ellis770
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I am currently in Y11, wanting to take 3 a-levels next year but I am so stuck between choosing physics or maths. As of now, I want to do all 3 sciences at a-level (predicted 9 in biology, 8 in chemistry and physics) due to me wanting to become a doctor. I also thought that choosing these three options would open up all possible career paths within science (my favourite subjects) if I changed my mind at a later date. However, I know that the entry requirements for most medicine courses want chemistry and biology along with another academic subject such as maths or physics. Considering my target grades, (8 in physics and 7 in maths) what would be more enjoyable and/or more useful? I enjoy physics more overall but I don’t mind between the two. Thanks
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ajj2000
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If you want to do medicine you’ll really need an a in the subject at a level. This matters more than the subject chosen.
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Emily~3695
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I’m in a similar position to you and have decided to start year 12 doing biology, chemistry maths and physics, that way you can drop the one that you think will be the lowest grade if you choose to at the end of year 12. Good luck 😊
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Greyscale
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Having just discussed A-level choices with my school the other day, I'd definitely have to recommend maths if you're only choosing one of em.
I've always favoured physics and was hoping to do it next year, but even with a predicted grade of ~8 at GCSE my teacher thinks it would be near impossible to succeed in it without maths being taken as well- he noted that almost all past students that took Physics w/o maths dropped out during the first year, and those that didn't had poor results at the end of the course.
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ellis770
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(Original post by Emily~3695)
I’m in a similar position to you and have decided to start year 12 doing biology, chemistry maths and physics, that way you can drop the one that you think will be the lowest grade if you choose to at the end of year 12. Good luck 😊
Thanks very much for the quick reply! That’s a very good idea actually
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ellis770
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(Original post by Greyscale)
Having just discussed A-level choices with my school the other day, I'd definitely have to recommend maths if you're only choosing one of em.
I've always favoured physics and was hoping to do it next year, but even with a predicted grade of ~8 at GCSE my teacher thinks it would be near impossible to succeed in it without maths being taken as well- he noted that almost all past students that took Physics w/o maths dropped out during the first year, and those that didn't had poor results at the end of the course.
Thanks for the quick reply! Yeah I was concerned about that and I rather do something I’m not going to fail
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bleepbloop63
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Hi, i’m currently in year thirteen and originally did physics, maths, further maths and chemistry. Physics at A Level is much more demanding than at GCSE. Also the actual content is very reliant on maths. I very quickly dropped physics because I found it was taking too much of my time having to consolidate what we were doing (at GCSE I got an 8 in physics so it’s not that I can’t grasp concepts). Many of the people doing physics at my sixth form who didn’t do maths have dropped physics over summer as well. I would fully recommend you finding out whether you can do four A Levels and then you can choose between Maths and Physics during your first year; you might even find you can balance and do well with four and in that case you could take all four through. Just so you know, how you do in your GCSEs doesn’t necessarily correlate how you will do in A Levels, don’t disregard maths now just because you’re predicted a lower grade that physics
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ellis770
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(Original post by bleepbloop63)
Hi, i’m currently in year thirteen and originally did physics, maths, further maths and chemistry. Physics at A Level is much more demanding than at GCSE. Also the actual content is very reliant on maths. I very quickly dropped physics because I found it was taking too much of my time having to consolidate what we were doing (at GCSE I got an 8 in physics so it’s not that I can’t grasp concepts). Many of the people doing physics at my sixth form who didn’t do maths have dropped physics over summer as well. I would fully recommend you finding out whether you can do four A Levels and then you can choose between Maths and Physics during your first year; you might even find you can balance and do well with four and in that case you could take all four through. Just so you know, how you do in your GCSEs doesn’t necessarily correlate how you will do in A Levels, don’t disregard maths now just because you’re predicted a lower grade that physics
Thanks, this has helped me sort out the basics. At my school you can do 4 a-levels but all the teachers look down upon doing 4, so I’m not 100% sure.
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bleepbloop63
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(Original post by ellis770)
Thanks, this has helped me sort out the basics. At my school you can do 4 a-levels but all the teachers look down upon doing 4, so I’m not 100% sure.
the teachers at mine really advise against doing four so i really had to push for it
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ellis770
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(Original post by bleepbloop63)
the teachers at mine really advise against doing four so i really had to push for it
Would you recommend doing 4?
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Sinnoh
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For medicine only chemistry and biology really matter, your third subject can be whatever you want. Don't do four (it's completely unnecessary), just do the one you're more interested in and are more likely to do well in.
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Quick-use
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For Medicine, all universities (apart from Cambridge who want a third subject in a STEM subject) don't care what your third A level is is. It could be Maths, Physics, Sociology, Religious Studies or French. You just have to make sure that you get an A.
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sammy0205
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hi there! i'm in year 13 at the moment, and i'm doing Biology, Chemistry and Physics. i've just applied for university to do Pharmacology, and i'm predicted A*AB (A* in chem, A in bio, B in phys)
now, before i say what i'm going to say, i'd just like to disclaim that i'm not trying to put you off physics, because ultimately it's your decision. i can see a lot of people above me have said similar things, but i'd like to say it coming from someone who has actually done those 3 options.
taking physics A level was the worst decision i have ever made. when i started A levels, i was doing the 3 sciences, and psychology. after 6 weeks we were all told to drop one, so i dropped psychology. at the time, psychology was my best subject, but i found it boring and long, and i didn't like doing the essays, even though i got full marks on them. so, even though it was my lowest grade, i chose to take physics. both my teachers assured me that taking physics without maths would be fine, and that i'd "get it eventually." i got a 9 in GCSE physics, and an 8 in GCSE maths, so it wasn't at all like i was bad at maths or physics before A level.
quickly, it became evident that everyone else in my class - all of whom took maths - were much better than me. period. their maths skills were much more advanced and refined, meanwhile i was struggling to relearn concepts i'd learnt at GCSE.
additionally, the trouble with A level physics is that, if you don't understand one bit of the topic, you don't understand any of the topic. everything links together, and unfortunately, almost everything is also supported by the maths.
halfway through year 12, i started losing hope, because everyone else was so much better than me, and i wasn't getting it. i'd gotten nothing much higher than a D in my assessments, but my friends and teachers just kept saying "you'll get it eventually!"
i believed them, so despite the fact i was losing hope, i kept going. i stayed after school, i asked for help all the time, i got other friends to help, i did extra practice questions. and it got me nowhere. at the end of year 12, i managed to scrape a C, but then i quickly fell back down to a D once we started doing A2 content.
now i'm in year 13, and things are still not going great. and i all i can really say is that, if someone had truthfully told me how hard A level physics was, last year, i would not have taken it. in my most recent paper 1 practices, i've gotten 2 Ds and a U. there's content we studied at the start of year 12, at the very start of the course, which even now - after a year - i'm still getting wrong. in the mock (i did it 4 days ago yikes) i'd be surprised if i got more than an E.
and now, i'm stuck in this situation where unis need me to get AAB, and i'm not sure if i can get a B, and i hate to think that i might wake up on results day next year, look at UCAS, and it says i haven't gotten into my choices.

overall, i can't recommend taking physics without maths. i absolutely regret the decision. if you're applying to medicine, biology and chemistry are the only subjects you need, however universities tend to prefer you if you have another related subject. that's not to say you HAVE to have one, but either maths or maybe psychology could be a good call
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bleepbloop63
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(Original post by ellis770)
Would you recommend doing 4?
Doing 4 was a lot of work but it definitely helped me in making the right choices. I would recommend doing 4 if you’re unsure of what to take
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ellis770
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(Original post by sammy0205)
hi there! i'm in year 13 at the moment, and i'm doing Biology, Chemistry and Physics. i've just applied for university to do Pharmacology, and i'm predicted A*AB (A* in chem, A in bio, B in phys)
now, before i say what i'm going to say, i'd just like to disclaim that i'm not trying to put you off physics, because ultimately it's your decision. i can see a lot of people above me have said similar things, but i'd like to say it coming from someone who has actually done those 3 options.
taking physics A level was the worst decision i have ever made. when i started A levels, i was doing the 3 sciences, and psychology. after 6 weeks we were all told to drop one, so i dropped psychology. at the time, psychology was my best subject, but i found it boring and long, and i didn't like doing the essays, even though i got full marks on them. so, even though it was my lowest grade, i chose to take physics. both my teachers assured me that taking physics without maths would be fine, and that i'd "get it eventually." i got a 9 in GCSE physics, and an 8 in GCSE maths, so it wasn't at all like i was bad at maths or physics before A level.
quickly, it became evident that everyone else in my class - all of whom took maths - were much better than me. period. their maths skills were much more advanced and refined, meanwhile i was struggling to relearn concepts i'd learnt at GCSE.
additionally, the trouble with A level physics is that, if you don't understand one bit of the topic, you don't understand any of the topic. everything links together, and unfortunately, almost everything is also supported by the maths.
halfway through year 12, i started losing hope, because everyone else was so much better than me, and i wasn't getting it. i'd gotten nothing much higher than a D in my assessments, but my friends and teachers just kept saying "you'll get it eventually!"
i believed them, so despite the fact i was losing hope, i kept going. i stayed after school, i asked for help all the time, i got other friends to help, i did extra practice questions. and it got me nowhere. at the end of year 12, i managed to scrape a C, but then i quickly fell back down to a D once we started doing A2 content.
now i'm in year 13, and things are still not going great. and i all i can really say is that, if someone had truthfully told me how hard A level physics was, last year, i would not have taken it. in my most recent paper 1 practices, i've gotten 2 Ds and a U. there's content we studied at the start of year 12, at the very start of the course, which even now - after a year - i'm still getting wrong. in the mock (i did it 4 days ago yikes) i'd be surprised if i got more than an E.
and now, i'm stuck in this situation where unis need me to get AAB, and i'm not sure if i can get a B, and i hate to think that i might wake up on results day next year, look at UCAS, and it says i haven't gotten into my choices.

overall, i can't recommend taking physics without maths. i absolutely regret the decision. if you're applying to medicine, biology and chemistry are the only subjects you need, however universities tend to prefer you if you have another related subject. that's not to say you HAVE to have one, but either maths or maybe psychology could be a good call
Thanks so much for this great advice. I think after researching a lot, I will decide in the next month what to do finally for sixth form.
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nexttime
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(Original post by ellis770)
I am currently in Y11, wanting to take 3 a-levels next year but I am so stuck between choosing physics or maths. As of now, I want to do all 3 sciences at a-level (predicted 9 in biology, 8 in chemistry and physics) due to me wanting to become a doctor. I also thought that choosing these three options would open up all possible career paths within science (my favourite subjects) if I changed my mind at a later date. However, I know that the entry requirements for most medicine courses want chemistry and biology along with another academic subject such as maths or physics. Considering my target grades, (8 in physics and 7 in maths) what would be more enjoyable and/or more useful? I enjoy physics more overall but I don’t mind between the two. Thanks
Some points, many of which have been stated before:

1) For medicine you only need bio and chem to have all med schools open to you (kind of except Cambridge, although technically you'd meet their requirements too)
2) However, there is a correlation between doing maths and doing better on the medicine entry tests, especially the BMAT. Correlations don't necessarily mean causation of course... but it might.
3) The same is true of physics but the correlation is weaker.
4) Maths A-level gets one of the highest if not the highest rate of 'A' and 'A*' grades, whereas physics is average.
5) Doing physics without maths will be harder, although I disagree with people saying its completely impossible. You will just need to spend extra time on the maths (but less than if you were doing 4 A-levels, which you are considering).
6) The above means that doing those 4 A-levels does have some overlap and if you are talented at maths you may find this not too much work. Its certainly easier than doing combination sciences/humanities or pure humanities anyway.
7) You are 'only' getting a 7 in maths though... improving that would really increases options...
8) Doing Bio/Chem/Phy doesn't really open up that many other options to you. Maths is fundamental to pretty much all sciences, and as you're aiming for medicine its safe to assume you'd be looking at top unis for other sciences. Looking at Oxford, even chemistry requires maths, let alone physics. Even biochemistry has maths as recommended. That subject opens up biological sciences and chemistry at some unis only. Not all sciences as you hoped.
If you took all 4 though, that would be completely different, and would keep science options open.
9) If you don't come out with As minimum at A-level you won't be getting into medicine or a top tier uni for science regardless of anything else, so that needs to be priority number 1.

That is all.
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