over 90% found the A-level sciences significantly harder than GCSE.

    Other research has been done by Durham on the relative difficulty of different GCSEs and A-levels:
    http://www.score-education.org/media...difficulty.pdf
    "At A-level, the STEM subjects are not just more difficult on average than the non-sciences, they are without exception amongst the hardest of all A-levels"

    I see A* GCSE students getting Ds at AS if they don't work hard. The highest i've seen a B GCSE students get is a C.

    Don't do it if:
    a) you can't be bothered to put the work in
    b) you're not particularly interested in the subject

    Though tbh, this applies for ANY A-level!
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    It is a big step up from GCSE in many ways. Largely it is the volume of information to remember which is the biggest difficulty but some of the concepts are more difficult. Biology becomes a lot of remembering key phrases and reproducing them as is in the mark scheme thus if you find that, and not concepts, difficult it may seem hard.

    In maths the techniques become more difficult and there's quite a few different ones to learn but it's a case of if you get them it's a breeze because it's just knowing when to use an equation correctly. Mechanics as a maths module seems to be the one people find hardest, though i've never understood that.
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    I find Chemistry to be easier than Physics, but then again some of my friends find it really difficult. In the end your grades are going to come down to hard work. Without grafting for it, you won't do well. I have a friend who got A* at GCSE Chemistry and is now on a D, and having to resit the January module because they were lazy.

    The concepts in AS Chemistry are fairly straightforward, and they're not particularly abstract unlike Physics. My advice would be to go for it, but be aware that you'll have to work a lot.


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    (Original post by emmaarr)
    Hi there
    I have taken (and just completed) a level biology and chemistry, and it is a big from gcse. I got A* in all three sciences at GCSE, with 100% in one of my final chemistry modules. At the end of the A/S year I got a C in chemistry and an A in biology. To be quiet honest, I didn't enjoy chemistry at AS and only kept it because I need it for uni, but I love it now!
    For both of them, I would say its very important to keep up with the work as you get it, as one of the reasons for my C in Chen last year was leaving a lot of the work til the end of the year, mainly because I didn't like it. This year I kept on top of the work and got an A in january.
    So basically (sorry for the waffle) they are both hard but totally worth it, and if you enjoy biology then that will definitely encourage you to do the work! Nothing worse than having to put in work to a subject you hate.
    Hope that helps, and feel free to ask any questions!


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    Okay firstly, well done! I hope you do well and you sound pretty clever to me so i'm sure you will have done :-)
    Secondly, so the step up was big? What exam board did you do chemistry with? I'm going to be doing it with AQA and apparntly the first unit is a bit more of an indepth version of what we did at GCSE.
    Biology i think it's a case of i didn't do enough revision, is it me or do you find Biology very ISA-ish? Not that that's a word I'm happy to put the work in as i really want to work in the fields i mentioned. Also, do you know anyone in your classes who got B's at GCSE? I'm just thinking for Biology, and if so do you know how well they did at A-Level? My Biology teacher/form tutor said that people who got a B at GCSE could struggle and would be predicted a D at AS :/

    What do you want to do at uni btw, and thank you for your help!
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    (Original post by tssf_skye)
    Okay firstly, well done! I hope you do well and you sound pretty clever to me so i'm sure you will have done :-)
    Secondly, so the step up was big? What exam board did you do chemistry with? I'm going to be doing it with AQA and apparntly the first unit is a bit more of an indepth version of what we did at GCSE.
    Biology i think it's a case of i didn't do enough revision, is it me or do you find Biology very ISA-ish? Not that that's a word I'm happy to put the work in as i really want to work in the fields i mentioned. Also, do you know anyone in your classes who got B's at GCSE? I'm just thinking for Biology, and if so do you know how well they did at A-Level? My Biology teacher/form tutor said that people who got a B at GCSE could struggle and would be predicted a D at AS :/

    What do you want to do at uni btw, and thank you for your help!
    Thanks hehe :3
    Firstly the 'jump' thing- I think because at GCSE I found science hard, I went into the A Levels under the same mind set, so was already prepared to do work for them. But yes, I found it to be a big jump- I did OCR 21stC science for GCSE and did OCR for both A Levels. I don't know about AQA, but I found the first bit of the chemistry A Level quite like 'this isn't stuff you are going to be examined on but you will need to know in order to understand the next bit' if you know what I mean, so in that respect yes, it does just build on/ go over GCSE material. But this is probably a good thing, as I found at GCSE it was more a case of remembering rather than actually understanding things.
    Secondly, the grades :/ - well I think I was told than an A at GCSE translated to a C at A Level (I don't know how this was worked out) so following that idea, a B at GCSE would be a D at A Level. I personally don't think this is strictly true as many people don't get the grade they could have got at GCSE because of the sheer volume of exams and that people don't take GCSEs as seriously as A Levels. Your teacher has a fair point, as people in my class had A/A*s at GCSE and found biology very difficult, but if you think that your B (or potential B?) is due to lack of revision rather than lack of understanding, then with some hard work you should be okay. Most of my friends in science got A/A*s for GCSE, but mainly because our school had just started the triple science thing so we were pressured to get As.
    Oh, I am hoping to study molecular biology at St Andrews in September and no worries :3


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    (Original post by natninja)
    Medical you NEED chem. Chem is a huge step up at AS and then an even bigger step from AS to A2 (at least with Edexcel). Physics is only a small step, well in my opinion anyway as I took further maths. Looking at what you want to do you will almost certainly get no uni offers without maths. The step up in maths is big. Not to put you off or anything but people who get straight A*s and As at GCSE often do badly at A level as they take the 'I can do no work and still do well' attitude through. If you can gear up your level then it's fine
    i think i can gear up a level :-) i'll have to if i want to do well! and are you sure about maths? I looked up the entry requirements on some courses i am thinking about doing at uni and they all pretty much said 2 sciences or 1 science and maths?
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    Don't expect to get the same grades as you were getting at GSCE! I did A Level Biology (just left school) and was lucky to get a B with my hardest efforts despite getting A's in Biology in GCSE! As long as you work hard all year, not just a few weeks before the exam then you should be fine!
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    (Original post by hvcxxx)
    Don't expect to get the same grades as you were getting at GSCE! ........As long as you work hard all year, not just a few weeks before the exam then you should be fine!
    If i were to sum up my advice on A-level study in 2 sentences, that would be it. I did a survey of 70 A-level science/maths students and they pretty much all said exactly this!

    (Original post by Snakefingers13)
    I have a friend who got A* at GCSE Chemistry and is now on a D, and having to resit the January module because they were lazy.
    Indeed, this is more of a rule than an exception.... i know multiple students who fell into the same trap and are having to put a TON of work dig themselves out of the academic hole as a result.

    (Original post by emmaarr)
    I think because at GCSE I found science hard, I went into the A Levels under the same mind set, so was already prepared to do work for them.
    Work ethic is one of THE most important things at A-level. Personally i'd rather teach an GCSE A grade student that worked hard than a lazy A* grade one.
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    (Original post by tssf_skye)
    i think i can gear up a level :-) i'll have to if i want to do well! and are you sure about maths? I looked up the entry requirements on some courses i am thinking about doing at uni and they all pretty much said 2 sciences or 1 science and maths?
    technically you don't and if they say that it should be fine though it is possible that they'd prefer candidates with TWO sciences AND maths over those without if the uni doesn't interview
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    (Original post by gingerbreadman85)
    If i were to sum up my advice on A-level study in 2 sentences, that would be it. I did a survey of 70 A-level science/maths students and they pretty much all said exactly this!



    Indeed, this is more of a rule than an exception.... i know multiple students who fell into the same trap and are having to put a TON of work dig themselves out of the academic hole as a result.



    Work ethic is one of THE most important things at A-level. Personally i'd rather teach an GCSE A grade student that worked hard than a lazy A* grade one.

    I had my first induction it AS Chemistry today and we were doing moles and that kind of calculations. I found it quite difficult, being a B grade Maths student and was wondering if this is one of the hardest aspects of the course - the maths side? I guess it does depend on the person though. It just seemed like everyone was able to do it and had done triple science where i've done double and it was disheartening to say the least and made me think about dropping it -already i know. Thing is, i love chemistry but i just don't know if i'm clever enough and i don't want to fail my A -Levels.
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    (Original post by tssf_skye)
    I know this has come up before, but whatever :')
    Also i posted this in the wrong place at first so if you see it somewhere else that's why :-)

    Hey, so i'm in year 11 and i'm going to 6th form next year.

    Currently my options are Chemistry, Biology, English lit & lang and Geography.

    I'm hoping for an A* in chemistry and hopefully an A in Biology, but tbh it could be a B i didn't do a hell of a lot of biology revision tbh. My physics is probably a B but i got an A* in the ISA.
    Honestly how hard are science? I love chemistry and want to go into medical/geographic/scientific field so i know i need 2 sciences. I do like biology and i find it interesting but i also find it hard, but i guess it's just a case of putting the work in.
    Sciences are known as being hard as i've heard, and i want to know how big the step up from GCSE is and what is the reality of getting good grades? I want to do well in my subjects because otherwise they could risk my future so yeah :-)

    I'm prepared to put as much work in as needed, bearing in mind i do have a summer job that could turn long term though :-)
    From experience, all I've got to say is GOOD LUCK. Sixth form is a huge step up from GCSE.

    This was posted from The Student Room's Android App on my GT-I9100
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    (Original post by tssf_skye)
    I know this has come up before, but whatever :')
    Also i posted this in the wrong place at first so if you see it somewhere else that's why :-)

    Hey, so i'm in year 11 and i'm going to 6th form next year.

    Currently my options are Chemistry, Biology, English lit & lang and Geography.

    I'm hoping for an A* in chemistry and hopefully an A in Biology, but tbh it could be a B i didn't do a hell of a lot of biology revision tbh. My physics is probably a B but i got an A* in the ISA.
    Honestly how hard are science? I love chemistry and want to go into medical/geographic/scientific field so i know i need 2 sciences. I do like biology and i find it interesting but i also find it hard, but i guess it's just a case of putting the work in.
    Sciences are known as being hard as i've heard, and i want to know how big the step up from GCSE is and what is the reality of getting good grades? I want to do well in my subjects because otherwise they could risk my future so yeah :-)

    I'm prepared to put as much work in as needed, bearing in mind i do have a summer job that could turn long term though :-)
    "biology might be a B because I didn't do a lot of work for it" I got A*'s for all my sciences, and did no work what so ever, I then proceeded to fail them at A level, that's how hard it is, chemistry being the hardest, biology considered the easiest of the sciences... if you have motivation to work and do a lot of it, then yes you can succeed...
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    At GCSE I got A*AB in the sciences and last year took AS Biology and chemistry, coming out with an overall D in both Biology and Chemistry. In all honesty, I do think they're pretty hard Alevels - It's not just the content that is difficult, but the style of the exams which change between each unit. However, if you put in a lot of hard work, dedication to the subjects and are prepared to spend a lot of time outside of school and LOTS of past papers (Old spec and new), you should do fairly well.

    For both science alevels, I am on the AQA exam board. For chemistry, just about all of it is the basis for A2 and university and built upon from GCSE at a much higher level, with plenty of calculations and a lot of structures and characteristics of particular molecules. Same goes for Biology, although I would say that AS and A2 is mostly based on plants and ecology - which I hated and made it more difficult for me, and also cellular biology - a proportion of the BIOL1 exam is learning about cells and the organelles within them.

    Also, my maths is not particularly good, but i've been able to pull through Chemistry despite the calculations which i found quite difficult. The moles and titration calculations will definitly get easier with plenty of practice, as will the other calculations. If you do decide to take chemistry AS, there is a book that I use myself that is incredibly useful. 'Chemistry in AS/ A level by Jim Clark' - there is lots of examples and mock questions of all aspects of calculations required for most exam boards, the book is easy to read and is like a private tutor helping you with calculations You can get it from Amazon old/ new.

    Just please don't go into alevel expecting it to be easy having done well at GCSE - a few really intelligent students in my year did badly with the misconception that A-levels were going to be a breeze. I decided to re-sit both Biology and Chemistry classes and had to work incredibly harder than I did last year. However, the work paid off and I came out with 2A's in the modular re-sits in January.

    Just work harder than you ever have before, do all your work and put in as much extra as you can. If you don't manage to do as well as hoped at AS, don't give up, it is possible! And as for University, there are always other options and gateways for courses. Good luck!
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    Chemistry is said to be the hardest a level and they did not exaggerate. I got an A* at GCSE without doing very much so i came to Sixth form thinking it'd be the same thing. I could not be more wrong. It is so much harder. I was worried about the maths side of it at first, but in the end the maths side turned out to be easier than the rest of it. You really have to apply your knowledge in chemistry. And tbh, i found it to be so incredibly boring, but that's just my opinion. You sound like you're gonna work hard, which i did not unfortunately, so i hope you'll do well on your alevels. Oh and as for Biology, it's a lot of information to remember, but it's an interesting subject.
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    I did all sciences and maths.
    To be honest I found it to be no harder than GCSE, mainly because you only have 4 subjects instead of the 11 or so. Even individually, the jump from GCSE to AS level wasn't really noticeable for me. However the jump from AS level to A2 level was noticeable for me. Maths, chemistry and physics get much harder (but not really hard) from AS to A2 whilst Biology doesn't.

    It depends on the person I think. I've always found the sciences very interesting so I loved all my subjects, but if you don't like a subject at A level, you probably won't work for the grade you want in that subject so only pick subjects you love (or are necessary for your course).
    I suggest that if you want to do a science degree, you drop the Eng lang/lit and pick maths, because maths is essential to many science degrees, unless of course you are more comfortable with Eng than maths.
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    (Original post by Insanity514)
    I did all sciences and maths.
    To be honest I found it to be no harder than GCSE, mainly because you only have 4 subjects instead of the 11 or so. Even individually, the jump from GCSE to AS level wasn't really noticeable for me. However the jump from AS level to A2 level was noticeable for me. Maths, chemistry and physics get much harder (but not really hard) from AS to A2 whilst Biology doesn't.

    It depends on the person I think. I've always found the sciences very interesting so I loved all my subjects, but if you don't like a subject at A level, you probably won't work for the grade you want in that subject so only pick subjects you love (or are necessary for your course).
    I suggest that if you want to do a science degree, you drop the Eng lang/lit and pick maths, because maths is essential to many science degrees, unless of course you are more comfortable with Eng than maths.
    Although maths is helpful, it is not essential for more biology/ medical focused courses - I'd say it was more important for physics! If you don't enjoy maths, it could hinder your other subjects and you wont do well in maths its self. If you dont enjoy it, you won't work hard in it. However, if you do enjoy it and will work hard, it will compliment the science subjects and help you with maths based Biology and Chemistry. Exceptional hard work is essential for 99% of a-level students - it is not easy!

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