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    (reposted from general forum because it got like 2 replies)

    Hi all,
    I am a student currently in Year 11. As you all know by about February/ March this year all students should have submitted their preferred subjects to relevant sixth forms. I'll start off by saying that I like all subjects, I really do (except for Drama or whatever, dropped that ASAP); it's extraordinarily hard for me to comprehend that in a years' time, I won't be taking English, or History, or Latin.

    For A Level choices, the shortlist is:
    DEFINITE: Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths (if I do Further Maths, it may be an accelerated course which finishes at AS so this will be very demanding, so I don't want to take 6 A level subjects e.g. take a language GCE in school or A level out of school for breadth)
    CONSIDERING: Physics, Biology, Latin, Classical Civilisation, Philosophy, French, Russian, Mandarin (bilingual already so should be easier) The essay subjects or languages listed above will only be taken if I choose either Physical or Biological sciences - otherwise, I will have to limit my breadth and take all three sciences, plus maths + FM.

    My dream (a little naive? I don't know) is to go to Cambridge to study Natural Sciences or Medicine (if I choose research), otherwise to go to med school. My GCSEs so far look supportive of this; I have 11 predicted A* (including 3 9's).

    In short, I have 0 motivation right now because I can't seem to find anything that suits me to a T. I have thought about neurosurgery, full time artist, CERN physicist, NASA, satellite engineering, radiology consultant, engineering of robotic prosthetics, etc. but of course these are just very specific rough dreams.

    For anyone who has had to choose between two paths in their future really, or someone else who is going through the same problem as I am, what are your suggestions? Should I try going for the Asian 5 plus an EPQ on a humanity (like Oscar Wilde's life or why Catullus writes like Taylor Swift) or go for the risky option and only take 2 sciences (physics and chemistry, probably, then if I don't get into Cambridge have a biological science path completely locked away) plus a humanity, FM & M?
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    How many A levels do you plan on doing? I think four is the absolute limit, and frankly you don't need to do more than three. There's no point taking Mandarin if you are fluent in it, most top universities (especially med schools) won't accept native language A levels.

    You say you are considering med school and several other scientific careers, so I think you should do Chemistry, Physics, Maths and maybe Further Maths too - you don't need biology or an essay-based subject.
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    Choose subjects that give you the widest possible choice of university degrees. Cambridge will look for aptitude, breadth as well as depth but it's at least as important to have interests outside of academia to show that you are a well rounded person and can fit in fully with Cambridge University life.

    If you want medicine then Chemistry is mandatory along with Maths together with one subject from: English, Geography, History, Physics, Modern Language (not Native Mandarin). These are known as 'enablers' and will allow you to straddle the boundary between science and humanities.
    Counter intuitively, Biology is not necessary for medicine and is a bit of a waste if you want to keep your options open.

    If you want natural sciences then choose Physics, Maths, Chemistry and if you are capable then one other enabling subject from the above list.

    Although three subjects are all that's needed for Cambridge, if you are capable (achieving your predicted grades at GCSE) then it's probably worth taking four A-levels: Chemistry, Physics, Maths and an enabler to keep your options open.

    Good luck.
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    If you want to do medicine you will need some work experience. Now its pretty early to be getting that but you could try for the summer after GCSEs. Your school may require you to choose subjects by April but I'm sure there's some flexibility in there - people make last minute changes all the time.

    Otherwise, bio and chem + 1 more are what you want for medicine, but your other options are going to require physics maths + f.maths. really (for a top uni). The others don't really open up that many other options for you tbh - your career slant is all science (except "full time artist" lol).

    5 is a lot though. Even with the overlap you will get with those subjects. I would not advise it.

    My background: had a similar dilemma, didn't know at all what i wanted career wise. Initially I picked chem, physics, maths, Spanish and economics. I then realised that actually I just wanted to show off that i was good at everything and in reality my true interest was in science, so on A-level results day I changed to bio, chem, phys, maths, f.maths. In the end I went into medicine at a uni that had a strong preference for biology, so that switch was crucial

    (Original post by uberteknik)
    If you want medicine then Chemistry is mandatory along with Maths together with one subject from: English, Geography, History, Physics, Modern Language (not Native Mandarin).
    ...what?!

    That is such BS. Please show me one source, one med school, anything... that asks for what you have said above.

    Plenty of universities require biology. Most in fact. And limiting your choices in medicine is not a good thing due to the heterogeneity of admissions processes and the need to apply for where you will be strong.

    The best advice, purely from a medicine standpoint, is bio, chem and one other (can be almost anything).

    I accept that this may be a case where OP may want to forego biology, but this is risky and OP should be aware of that, and as to the other stuff you said were requirements... well I've never heard that before I'm sure OP is intelligent enough to go on some websites and see that's just not true.
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    (Original post by nexttime)
    Plenty of universities require biology. Most in fact. And limiting your choices in medicine is not a good thing due to the heterogeneity of admissions processes and the need to apply for where you will be strong.
    Most? No, I think it's pretty evenly split between those that do and those that don't. Aberdeen, Barts, Bristol, Cambridge, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Keele, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Sheffield, St Andrews and QUB do not require Biology at A level.
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    I would strongly suggest Biology A Level. You'll be disadvantaged at the least of you don't take it as medicine is so competitive. I would take Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths as separate a levels but if you do want some variation I'd suggest Bio, Chem, Accelerated Maths + one of:
    Classical Civilisation (I do it and really enjoy it)
    A modern language (they always look good)
    Physics
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    (Original post by kiera28)
    I would strongly suggest Biology A Level. You'll be disadvantaged at the least of you don't take it as medicine is so competitive. I would take Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths as separate a levels but if you do want some variation I'd suggest Bio, Chem, Accelerated Maths + one of:
    Classical Civilisation (I do it and really enjoy it)
    A modern language (they always look good)
    Physics
    Why would the OP be disadvantaged if they were applying to a med school which did not require biology? :erm:
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    Most? No, I think it's pretty evenly split between those that do and those that don't. Aberdeen, Barts, Bristol, Cambridge, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Keele, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Sheffield, St Andrews and QUB do not require Biology at A level.
    There are 33 med schools so that is still less than half :p:

    You're ruling out a lot of med schools that you may need. For instance, you have a bad day and get a bad UKCAT - there are options if you take biology but you're suddenly in a real corner without it.

    Its a risk but I do agree that not doing biology is an option for the OP to consider.
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    Double maths, phys, chem 4tw.
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    Why would the OP be disadvantaged if they were applying to a med school which did not require biology? :erm:
    Because many applicants will have biology and even though it's not required, if a candidate is getting As in Biology and chemistry at A Level it's a good indicator that they'll be able to cope with the demands of reading medicine at uni (and he course does incorporate lots of Human Bio, whether the uni asks for it as an A Level or not.)
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    (Original post by nexttime)
    There are 33 med schools so that is still less than half :p:
    Pshhh... although I believe two med schools only offer graduate-entry medicine, so we'll discount those. So a majority by one require biology. So close. :hmmm:

    (Original post by kiera28)
    Because many applicants will have biology and even though it's not required, if a candidate is getting As in Biology and chemistry at A Level it's a good indicator that they'll be able to cope with the demands of reading medicine at uni (and he course does incorporate lots of Human Bio, whether the uni asks for it as an A Level or not.)
    That seems unlikely.
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    How many A levels do you plan on doing? I think four is the absolute limit, and frankly you don't need to do more than three. There's no point taking Mandarin if you are fluent in it, most top universities (especially med schools) won't accept native language A levels.

    You say you are considering med school and several other scientific careers, so I think you should do Chemistry, Physics, Maths and maybe Further Maths too - you don't need biology or an essay-based subject.
    A few people have mentioned not to take Mandarin, that seems like a good idea too now that I see most Unis don't accept it.
    I wish it was that simple but Cambridge is extremely competitive. Above liking biology for what it is, 'required' is not the same as 'preferred'. It could be the case that not taking biology could hinder me getting into the more competitive universities for medicine, especially med school which often leads to a practical route. That being said, I wish this wasn't the case! (*sigh* should just move to an IB school)
    And also the reason I'm going for so many subjects: my friend has a brother who took 6 A-Levels (self-taught Ancient History), and got 6 A* and an unconditional offer to Oxford for Ancient History. Considering the subjects he took were all essay-based, I figured (stupidly) that I would try to be like him (because...like... who doesn't want to be that person)... but with sciences, it's easier anyway since there's less reading material.
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    (Original post by uberteknik)
    Choose subjects that give you the widest possible choice of university degrees. Cambridge will look for aptitude, breadth as well as depth but it's at least as important to have interests outside of academia to show that you are a well rounded person and can fit in fully with Cambridge University life.


    If you want medicine then Chemistry is mandatory along with Maths together with one subject from: English, Geography, History, Physics, Modern Language (not Native Mandarin). These are known as 'enablers' and will allow you to straddle the boundary between science and humanities.
    Counter intuitively, Biology is not necessary for medicine and is a bit of a waste if you want to keep your options open.

    If you want natural sciences then choose Physics, Maths, Chemistry and if you are capable then one other enabling subject from the above list.

    Although three subjects are all that's needed for Cambridge, if you are capable (achieving your predicted grades at GCSE) then it's probably worth taking four A-levels: Chemistry, Physics, Maths and an enabler to keep your options open.

    Good luck.
    Thank you, I'll need all the luck I can get!
    For subjects, I am aware that if I chose NatSci I would be looking at Physics, Accelerated Further Maths and a MFL/ humanity from my current shortlist - since you can still take biology modules at Cambridge NatSci without a biology A-Level.
    But as for medicine, I know most research based Unis don't list it as necessary, but I'm paranoid of being rejected from a good med school.
    And I know I will take a STEM subject for Uni, so the humanity is just for extra points from Cambridge (don't worry guys, I'm only dangerously obsessed with this dream :burnout:)
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    (Original post by lostpenny)
    Thank you, I'll need all the luck I can get!
    For subjects, I am aware that if I chose NatSci I would be looking at Physics, Accelerated Further Maths and a MFL/ humanity from my current shortlist - since you can still take biology modules at Cambridge NatSci without a biology A-Level.
    But as for medicine, I know most research based Unis don't list it as necessary, but I'm paranoid of being rejected from a good med school.
    And I know I will take a STEM subject for Uni, so the humanity is just for extra points from Cambridge (don't worry guys, I'm only dangerously obsessed with this dream :burnout:)
    Current Cambridge NatSci here...

    Most NatScis did at least two sciences and maths, often double maths. If you were going down the physical sciences route, the usual combination would be Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths. If you were going down the biological sciences route, most applicants have Chemistry, Biology and Maths (and often a fourth subject, e.g. Further Maths too). If you are considering NatSci I would HIGHLY recommend doing both Maths and Chemistry as the absolute minimum - many of the biological module options require Chemistry (interesting, none require Biology - probably since as an A level it's a bit of a doss...) and maths is required for everything last I heard. Physics is a little pointless IMO - it helps a bit for the physics module, but tbh Further Maths (with the mechanics modules) is much more useful.

    For medicine, although many universities don't require Biology it would be limiting the choice of unis you could apply to if you didn't take it, and some may prefer applicants to have studied Biology before.

    Cambridge doesn't care AT ALL if you take some random humanities subject as an extra A level - if anything it may be seen as you being unsure of your interest in science... You'd be better off taking an extra science A level, an EPQ or just using the extra time to ensure you get top grades in everything else. That being said, having a foreign language is quite useful in general for life (although Cambridge won't be interested) so that is something to consider doing if you genuinely find languages interesting and easy.

    In conclusion, I would say take Chemistry, Maths, Further Maths and Biology, then if you feel like you can cope with more subjects (there REALLY is no need to though) you could pick one from Physics or a MFL (n.b. not Mandarin - native languages aren't considered by universities).
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    (Original post by nexttime)
    If you want to do medicine you will need some work experience. Now its pretty early to be getting that but you could try for the summer after GCSEs. Your school may require you to choose subjects by April but I'm sure there's some flexibility in there - people make last minute changes all the time.

    Otherwise, bio and chem + 1 more are what you want for medicine, but your other options are going to require physics maths + f.maths. really (for a top uni). The others don't really open up that many other options for you tbh - your career slant is all science (except "full time artist" lol).

    5 is a lot though. Even with the overlap you will get with those subjects. I would not advise it.

    My background: had a similar dilemma, didn't know at all what i wanted career wise. Initially I picked chem, physics, maths, Spanish and economics. I then realised that actually I just wanted to show off that i was good at everything and in reality my true interest was in science, so on A-level results day I changed to bio, chem, phys, maths, f.maths. In the end I went into medicine at a uni that had a strong preference for biology, so that switch was crucial



    ...what?!

    That is such BS. Please show me one source, one med school, anything... that asks for what you have said above.

    Plenty of universities require biology. Most in fact. And limiting your choices in medicine is not a good thing due to the heterogeneity of admissions processes and the need to apply for where you will be strong.

    The best advice, purely from a medicine standpoint, is bio, chem and one other (can be almost anything).

    I accept that this may be a case where OP may want to forego biology, but this is risky and OP should be aware of that, and as to the other stuff you said were requirements... well I've never heard that before I'm sure OP is intelligent enough to go on some websites and see that's just not true.
    Thank you for the insights
    Yes, the work exp I am working on finding currently. For medicine, a family friend works as a researcher for medicine at UCL and only today I found out they take work experience candidates. For the engineering exp, I have a few options, but am withholding until Year 12 to apply through Nuffield.
    I trust your perspective on the necessity of biology since you take medicine, but it seems to come across from all the replies (as I think I vaguely knew in the back of my mind) that NatSci does not 'require' biology, but medicine does. Not making choosing easier, but this realisation draws some hard clear lines between my options.
    And I know, 5 subjects might be too much. But one will be FM/ combined with Accel M, plus I'm hoping I can just drop at the end of Year 12 if I don't like it... though that would mean I wasted a year's worth of lessons since my cohort is the first without AS.
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    (Original post by lostpenny)
    Thank you for the insights
    Yes, the work exp I am working on finding currently. For medicine, a family friend works as a researcher for medicine at UCL and only today I found out they take work experience candidates. For the engineering exp, I have a few options, but am withholding until Year 12 to apply through Nuffield.
    I trust your perspective on the necessity of biology since you take medicine, but it seems to come across from all the replies (as I think I vaguely knew in the back of my mind) that NatSci does not 'require' biology, but medicine does. Not making choosing easier, but this realisation draws some hard clear lines between my options.
    And I know, 5 subjects might be too much. But one will be FM/ combined with Accel M, plus I'm hoping I can just drop at the end of Year 12 if I don't like it... though that would mean I wasted a year's worth of lessons since my cohort is the first without AS.
    I never said that medicine "requires" biology. Just that you're limiting your options, and hence possibly reducing your chances of success, by not taking it.

    If i were you I would probably start with the 5 sciences and have a low threshold for dropping one, probably biology, within a couple months if you're finding that you're falling behind. That's on the assumption that you are very academically able, and that you are very self-aware and won't get caught up in some arrogance thing and continue with all 5 even though you know you aren't coping (and by 'coping', i mean, looking like you're on track for an A* in all subjects. For a course with A*A*A requirements, A*AAAA is still not good enough. Don't take stupid risks).

    I'm only saying that because it sounds like you're on for straight A*s at GCSE, sound sensible, and because you're doing sciences which have overlap. I did 5 and coped ok (and you know someone else who did 6 who did similarly well). But I also knew someone who was very able - mix of A*s and As with one or two Bs at GCSE, who took on 5 A-levels and got something like ABBCD. Suddenly their dreams of doing medicine were over. Don't be that person.
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    I have zeroooo clue, so I've signed up to the Carpe diem scholars spring school, for the medicine course. Anyone else going?
 
 
 
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