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    Hey. I'm considering studying medicine at university and I have decided to pick Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Eng. Literature as of yet. Despite having studied Add Maths and being generally good at math, I'm not picking it for A-level because I would much rather do Physics (although I've been told it's more difficult than Maths but I'm willing to work hard and besides I somehow enjoy it more). I initially wanted to do all 3 sciences and Maths, but changed Maths for Literature simply because I thought it would be better to do an essay-based subject as my fourth. Four pure sciences might get a bit boring too!

    Now I know I would be limiting my options at uni by not opting for Maths but I still feel more inclined towards the aforementioned set of subjects. I have been told (and I believe it's true) that Maths being more versatile is a better choice, but to what extent is it more 'versatile'? I know Maths is beneficial if you want to do, say, Economics at uni which I think would be interesting but not so much as to be in my top preferences. Besides, doing Maths without Physics would limit my options in math-based fields like engineering anyway. As for a back-up course at uni, I would love to do Architecture for which I think Maths OR Physics would be (equally?) good enough. Do you think that is a good idea? If Maths really is /so/ important, I think I will drop Physics for it. My teachers say they cannot stress enough the importance of having studied it, even in the medical field. Seriously?

    As for Eng. Literature, I did not have it at GCSE but I would still like to do it because I have a general knack for reading, and having looked around on its course I think it would be doable and personally more interesting for me than the other options I could have considered (History/Psychology). But I can't truly know simply by 'having looked around' the amount of work it demands so can anyone tell me the level of difficulty I would face without having done it at GCSE? How long will it take for me to get used to, and also is it like way too time consuming? I am willing to put in the effort but not so much as to affect my other (and I believe more important) subjects? It is quite academically rigorous as it is and I don't want to end up with an awful grade. (Does anyone actually ever get an A* there!? I have never heard of it). If you think Literature is not a good idea, what other essay-based subject do you think I could opt for which it is easier to attain a good grade in?

    Oh and I don't plan on dropping any subject after AS so do you think I would be pushing myself? These subjects are demanding as it is.

    Not really but... Sorry for the long post?
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    I think you need to make your mind up about what you want to study. If I've understood you correctly and you're about to start Year 12, you simply cannot be in a position where you're seriously considering Medicine and Architecture. They're totally different subjects and it is absolutely impossible to apply to both. You need to make a decision very soon about what course you want to do because tailoring your A Levels towards two totally different subjects is a very, very bad idea.

    First of all, if you go for Architecture, you have to take Art. Even for the (few) courses that don't have Art as a compulsory A Level, it's strongly recommended and making a portfolio will be extremely difficult without it. So if you're serious about Architecture, you need to have a very big rethink about your A Level subjects.

    For Medicine, that subject selection is fine. However, as I've already mentioned, you have to make your mind up soon if you're planning to seriously take Medicine. Getting work experience is compulsory for Medicine and it's apparently very difficult to get, so you'd need to apply as soon as possible. In my school at least, all Medics have to join a Year 12 MedSoc which concentrates on Medicine application preparation, because there are extra things you need to practice for because of the demanding Medicine application route. However, if you say that "Four pure sciences might get a bit boring too" then is Medicine really for you? Because you'll be studying science for many, many years...

    If you want to take English Literature, that's fine. It's not going to be as helpful as Maths, but it's fine as a contrasting 4th A Level. I've not taken it at A Level so I can't judge how difficult Literature is. Maths is desirable for most Architecture courses and probably helpful for Medicine, but it's not compulsory.

    Basically, your problem is that you need to make your mind up about what direction you want to head in. Choosing A Levels for the sake of 'variety' or 'versatility' is not a good idea. Especially for subjects as specialised as Architecture or Medicine, you really have to decide very, very soon which one you want to go for. For most STEM subjects, you'll want at least two sciences + maths. I'm sorry if this sounds a bit harsh and I'm definitely not saying you need to plan your entire life out, but at the present it does not sound like you're informed enough to make sensible A Level subject decisions.
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    (Original post by Diretto)
    Hey. I'm considering studying medicine at university and I have decided to pick Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Eng. Literature as of yet. Despite having studied Add Maths and being generally good at math, I'm not picking it for A-level because I would much rather do Physics (although I've been told it's more difficult than Maths but I'm willing to work hard and besides I somehow enjoy it more). I initially wanted to do all 3 sciences and Maths, but changed Maths for Literature simply because I thought it would be better to do an essay-based subject as my fourth. Four pure sciences might get a bit boring too!

    Now I know I would be limiting my options at uni by not opting for Maths but I still feel more inclined towards the aforementioned set of subjects. I have been told (and I believe it's true) that Maths being more versatile is a better choice, but to what extent is it more 'versatile'? I know Maths is beneficial if you want to do, say, Economics at uni which I think would be interesting but not so much as to be in my top preferences. Besides, doing Maths without Physics would limit my options in math-based fields like engineering anyway. As for a back-up course at uni, I would love to do Architecture for which I think Maths OR Physics would be (equally?) good enough. Do you think that is a good idea? If Maths really is /so/ important, I think I will drop Physics for it. My teachers say they cannot stress enough the importance of having studied it, even in the medical field. Seriously?

    As for Eng. Literature, I did not have it at GCSE but I would still like to do it because I have a general knack for reading, and having looked around on its course I think it would be doable and personally more interesting for me than the other options I could have considered (History/Psychology). But I can't truly know simply by 'having looked around' the amount of work it demands so can anyone tell me the level of difficulty I would face without having done it at GCSE? How long will it take for me to get used to, and also is it like way too time consuming? I am willing to put in the effort but not so much as to affect my other (and I believe more important) subjects? It is quite academically rigorous as it is and I don't want to end up with an awful grade. (Does anyone actually ever get an A* there!? I have never heard of it). If you think Literature is not a good idea, what other essay-based subject do you think I could opt for which it is easier to attain a good grade in?

    Oh and I don't plan on dropping any subject after AS so do you think I would be pushing myself? These subjects are demanding as it is.

    Not really but... Sorry for the long post?
    Rather than considering an 'essay based' subject, what I would advise is that you check how coursework based each subject is. I didn't, and ended up with all my alevels being exam based, which can be pretty stressful when it gets to the studying time. It can be just as stressful to have lots of coursework on the go at the same time, so maybe consider choosing subjects that will give you a bit of variety.

    You also need to consider this: if there is a degree that you really want to study, then you would definitely need to make sure your alevels are suitable for that course. If not, then I would advise you to pick subjects you like, especially if a couple of them are science based. It is not the end of the world if you end up changing what you want to study, or deciding at a later date that you need to study another alevel; now is not the only time you can study them!
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    If I were in your position I would drop English for Maths. When applying for a medical degree I am sure they will pick someone doing maths over English if it came down to that being the only difference between two candidates. If you must, drop physics, though there are elements of physics which compliment studying medicine well (e.g. medical physics in the physics A-level course I studied). Most people I know who have mixed essay writing subjects with science for 'variety' have regretted doing so. Overall, choose subjects which will keep as many doors open to you as possible.
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    The dropping subjects option you can deal with at the end of AS. Your thoughts might have changed, and/or you may wish to focus your studies on getting three very good grades, rather than four generally good grades. There's no advantage in doing four subjects, other than potentially covering your bases.

    I would actually probably recommend doing maths AND physics. You're interested in physics, clearly. Without maths, you're absolutely shooting yourself in the foot for studying physics (or engineering) at university. If you have no intention of carrying on with physics, then maths may well be a more appropriate substitute. Both maths and physics are very useful in chemistry, but as long as you have at least one of them then most places will provide some sort of teaching on the other. Both of them are less relevant in biology, although still useful, and mathematical competence is required because it ties in with things like reaction rates (i.e. the chemistry in biology) etc. Basically, any STEM area will involve some mathematics beyond GCSE (mainly covered by the standard A-level, logarithms, differentiation, and integration are the main areas). After first year, they just assume you follow what's going on, and that makes for a good few incomprehensible lectures if they've lost you in the maths.

    Your choice of english lit. seems a bit of a random fad - but it is a good subject. For a STEM course, they're really rather concerned about your capabilities, so they will be looking at your relevant grades more (i.e. the sciences). I did Spanish, as a contrasting subject, to biology, chemistry and maths. I didn't like physics, so that made my choice easier, but I have struggled with some concepts in my degree related to physics.

    Make a table of every course you might want to do (medicine, architecture, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, biomedical sciences, whatever...), and place all the "required" subjects in one column. Google a few different universities for this (ideally around your expected grade range/anywhere you've thought about applying to). You can also add an "advantageous" column, because with sciences, it's generally advantageous to have a grounding in all areas. From this, you should be able to see what subjects you need the most to keep most of the course options open.
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    (Original post by Chlorophile)
    I think you need to make your mind up about what you want to study. If I've understood you correctly and you're about to start Year 12, you simply cannot be in a position where you're seriously considering Medicine and Architecture. They're totally different subjects and it is absolutely impossible to apply to both. You need to make a decision very soon about what course you want to do because tailoring your A Levels towards two totally different subjects is a very, very bad idea.

    First of all, if you go for Architecture, you have to take Art. Even for the (few) courses that don't have Art as a compulsory A Level, it's strongly recommended and making a portfolio will be extremely difficult without it. So if you're serious about Architecture, you need to have a very big rethink about your A Level subjects.

    For Medicine, that subject selection is fine. However, as I've already mentioned, you have to make your mind up soon if you're planning to seriously take Medicine. Getting work experience is compulsory for Medicine and it's apparently very difficult to get, so you'd need to apply as soon as possible. In my school at least, all Medics have to join a Year 12 MedSoc which concentrates on Medicine application preparation, because there are extra things you need to practice for because of the demanding Medicine application route. However, if you say that "Four pure sciences might get a bit boring too" then is Medicine really for you? Because you'll be studying science for many, many years...

    If you want to take English Literature, that's fine. It's not going to be as helpful as Maths, but it's fine as a contrasting 4th A Level. I've not taken it at A Level so I can't judge how difficult Literature is. Maths is desirable for most Architecture courses and probably helpful for Medicine, but it's not compulsory.

    Basically, your problem is that you need to make your mind up about what direction you want to head in. Choosing A Levels for the sake of 'variety' or 'versatility' is not a good idea. Especially for subjects as specialised as Architecture or Medicine, you really have to decide very, very soon which one you want to go for. For most STEM subjects, you'll want at least two sciences + maths. I'm sorry if this sounds a bit harsh and I'm definitely not saying you need to plan your entire life out, but at the present it does not sound like you're informed enough to make sensible A Level subject decisions.
    I may have underestimated Architecture a bit... I thought I would be fine with the sciences. Let's forget I mentioned that and focus on medicine since that IS my immediate aim. Which of the three sets would you go for:
    Chem, Bio, Phy, Lit
    Chem, Bio, Maths, Lit
    Chem, Bio, Phy, Maths

    Considering I really really want to do Literature but not if maths really is so important.

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    (Original post by pingu27)
    If I were in your position I would drop English for Maths. When applying for a medical degree I am sure they will pick someone doing maths over English if it came down to that being the only difference between two candidates. If you must, drop physics, though there are elements of physics which compliment studying medicine well (e.g. medical physics in the physics A-level course I studied). Most people I know who have mixed essay writing subjects with science for 'variety' have regretted doing so. Overall, choose subjects which will keep as many doors open to you as possible.
    Seriously? I thought it would be good to have a mix. And why would they pick maths over English if that was the only difference? Maths is more relevant, yes, but doesn't English have its own merits? :\ And why exactly have people regretted doing so?

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    (Original post by Nymthae)
    The dropping subjects option you can deal with at the end of AS. Your thoughts might have changed, and/or you may wish to focus your studies on getting three very good grades, rather than four generally good grades. There's no advantage in doing four subjects, other than potentially covering your bases.

    I would actually probably recommend doing maths AND physics. You're interested in physics, clearly. Without maths, you're absolutely shooting yourself in the foot for studying physics (or engineering) at university. If you have no intention of carrying on with physics, then maths may well be a more appropriate substitute. Both maths and physics are very useful in chemistry, but as long as you have at least one of them then most places will provide some sort of teaching on the other. Both of them are less relevant in biology, although still useful, and mathematical competence is required because it ties in with things like reaction rates (i.e. the chemistry in biology) etc. Basically, any STEM area will involve some mathematics beyond GCSE (mainly covered by the standard A-level, logarithms, differentiation, and integration are the main areas). After first year, they just assume you follow what's going on, and that makes for a good few incomprehensible lectures if they've lost you in the maths.

    Your choice of english lit. seems a bit of a random fad - but it is a good subject. For a STEM course, they're really rather concerned about your capabilities, so they will be looking at your relevant grades more (i.e. the sciences). I did Spanish, as a contrasting subject, to biology, chemistry and maths. I didn't like physics, so that made my choice easier, but I have struggled with some concepts in my degree related to physics.

    Make a table of every course you might want to do (medicine, architecture, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, biomedical sciences, whatever...), and place all the "required" subjects in one column. Google a few different universities for this (ideally around your expected grade range/anywhere you've thought about applying to). You can also add an "advantageous" column, because with sciences, it's generally advantageous to have a grounding in all areas. From this, you should be able to see what subjects you need the most to keep most of the course options open.
    Thanks, this was particularly helpful. Maths and Physics being complementary are good together obviously and would keep most options open for me. I'm considering going back to my original choice of subjects i.e. 3 sciences + maths. However, as random as it may seem, I wanted to do Literature because I thought I would have enjoyed a 'non science-y' subject as a 4th and I may have an inclination towards words just as much as towards numbers... to put it stupidly. I don't plan on taking English to degree level so it would be alright to drop it I guess.

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    nah fam if u wunna be a medic do this:

    chem
    bio
    maths
    physics/history/english/economics/philosophy/language/geography

    top 3 r essentia
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    (Original post by Diretto)
    Thanks, this was particularly helpful. Maths and Physics being complementary are good together obviously and would keep most options open for me. I'm considering going back to my original choice of subjects i.e. 3 sciences + maths. However, as random as it may seem, I wanted to do Literature because I thought I would have enjoyed a 'non science-y' subject as a 4th and I may have an inclination towards words just as much as towards numbers... to put it stupidly. I don't plan on taking English to degree level so it would be alright to drop it I guess.

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    There's obviously nothing stopping you reading and writing in your spare time - find a book club or something, it might just fill that little void of analysing books. It's obviously not the same, but anything like that will give you a rounded base. Does your sixth form/college offer the EPQ? As that might be a somewhat handy way of doing a report, where you can read, research, and write about something of interest. It's an advantage to tailor it to your subject but as it's not a qualification required for entry then you are very welcome to do something based on literature, or history, or poltics e.t.c.

    I know how you feel about wanting the variation. It's hard when you have so many things you can do, or want to do.
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    (Original post by Diretto)
    Seriously? I thought it would be good to have a mix. And why would they pick maths over English if that was the only difference? Maths is more relevant, yes, but doesn't English have its own merits? :\ And why exactly have people regretted doing so?

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    I would think this would be the case. In my experience of applying to universities and attending interviews for a science subject (physics), most people were only studying science subjects. I got the feeling that the universities took an almost narrow approach in what they were looking for and simply wouldn't care about an English A-Level as in their eyes it would be of little use.

    The main skills you are trying to show with the English A-Level are that you can write and analyse well, which could certainly be useful in studying medicine, but this could be just as easily demonstrated with completing an EPQ, which is something I did essentially over the last summer holidays alongside four science subjects which I took to full A-levels. These are great for personal statements as you can choose a topic for it which pertains to the subject you want to study at university, whilst at the same you are demonstrating an ability to analyse information and to write extensively. Whilst only an AS qualification, it is probably better than an English A-Level in the eyes of those looking for university candidates for science as it can be twisted to show your dedication to science quite easily; you have to remember, a lot of people may be in their position as a result of hating arts subjects!

    You need to consider what alternatives courses English could be used for. With the rest of your subjects being science subjects, this may be limited.

    Regarding people choosing a mix of subjects, I was thinking of doing History or maybe French myself, under the illusion somewhat from my parents and some teachers that universities are looking for well-rounded people people, when in fact further research indicated the exact opposite, i.e. that universities are only interested in things which relate to your chosen subject for studying. My friend went ahead with history anyway, and later regretted taking Further Maths which both played more to his strengths and was more relevant to a science degree (he had always intended to choose a science degree to study at university). That, and the amount if writing I think was a problem. Personally, also, I am weary of the marking of English papers, as I wrote to essentially the same standard on two of the same papers for GCSE, and got a B and A* on the original and resit respectively, thus putting me right off English for life. With a science paper, the answer is right or wrong and you don't have to worry (for the most part lol) if the examiner agrees.

    Do read around extensively and make the decision you feel is best. The above is my take as someone doing science and so is biased, make sure to look from all sides.

    Edit: forgot to mention, I didn't feel like I had to do History and French out if necessity - I did feel I enjoyed them at GCSE!
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    (Original post by Diretto)
    I may have underestimated Architecture a bit... I thought I would be fine with the sciences. Let's forget I mentioned that and focus on medicine since that IS my immediate aim. Which of the three sets would you go for:
    Chem, Bio, Phy, Lit
    Chem, Bio, Maths, Lit
    Chem, Bio, Phy, Maths

    Considering I really really want to do Literature but not if maths really is so important.

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    Any of those combinations would be accepted. The third combination (Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Maths) would definitely be the most useful combination - I'm not entirely sure why you think doing Literature would be useful - but as long as you have Chemistry and Biology, you've fulfilled the basic entry requirements of most universities. For more competitive universities, the last combination might give you an edge, but I'm not completely sure. I think it's better that you go with a subject combination you really love than one you will enjoy less, because doing subjects you love is what gets you the top grades.
 
 
 
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