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    (Original post by drandy76)
    Following on from what jneill said, if you want to do maths at Cambridge you'd also need STEP, which would turn an already difficult workload to pretty much unmanageable if you want to get a decent grade in, it costs you nothing to spread your A levels over two years


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    Indeed. (Also Warwick, Imperial, etc...)

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    (Original post by Abstract_Prism)
    Could do, could do.

    But how will you feel if you mess up your A-levels (A-levels are no joke, and it's hard to understand how difficult they are without actually doing them) and instead have to spend your 'gap year' desperately cramming for resits, without a decent university place?

    ...

    Be much less likely to get an offer from universities because you don't have internal exam/AS results or predicted grades. OP, I know you're interested in Oxbridge. If you're going to do your A-levels in one year, you'll have to apply in less than 3 months. Are you ready to apply to Oxbridge in less than 3 months? Most of us have already started the UCAS process.


    You'll really be putting the odds against yourself for really not much benefit.
    I get that A-levels are hard, but from my perspective I'm doing the easiest ones to complete quickly - Maths, Further Maths, French and Spanish (I'd be sacrificing physics, which I was going to do, in order to ease the workload). None of my subjects requires large amounts of learning like History, Geography, etc.

    Also, the Head of 6th form at my school (deals with university admissions, goes to conferences, etc, so knows a lot about it) disagrees with the idea that I'd be much less likely to get a university place if I applied in Year 12. After all, some schools don't even get pupils to do their AS exams until Year 13 anyway (and then have to do AS and A2 in one year, like I'd be doing). Apparently, they'll look at my GCSEs instead (predicted 11A*). Also, the fact that I come from a mediocre comprehensive school will work in my favour, even if I don't do as well as I could have in my exams.

    She also said that I could reapply if I didn't get an offer - apparently, having already applied wouldn't put me at a significant disadvantage.
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    (Original post by archipelaglobule)
    I get that A-levels are hard, but from my perspective I'm doing the easiest ones to complete quickly - Maths, Further Maths, French and Spanish (I'd be sacrificing physics, which I was going to do, in order to ease the workload). None of my subjects requires large amounts of learning like History, Geography, etc.

    Also, the Head of 6th form at my school (deals with university admissions, goes to conferences, etc, so knows a lot about it) disagrees with the idea that I'd be much less likely to get a university place if I applied in Year 12. After all, some schools don't even get pupils to do their AS exams until Year 13 anyway (and then have to do AS and A2 in one year, like I'd be doing). Apparently, they'll look at my GCSEs instead (predicted 11A*). Also, the fact that I come from a mediocre comprehensive school will work in my favour, even if I don't do as well as I could have in my exams.

    She also said that I could reapply if I didn't get an offer - apparently, having already applied wouldn't put me at a significant disadvantage.
    Where do you want to apply to?


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    Cambridge.

    I also think I will find a college I would want to apply to and call someone there to discuss my plans and what they think of them.
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    (Original post by archipelaglobule)
    Cambridge.

    I also think I will find a college I would want to apply to and call someone there to discuss my plans and what they think of them.
    I would advise against it in that case, well any uni that has a STEP requirement actually.


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    (Original post by archipelaglobule)
    Cambridge.

    I also think I will find a college I would want to apply to and call someone there to discuss my plans and what they think of them.
    Your luck is in, Peterhouse's Maths Admissions Tutor is hosting a Q&A right now. Go ask him:

    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show....php?t=4217492
    Ask an interviewer - Mathematics

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    Tagging Zacken because he did something quite similar to you.
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    (Original post by archipelaglobule)
    I get that A-levels are hard, but from my perspective I'm doing the easiest ones to complete quickly - Maths, Further Maths, French and Spanish (I'd be sacrificing physics, which I was going to do, in order to ease the workload). None of my subjects requires large amounts of learning like History, Geography, etc.
    (thanks for the tag above, Ayman)

    Was all for you doing it till I read this. You're giving up a subject you were going to do simply to ease your workload, that's shameful in my opinion and makes me think you're better off just following the normal route.

    Second of all, you keep entertaining the idea of 'resits', that is not an option. Sure, resitting one or two modules isn't such a big deal, but the way you're coming off, it sounds like you think if you mess up, you get a more-or-less another shot at it the next year, this is not the case; Cambridge clearly states that if you take the exams early, they will consider you as thought you haven't, so if you mess up by taking everything early, that's on you - no second chances there. Is it worth it?

    Thirdly, are you applying for maths? From the above comments, it seems like you are, in which case, doing the A-Levels are the least of your worries, indeed, I'm fairly sure the vast majority Cambridge mathmo can get A*A*A in M/FM/(some third subject) in a one or two months with very little ease and worry, the only problem would be STEP, again.

    All in all, seems like you're in a bit over your head and you'd be better off just following the status-quo.
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    (Original post by Zacken)
    (thanks for the tag above, Ayman)

    Was all for you doing it till I read this. You're giving up a subject you were going to do simply to ease your workload, that's shameful in my opinion and makes me think you're better off just following the normal route.
    ...
    All in all, seems like you're in a bit over your head and you'd be better off just following the status-quo.
    I still may do Physics, but if it looks like the workload is going to be too much, I'll do Spanish instead. It depends on how quickly and comprehensively I can cover Maths and FM. Personally, I don't think that decision is shameful. However, Physics is, apparently, an advantage if you're applying for Maths, so I might reconsider.

    I completely agree with what you say about resits. I won't do the exams thinking that I can resit many of them if they go wrong. Also, where do they state that if you take the exams early, they won't consider you any differently?

    I haven't looked at how difficult STEP is likely to be, but that's definitely something I will do.

    Currently, I intend to go through the Maths and FM textbooks and see how it goes. French will not be a problem - I've already done AS and can already get A* grades in A2 past papers, so there's very little work to do for that. If the overall workload looks like it'll be too much, though, I won't apply to university in Year 12 and might just do everything as normal (though I'd probably still take A2 Maths early. I could also then take on 5 A-levels in total and do FM, Physics and Spanish as normal, with AS in Y12 and A2 in Y13.) I also have a friend who self-taught and sat the exams for AS and A2 Maths in Year 11. If his results turn out badly, I'll definitely reconsider self-teaching everything in Year 12.
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    (Original post by archipelaglobule)
    I still may do Physics, but if it looks like the workload is going to be too much, I'll do Spanish instead. It depends on how quickly and comprehensively I can cover Maths and FM. Personally, I don't think that decision is shameful. However, Physics is, apparently, an advantage if you're applying for Maths, so I might reconsider.
    This is exactly why I think you shouldn't be trying to do anything too fast. You're basing your subjects on what's easier instead of what you're more interested in... you're going to have trouble with that attitude at Cambridge.

    Also, where do they state that if you take the exams early, they won't consider you any differently?
    All over the place: email them, check their website, whatever.

    I haven't looked at how difficult STEP is likely to be, but that's definitely something I will do.
    Have a look at STEP...
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    (Original post by archipelaglobule)
    I could also then take on 5 A-levels in total and do FM, Physics and Spanish as normal, with AS in Y12 and A2 in Y13.)
    Don't bother with too many A-levels if you're applying for Maths. Just focus on getting high UMS in 3-4.
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    (Original post by Zacken)
    This is exactly why I think you shouldn't be trying to do anything too fast. You're basing your subjects on what's easier instead of what you're more interested in... you're going to have trouble with that attitude at Cambridge.
    Some parts of physics I do find very interesting (e.g. kinematics), whereas other parts I find quite boring (e.g. circuits). Although I'm still considering doing physics, it seems a slight shame to be held back from doing A-levels early by one subject (as physics would certainly be my biggest problem if I did all my A2s next year and included physics rather than replacing it).

    I've looked at some STEP papers. Could you estimate how much extra work it's likely to be (compared to the work needed for an AS/A2 maths module)? To me, it seems difficult, but not impossible.
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    (Original post by archipelaglobule)
    I've looked at some STEP papers. Could you estimate how much extra work it's likely to be (compared to the work needed for an AS/A2 maths module)? To me, it seems difficult, but not impossible.
    I dunno, it's very hard to compare.
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    (Original post by Zacken)
    (thanks for the tag above, Ayman)

    Was all for you doing it till I read this. You're giving up a subject you were going to do simply to ease your workload, that's shameful in my opinion and makes me think you're better off just following the normal route.

    Second of all, you keep entertaining the idea of 'resits', that is not an option. Sure, resitting one or two modules isn't such a big deal, but the way you're coming off, it sounds like you think if you mess up, you get a more-or-less another shot at it the next year, this is not the case; Cambridge clearly states that if you take the exams early, they will consider you as thought you haven't, so if you mess up by taking everything early, that's on you - no second chances there. Is it worth it?

    Thirdly, are you applying for maths? From the above comments, it seems like you are, in which case, doing the A-Levels are the least of your worries, indeed, I'm fairly sure the vast majority Cambridge mathmo can get A*A*A in M/FM/(some third subject) in a one or two months with very little ease and worry, the only problem would be STEP, again.

    All in all, seems like you're in a bit over your head and you'd be better off just following the status-quo.
    I agree with you, but don't you think the whole issue is more on individual case? If he thinks he can start A-levels this summer and work his arse off on holidays without breaks, then what's the problem of him taking A-levels + getting high grades on STEP in one year? This is a rhetorical question. I just feel like him asking a forum is completely pointless, and the fact that he is even considering re-sits makes me agree with you that he may be better off taking the normal route. Still, it all depends on him, and it definitely is possible since you are one prime example of that.

    (Original post by archipelaglobule)
    I've looked at some STEP papers. Could you estimate how much extra work it's likely to be (compared to the work needed for an AS/A2 maths module)? To me, it seems difficult, but not impossible.
    I took the same route as you are thinking of taking, but I took A-level Maths a year earlier so I only had to do 3 A-levels at AS/A2 in one year (Chemistry, Further Maths and Physics); however, I also had to take GCSEs so I think the workload equates pretty similarly (not saying that five or so GCSEs are equal to one A-level, but lessons were an annoyance). Therefore, I've been through what you are planning on doing.

    First of all, it is extremely important for you to make up your mind as soon as possible whether you think you can manage 4 A-levels + STEP in one year, and that would mean that you will have to be confident in managing top grades by next year, and re-takes must not be an option to you. Secondly, if you really do think that you can make it, you would need to start this summer and try to complete AS content until September (start with A-level Maths since you need to start STEP prep as soon as possible). It may seem pretty difficult to do that, so it's fine if you don't manage; I had the aim of finishing AS during summer last year due to the fact that I sacrificed 4-5 hours a day of GCSE lessons, which would not be an issue to you. Thirdly, make sure your school is aware of what you are planning on doing, and start writing your personal statement for university now so you can give a draft of it to your school early September, and apply in October for Cambridge. Make sure you explain thoroughly why you are doing what you are doing, and explaining on the SAQ why you have not taken AS like other people, except for French and Maths. Concerning your school, depending on how large it is, and how much freedom your school will give you, make sure that you know a classroom or two where you can self-study freely without distractions; this was a problem for me for a while. Finally, concerning STEP, I started earlier than most people and went through the STEP booklets with about 1 hour of STEP prep a day so you could do similarly, and then moving onto past papers. I recommend you to only do 1 hour of STEP a day for a while, concentrating on your A-levels, and then in about January up your workload to more. You should be done with STEP booklets by November or so, and start working through past paper questions (one or two timed questions would easily equate to one hour) until April or May when you should be doing one past paper in a sitting, maybe once a week, depending on how many past papers you have left. Make sure you leave the earliest STEP papers for late May, and take into account that they are more difficult than the old papers. It is very important that you time yourself while doing them since STEP is a very time-pressured exam.

    Have fun.
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    Seems an unnecessary risk which could backfire horribly. Oxbridge would much rather you do A-levels at a normal rate and not have to do many re-sits.

    On the other hand, if you do succeed, it could pay-off.

    The main question is can you handle the workload - excellent scheduling will be required.

    Also, see if your college allows it? Many A2 courses build on AS knowledge...
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    (Original post by Insight314)

    First of all, it is extremely important for you to make up your mind as soon as possible whether you think you can manage 4 A-levels + STEP in one year, and that would mean that you will have to be confident in managing top grades by next year, and re-takes must not be an option to you. Secondly, if you really do think that you can make it, you would need to start this summer and try to complete AS content until September (start with A-level Maths since you need to start STEP prep as soon as possible).
    I've gone through a decent amount of maths and I'm pretty confident with a lot of AS and A2 Maths now. But I'm slightly unsure as to whether or not I should do the modules that my school does, or do different ones - Cambridge say they prefer you to do pure maths and mechanics modules with as little statistics and discrete maths as possible. Any idea whether I should choose S1, D1 and S2 for FM (the stats and discrete maths modules my school does), allowing me to go to some lessons and get more teacher support, or different ones which Cambridge would prefer?
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    I think(emphasis on think) i remember seeing from when I applied that it's preferable to have at least 4 of your FM modules be made up of Pure and Mechanics


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    (Original post by archipelaglobule)
    I've gone through a decent amount of maths and I'm pretty confident with a lot of AS and A2 Maths now. But I'm slightly unsure as to whether or not I should do the modules that my school does, or do different ones - Cambridge say they prefer you to do pure maths and mechanics modules with as little statistics and discrete maths as possible. Any idea whether I should choose S1, D1 and S2 for FM (the stats and discrete maths modules my school does), allowing me to go to some lessons and get more teacher support, or different ones which Cambridge would prefer?
    So what modules are you doing for Maths? M1 & M2? If so that's absolutely fine.

    They won't hold it against you if you do D1. Many applicants have D1.

    Honestly, I just don't see why you want to try to buck the usual way of doing your A-levels. You won't gain any real advantage, and it's potentially very risky.

    Do all Maths in Y12, and all FM in Y13. Plus STEP, plus 1 or maybe 2 more A-levels. If you do all Maths in Y12 then you could have a shot at doing STEP early, even if it's just for the learning experience.
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    (Original post by archipelaglobule)
    I've gone through a decent amount of maths and I'm pretty confident with a lot of AS and A2 Maths now. But I'm slightly unsure as to whether or not I should do the modules that my school does, or do different ones - Cambridge say they prefer you to do pure maths and mechanics modules with as little statistics and discrete maths as possible. Any idea whether I should choose S1, D1 and S2 for FM (the stats and discrete maths modules my school does), allowing me to go to some lessons and get more teacher support, or different ones which Cambridge would prefer?
    Don't waste your time with Discrete modules, as you won't be able to use any of the knowledge in your STEP exams. Take as many mechanics modules as you can, as Cambridge does indeed prefer them over statistics modules. Depending on how confident you are with mechanics compared to statistics, you could do M1-M5 and then have the whole mechanics section for STEP I, II and III very accessible. I, myself, did M1-M5 and attempted at least one mechanics questions for each STEP I, II, III exam this year which helped me quite a bit in reaching my desired grades. Also, quite a few people I know that took STEP this year decided to learn stats modules without sitting the exams, but only so they could attempt the stats section. One problem I found this year is that I couldn't attempt any of the free, easy, full marks in 20 minutes stats questions which came up this year.
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    (Original post by Insight314)
    Take as many mechanics modules as you can, as Cambridge does indeed prefer them over statistics modules.
    Not really. There's 3 mechanics and 2 stats questions per STEP paper. Not a huge difference.

    And OP is already considering he might need to do retakes, so going outside his school's standard approach is increasing the risk.
 
 
 
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