Hi there, everyone. I have to decide on which A Levels I would like to study over the next two years (starting in September) on the 22nd of February. There are three A Levels about which I am certain: chemistry, biology and mathematics. However, I am truly struggling to make the decision between geography and physics as a fourth A Level - I could also entertain the idea of taking three A Levels, instead of my current intention of studying four. In case anyone is not familiar with the new style of A Levels, I will explain what the courses entail and what would happen if I were to only take three. To be clear, the courses would last the full two years and all of the examinations would take place at the end of the second year (Year 13).
A Level geography at my sixth form is with Edexcel. There are four elements to this two-year course: three exam papers, which hold an overall weighting of 80% of the A-Level and one coursework element, which accounts for 20% of the final grade. I hasten to add that my school's geography department is excellent and the teachers are superb. Additionally, I did GCSE geography last year and achieved an A* grade, which was the school's second-best ever grade at GCSE (98%). In case any of you were wondering, at GCSE I did Edexcel GCSE geography A. My grades were: A* (100 UMS), A* (100 UMS), A* (100 UMS) and A* (93 UMS) in the four units.
Physics is with OCR. There are only three elements of the course which count towards the overall grade: three examinations. Two of the exams make-up 37% of the grade and the remaining exam is worth 26% of the marks. The physics department at my school is decent but no departments compare to the geography department at my school. At the moment, I am on track for an A* at GCSE level, as in my preliminary exams of P1 and P2 (June 2015), I achieved an A* (54/60 raw, 97 UMS) and an A (41/60 raw, 86 UMS). Also, I am predicted a good grade (A/A*) in the controlled assessment. We have yet to complete any full mocks for P3.
If I were to do three A Levels, my school would offer an 'enrichment period' a few times per fortnight so that we can gain other qualifications and skills during our time at the sixth form. Additionally, there would be more free study periods during the week, which I could use to: improve my understanding; get ahead on my course or create revision notes. I believe that there would be nine more free periods per fortnight - of fifty overall periods of school time - than if I were to take another A Level. Therefore, taking four A Levels would leave me with only five per fortnight.
At present, I believe that I am interested in studying medicine and I have heard that physics would look better in terms of having the grade, but having geography would show me to be a more well-rounded person. I thoroughly enjoy both of the subjects. However, I was wondering which would actually look better and which A Level people would recommend.
Thank you for reading. If you have any advice then please, feel free to post it below. Any comments will be much appreciated.
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- Thread Starter
- 11-02-2016 21:02
- 12-02-2016 00:11
You sound like you'll do well in either course so it comes down to personal choice more than ability I think. I do both geography and physics A levels. They're incredibly different courses, obviously, but it really depends which you enjoy or value more as you'll be more inclined to revise and work hard for that one.
Geography is interesting and wide-ranging but some extremely academic places consider it to be 'soft', but this might not matter since your other choices are very medicine based and your fourth subject isn't normally carried on unless you're really exceptional at it, just shows other avenues of interest and skills. It's considered a 'facilitating subject' meaning it gives you useful, transferable skills that can open up other pathways for you at uni. In geography you do study public health etc but not maybe in the depth required for medicine. However it's probably one of the most diverse and current A-levels you can take. You learn an extremely wide range of relevant things that other subjects won't necessarily always address. It's one of my favourite lessons.
Physics is more challenging as it's a bit rigorous and about applying knowledge rather than reciting it, but is more academically respected depending on where you're going and what you're doing. I love it though as it's fast-paced/always changing/interesting/practical! It'll be easier since you're doing maths but I'd consider that you could be overloading yourself with sciences if you do all three. Some people are fine with this, though. Your point about geography making you seem more well rounded is valid, but your extra curriculars (clubs, sports, diplomas etc) can also do this. Also your final grades in A levels are very much decided by your independent study, so the quality of your physics department is maybe only a minor consideration you should take so long as it is acceptable. The physics building at my school is awful but there's a couple of teachers that make it awesome, so you never really know!
In both subjects you learn a lot of different skills. Geography teaches you good critical thinking, data analysis skills and cultivates your interest in current events for both the human and physical sides of the world. Physics develops your intuitive thinking, problem solving and understanding of the parts of the world you can't see.
University of cambridge in this article: http://www.theguardian.com/education...erred-a-levels states they only require 3 related subjects, if you wanted to do geography to broaden the range on your CV. Though you haven't expressed it on your post if you do and are good at history GCSE then that would be a choice to consider for A level as it's transferable and relevant. Sounds painful though haha!
My advice would be to email the admissions offices in the kind of universities you'd like to attend and ask them which (if either) they'd value more and why. In my experience they're happy to reply and advise! Most universities (at the moment) ask for 3 A levels and one AS level so it would be worth choosing one as a fourth. You can look at this: http://russellgroup.ac.uk/for-studen...l-and-college/ and download the pdf document to see what top universities think additionally, as welll as researching online. And ask your teachers!
You'll most likely get the option to swap or drop a subject in the first couple of weeks if you think it isn't for you anyway If you're still at school then you could ask the teachers if you could sit in on an A level physics or geography (or both) lesson and see if that helps you at all.
Hope that helped Good luck with your GCSEs/A levels!