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    Hi all, my daughter is planning on applying for NatSci at Cambridge (Sept 2014 entry) and has a question about the best number of AS to achieve.

    She got 9 A* at GCSE and is now studying Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Music at AS.

    But her school is discussing with her the possibility to drop physics at AS because they don't do unit 3 until A2 exam time and as she hadn't intended to pursue physics next year, she probably wouldn't do unit 3, so would only ever achieve 80% of her AS, so what is the point of doing it at all (hope that makes sense).

    Her question is - would doing only 4 AS be good enough for a Cambridge application, when being against other students doing 5 AS? Is it the sort of thing that would weigh in the balance for admission?

    The school also doesn't do unit 3 biology until end of A2 exam (they used to do the unit 3s in January, but of course these are scrapped now so everything is in June), which also means that she would not have completed her AS biology either before her application. Would this be a hindrance and should she try to take the exam anyway this year, with perhaps external tutorial help? Anyone ever been in this position who has experience of Cambridge's reaction and can advise?

    Thanks very much, this is all nerve racking - she is attending an international school in France (UK curriculum though), so a lot of resources are lacking, thank god for TSR
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    I'm a bit confused by your references to unit 3 being part of AS - aren't all non-maths science AS's two units now? My little sister's certainly are.

    4 AS's won't be a problem for Cambridge (its the normal amount!) but be aware that Cambridge asks for full UMS listings for all modules so they need to be good.

    Just out of interest, if your daughter wants to do NatSci then why drop Physics, which is relevant, vs Music which isn't?
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    (Original post by cora06140)
    Hi all, my daughter is planning on applying for NatSci at Cambridge (Sept 2014 entry) and has a question about the best number of AS to achieve.

    She got 9 A* at GCSE and is now studying Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Music at AS.

    But her school is discussing with her the possibility to drop physics at AS because they don't do unit 3 until A2 exam time and as she hadn't intended to pursue physics next year, she probably wouldn't do unit 3, so would only ever achieve 80% of her AS, so what is the point of doing it at all (hope that makes sense).

    Her question is - would doing only 4 AS be good enough for a Cambridge application, when being against other students doing 5 AS? Is it the sort of thing that would weigh in the balance for admission?

    The school also doesn't do unit 3 biology until end of A2 exam (they used to do the unit 3s in January, but of course these are scrapped now so everything is in June), which also means that she would not have completed her AS biology either before her application. Would this be a hindrance and should she try to take the exam anyway this year, with perhaps external tutorial help? Anyone ever been in this position who has experience of Cambridge's reaction and can advise?

    Thanks very much, this is all nerve racking - she is attending an international school in France (UK curriculum though), so a lot of resources are lacking, thank god for TSR
    The average is 4, and that is fine, it's best to drop to just 4 as levels but get good grades in them rather then have 5 with not so good grades. E.g. 4 A's will always be seen as better by the uni then 3 A's and 2 B's.
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    (Original post by milienhaus)
    I'm a bit confused by your references to unit 3 being part of AS - aren't all non-maths science AS's two units now? My little sister's certainly are.

    4 AS's won't be a problem for Cambridge (its the normal amount!) but be aware that Cambridge asks for full UMS listings for all modules so they need to be good.

    Just out of interest, if your daughter wants to do NatSci then why drop Physics, which is relevant, vs Music which isn't?
    Hi, can't say about 2 or 3 units, she seems to have 3 units for all of her science subjects (unit 3 being the practical side).... It might be a question of board, she is with Edexcel

    The dropping physics is because of that unit 3 exam not being sat until next year (i.e. at the same time as the A2 units exams). As she is not doing physics A2, she would probably end up not sitting that leftover unit (not having done physics all year) and would therefore never achieve a full AS.
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    A little irrelevant with regards to the actual question asked, but if it's not too late and her school offers it, I'd definitely recommend taking further maths. The gain may or may not be large but I'm sure it'd give her a leg up. If she wants to do it, of course.

    I'd argue that there's nothing to gain with a fifth AS - just focus on doing very well in four of them and carry them all on to A2, and that's great. It's difficult to say whether having five AS Levels has any bearing or not on getting a place based simply on the fact that there are so many factors that can influence one's application, most notably performance at interview among others. As the other posters have said just concentrate on the four.
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    (Original post by Danya1)
    The average is 4, and that is fine, it's best to drop to just 4 as levels but get good grades in them rather then have 5 with not so good grades. E.g. 4 A's will always be seen as better by the uni then 3 A's and 2 B's.
    Thanks, that is reassuring!
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    (Original post by cora06140)
    Hi, can't say about 2 or 3 units, she seems to have 3 units for all of her science subjects (unit 3 being the practical side).... It might be a question of board, she is with Edexcel

    The dropping physics is because of that unit 3 exam not being sat until next year (i.e. at the same time as the A2 units exams). As she is not doing physics A2, she would probably end up not sitting that leftover unit (not having done physics all year) and would therefore never achieve a full AS.
    I really meant why isn't she taking Physics to A2?
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    (Original post by Jedicake)
    A little irrelevant with regards to the actual question asked, but if it's not too late and her school offers it, I'd definitely recommend taking further maths. The gain may or may not be large but I'm sure it'd give her a leg up. If she wants to do it, of course.

    I'd argue that there's nothing to gain with a fifth AS - just focus on doing very well in four of them and carry them all on to A2, and that's great. It's difficult to say whether having five AS Levels has any bearing or not on getting a place based simply on the fact that there are so many factors that can influence one's application, most notably performance at interview among others. As the other posters have said just concentrate on the four.
    Yes, I had been wondering about further maths, especially as pure maths is her favourite subject and she is consistently achieving >95% in all pure maths tests. Not sure if it might not be too late though, we are already mid-March. I only wish the school had more Oxbridge application experience to be able to advise her properly!
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    (Original post by milienhaus)
    I really meant why isn't she taking Physics to A2?
    Oh OK, although she enjoys Physics overall, it's not her best subject and she doesn't think she'd achieve good enough grades at A2 so prefers dropping it. She's planning on dropping music for the same reason (although performing and theory are no pb, she feels the required level of composition will be too high for her ability).
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    Thanks for all the advice, very useful. Now, if anyone has experience of applying with only part of an AS in a main subject (like she would have for Biology if she follows school policy), then would be very grateful to hear about it too
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    (Original post by cora06140)
    Thanks for all the advice, very useful. Now, if anyone has experience of applying with only part of an AS in a main subject (like she would have for Biology if she follows school policy), then would be very grateful to hear about it too
    I got in for the PBS course with 4 AS's and 3 A2, and lots of people get into Nat Sci with 3A2 and 4AS - thats pretty standard to be honest. Some do 4 A2 but 5AS is certainly not going to benefit your daughter to any considerable length. As someone has already mentioned 4A's (equivalent) would be more desirable than AAABB/ or other variants.

    when you say unit 3 I'm assuming you mean the ISA components ? When you apply to Cambridge you submit a SAQ form where you declare all your UMS marks from every exam. So your daughter would be able to put in the marks for the exams she has taken and just leave the unit 3's blank. Cambridge won't mind that the uni3 is missing so long as the UMS marks of the other modules are in their expected region - just make sure in her reference the school outline that the exams are not taken till the end of A2.

    A school near me that dont do AS exams untill the January of A2 year (which will now change of course) have managed to get lots of people in cambridge and oxford with just 1 unit results and having good predictions. So as long as the reference outlines this policy your daughter will be fine.

    My advice would be to drop Physics and as she is going down the Bio Nat Sci route there is no considerable need to take on Further maths as someone previously mentioned.

    Best of Luck to her!
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    Thanks ever so much! I'll share all that with her, it will certainly put her mind at rest...


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    By the way Jackkkkk, how are you finding the PBS course - it's quite new, right? My daughter is drawn towards neuroscience, particularly the cognitive aspects so cognitive psychology would be of interest.


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    (Original post by cora06140)
    By the way Jackkkkk, how are you finding the PBS course - it's quite new, right? My daughter is drawn towards neuroscience, particularly the cognitive aspects so cognitive psychology would be of interest.


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    Im currently on a Gap year at the moment (completed my A Levels), so as of October Ill be better placed to answer, as Ill be in the first co-hort. However, I think its great as it mixes aspects of Bio Nat Sci with the more social stuff. Eg. In y1 you take Intro to Psych (covering Bio/Dev/Cog etc), Methods (stats and Neurobiology) and you then pick two options.....eg. Evolution and Behaviour (from NatSci), Microeconomics (from Economics), Biological Anthropology, Sociology or Philosophy of Mind amoung many more options. I, like your daughter love the Cognitive and Bio aspects and in y2 you can take Experimental Psych (heavily cognitive/bio based) and a research project as well as social and another option. In y3 you can focus on Experimental and Cognitive Neuroscience also as well as Psychopathology (developmental disorders). Equally, if you do want to add in a social slant thats possible.

    I was drawn to its ability to mix the 'best' bits of Nat Sci Psychology with alot of other options (my biased opinion ofc :P ). However it has to be said if your daughter is really keen on taking pure sciences along side psych, then BioNatSci would be a good option as you can take Experimental Psych in y2 and 3 and Cognitive Neuroscience in y3 also which would give her BPS accreditation to take Psychology further if she so wishes.

    however her A level options are perfect for PBS having got Biology and Maths. it does sound as though her A level options/likes/interests may favour the more 'pure' science route that is BioNatSci with the ability to take neurobiology, Physiology and mathematical biology for example, however its worth checking PBS out as the options overlap with natsci and there is a more eclectic choice of modules
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    Just thought id warn your daughter about NatSci at cambridge, my brother did it at Kings college Cambridge and he ended up regretting it due to being unable to find a job afterwards and after several failures he went on to do a PhD, but im not him so I can tell you the full story
 
 
 
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