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    I'm going maths, further maths, physics and chemistry at A level, and am now having to start thinking about university courses. I don't know what course to do, but physics seems like the most likely option: I don't think I'm good enough at maths, nor do I like it as much, as someone who does maths at university, and chemistry is bearable at A level but I don't think I would enjoy it at a higher level.
    That narrows it down more or less to physics, but more by a process of elimination than by a real passion to do it. I mostly find it very interesting and am getting high marks in it, but don't feel like I love it in the way that universities want you to.
    The question is, how can I find out if physics is what I want to do, and/or what could I use to give me a taste of what university physics is like?
    Thanks
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    Well I'm assuming your a level choices are the subjects that you are good at/enjoy that most so that narrows your choices down to your a level subjects as you've said. You have time over your AS year and summer to decide before you start thinking about uni courses! I found that as you study the subjects in much greater depths at a-level you really get a grasp for what you're good at and what you enjoy! So if you're unsure like you seem to be right now, just wait and see. For instance, I was dead set in doing a chemistry degree when doing my GCSEs and now in uni I do one chemistry unit and it's my least favourite. During a-levels I found that pure chemistry was not what I wanted to do as I found a much greater enjoyment in maths and based my descision in this.
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    (Original post by TIF141)
    I'm going maths, further maths, physics and chemistry at A level, and am now having to start thinking about university courses. I don't know what course to do, but physics seems like the most likely option: I don't think I'm good enough at maths, nor do I like it as much, as someone who does maths at university, and chemistry is bearable at A level but I don't think I would enjoy it at a higher level.
    That narrows it down more or less to physics, but more by a process of elimination than by a real passion to do it. I mostly find it very interesting and am getting high marks in it, but don't feel like I love it in the way that universities want you to.
    The question is, how can I find out if physics is what I want to do, and/or what could I use to give me a taste of what university physics is like?
    Thanks
    You might never know for sure what subject is right for you. That said, based on some things you're saying I can tell you what modes of reasoning about this are less helpful.

    "I don't think I'm good enough at maths, nor do I like it as much, as someone who does maths at university" - The truth is, if you're doing A-level Maths and Further Maths you probably are about the right level of interest to do Maths at university. At least, I assume you'd be aiming for 90%+ if you're taking Double Maths. I wrote myself off Maths in a similar way you are doing. I ultimately finished in Physics at Durham, but I took some 'Maths for students aiming for Maths degrees' in first year and scored well, well above average. I was a bit more severe than you, I also wrote myself off Physics but I think I got a better result on my degree than I ever would have got in Chemistry for instance. You should also bear in mind that Maths is to a large extent practice, so you don't really know your potential until you've put some work in.

    "I mostly find it very interesting and am getting high marks in it, but don't feel like I love it in the way that universities want you to." - The people who really love Physics are a small fraction of those who do it at university. Universities don't necessarily want you to love it, they just want to be confident the subject can hold your interest and that you can handle the course.

    If you want to give yourself a taste of what university physics is like, find a textbook. You should be able to scrounge up free pdfs online of some of the big ones. The first year textbook used at Durham is 'University Physics' by Young and Freedman. The standard-issue Quantum Mechanics textbooks are 'Introduction to Quantum Mechanics' by Griffiths and 'Quantum Mechanics' by Bransden, the former's more friendly. Bear in mind when reading those that university students don't have to learn them ad-verbatim but do have to understand the key principles.
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    Have you considered engineering subjects? People sometimes don't even think about them as they aren't really studied at school. But if you like physics but don't have a real passion for the maths it could be a nice option. (Engineering is still quite mathematical but in a more applied way).
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    The only thing with Engineering is you have to be careful because some fields have, err, more of a future than others.
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    (Original post by TIF141)
    I'm going maths, further maths, physics and chemistry at A level, and am now having to start thinking about university courses. I don't know what course to do, but physics seems like the most likely option: I don't think I'm good enough at maths, nor do I like it as much, as someone who does maths at university, and chemistry is bearable at A level but I don't think I would enjoy it at a higher level.
    That narrows it down more or less to physics, but more by a process of elimination than by a real passion to do it. I mostly find it very interesting and am getting high marks in it, but don't feel like I love it in the way that universities want you to.
    The question is, how can I find out if physics is what I want to do, and/or what could I use to give me a taste of what university physics is like?
    Thanks
    That's because physics is the right course, no debate needed.

    But on a more serious note, if I were you I'd go to as many uni open days to get a taste of what physics at degree level may actually be like.

    It's hard to decide if you don't have that passion driving you. I've always known that I want to do physics. Is there nothing else that you really enjoy on an academic level?
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    Physics at university (or at least at mine) is a lot different to how it is at A level in that it is much more mathematical (sort of like A level maths mechanics modules but gets harder than that quite quick) and the exam questions are mostly calculations. Even in the Astrophysics modules you aren't expected to memorise chunks of information for some recurring questions in the exam like you did for A levels. If that's the kind of thing that you didn't like doing A level Physics and would just prefer learning about more complicated and interesting fields in Physics without having those annoying vague descriptive questions, I'm sure you'd like it at university.
    I've attached one of the first year past exam papers for you to have a see what they're like, I'd assume other universities will have exams very similar to this.
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    Thanks so much for the responses!

    (Original post by Unkempt_One)
    If you want to give yourself a taste of what university physics is like, find a textbook. You should be able to scrounge up free pdfs online of some of the big ones.
    That's a good idea, that had never occured to me! I've found the Young and Freedman one you mentioned and it looks very interesting and well-explained. I can imagine it might be worthwhile seeing what it has to say about the topics we're doing in lessons at the minute to see if I like it at a higher level.

    (Original post by almostmaybe)
    Have you considered engineering subjects? People sometimes don't even think about them as they aren't really studied at school. But if you like physics but don't have a real passion for the maths it could be a nice option. (Engineering is still quite mathematical but in a more applied way).
    I've not really given it much thought, if I'm honest. The most experience of it I've had is DT in the first part of high school, which hardly counts XD I might have a look into it, although I'm quite interested in some of the parts of A level physics that I imagine don't come into engineering that much, e.g. radioactivity and particle-stuff.


    (Original post by Terry Tibbs)
    Physics at university (or at least at mine) is a lot different to how it is at A level in that it is much more mathematical (sort of like A level maths mechanics modules but gets harder than that quite quick) and the exam questions are mostly calculations. Even in the Astrophysics modules you aren't expected to memorise chunks of information for some recurring questions in the exam like you did for A levels. If that's the kind of thing that you didn't like doing A level Physics and would just prefer learning about more complicated and interesting fields in Physics without having those annoying vague descriptive questions, I'm sure you'd like it at university.
    I've attached one of the first year past exam papers for you to have a see what they're like, I'd assume other universities will have exams very similar to this.
    That's actually really interesting; that's exactly the part of A level physics I like the least! Mechanics 1 has been quite enjoyable, and although I've heard some year 13s say that M2 is awful, I think it looks almost more interesting than the mechanics in physics, as you get to use calculus, for example, which feels like it should really be in A level physics too.
    Thanks for the paper, too! As you said, it looks more mathematical than A level which doesn't sound like a bad thing. It does looks rather intimidating, but I suppose everything does before you start to learn it.
 
 
 
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