fizzzle
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Hey! I've recently decided on my A-Level choices. And I'm a pretty indecisive person but eventually I agreed on:
Politics, German, Biology and Chemistry
I just wanted to know how to manage these subjects and if I can manage them, essentially I'd like to know whether I've picked subjects that are too much?
(For reference,
I do triple science and I'm predicted two 8s and a 7,
German predicted is a 7,
English Lit&Lang predicted is a 8,8)

At my school, we're required to take 4 A-Levels then decide whether we want to drop one (which is definitely what I'll be doing).
I'd really like to keep studying Chem & Bio because I do enjoy it and I'm thinking about a career in Science. However, I'm scared that maybe the workload will be too much and I've heard about the reputation Chemistry has.
(I'll be doing OCR A)

If anyone is currently doing Chemistry and/or Biology please reply with your experience or any help you can provide!!
I feel as if I'll go into Sixth Form underestimating just how hard the sciences can be.

Thanks so much!!
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Lo12
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Hi,

I do Bio and Chem a-level (AQA), and my experiences with them were different to GCSE. (I got 3 7s in my triple sciences at GCSE for context)

Biology is very heavily content based, there’s a lot to study and remember. It is very interesting though. The mark scheme is very specific, and a high knowledge of the subject will be needed to secure those higher marks

Chemistry, I find very difficult, however that’s just personal opinion. It’s quite different from GCSE, in the sense that what you are taught is overly simplified at gcse, and A-level goes into much more depth and requires a lot of effort to understand fully. But just like biology, it’s a lot more interesting than at GCSE.

There are a lot of free online resources for bio and chem, (I’ve seen a lot for OCR A) and some textbooks are amazing at covering the content. So if you’re ever stuck on a piece of work, you can always get help with it. Your teachers would also be a great help to you.

If you’re planning on pursuing a career in the sciences, then having bio and chem A-level will put you in a good place.
Seeing as you’re doing well academically, you’ll most likely thrive during them. But hard work is key to do well. Doing well at GCSE doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll do well at A-level (although I’m sure you will!)

I hope this has helped, and I wish you all the best with your studies, especially as GCSEs and A levels have been cancelled this year
Last edited by Lo12; 6 months ago
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OhMyLovely
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Hi! I'm doing both biology (AQA) and chemistry (OCR A) at A level (I'm in year 12 btw) and let me tell you at GCSE I loved biology and I found chemistry okay but at A level I've come to learn that I don't really enjoy biology (but I was never planning a career in it anyways lol maybe that's why I don't really enjoy it). Biology at A level is so much work. The mark schemes are so specific in the way you have to word things and it is very content heavy. Chemistry on the other hand I love. It's very interesting and enjoyable and it has normal mark schemes lol and I feel like it is easier than biology. So if I was in your place I would definitely drop biology unless you need it for university and you know that you will put a lot of work into it but it does really depend on how you will get on and which one you will enjoy more because some of the people in my school do prefer biology over chemistry!

I have no clue if this will help you but that my experience so far
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2021medic
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(Original post by fizzzle)
Hey! I've recently decided on my A-Level choices. And I'm a pretty indecisive person but eventually I agreed on:
Politics, German, Biology and Chemistry
I just wanted to know how to manage these subjects and if I can manage them, essentially I'd like to know whether I've picked subjects that are too much?
(For reference,
I do triple science and I'm predicted two 8s and a 7,
German predicted is a 7,
English Lit&Lang predicted is a 8,8)

At my school, we're required to take 4 A-Levels then decide whether we want to drop one (which is definitely what I'll be doing).
I'd really like to keep studying Chem & Bio because I do enjoy it and I'm thinking about a career in Science. However, I'm scared that maybe the workload will be too much and I've heard about the reputation Chemistry has.
(I'll be doing OCR A)

If anyone is currently doing Chemistry and/or Biology please reply with your experience or any help you can provide!!
I feel as if I'll go into Sixth Form underestimating just how hard the sciences can be.

Thanks so much!!
I’m in yr 13 and I’m doing bio chem maths and Spanish (predicted 4A*s).
I got straight 9s at gcse (triple science, French, Spanish, geography, music and the core ones)

I personally totally underestimated the difficulty of a levels...
I sailed thru gcses with pretty much no additional effort (I just paid attention in lessons, did the homework and did 3 days of revision before my first exam and that was it).

I seriously struggled to change my mindset and basically had to use my summer holidays to catch up on the backlog of work (I kept up with the schoolwork, I mean making revision notes).

Just as an example, I was able to write notes on one gcse bio chapter (aqa kerboodle) and fit it on 2 sides of a4 (handwritten) and this would take me one hour.
For a level bio (ocr a) it takes me abt 1 hour per lesson of the textbook to write notes, taking up 1 a4 page (typed in size 11).

Another mistake I made is that I compared gcse subjects with a level subjects. If u think abt it, one a level is sort of worth 2 gcses in terms of number of lessons so if ur someone who makes revision notes (and I would strongly recommend this bc textbooks are no longer good enough), u have to do them as u go along, not at the end of a chapter or it becomes a slightly scary amount of work.
also the difference in the amount of homework between gcse and a level has been crazyyyy, like at least 3 if not 4 times more than gcse (maybe it’s just bc I switched schools idk)

I would say that experiences vary from person to person a lot because I am one of the few people who finds chemistry easy; maybe this is because I have a good teacher.
Honestly tho, I do think that if u understand chemistry, it is quite easy to get high marks because the spec is much smaller and more maths-like (there’s a lot of calculations so if ur gcse maths isn’t strong maybe this might be difficult but a level maths definitely is not required. What I really mean by maths-like is that there is less knowledge and just having to know facts and more ‘if u understand it you’ll be fine’)

With biology, I have been very unlucky and have pretty awful teachers. Despite it being my favourite subject, it’s my most disliked lesson.
(Another reason to choose subjects u like and not lessons u like!) I’ve also explained above how important it is to make ur own revision notes due to the fact that no textbooks I have seen have all the info. Obviously it’s not like you’ll acc need to know everything on the spec really well but u never know what will come up on the test...

Overall I think I’d say that if u love biology as a subject, go for it!!!!
And for chemistry, well I like chemistry it’s been a pretty low effort subject for me along with my two others which I’ve been doing pretty well in despite having not great teachers

hope that’s helpful!

Summary: nothing to be scared of if u enjoy the subjects u chose, but it’s a good idea to keep up on making revision notes as u go along so that u don’t get a scary backlog
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fizzzle
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(Original post by 2021medic)
I’m in yr 13 and I’m doing bio chem maths and Spanish (predicted 4A*s).
I got straight 9s at gcse (triple science, French, Spanish, geography, music and the core ones)

I personally totally underestimated the difficulty of a levels...
I sailed thru gcses with pretty much no additional effort (I just paid attention in lessons, did the homework and did 3 days of revision before my first exam and that was it).

I seriously struggled to change my mindset and basically had to use my summer holidays to catch up on the backlog of work (I kept up with the schoolwork, I mean making revision notes).

Just as an example, I was able to write notes on one gcse bio chapter (aqa kerboodle) and fit it on 2 sides of a4 (handwritten) and this would take me one hour.
For a level bio (ocr a) it takes me abt 1 hour per lesson of the textbook to write notes, taking up 1 a4 page (typed in size 11).

Another mistake I made is that I compared gcse subjects with a level subjects. If u think abt it, one a level is sort of worth 2 gcses in terms of number of lessons so if ur someone who makes revision notes (and I would strongly recommend this bc textbooks are no longer good enough), u have to do them as u go along, not at the end of a chapter or it becomes a slightly scary amount of work.
also the difference in the amount of homework between gcse and a level has been crazyyyy, like at least 3 if not 4 times more than gcse (maybe it’s just bc I switched schools idk)

I would say that experiences vary from person to person a lot because I am one of the few people who finds chemistry easy; maybe this is because I have a good teacher.
Honestly tho, I do think that if u understand chemistry, it is quite easy to get high marks because the spec is much smaller and more maths-like (there’s a lot of calculations so if ur gcse maths isn’t strong maybe this might be difficult but a level maths definitely is not required. What I really mean by maths-like is that there is less knowledge and just having to know facts and more ‘if u understand it you’ll be fine’)

With biology, I have been very unlucky and have pretty awful teachers. Despite it being my favourite subject, it’s my most disliked lesson.
(Another reason to choose subjects u like and not lessons u like!) I’ve also explained above how important it is to make ur own revision notes due to the fact that no textbooks I have seen have all the info. Obviously it’s not like you’ll acc need to know everything on the spec really well but u never know what will come up on the test...

Overall I think I’d say that if u love biology as a subject, go for it!!!!
And for chemistry, well I like chemistry it’s been a pretty low effort subject for me along with my two others which I’ve been doing pretty well in despite having not great teachers

hope that’s helpful!

Summary: nothing to be scared of if u enjoy the subjects u chose, but it’s a good idea to keep up on making revision notes as u go along so that u don’t get a scary backlog
Thank you so so much!! Seriously, this helped a lot.
In terms of Chemistry, I've never been a fan of maths although I pick up on it pretty quick (I think this is also a case of not being a fan of the teacher)
I only really can't stand geometry so I hope I'll be okay in Chemistry and as for Biology I'm sorry you weren't lucky with your teacher! But the advice on revision notes were super helpful!! I'll definitely start practicing that now during GCSEs.
I think this really helped because I hear so much about how Chemistry is this hellish subject and this was super reassuring!!!

Thanks so much! Have a good evening
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fizzzle
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(Original post by Lo12)
Hi,

I do Bio and Chem a-level (AQA), and my experiences with them were different to GCSE. (I got 3 7s in my triple sciences at GCSE for context)

Biology is very heavily content based, there’s a lot to study and remember. It is very interesting though. The mark scheme is very specific, and a high knowledge of the subject will be needed to secure those higher marks

Chemistry, I find very difficult, however that’s just personal opinion. It’s quite different from GCSE, in the sense that what you are taught is overly simplified at gcse, and A-level goes into much more depth and requires a lot of effort to understand fully. But just like biology, it’s a lot more interesting than at GCSE.

There are a lot of free online resources for bio and chem, (I’ve seen a lot for OCR A) and some textbooks are amazing at covering the content. So if you’re ever stuck on a piece of work, you can always get help with it. Your teachers would also be a great help to you.

If you’re planning on pursuing a career in the sciences, then having bio and chem A-level will put you in a good place.
Seeing as you’re doing well academically, you’ll most likely thrive during them. But hard work is key to do well. Doing well at GCSE doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll do well at A-level (although I’m sure you will!)

I hope this has helped, and I wish you all the best with your studies, especially as GCSEs and A levels have been cancelled this year
Hi! Thanks so much for the reply. This was super reassuring and I'll be sure to make a note of how different both the sciences are to revise for.
In regards to working hard I've really tried to start incorporating that mindset into my GCSEs (although they aren't taking place) so I hope that work ethic will transfer over into A-Levels and I won't be so overwhelmed.

And I appreciate the point on how different the GCSEs will be to A-Level, do you think it'd be worth going over some A-Level topics during the summer?
Again, thanks and have a great evening!
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fizzzle
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(Original post by OhMyLovely)
Hi! I'm doing both biology (AQA) and chemistry (OCR A) at A level (I'm in year 12 btw) and let me tell you at GCSE I loved biology and I found chemistry okay but at A level I've come to learn that I don't really enjoy biology (but I was never planning a career in it anyways lol maybe that's why I don't really enjoy it). Biology at A level is so much work. The mark schemes are so specific in the way you have to word things and it is very content heavy. Chemistry on the other hand I love. It's very interesting and enjoyable and it has normal mark schemes lol and I feel like it is easier than biology. So if I was in your place I would definitely drop biology unless you need it for university and you know that you will put a lot of work into it but it does really depend on how you will get on and which one you will enjoy more because some of the people in my school do prefer biology over chemistry!

I have no clue if this will help you but that my experience so far
Hi!! Don't worry, this was super helpful.
And thanks so much on the point about how content-heavy biology is, I feel like I may underestimate it a little. Luckily, at my school they allow us to do 4 subjects then choose to drop one so I think I'll take kind of a trial of biology.
On Chemistry, is there any specific way you recommend revising? Eg. past papers, flashcards etc.
I understand since we've had so much time off school you may not have had a chance to do very many assessments but any revision techniques you have please feel free to share!
Again, thank you! And have a great evening
Last edited by fizzzle; 6 months ago
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Lo12
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(Original post by fizzzle)
Hi! Thanks so much for the reply. This was super reassuring and I'll be sure to make a note of how different both the sciences are to revise for.
In regards to working hard I've really tried to start incorporating that mindset into my GCSEs (although they aren't taking place) so I hope that work ethic will transfer over into A-Levels and I won't be so overwhelmed.

And I appreciate the point on how different the GCSEs will be to A-Level, do you think it'd be worth going over some A-Level topics during the summer?
Again, thanks and have a great evening!
No worries! I’m glad this has been useful for you. It’s great that you’ve already started thinking about your A-levels, it’ll give you a good head start for when you actually start them, and will hopefully ease the transition.

Yes, I think that’s a great idea. Even doing some Seneca tasks on A-level Bio and Chem (which is what I did), or reading through the CGP books will help you gain some knowledge of the content before you start sixth form.

I also recommend getting all the exam board specific textbooks in advance, especially the Oxford ones, because they will allow you to access those higher grades. YouTube videos are also a great way to learn and understand the content. If you need any more tips let me know
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OhMyLovely
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(Original post by fizzzle)
Hi!! Don't worry, this was super helpful.
And thanks so much on the point about how content-heavy biology is, I feel like I may underestimate it a little. Luckily, at my school they allow us to do 4 subjects then choose to drop one so I think I'll take kind of a trial of biology.
On Chemistry, is there any specific way you recommend revising? Eg. past papers, flashcards etc.
I understand since we've had so much time off school you may not have had a chance to do very many assessments but any revision techniques you have please feel free to share!
Again, thank you! And have a great evening
Haha, I'm glad it was helpful! With the revision, I feel like flashcards are a great option especially for biology but also some aspects of chemistry (probably good for german and politics too). You can flashcard the content (obviously haha) but also flashcard exam questions and the mark schemes that come up again and again so that you have the wording nailed down and know exactly what to write if those questions come up in your exam. Idk if you've used the physics and maths tutor website for GCSE but there are loads of exam questions on there for different exam boards for biology and chemistry that you can use to revise (I'd say do it right before the exam because sometimes teachers use those questions in exams ) For chemistry (in year 12 anyway) I found exam questions the most helpful because you have to practice calculations and can't really flashcard those unless it's the equations. Also, I find that for chemistry the jump between GCSE and A level is not as big as biology so you can still use some of your knowledge from GCSE for A level chemistry (not that you can't use your GCSE biology knowledge for A level but the way they require you to answer questions is a bit different). Chemsheets is also a good website which has lots of worksheets and resources but you have to pay for it, but your school might have a subscription. Snap revise videos on youtube are quite good for both bio and chem and sometimes they explain the content better than the teachers!

Feel like I've waffled a little bit but I think these are the most efficient ways. Obviously, it does depend on how you prefer to learn and revise too
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