JD2712
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Hi, I just finished my GCSEs and just got my results last week. Now going into year 12 and am unsure whether to take a level biology or physics. For context, I’m 100% taking maths and chemistry (and I have to do the welsh baccalaureate, which is basically like an EPQ and is equivalent to an A level), and can’t decide whether to take physics or biology as my fourth as my school allows us to take 3 a levels + the welsh baccalaureate. I got an A* in GCSE physics and an A in GCSE biology. At GCSE I found both subjects really interesting, although I found physics easier (as I didn’t really find it too hard as I really enjoy the maths side of it). But after looking at the a level specification (I’m on WJEC) biology looks really interesting and physics looks quite boring, with loads of stuff on Newton’s laws and dynamics and kinematics, which is all the stuff I didn’t enjoy at GCSE. While biology covers a lot of my favourite things we did at GCSE (but obviously more advanced.

I’m just confused as I did better at physics at GCSE and found it easier and probably enjoyed it more than biology, but the spec looks really boring. But biology a level covers a lot of the fun stuff we did at GCSE, and it looks more enjoyable.
Biology does seem like the obvious choice but it’s hard not taking physics as it was best subject at GCSE and the one I enjoyed the most, but the a level spec just looks like basically a compilation of all of the **** GCSE topics😂.
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Always_Confused
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As a physicist, I'm inclined to tell you to take physics...
But even I'll admit the A-level spec is a bit dry. If you do mathematics with mechanics, you'll learn a lot of what you would in physics anyway.
Electricity and magnetism is always fun and who doesn't love drawing a good circuit diagram.
What would you like to do after sixth form? If it is nothing to do with physics, go for the subject you find most fun and choose biology.
I was encouraged to take maths, physics and chemistry at A-level, but I think chemistry is the dullest subject in the world. I did English Language instead because it was fun. It was a welcome break from the stress of having to maintain my maths and physics grades to get into uni. Biology could be your escape from the hell you've put yourself in taking chemistry 😉
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yagurl
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I'm about to start biology (AQA) for A Levels and I love the spec. Biology is known to be content heavy but as long as you love the subject, you'll soar. Personally, I couldn't understand Physics when I looked at the A Level content as it seemed so different to GCSE due to having a load more Maths, although, if you're doing Maths A Level you'd be fine with that.
I'd suggest going for the subject you think you'd enjoy the most since you're going to be doing it for 2 years and at high intensity. I've heard people say "even if you're good at it at GCSE, it doesn't mean you'll be good at A Level" but obviously I haven't started my A Levels so I can't tell you that for certain. There are people who may do better in A Level so it's honestly a gamble.
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JD2712
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(Original post by Always_Confused)
As a physicist, I'm inclined to tell you to take physics...
But even I'll admit the A-level spec is a bit dry. If you do mathematics with mechanics, you'll learn a lot of what you would in physics anyway.
Electricity and magnetism is always fun and who doesn't love drawing a good circuit diagram.
What would you like to do after sixth form? If it is nothing to do with physics, go for the subject you find most fun and choose biology.
I was encouraged to take maths, physics and chemistry at A-level, but I think chemistry is the dullest subject in the world. I did English Language instead because it was fun. It was a welcome break from the stress of having to maintain my maths and physics grades to get into uni. Biology could be your escape from the hell you've put yourself in taking chemistry 😉
That’s the thing, on WJEC, we’ve got to do maths with stats and mechanics on the new spec and do an exam with half mechanics and half stats on it next year (as well as our pure exam obviously). But that’s why I’m less inclined to take physics, because if I’m going to learn a lot of the same topics in maths as I do in physics, won’t that bore me to death?😂. I really loved physics at GCSE (especially the units on nuclear physics, astronomy, waves and oscillations and weirdly electricity even though everyone else hated it😂), there was nothing we did (apart from Newton’s laws and kinematics) that I didn’t properly enjoy, along with maths and biology, it was the only subject that I would really look forward to doing, it’s just it feels like looking at the a level spec, they’ve just sort of taken out a lot of the fun stuff and replaced it with more advanced versions of all of the boring GCSE topics. I’m not planning on doing anything physics related at uni right now, but all through year 10 and most of year 11 even, I was dead set on doing physics at uni as it was my favourite and best subject, but recently I’ve become a lot more interested in anatomy and biology, and want to do medicine at uni (i know, bit of a weird jump going from physics to medicine😂). I really want to pursue medicine, so biology is the obvious choice, but it’s just hard letting go of a subject which was my favourite and best at GCSE, and letting go of the thing that I was dead set on pursuing for nearly 2 full years. It’s an awkward situation, I’m currently put down to take biology by my school, so I think after a few lessons of biology and first couple of weeks of year 12 I’ll know if medicine is really what I want to do or if I actually would rather take a level physics and go more down that route. I feel like after a week or two of sixth form, I’ll know whether I’m doing the right subjects for me or not, and if not I can change in the first two weeks.
Side note: it’s actually quite funny because my head of year must really hate me because I’ve emailed him to change my a level choices from physics to biology, and then biology back to physics... 4 times... literally😂.
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Always_Confused
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(Original post by JD2712)
That’s the thing, on WJEC, we’ve got to do maths with stats and mechanics on the new spec and do an exam with half mechanics and half stats on it next year (as well as our pure exam obviously). But that’s why I’m less inclined to take physics, because if I’m going to learn a lot of the same topics in maths as I do in physics, won’t that bore me to death?😂. I really loved physics at GCSE (especially the units on nuclear physics, astronomy, waves and oscillations and weirdly electricity even though everyone else hated it😂), there was nothing we did (apart from Newton’s laws and kinematics) that I didn’t properly enjoy, along with maths and biology, it was the only subject that I would really look forward to doing, it’s just it feels like looking at the a level spec, they’ve just sort of taken out a lot of the fun stuff and replaced it with more advanced versions of all of the boring GCSE topics. I’m not planning on doing anything physics related at uni right now, but all through year 10 and most of year 11 even, I was dead set on doing physics at uni as it was my favourite and best subject, but recently I’ve become a lot more interested in anatomy and biology, and want to do medicine at uni (i know, bit of a weird jump going from physics to medicine😂). I really want to pursue medicine, so biology is the obvious choice, but it’s just hard letting go of a subject which was my favourite and best at GCSE, and letting go of the thing that I was dead set on pursuing for nearly 2 full years. It’s an awkward situation, I’m currently put down to take biology by my school, so I think after a few lessons of biology and first couple of weeks of year 12 I’ll know if medicine is really what I want to do or if I actually would rather take a level physics and go more down that route. I feel like after a week or two of sixth form, I’ll know whether I’m doing the right subjects for me or not, and if not I can change in the first two weeks.
Side note: it’s actually quite funny because my head of year must really hate me because I’ve emailed him to change my a level choices from physics to biology, and then biology back to physics... 4 times... literally😂.
If it's kinematics you find especially dull, I can understand why you wouldn't want to double that up by taking physics.
Mechanics is a huge part of the spec, which might seem like the other topics are diminished, but if you were to pursue physics to university level, you'll soon learn that F=ma is the starting point for deriving every single equation you'll ever come across. Solid state, quantum, astro, you name it, Newton's laws will come up. A physics degree is essentially an applied mathematics degree. A-level physics is a lot of mechanics to ease in a lot of the mathematics you'll do if you took the subject to university level. I miss the 6-mark wordy questions. It's all 30 mark "derive from first principals" when you get to uni level.
Physics to medicine isn't too odd of a jump. If a physics degree may still take your fancy, look up the NHS scientist training programme. There are actually a lot of hospital based roles a physics degree could lead to. Not exactly the same career path as medicine, but physics does open lots of doors.
Take as much time as you can to decide what you want to study, though. Whether you enjoy a subject can be the difference between a pass or a fail. It's completely natural to change your mind. Noone truly knows what career they want at your age! You might even change your mind and decide you want to go into chemical engineering and do further maths instead of physics or biology. I'd say change your choices another 6 times until you're 100% sure, but if you ever need a reference from your head of sixth form, you might not want to annoy them too much before you've even started!
Looking at the specs was a good move. I can also recommend looking at your schools pass rates/ average grades in the subject. That can often be an indication of how well taught/engaging the subject is.
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