Emi8000
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Hi,
I am a year 11 student and cannot decide on my A Level choices! I know I want to study medicine at university and will definitely be taking A Level Biology, Chemistry and Maths. However, I am very academic and want to do a fourth subject; I originally chose Spanish because I have always wanted to speak well in another language and really enjoy it. However, my science teachers at school all say I should do Physics instead because they say it is preferred by universities? Would studying A Level Physics help me to become a better doctor? Would it be much more useful in a medical degree?

I would love to go to UCL and know they like a contrasting subject to be offered at A Level - do any other medical schools like a contrasting subject e.g. Newcastle or Birmingham or Cardiff?
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Mesopotamian.
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Pick the subject you think you’ll get the best grade in. Doing physics A Level won’t give you any advantage. As long as you have the required grades for medicine (which for most schools is biology and chemistry), the third/fourth subject doesn’t matter and rather, it’s the grade that is more important (although no medical school asks for a 4th A Level and it won’t give you any advantages so you’ll be setting yourself up for more stress).
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nexttime
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(Original post by Emi8000)
Hi,
I am a year 11 student and cannot decide on my A Level choices! I know I want to study medicine at university and will definitely be taking A Level Biology, Chemistry and Maths. However, I am very academic and want to do a fourth subject; I originally chose Spanish because I have always wanted to speak well in another language and really enjoy it. However, my science teachers at school all say I should do Physics instead because they say it is preferred by universities? Would studying A Level Physics help me to become a better doctor? Would it be much more useful in a medical degree?

I would love to go to UCL and know they like a contrasting subject to be offered at A Level - do any other medical schools like a contrasting subject e.g. Newcastle or Birmingham or Cardiff?
Hi, I'm someone who's been through med school and who did bio, chem, phys and maths at A-level, albeit some years ago.

Physics is not directly useful. The knowledge you learn is not relevant at any point in med school, and the only specialty post-graduation that uses physics really is clinical oncology (who do radiotherapy), and maybe radiology, where the relevance is small and there is no requirement for it.

In terms of medical admissions, there is no med school that requires physics (or indeed maths). Cambridge is the only med school where a third science/maths is really needed - the rest would be completely fine with bio/chem.

If you want to get very granular about it you could point out that having physics and having more sciences does correlate with scoring better on medical admissions tests, moreso in the BMAT vs UCAT. However, that is obviously a correlation - it doesn't tell you what the cause is.

Doing 4 A-levels is not required by any med school. Bear in mind a medical application is a lot of work - work expereince and voluntary work, thorough research, UCAT, BMAT, extensive interview prep and then hopefully interviews themselves. I like to compare all that to the amount of work of about half an extra A-level. With that in mind, the risk of doing 4 is of course spreading yourself too thin and not getting the grades you need. If you fail to get at least AAA, that's an absolute disaster.

And I have to say it definitely feels like you're falling into the trap of doing 4 A-levels just because you can. Ok you're smart we get it - but why do you want to do 4? What will you gain, other than showing off?

However, physics will have plenty of overlap with maths and to a lesser extent chemistry. A bit in terms of content, but much more so in terms of skillset. Being a good mathematician helps you with physics so much. So in that sense, the workload might be more manageable.

I am a big fan of learning languages whilst you're young. I kind of wish I had done Spanish, and nearly did. But it would be more work than physics, I'm pretty sure.

Good luck with your decision.
Last edited by nexttime; 1 month ago
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useruser2
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You only really need Biology and Chemistry, if I remember only Cambridge requires maths and nowhere needs Physics. If you're dead set on medicine, you don't need to do Physics, it won't help you. Getting 3 A* will make a bigger difference than 2 A* and 2 A grades.
Last edited by useruser2; 1 month ago
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