pricklyhedgehog
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I really don’t know what I want to do when I’m older and I’m worried I’m going to take the wrong A-Levels for my career path. I’m considering taking 4 A-Levels but I’m not sure! My 4 potential options atm are: maths, physics, sociology, economics/accounting. I’m not sure if I should take economics or accounting though (I definitely won’t take 5 😂). I just wanted some advice from someone who’s taken 4 A-Levels. I’m definitely questioning taking maths, as I’m not a natural mathematician! I’ve been getting 7s all year so im hoping for a 7 in maths on results day, but it’s the subject I suppose I struggled in the most. however I enjoyed it. From someone who’s taken A-Level maths, what advice would you give?
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ajj2000
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What careers/ degrees are you considering?
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Chisjsgeusiaibdv
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You have good subjects.I just wanted to let you know that you don’t need econ or accounting to do it at degree level. Maybe you could choose a subject you think you’ll find interesting?

Four a levels is tough. You’ll have to find a way to make time for each subject. You could potentially drop it in second year though.

You having maths and physics will keep your options open (esp maths). If you want to go down the science route, you should look into chemistry too.
Last edited by Chisjsgeusiaibdv; 2 months ago
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pricklyhedgehog
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(Original post by ajj2000)
What careers/ degrees are you considering?
Maybe engineering or something to do with physics but I’m not sure! I have quite a lot of careers in mind! Here’s a list:
-aerospace/aeronautical engineer
-astrophysicist
-starting up a business
-law..?
-politics
-sales engineer
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pricklyhedgehog
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(Original post by Chisjsgeusiaibdv)
You have good subjects.I just wanted to let you know that you don’t need econ or accounting to do it at degree level. Maybe you could choose a subject you think you’ll find interesting?

Four a levels is tough. You’ll have to find a way to make time for each subject. You could potentially drop it in second year though.

You having maths and physics will keep your options open (esp maths). If you want to go down the science route, you should look into chemistry too.
Yeah I mean I was considering economics because I heard it really helps with maths (I might struggle with maths tbh) and sociology because I think I’d find it really interesting. I’m considering going into law/business/engineering so yeah maths/physics would really keep my options open
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pricklyhedgehog
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(Original post by pricklyhedgehog)
Maybe engineering or something to do with physics but I’m not sure! I have quite a lot of careers in mind! Here’s a list:
-aerospace/aeronautical engineer
-astrophysicist
-starting up a business
-law..?
-politics
-sales engineer
Im also considering real estate or investing/stock market as well!
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Interea
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(Original post by pricklyhedgehog)
Maybe engineering or something to do with physics but I’m not sure! I have quite a lot of careers in mind! Here’s a list:
-aerospace/aeronautical engineer
-astrophysicist
-starting up a business
-law..?
-politics
-sales engineer
Maths, physics and some kind of essay subject would probably keep your options quite open then - I'd only recommend 4 if one is further maths, and while that is useful for engineering/physics, if you aren't too strong at maths it may be worth just sticking to 3
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pricklyhedgehog
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(Original post by Interea)
Maths, physics and some kind of essay subject would probably keep your options quite open then - I'd only recommend 4 if one is further maths, and while that is useful for engineering/physics, if you aren't too strong at maths it may be worth just sticking to 3
would it be worth taking maths if I’m not very good at it? I’d be willing to put in the work, but for me I generally work hard in subjects I am naturally better in, because the better I am the more I enjoy it. I mean my maths gcse mock was one of the worst grades I got so I’m really questioning whether I should take a subject Im naturally better at?
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_gcx
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If you are unsure about your options and are able to drop one down the line you should definitely start on 4.
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pricklyhedgehog
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(Original post by Interea)
Maths, physics and some kind of essay subject would probably keep your options quite open then - I'd only recommend 4 if one is further maths, and while that is useful for engineering/physics, if you aren't too strong at maths it may be worth just sticking to 3
Also if I do choose to go on to study physics, I’d probably want to go to Oxbridge…
I know they do like students with 4 A-Levels…
Would it be better taking 3 A-Levels but with really high grades, or 4 A-Levels but with alright grades?
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Interea
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(Original post by pricklyhedgehog)
Also if I do choose to go on to study physics, I’d probably want to go to Oxbridge…
I know they do like students with 4 A-Levels…
Would it be better taking 3 A-Levels but with really high grades, or 4 A-Levels but with alright grades?
The offer will usually be for 3 grades no matter how many you do, so 3 great grades is definitely much better than 4 average grades! Really you should only do 4 if doing the 4th won't impact your other 3 grades for this reason.

(Original post by pricklyhedgehog)
would it be worth taking maths if I’m not very good at it? I’d be willing to put in the work, but for me I generally work hard in subjects I am naturally better in, because the better I am the more I enjoy it. I mean my maths gcse mock was one of the worst grades I got so I’m really questioning whether I should take a subject Im naturally better at?
It could go either way, I had friends who got A*s at GCSE and found A level impossible, and friends who got Bs and managed to average A/B throughout A level without too much stress. Maybe start with 4 subjects, see how maths goes, and if it's too hard you can drop it and just keep the other 3. A level maths is a fair bit more interesting than GCSE maths in my opinion, so it might be an enjoyable kind of difficult, but having that backup of the extra subject at first will allow you to see how you personally find it
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_gcx
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(Original post by pricklyhedgehog)
Also if I do choose to go on to study physics, I’d probably want to go to Oxbridge…
I know they do like students with 4 A-Levels…
Would it be better taking 3 A-Levels but with really high grades, or 4 A-Levels but with alright grades?
always the former.

that said while a formal requirement exists for no courses (and 4 A-level offers are only given for a handful of courses at any university - some Cambridge colleges give them) there are some cases where you might want to do 4. (eg. cambridge engineering seems to nudge students towards doing 4 if they can, and if it doesn't seriously impact their overall grade profile) or if you want breadth like for natsci. (where someone may want to do maths/fm + 2 sciences or maths + 3 sciences)
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pricklyhedgehog
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(Original post by Interea)
The offer will usually be for 3 grades no matter how many you do, so 3 great grades is definitely much better than 4 average grades! Really you should only do 4 if doing the 4th won't impact your other 3 grades for this reason.


It could go either way, I had friends who got A*s at GCSE and found A level impossible, and friends who got Bs and managed to average A/B throughout A level without too much stress. Maybe start with 4 subjects, see how maths goes, and if it's too hard you can drop it and just keep the other 3. A level maths is a fair bit more interesting than GCSE maths in my opinion, so it might be an enjoyable kind of difficult, but having that backup of the extra subject at first will allow you to see how you personally find it
The problem is..at my college in order to take physics you have to take maths as well. So if I dropped maths, then I’d have to drop physics too! :/ I think sociology seems interesting as a 3rd A Level but I don’t think it’s got high enough value to get to a top university. The thing is, my 4 gcse options were all essay based so it really helped my English skills and I got a 9 in English without even revising. It was the same for my friend, but for maths. He took business, stats and further maths which all helped with his mathematical skills, so when it came to gcse maths he found it so easy he barely revised! I’m considering doing the same for A-Level, in a way to make my life doing maths not so difficult! I mean would economics or accounting help with a level maths? (I wouldn’t do it just because of that btw, it would go really well if I want to go on to do business when I’m older and I’d find it really interesting).
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pricklyhedgehog
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(Original post by _gcx)
always the former.

that said while a formal requirement exists for no courses (and 4 A-level offers are only given for a handful of courses at any university - some Cambridge colleges give them) there are some cases where you might want to do 4. (eg. cambridge engineering seems to nudge students towards doing 4 if they can, and if it doesn't seriously impact their overall grade profile) or if you want breadth like for natsci. (where someone may want to do maths/fm + 2 sciences or maths + 3 sciences)
Yeah they’d prefer further maths as a 4th and I can’t because I’m predicted a 7 in gcse maths (the minimum grade required for fm at my college is 8). My gut is telling me that 3 really good grades would be better than 4 decent grades, but yeah I might do 4 to begin with and drop one halfway through. Would resitting year 13 be an option? So I do 2 A levels in year 13, and 2 the year after…so I don’t get too overwhelmed with work?
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ajj2000
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(Original post by pricklyhedgehog)
Maybe engineering or something to do with physics but I’m not sure! I have quite a lot of careers in mind! Here’s a list:
-aerospace/aeronautical engineer
-astrophysicist
-starting up a business
-law..?
-politics
-sales engineer
Ok - for a lot of things you are interested in maths and physics would be the best 2, plus any other. Sociology is absolutely fine if that interests you and may help with law applications if you chose to go that way.

From some of the points above:

- economics A level in no way helps with maths
- for physics (or engineering) at Oxbridge to be realistic you need further maths unless your school doesn't offer it
- to study physics at university you need maths A level
- for a lot of reasons its way better to get three good grades than 4 less good. The only time 4 A levels is a real consideration is if one is further maths. That being said, you got some good advice above about taking 4 to start with if you are concerned about how you will get on and then dropping one.
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pricklyhedgehog
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(Original post by ajj2000)
Ok - for a lot of things you are interested in maths and physics would be the best 2, plus any other. Sociology is absolutely fine if that interests you and may help with law applications if you chose to go that way.

From some of the points above:

- economics A level in no way helps with maths
- for physics (or engineering) at Oxbridge to be realistic you need further maths unless your school doesn't offer it
- to study physics at university you need maths A level
- for a lot of reasons its way better to get three good grades than 4 less good. The only time 4 A levels is a real consideration is if one is further maths. That being said, you got some good advice above about taking 4 to start with if you are concerned about how you will get on and then dropping one.
My sixth form does offer further maths but I’m predicted a 7 in gcse maths and the minimum to get in would be an 8! And yeah I think that’s what I’m going to do, I’ll probably just drop one, but what subject would really help maths?
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Interea
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(Original post by pricklyhedgehog)
Yeah they’d prefer further maths as a 4th and I can’t because I’m predicted a 7 in gcse maths (the minimum grade required for fm at my college is 8). My gut is telling me that 3 really good grades would be better than 4 decent grades, but yeah I might do 4 to begin with and drop one halfway through. Would resitting year 13 be an option? So I do 2 A levels in year 13, and 2 the year after…so I don’t get too overwhelmed with work?
It would be very unconventional and you'd have to be careful, since unis can explicitly require the 3 A levels in one sitting (the exception sometimes being if you sat 3 one year and then resat one of them the next year, so your best 3 grades come from two different years). If you were only doing 2 A levels in year 13, some unis may question why you can't handle a full exam workload.
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ajj2000
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(Original post by pricklyhedgehog)
My sixth form does offer further maths but I’m predicted a 7 in gcse maths and the minimum to get in would be an 8! And yeah I think that’s what I’m going to do, I’ll probably just drop one, but what subject would really help maths?
I don't think that any subjects particularly help with maths - at least not in the way that maths helps with physics for example. Perhaps taking subjects that you don't find too intense to allow the chance to have time to focus on maths would be valuable.
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_gcx
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(Original post by pricklyhedgehog)
Yeah they’d prefer further maths as a 4th and I can’t because I’m predicted a 7 in gcse maths (the minimum grade required for fm at my college is 8). My gut is telling me that 3 really good grades would be better than 4 decent grades, but yeah I might do 4 to begin with and drop one halfway through. Would resitting year 13 be an option? So I do 2 A levels in year 13, and 2 the year after…so I don’t get too overwhelmed with work?
There's a possibility universities won't like this. Some are sticklers for seeing at least 3 A-levels taken in Year 13. But it wouldn't be a complete roadblock by any means.
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Interea
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(Original post by pricklyhedgehog)
The problem is..at my college in order to take physics you have to take maths as well. So if I dropped maths, then I’d have to drop physics too! :/ I think sociology seems interesting as a 3rd A Level but I don’t think it’s got high enough value to get to a top university. The thing is, my 4 gcse options were all essay based so it really helped my English skills and I got a 9 in English without even revising. It was the same for my friend, but for maths. He took business, stats and further maths which all helped with his mathematical skills, so when it came to gcse maths he found it so easy he barely revised! I’m considering doing the same for A-Level, in a way to make my life doing maths not so difficult! I mean would economics or accounting help with a level maths? (I wouldn’t do it just because of that btw, it would go really well if I want to go on to do business when I’m older and I’d find it really interesting).
Economics is more linked to maths than something like politics would be, but still mainly essay based (I tutored a student who was barely scraping Es in A level maths, and he referred to economics as an "easy A*" with barely any maths involved - he was exaggerating a little but you get the idea! It's a mathsy essay subject rather than an essay maths subject). You'll certainly find maths easier if you're doing related subjects like physics, purely because it is such a practice and understanding-based subject, so the more time you spend thinking about and doing maths the better. It won't necessarily make it easy though, no A levels are! I have zero knowledge of the accounting A level so I can't comment on that, hopefully someone else can

Saying that, finding a subject interesting is definitely a good way of picking subjects if you've got a spare option or two once you've picked ones you need for the future. I wanted to do maths at uni so picked maths and further maths, picked chemistry to keep my options open for other science courses in case I changed my mind, and then picked Latin solely because it was fun and I found it interesting. Enjoying your subjects is very important, especially if you have a few less-enjoyable ones that you need to pick for uni requirements.
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