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Biochemistry without maths?

I’ve just started year 12 with Biology, Chemistry and History. I didn't take maths because although I got an 8 at GCSE, I've always found it difficult and I knew I may not be able to get an A/A* at Alevel. Would I stand a chance at applying to Biochemistry at Oxford? I know most other top universities don't ask for maths specifically so I should be fine (right?), but Oxford lists Maths as a 'recommended' (not essential) subject.

If anyone is at oxford doing biochemistry, do you know of people doing your degree who have not taken A Level maths?
Thanks for any advice. :smile:
(edited 4 years ago)
Hi!
Sorry I know this is 3 years after the initial post but I’m in a very similar situation (Y12 doing bio, chem, french, history), with exactly the same reason for not doing maths. I was wondering how it worked out for you? Did you apply to Oxford? Did you get in/get an in interview and if not did you end up somewhere else good?
Totally understand if you don’t reply given this is a 3-year old post but thank you so much if you read this.
:smile:
Reply 2
Hi,
Maybe I can help here. My son is currently 3rd year student of Biochemistry at Oxford.
He said that you don't need maths to apply for Biochem. However, everyone who didn't do A level maths really struggled with the maths course in the first year.
The good news is that after the first year you hardly ever see maths again, but if you come across it, it's pretty basic.
He said that in his final exams he only needs calculator in one out of seven exams.
He would recommend that, if at all possible, to find somewhere to learn a bit of basic calculus as a head start to first year. This will also make first year much easier.
Everyone in the first year finds maths hard, but first year of Biochem is very hard in general.
Hope this helps.
Original post by Cal's Mum
Hi,
Maybe I can help here. My son is currently 3rd year student of Biochemistry at Oxford.
He said that you don't need maths to apply for Biochem. However, everyone who didn't do A level maths really struggled with the maths course in the first year.
The good news is that after the first year you hardly ever see maths again, but if you come across it, it's pretty basic.
He said that in his final exams he only needs calculator in one out of seven exams.
He would recommend that, if at all possible, to find somewhere to learn a bit of basic calculus as a head start to first year. This will also make first year much easier.
Everyone in the first year finds maths hard, but first year of Biochem is very hard in general.
Hope this helps.

Thank you so much! I had definitely expected that I would need to brush up on maths skills beforehand - I’ve already got books to help with that. The most reassuring thing to hear is that your son did know a number of people there who hadn’t done A level maths - I was starting to worry if it really happened so you’ve put my mind at rest.
Thank you :smile:
Reply 4
Original post by Cal's Mum
Hi,
Maybe I can help here. My son is currently 3rd year student of Biochemistry at Oxford.
He said that you don't need maths to apply for Biochem. However, everyone who didn't do A level maths really struggled with the maths course in the first year.
The good news is that after the first year you hardly ever see maths again, but if you come across it, it's pretty basic.
He said that in his final exams he only needs calculator in one out of seven exams.
He would recommend that, if at all possible, to find somewhere to learn a bit of basic calculus as a head start to first year. This will also make first year much easier.
Everyone in the first year finds maths hard, but first year of Biochem is very hard in general.
Hope this helps.

any advice on how to prepare for interviews?
Reply 5
Original post by _sanchez
any advice on how to prepare for interviews?

Hi, I've just checked with my son. He is now in his fourth year in Biochemistry and apparently speaking to his current tutor it would appear they've changed the formatting slightly for interviews since he's done it.
All he'd say is to just be solid on your personal statement and if they give it to you, any prereading, that's really the only prep you can do.
During the interview, don't be afraid to ask clarifying questions if there's something you don't understand about what they want you to do. And most importantly, just think out loud, tutors aren't always picking the best students on paper, they're picking who they want to teach and more often than not, that's someone who can articulate what they're thinking. Trying to avoid long periods of silence in an interview is good while still taking any time you need to think.
Hope this helps and good luck with the interview!
Reply 6
Original post by Cal's Mum
Hi, I've just checked with my son. He is now in his fourth year in Biochemistry and apparently speaking to his current tutor it would appear they've changed the formatting slightly for interviews since he's done it.
All he'd say is to just be solid on your personal statement and if they give it to you, any prereading, that's really the only prep you can do.
During the interview, don't be afraid to ask clarifying questions if there's something you don't understand about what they want you to do. And most importantly, just think out loud, tutors aren't always picking the best students on paper, they're picking who they want to teach and more often than not, that's someone who can articulate what they're thinking. Trying to avoid long periods of silence in an interview is good while still taking any time you need to think.
Hope this helps and good luck with the interview!

Thank you so much for getting back to me! Can I just ask a little bit more: I am in my gap year so haven't touch chem/bio stuff in a while. Should I focus more on revising chem/bio from alevel or that of my personal statement?
(edited 2 months ago)
Reply 7
Original post by Cal's Mum
Hi, I've just checked with my son. He is now in his fourth year in Biochemistry and apparently speaking to his current tutor it would appear they've changed the formatting slightly for interviews since he's done it.
All he'd say is to just be solid on your personal statement and if they give it to you, any prereading, that's really the only prep you can do.
During the interview, don't be afraid to ask clarifying questions if there's something you don't understand about what they want you to do. And most importantly, just think out loud, tutors aren't always picking the best students on paper, they're picking who they want to teach and more often than not, that's someone who can articulate what they're thinking. Trying to avoid long periods of silence in an interview is good while still taking any time you need to think.
Hope this helps and good luck with the interview!

And what does he find special about the course aside from the tutorial and the research project?
Reply 8
Original post by _sanchez
Thank you so much for getting back to me! Can I just ask a little bit more: I am in my gap year so haven't touch chem/bio stuff in a while. Should I focus more on revising chem/bio from alevel or that of my personal statement?

Ideally you should focus on both. You don't need to be exam ready on A level content but you do need to have at least an understanding in A level content, they'll be assuming you know that stuff and seeing how you can apply that knowledge to new concepts.
Hope this helps.
Original post by _sanchez
And what does he find special about the course aside from the tutorial and the research project?

I can't say there is anything "special" about the course that he can point out specifically. This is a relatively new course, which they are still changing. If you want to look at the content then I would suggest you check Oxford website for this particular course.
With regards to research project, it's something you'd find in most masters courses.
I guess it comes down to your interest and passion in this subject that will determine if this is the right course for you.

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