Maths degree without Further Maths A-Level

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username4538836
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How likely would I be to get into a top-end uni for Maths without doing Further Maths A-Level?
Is there any advice from those that have gotten into a good uni for maths without further maths?
How much harder did you find it compared to those that completed further maths?

I got a 9 at GCSE Maths and have been getting As throughout the whole of Year 12.
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artful_lounger
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That might depend a little on what you define as "top end". I believe Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial all require FM; Warwick might but I think they take those without FM who get a higher result on STEP as part of their offer. I'm not sure about Bristol, and I don't believe UCL requires it. I can't think of any off the top of my head otherwise that might require it rather than just prefer or give lower offers without it (Durham maybe?). You'd need to look at individual entry criteria for courses. Imperial at the least doesn't seem to view negatively applicants who didn't take FM initially but take a gap year to do FM and apply in that same year, so that might be an option as well if you did want to broaden your options (you'd also have your results by then and would know whether that's a realistic route anyway).

I think the difficulty is less in that you haven't covered as much specific content as others, so much as you haven't had an experience of spending a lot more time on a broader range of mathematics. You'll be going from 33% of your studies being maths, to 100%, and that 100% is mostly very different in nature to A-level Maths (also FM, although FM is sometimes a bit closer to it). This can be a lot to take in, imo. Those who have taken FM will usually have gone from 66% or 50% of their studies being maths to that 100%, and are more likely to have gotten used to spending a lot more time working on and thinking about maths. Also as above some of the FM content is more similar to the style of degree level maths, and even if it's not required beforehand it's helpful to have had more of an experience with the topics already (you'll also probably have had more opportunities for individual attention from your teacher in school with them).

For universities that don't require FM, you shouldn't nominally be at a disadvantage as they won't expect you to have covered that material before, and they'll teach it from scratch. However you need to be prepared to put in a lot of time (in general) keeping on top of things once you actually start the degree, as you have far fewer contact hours to learn the material in compared to A-level (something you might've spent a month on in A-level you'll cover in 3-4 lectures, maybe, at uni) and so you'll consequently need to spend a lot more time independently learning the material.

As such for those universities it might be useful to spend the summer before starting going over some basic material on complex numbers and matrices (probably the major areas of FM that you'll be covering in first year). It might also be helpful to look at an introductory analysis text, such as Spivak's Calculus or any number of "gap-bridging" texts on the subject (there are many to choose among) to get an idea of how maths is done at university level (as compared to A-level). If you find that style of mathematics isn't to your taste then you may prefer something more applied along the lines of physics or engineering (where the maths is much more similar in style to A-level, and you develop more in that vein), but if you do like that approach then you will probably find degree level maths quite suitable.
Last edited by artful_lounger; 1 year ago
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bob981
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It’s quite possible actually. You need a good a level maths results then I would take physics and another maths related subject (chemistry, economics etc.)
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username4538836
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(Original post by bob981)
It’s quite possible actually. You need a good a level maths results then I would take physics and another maths related subject (chemistry, economics etc.)
My other subjects are Chemistry, Biology and Geography. I didn't take Further Maths due to not being the most confident in Maths at the start of Year 12 but I've become much more confident recently and finding it very enjoyable
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username4538836
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Can anyone give some insight into this that has either done a maths degree themselves or knows someone? What university did you go to?
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-andromeda-
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(Original post by theworld223)
Can anyone give some insight into this that has either done a maths degree themselves or knows someone? What university did you go to?
I haven't got into university yet, but I'm attending in September 2019 (hopefully Imperial, if my remaining A-Levels go alright) so I have an idea of the application process. For Oxbridge, FM is not technically required but they tend to overlook a lot of applicants without it. I'd advise looking at the Further Maths Support Programme etc. as soon as possible, but bear in mind that even if you do the FMSP and persuade the Oxbridge university that you're at an FM level, you will quite possibly struggle with the content. Additionally, I've been told at Oxbridge open days/maths days that one of the principal reasons they require FM is that, if you can take FM, why haven't you? To some unis it shows you're not dedicated enough to do maths as a degree (regardless of if that is true), unless your school doesn't offer it at all and that's why.

Imperial does definitely require FM, which I believe is not negotiable. However, a lot of other unis will accept you without FM as an A-Level, but you will most likely be required to take either the AEA or a STEP paper. I'd look to the other TSR threads on these exams about those.

The best thing to do, in my opinion, is look at as wide a variety of unis as you can. Research the degrees and requirements, and you'll have a good idea of what you need to do to make up for not taking FM.
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duppa
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I was in a similar position to you. Without FM I believe you can't apply for maths at oxbridge,imperial,warwick,ucl,du rham unless your school doesn't offer it. So if you want to study maths at these universities you'll need to have done a full a level in fm. Alternatively you could apply for joint maths/stats degrees that don't tend to ask for fm however, only warwick out of that list allow you into these without fm and the reqs are 3A* or AAA + 2 in step.

What I personally did was begin self teaching myself fm in year 13 and the aim was to go to uni with an AS. I managed to get an A and reluctantly decided to do a gap year and finish off the whole a level fm in order to apply to better unis. I'd recommend this option the most because a lot of unis will skip through the fm content in the first few weeks and you will find it hard to keep up.
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swanseajack1
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The following tend to require or prefer FM. Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, Kings, Durham, Warwick, Bristol and maybe Bath. Most others accept Maths without FM. I may have missed the odd one. How much you need FM or STEP to complete the course I dont know but as so many dont require it I suspect they think their courses are acceptable to those without FM. The advice previously given re the FMSP is worth following. It might also be worth taking FM for a year and dropping 1 of your A levels.
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math42
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I've just finished my (integrated) masters in maths at Warwick. In sixth-form, I was in a similar situation. My school didn't really make it clear that Further Maths was an option unless you had already excelled mathematically. I had scored very well in GCSE, but never done any maths challenges or taken the GCSE early or anything, so I wasn't exactly deemed to have excelled. Thus I just did Maths AS in Year 12. But I decided that I wanted to do maths, and realized that Further Maths was highly desirable, especially for Cambridge and Warwick, the places I was most interested in. So I started learning Further Maths AS in the summer and ended up just doing the full A-level in Year 13. There are tons of great resources out there and it shouldn't be all that difficult for you if you really enjoy maths. Honestly I would say that the universities probably overvalue it relative to how useful it actually is. One could pretty easily just go over the important bits (mostly matrices and calculus) in the summer before university. But they do highly value it, and it's quite fun, so if I were you I'd drop one of your other subjects in favour of doing Further Maths in Year 13. If you don't, it will restrict your options a bit, and force you to get higher grades (e.g. I had my Bristol offer reduced because I had Further Maths, allowing me to just get As rather than an A* in Maths). For the very top maths unis (I'm thinking Oxbridge, Imperial, Warwick) you'd really have to have an outstanding excuse for not doing FM in order to still be competitive without it.
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homemadeclock
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I would highly recommend doing physics over geography, just for the logic and problem solving skills
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