Language at A level Watch

sigma_108
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Hi..
I'm currently choosing my A levels, and without getting into detail my options are basically Maths, Further Maths, Triple Science OR Maths, Further Maths, Two Sciences and Spanish. It's way too complicated for me to explain the reasoning behind 5 a levels or which 2 of the 3 sciences I'll take in the latter option, but I just wanted to know whether having Spanish as a subject (which I may or may not drop after year 12 - but will get an AS in it as my school still does AS) will be of advantage to my university application. If it helps, I am hoping to apply for Oxbridge/Imperial for either Medicine or Computer Science (again - too complicated to get into all that in this thread). I thoroughly enjoy Spanish and I know I've done well at GCSE (the same with maths, fm and triple science).

Would appreciate the advice.. Thanks.
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entertainmyfaith
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5 a levels is a lot of work, and unis don't really look anymore favourably at anyone who takes 4 or more:holmes:
picking spanish'll likely depend on what you want to study at uni- medicine asks for at least 2 sciences; chemistry and one of bio, maths and physics usually.
if you want to keep your options open to both medicine and compsci you'd need to take maths + two sciences, one being chem. so regardless of whether you pick spanish or study all 3 sciences i don't think there would be any impact otherwise in your application. spanish would be something that would be very different to the rest of your subjects so you got some variation but i don't really think it'd be any bigger of an advantage than taking three sciences.
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Quick-use
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Right off the bat, I and many others can tell you that universities, including Oxbridge and Imperial, will not find it impressive if you're doing more than 3 A levels and will just ignore all of your additional subjects for all degree applications including Medicine. If you're genuinely interested in many subjects, learn them in your spare time as a hobby or ask to audit the classes so you can just sit in and listen to the teacher without doing any coursework or exams.

Admission teams literally do not care about any extra subjects. Don't take an unnecessary risk for no extra reward.

For Medicine, the most important things are:

  1. Grades in A level Bio + Chem + 1 more subject (ANY rigorous subject like a foreign language or English Lit unless you want to go to Cambridge in which case they prefer another science)
  2. Personal statement
  3. Competency tests like BMAT
  4. References
  5. Interview
Last edited by Quick-use; 4 days ago
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sigma_108
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Thanks.. I'll keep this in mind when taking a decision.
(Original post by entertainmyfaith)
5 a levels is a lot of work, and unis don't really look anymore favourably at anyone who takes 4 or more:holmes:
picking spanish'll likely depend on what you want to study at uni- medicine asks for at least 2 sciences; chemistry and one of bio, maths and physics usually.
if you want to keep your options open to both medicine and compsci you'd need to take maths + two sciences, one being chem. so regardless of whether you pick spanish or study all 3 sciences i don't think there would be any impact otherwise in your application. spanish would be something that would be very different to the rest of your subjects so you got some variation but i don't really think it'd be any bigger of an advantage than taking three sciences.
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sigma_108
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Thanks.. the issue is that I really cannot decide between medicine and CS. If I could decide right now my subject choices would be simple (Med: maths, bio, chem, spanish, CS: maths, fm, phys, spanish (possibly chem/bio). The thing is, my two options for sixth form are my current school or a different grammar school that I can go to. At my school Spanish is offered but also, if I take FM for first year, then I have to take 4 AS levels and carry on with all 4 unless I drop FM for second year. With the other school, they don't offer spanish so I'd take maths, fm, two/three sciences. The other school is certainly better in terms of academic record (apparently they got 25 oxbridge offers last year... not that my school is bad as such.. the other's just better). That's why I'm wondering whether it's worth taking spanish at my school or carrying on with maths, fm, two/three sciences at a much better school.
(Original post by Quick-use)
Right off the bat, I and many others can tell you that universities, including Oxbridge and Imperial, will not find it impressive if you're doing more than 3 A levels and will just ignore all of your additional subjects for all degree applications including Medicine. If you're genuinely interested in many subjects, learn them in your spare time as a hobby or ask to audit the classes so you can just sit in and listen to the teacher without doing any coursework or exams.

Admission teams literally do not care about any extra subjects. Don't take an unnecessary risk for no extra reward.

For Medicine, the most important things are:

  1. Grades in A level Bio + Chem + 1 more subject (ANY rigorous subject like a foreign language or English Lit unless you want to go to Cambridge in which case they prefer another science)
  2. Personal statement
  3. Competency tests like BMAT
  4. References
  5. Interview
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Quick-use
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(Original post by sigma_108)
Thanks.. the issue is that I really cannot decide between medicine and CS. If I could decide right now my subject choices would be simple (Med: maths, bio, chem, spanish, CS: maths, fm, phys, spanish (possibly chem/bio). The thing is, my two options for sixth form are my current school or a different grammar school that I can go to. At my school Spanish is offered but also, if I take FM for first year, then I have to take 4 AS levels and carry on with all 4 unless I drop FM for second year. With the other school, they don't offer spanish so I'd take maths, fm, two/three sciences. The other school is certainly better in terms of academic record (apparently they got 25 oxbridge offers last year... not that my school is bad as such.. the other's just better). That's why I'm wondering whether it's worth taking spanish at my school or carrying on with maths, fm, two/three sciences at a much better school.
Could you not do Bio, Chem, Maths and FM at both places?
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entertainmyfaith
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(Original post by sigma_108)
Thanks.. I'll keep this in mind when taking a decision.
no worries. i wouldn't recommend taking 5 as levels, even w/ fm; 4's fine but no more than that imo. for subjects like medicine and compsci you need to demonstrate an interest towards the subject that goes beyond your a levels, and you'll struggle to set time aside if you're studying so many subjects. bear in mind you'll likely need to prepare for the BMAT or STEP dependent on what you choose to do.

(Original post by sigma_108)
Thanks.. the issue is that I really cannot decide between medicine and CS. If I could decide right now my subject choices would be simple (Med: maths, bio, chem, spanish, CS: maths, fm, phys, spanish (possibly chem/bio). The thing is, my two options for sixth form are my current school or a different grammar school that I can go to. At my school Spanish is offered but also, if I take FM for first year, then I have to take 4 AS levels and carry on with all 4 unless I drop FM for second year. With the other school, they don't offer spanish so I'd take maths, fm, two/three sciences. The other school is certainly better in terms of academic record (apparently they got 25 oxbridge offers last year... not that my school is bad as such.. the other's just better). That's why I'm wondering whether it's worth taking spanish at my school or carrying on with maths, fm, two/three sciences at a much better school.
have you been to an induction day or visited the other school to see how you find it?
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sigma_108
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Yeah a lot of people have told me that taking 5 a levels really isn't a good idea especially because I'll have to prep for STEP or the medical application with UKCAT or BMAT - which is even more arduous. I have been to an open day to the other school and I am certain that it will definitely be a more conducive environment to work harder and achieve better grades. Their teachers seem to be better - as shown by the grades - and the students seem very bright too. But at the same time, my school isn't bad as such. Our GCSE and A level results are far above average and of course I have some emotional attachment to the school as I've been here 5 years. My relationship with teachers is very good and I have maintained a good reputation as a student here so I know I will definitely get much more support here in terms of references for uni and other opportunities at school. Does the school really make that big of a difference at A level?
(Original post by entertainmyfaith)
no worries. i wouldn't recommend taking 5 as levels, even w/ fm; 4's fine but no more than that imo. for subjects like medicine and compsci you need to demonstrate an interest towards the subject that goes beyond your a levels, and you'll struggle to set time aside if you're studying so many subjects. bear in mind you'll likely need to prepare for the BMAT or STEP dependent on what you choose to do.


have you been to an induction day or visited the other school to see how you find it?
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sigma_108
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I could yeah... at the other school I've already submitted the options of Maths, FM, Triple Science but I'm sure they'll let me change if I tell them I'm struggling to cope with the work load or something of the sort (my school would not even think twice before allowing me to change so that's not too much of an issue). I have been considering that set of subjects (even though it doesn't include physics which I'd say I enjoy most out of the three sciences.. still enjoy the other two though) The only thing is if I do end up doing computer science then I'll feel that I've wasted time doing bio/chem when I could've done physics - although it doesn't make a difference to the application as such
(Original post by Quick-use)
Could you not do Bio, Chem, Maths and FM at both places?
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Quick-use
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(Original post by sigma_108)
I could yeah... at the other school I've already submitted the options of Maths, FM, Triple Science but I'm sure they'll let me change if I tell them I'm struggling to cope with the work load or something of the sort (my school would not even think twice before allowing me to change so that's not too much of an issue). I have been considering that set of subjects (even though it doesn't include physics which I'd say I enjoy most out of the three sciences.. still enjoy the other two though) The only thing is if I do end up doing computer science then I'll feel that I've wasted time doing bio/chem when I could've done physics - although it doesn't make a difference to the application as such
Are you sure you'd rather not do a Comp Sci / Physics degree? :bigsmile:

https://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/underg...view&code=GF43
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sigma_108
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Don't give me more ideas

My problem has always been that I enjoy too many things.. I'd love to take philosophy at a level too but it is completely useless tome, and I've also thought of doing a degree in maths or bioengineering - but I've decided that CS/Med would probably be best for me... although I suppose I should keep an open mind . In terms of the Medicine vs Computer science debate you can see this thread if you're curious about my confusion.
https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho...0#post82820950

I feel medicine will be difficult but fulfilling career. I'm on placement at a major tech company right now and the work drags so much.. I'm pretty much 100% sure that if I do CS I will not go into a software development job - or at least do a job where less of that discipline is involved. The work feels so motive-less if that makes sense... like what are these people doing for the world? If you compare that to what a doctor or someone in research for medicine would do, the difference in self satisfaction is blatantly obvious. Then again I really love maths, technology and problem solving which is why I'm considering CS.. in medicine there is hardly any maths (apart from simple stats stuff).. just very confused
(Original post by Quick-use)
Are you sure you'd rather not do a Comp Sci / Physics degree? :bigsmile:

https://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/underg...view&code=GF43
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entertainmyfaith
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(Original post by sigma_108)
Yeah a lot of people have told me that taking 5 a levels really isn't a good idea especially because I'll have to prep for STEP or the medical application with UKCAT or BMAT - which is even more arduous. I have been to an open day to the other school and I am certain that it will definitely be a more conducive environment to work harder and achieve better grades. Their teachers seem to be better - as shown by the grades - and the students seem very bright too. But at the same time, my school isn't bad as such. Our GCSE and A level results are far above average and of course I have some emotional attachment to the school as I've been here 5 years. My relationship with teachers is very good and I have maintained a good reputation as a student here so I know I will definitely get much more support here in terms of references for uni and other opportunities at school. Does the school really make that big of a difference at A level?
though the school won't have a huge impact on what you achieve, they definitely have an influence. if you think there's a more productive environment in the other school, then go for it; but what you do at a level and what you achieve is mostly determined by you. quality of teaching is important too!! the quicker you understand the content, the better.
remember to be at a school you're happy with too; both of your options seem pretty good so it's what you really consider to be the most important factors of your sixth form experience.
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