Takin an extra A-Level (A-Level Biology)

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melmel2345
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Hey guys, I was wondering if you think self-studying A-Level Biology is something that I should consider. For A levels I am going to pick Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Physics. To guarantee a place at medical school I'm thinking to self-study Biology A-Level. Not self-study (as in learn the entire course by myself) but just to do the qualification outside of school with the help of other teachers if that makes sense
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Sophie_Robyn
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(Original post by melmel2345)
Hey guys, I was wondering if you think self-studying A-Level Biology is something that I should consider. For A levels I am going to pick Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Physics. To guarantee a place at medical school I'm thinking to self-study Biology A-Level. Not self-study (as in learn the entire course by myself) but just to do the qualification outside of school with the help of other teachers if that makes sense
Hello! To be quite honest, 5 a-levels is excessive for any course, even 4 is a bit much. I'm assuming you've done your research regarding medicine as a degree, and you do need to take the science options, chemistry is a must. The reason I'm saying that 4 (especially 5!) a-levels is excessive is because most universities will only look at 3, if you've done more than 3 then they will look at your best 3. There is a lot of work and pressure when completing a-levels anyways but these options are arguably a bit more intense.

I received offers for medicine whilst only studying chemistry, maths and biology. I think self teaching yourself an a-level will be difficult even if you were only doing the 2 at a college/school institute. Also, further maths is an a-level that really is not appreciated by universities, after realising this myself in year 12, I dropped the subject. It is only really deemed worthy/impressive if you want to pursue a maths related degree such as accounting or stats.

I think it is also fair to say that doing 4/5 a-levels will not guarantee you a place, don't fall into false security there. There is nothing that can be done to guarantee you a place on medicine unless you already have your qualifications and hence perhaps have an unconditional offer.

In a short summary, I think you should focus your energy on 3 a-levels, all of which can be taught by teachers in an educational institute and instead of focusing time on extra a-levels, focus on trying to find work-experience. May I ask why you feel it would be better to take the 4/5?.

Good luck with whichever path you choose though!
Last edited by Sophie_Robyn; 1 year ago
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melmel2345
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(Original post by Sophie_Robyn)
Hello! To be quite honest, 5 a-levels is excessive for any course, even 4 is a bit much. I'm assuming you've done your research regarding medicine as a degree, and you do need to take the science options, chemistry is a much. The reason I'm saying that 4 (especially 5!) a-levels is excessive is because most universities will only look at 3, if you've done more than 3 then they will look at your best 3. There is a lot of work and pressure when completing a-levels anyways but these options are arguably a bit more intense.

I received offers for medicine whilst only studying chemistry, maths and biology. I think self teaching yourself an a-level will be difficult even if you were only doing the 2 at a college/school institute. Also, further maths is an a-level that really is not appreciated by universities, after realising this myself in year 12, I dropped the subject. It is only really deemed worthy/impressive if you want to pursue a maths related degree such as accounting or stats.

I think it is also fair to say that doing 4/5 a-levels will not guarantee you a place, don't fall into false security there. There is nothing that can be done to guarantee you a place on medicine unless you already have your qualifications and hence perhaps have an unconditional offer.

In a short summary, I think you should focus your energy on 3 a-levels, all of which can be taught by teachers in an educational institute and instead of focusing time on extra a-levels, focus on trying to find work-experience. May I ask why you feel it would be better to take the 4/5?.

Good luck with whichever path you choose though!
Hi, thank you so much for your advice. Honestly I"m so confused with literally everything. I don't have a set career path in mind yet and that's honestly making everything so hard for me. I have 3 career options in mind: Computer Science with maths, Engineering or Medicine. I picked Physics because I enjoy it a lot and I also enjoy maths a lot. If I were to study Computer Science and maths in the future some universities require me to take further maths. After doing some extra research on the courses I found out that most universities want Biology and Chemistry together if I want to study Medicine in the future. And as I haven't picked Biology I was thinking to do it as an extra A level outside of school.
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owenwilliams1
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I agree with Sophie, 3 a levels is more than enough and I'm sure you will discover when you begin studying them how hard doing 3 a levels is in itself.

I for one took A level Biology and found it really hard even being taught it, so I couldn't imagine what self teaching it would be like.

I would do as mentioned above, just stick with three facilitating a level subjects that can get you into most of courses you would want to do.
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Sophie_Robyn
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(Original post by melmel2345)
Hi, thank you so much for your advice. Honestly I"m so confused with literally everything. I don't have a set career path in mind yet and that's honestly making everything so hard for me. I have 3 career options in mind: Computer Science with maths, Engineering or Medicine. I picked Physics because I enjoy it a lot and I also enjoy maths a lot. If I were to study Computer Science and maths in the future some universities require me to take further maths. After doing some extra research on the courses I found out that most universities want Biology and Chemistry together if I want to study Medicine in the future. And as I haven't picked Biology I was thinking to do it as an extra A level outside of school.
Ah I see, is it too late to change your options? I'm assuming you'll be starting year 12 this year? Chemistry is a safe bet and will be required for so many degrees because it is such a universal subject. I would also strongly suggest maths because that is also applicable to all of those degrees and many others as it is actually deemed as a 'science'. I really think that biology, chemistry and maths are the 'holy trinity' of a-levels for medicine. Physics doesn't open as many oppurtunities unlike biology and chemistry so perhaps that is the one to reconsider, even if you enjoy it, you need to look at the bigger picture which is so unfortunate . If you can't change your choices now then I would say no to studying biology alongside, it will be truly difficult and if you do better in the other options and apply to medicine, they won't look at your biology anyways. Perhaps do more research into the jobs themselves and try and sort it down to two, they all seem very different. I decided against medicine in the end because I realised it wasn't something that I wanted to do, it was just something my teachers expected of me to do because of my grades. Whatever path you choose, make sure you are doing it for the benefit of yourself.
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Emily5243
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(Original post by melmel2345)
Hi, thank you so much for your advice. Honestly I"m so confused with literally everything. I don't have a set career path in mind yet and that's honestly making everything so hard for me. I have 3 career options in mind: Computer Science with maths, Engineering or Medicine. I picked Physics because I enjoy it a lot and I also enjoy maths a lot. If I were to study Computer Science and maths in the future some universities require me to take further maths. After doing some extra research on the courses I found out that most universities want Biology and Chemistry together if I want to study Medicine in the future. And as I haven't picked Biology I was thinking to do it as an extra A level outside of school.
I did maths, chemistry, biology and physics for A level and I am currently studying medicine. The most important subject for medicine is chemistry which you are going to do so that will give you a wide variety of medical school choices.
https://www.medschools.ac.uk/media/2...hools-2021.pdf
This link shows the entry requirements of all UK medical schools.
Personally, 5 A levels would have been too much for me as 4 was hard enough. You would need time for yourself to relax and have fun as well as getting work experience, finding out which unis you want to apply to, actually applying and then getting the required results.


I think what you need to do is more research on the career options you have in mind as it's unrealistic to focus on 3 potential pathways. Currently, what you should be doing is research about these courses - whether you would like the content, the careers you can get, etc. You should write a list of pros and cons for each and also figure out what you want out of a career. When it becomes safe to do so, getting some work experience or talking to people within these fields would help you make your decision.
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Dancer2001
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(Original post by melmel2345)
Hi, thank you so much for your advice. Honestly I"m so confused with literally everything. I don't have a set career path in mind yet and that's honestly making everything so hard for me. I have 3 career options in mind: Computer Science with maths, Engineering or Medicine. I picked Physics because I enjoy it a lot and I also enjoy maths a lot. If I were to study Computer Science and maths in the future some universities require me to take further maths. After doing some extra research on the courses I found out that most universities want Biology and Chemistry together if I want to study Medicine in the future. And as I haven't picked Biology I was thinking to do it as an extra A level outside of school.
With those career options, Maths, further maths and chemistry will keep everything open.
For your fourth subject, I would definitely go for biology if you’re leaning towards medicine. If you decide later on you’re really sure about medicine, you could even drop further maths, and just have those three.
If you really like the engineering idea, physics is more useful though, especially if you’re thinking of applying to a general engineering course like the one at Cambridge.
It really won’t matter for computer science or maths degrees, they will only care about maths and further maths.

5 A levels in 2 years is definitely a bad idea when none of them are languages you’re already familiar with.
Last edited by Dancer2001; 1 year ago
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