SoccerMommy
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My daughter is taking her GCSEs this year and in September would like to begin 5 A-level courses in Chemistry, Biology, Maths, Further Maths and Geography. She is a very able student, works hard and has aspirations to study medicine. She is determined to apply for all five courses and she has spoken to her school who seem happy to support her in this as well as provide opportunity to drop subjects if necessary. As parents we want to support her fully but are concerned this will be far too much pressure/work especially when she knows her has to achieve excellent grades to stand a chance of being considered for med school. She also wants to complete her gold Dof E award and undertake work experience. Thoughts and advice would be greatly appreciated
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Phoenixfeather99
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She really does not need to take 5 A Levels. The work for just 3 is a lot. Quite a lot of people who take 4 end up dropping one because of the workload. If it’s something she really wants to do then she should at least try it, but let her know that it’s okay to drop one and dropping one won’t put her at a disadvantage. It’s better she gets 4 A*’s than AAABB.
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ProbablyPallas
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There is absolutely no reason at all to take 5. Most universities will only look at the first 3 or possibly 4. In Year 13 she will NOT have time to do gold DoE or work experience. I don't know what kind of school would allow this. If she wants to study medicine why does she want to do Geography? Surely Chemistry, Physics, Biology and a Maths AS would be more than sufficient?
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rachaellouwhite
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Has she considered looking at a school that does the IB Diploma instead? She would be able to study more of what she loves, without the stress of doing 5 a levels. Please please please make sure she considers doing 5 alevels really carefully, as I struggled with 4, which I then dropped, because I spread myself too thinly. Most universities will not care she has done 5, and they will expect As/A*s in all of them x
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rachaellouwhite
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(Original post by rachaellouwhite)
Has she considered looking at a school that does the IB Diploma instead? She would be able to study more of what she loves, without the stress of doing 5 a levels. Please please please make sure she considers doing 5 alevels really carefully, as I struggled with 4, which I then dropped, because I spread myself too thinly. Most universities will not care she has done 5, and they will expect As/A*s in all of them x
Not to mention she won’t be able to do Gold DofE or work experience because it’s just too much for anyone X
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SoccerMommy
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(Original post by ProbablyPallas)
There is absolutely no reason at all to take 5. Most universities will only look at the first 3 or possibly 4. In Year 13 she will NOT have time to do gold DoE or work experience. I don't know what kind of school would allow this. If she wants to study medicine why does she want to do Geography? Surely Chemistry, Physics, Biology and a Maths AS would be more than sufficient?
Thanks for your advice. My typo mistake - the DofE would be yr12! I think Geography is in there because she enjoys it so much as a subject. But workload is the thing here so as you suggest the others alone would certainly suffice.
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SoccerMommy
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(Original post by Phoenixfeather99)
She really does not need to take 5 A Levels. The work for just 3 is a lot. Quite a lot of people who take 4 end up dropping one because of the workload. If it’s something she really wants to do then she should at least try it, but let her know that it’s okay to drop one and dropping one won’t put her at a disadvantage. It’s better she gets 4 A*’s than AAABB.
Thank you for your advice - much appreciated 🙂
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ProbablyPallas
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(Original post by SoccerMommy)
Thanks for your advice. My typo mistake - the DofE would be yr12! I think Geography is in there because she enjoys it so much as a subject. But workload is the thing here so as you suggest the others alone would certainly suffice.
There's a reason schools recommend only 3. Tell her to do 3, possibly do Further Maths as an AS (1 year), and if she REALLY wants to she can do an EPQ in Geography. She'll drown and be left behind. A Levels are NOT like GCSEs.
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SoccerMommy
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(Original post by rachaellouwhite)
Not to mention she won’t be able to do Gold DofE or work experience because it’s just too much for anyone X
Thank you for your advice. I’m not sure if her school offers that diploma ( she’s staying on at same school) but I’ll enquire 😊
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RogerOxon
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(Original post by SoccerMommy)
My daughter is taking her GCSEs this year and in September would like to begin 5 A-level courses in Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Further Maths and Geography. She is a very able student, works hard and has aspirations to study medicine. She is determined to apply for all five courses and she has spoken to her school who seem happy to support her in this as well as provide opportunity to drop subjects if necessary. As parents we want to support her fully but are concerned this will be far too much pressure/work especially when she knows her has to achieve excellent grades to stand a chance of being considered for med school. She also wants to complete her gold Dof E award in Yr13 and undertake work experience. Thoughts and advice would be greatly appreciated
Five 'A' levels is insane, and will only serve to compromise results in the three (or, rarely, four) grades required for a university offer.

I would only ever recommend four 'A' levels if they include Maths and FM. For Medicine, FM seems less relevant, but Medicine isn't my field. She needs to allow enough time for work experience too.
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SoccerMommy
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(Original post by ProbablyPallas)
There's a reason schools recommend only 3. Tell her to do 3, possibly do Further Maths as an AS (1 year), and if she REALLY wants to she can do an EPQ in Geography. She'll drown and be left behind. A Levels are NOT like GCSEs.
Thank you - sound advice here 🙏
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SoccerMommy
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(Original post by RogerOxon)
Five 'A' levels is insane, and will only serve to compromise results in the three (or, rarely, four) grades required for a university offer.

I would only ever recommend four 'A' levels if they include Maths and FM. For Medicine, FM seems less relevant, but Medicine isn't my field. She needs to allow enough time for work experience too.
Thank you - I appreciate your input here. Lots to discuss with her.
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JICMB77
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I’m currently doing 4 A Levels and Gold DofE (Year 12) and am just about coping. It’s also important to remember that in the second year, students will also have to be focussing on visiting Universities/deciding on post-18 study which is quite time consuming.

5 A Levels sounds horrendous. Good luck!
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GoogGooglyMoogly
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(Original post by SoccerMommy)
My daughter is taking her GCSEs this year and in September would like to begin 5 A-level courses in Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Further Maths and Geography. She is a very able student, works hard and has aspirations to study medicine. She is determined to apply for all five courses and she has spoken to her school who seem happy to support her in this as well as provide opportunity to drop subjects if necessary. As parents we want to support her fully but are concerned this will be far too much pressure/work especially when she knows her has to achieve excellent grades to stand a chance of being considered for med school. She also wants to complete her gold Dof E award in Yr13 and undertake work experience. Thoughts and advice would be greatly appreciated
It's possible but I cannot stress this it will be hard. Currently in my School there are 2 people doing 5 A-Levels. What I have to say is being able is good but might just not cut it. Both of those people have minds that just understand Maths too well. If your daughter is a strong strong mathematician then yeah go for it she'll do just fine if the subjects are related like Maths, FM and Physics even Chem. What worries me is the whole issue of medicine being the goal. She should just focus on 3-4 if that's the case as Medicine requires a lot of extra curricular work before hand.
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SoccerMommy
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(Original post by JICMB77)
I’m currently doing 4 A Levels and Gold DofE (Year 12) and am just about coping. It’s also important to remember that in the second year, students will also have to be focussing on visiting Universities/deciding on post-18 study which is quite time consuming.

5 A Levels sounds horrendous. Good luck!
Yes! This is what I’m thinking - balance too! Good luck with the rest of your studies 😁
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GatoMessi
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When I was in College, I took 4 'A' Levels, Pure Mathematics, Engineering Drawing, Art and Computer Science. I ended up dropping Art subject after 1 year, due to workload.
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SoccerMommy
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(Original post by GoogGooglyMoogly)
It's possible but I cannot stress this it will be hard. Currently in my School there are 2 people doing 5 A-Levels. What I have to say is being able is good but might just not cut it. Both of those people have minds that just understand Maths too well. If your daughter is a strong strong mathematician then yeah go for it she'll do just fine if the subjects are related like Maths, FM and Physics even Chem. What worries me is the whole issue of medicine being the goal. She should just focus on 3-4 if that's the case as Medicine requires a lot of extra curricular work before hand.
And why put yourself through it unnecessarily even if the plan is to drop one/two? 🤷🏼
She is a strong mathematician and just received a grade 9 in her mock Maths and all three sciences but it’s the workload I have no handle on. Funnily enough, there’s one other student at her school that wants to start five also. But she doesn’t have medicine in her plan! Thanks for your advice here.
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SoccerMommy
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(Original post by GatoMessi)
When I was in College, I took 4 'A' Levels, Pure Mathematics, Engineering Drawing, Art and Computer Science. I ended up dropping Art subject after 1 year, due to workload
Thank you 🙏
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_gracecharlie
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I believe for applying to medicine the priorities are 3 a levels with the highest grades you can get+BMAT/UKCAT+ work experience so while your daughter may well be capable of 5 a levels if her heart is set on medicine it may not be the best use of her time.
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GreenCub
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If she already knows that she wants to do medicine, then why isn't she planning to take Biology?
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