Enjoy subject but hate assessment methods - what to do?

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LittleSkink
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#1
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#1
Asking for my daughter who I am trying to support through some frustrations - guessing others have may been through periods of frustration and self doubt, so hoping for some stories / thoughts.

She was good at all subjects at GCSE but particularly enjoyed Human Geography, English Lit. and Maths. She chose Politics (a new subject to her) for one of her A levels (with Geography and Maths) because it "looked really interesting", she even changed to a new school miles away to do Politics.

But 8 months in she "really dislikes Politics" (her words). From talking together it seems the subject is still interesting, and the teachers good, but the way it is assessed not so much. Talking to the teacher they seem happy its just a matter of getting used to writing answers in the right way.

But this has fundamentally challenged her interest in going to Uni (her plan was to do IR/Politics) and she is now saying she regrets dropping the sciences "because they make more sense". She has even asked if she can restart her A levels and do sciences this time (not sure if you can)

thoughts?
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TriplexA
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#2
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#2
(Original post by LittleSkink)
Asking for my daughter who I am trying to support through some frustrations - guessing others have may been through periods of frustration and self doubt, so hoping for some stories / thoughts.

She was good at all subjects at GCSE but particularly enjoyed Human Geography, English Lit. and Maths. She chose Politics (a new subject to her) for one of her A levels (with Geography and Maths) because it "looked really interesting", she even changed to a new school miles away to do Politics.

But 8 months in she "really dislikes Politics" (her words). From talking together it seems the subject is still interesting, and the teachers good, but the way it is assessed not so much. Talking to the teacher they seem happy its just a matter of getting used to writing answers in the right way.

But this has fundamentally challenged her interest in going to Uni (her plan was to do IR/Politics) and she is now saying she regrets dropping the sciences "because they make more sense". She has even asked if she can restart her A levels and do sciences this time (not sure if you can)

thoughts?
Hi there.

It depends on your daughter's college as they may allow her to drop politics and take up a new subject (more likely the case if she's in year 12).

Unfortunately I can't advise further as I haven't done politics but will tag 04MR17 and JMR2021_ who could help.


Hope it works out for her
Best wishes.
Last edited by TriplexA; 2 months ago
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04MR17
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#3
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#3
What are her other subjects? :curious:
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username5706823
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#4
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#4
(Original post by LittleSkink)
But 8 months in she "really dislikes Politics" (her words). From talking together it seems the subject is still interesting, and the teachers good, but the way it is assessed not so much. Talking to the teacher they seem happy its just a matter of getting used to writing answers in the right way.

She has even asked if she can restart her A levels and do sciences this time (not sure if you can)

thoughts?
Yes, she can retake year 12 (correct me if I'm wrong) but what if she hates the way science is assessed? The mark schemes for subjects like biology or physics can be extremely tedious and takes a while to get used to.
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username5706823
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(Original post by 04MR17)
What are her other subjects? :curious:
OP says geography and maths
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Cote1
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#6
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#6
With politics A level I think she could consider other subjects at university like law, sociology and psychology (etc) potentially. She doesn't have to do politics at university if she gets an A level in it.

If it is assessment that is the issue not the subject then it would help to pinpoint what it is specifically that she finds difficult about the way it is assessed in terms of it being different to Geography and Maths. Is it essay writing? Can she be supported with what she struggles with perhaps with a private tutor if this is affordable?

Universities also will assess in a different way to A levels.

Is it affecting her performance in politics A level? Now she is over 8 months in she could maybe stick out the A level if she just dislikes it as long as she can perform well in it. However, if she is struggling and is not able to achieve the grade she wants in it, this may be more of an issue.

Like Summerbirdreads said, science at A level is a different thing to GCSE science.
Last edited by Cote1; 2 months ago
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04MR17
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#7
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#7
(Original post by summerbirdreads)
OP says geography and maths
Thank you
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04MR17
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#8
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#8
So my advice is that this needs to be a conversation with politics teacher. Politics is an essay-based subject, similar to English Lit which she studied and enjoyed at GCSE. She might not enjoy the essay writing - but is she good at it? That's a conversation that needs having with teacher. If there are no academic concerns from the teacher then this may just be a confidence thing, but if she enjoys everything else about the subject I wouldn't advise dropping to be honest. Not at this stage in the game.

What's worth bearing in mind is that other pupils will often do 2 essay based subjects, sometimes three. So their assessments will be similar in History, English, Sociology, Film Studies as they are in Politics.

As for the future and wanting to do Politics/IR at university, a lot of politics degrees will be mainly coursework essays and exam-assessed. The exams being essay questions but timed. There may be some more statistical analysis in more specialised courses, but this is likely to be in a third year or a masters than the majority of undergraduate programmes I should think.

Has she done the statistical part of her Maths A Level yet?
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LittleSkink
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#9
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#9
thanks folks -

the nub of the problem seems to that she will do what she considers an equally good job on each assignment, but then get very different marks. The teachers say that's normal and will get better - but this has knocked confidence and motivation. In Geography and Maths she is mostly spot on with assignments, and she considers that partly down to the questions having predictable structures and a right answer.

At GCSE she got 9s for stuff like English Lit, Geography, in my view (as a Uni academic) her knowledge/understanding is decent, her application is mostly decent and her critical thinking can be good - but I don't think A levels work like that, I believe the essay subjects expect you to play the game in a very particular way.

Also, I suspect an issue may be that gaining the higher marks, from the higher levels of thinking isn't as obvious in Politics. She has also got feedback from teachers that she doesn't express her own opinions very much, so tends to sit on the fence.
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04MR17
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#10
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#10
(Original post by LittleSkink)
thanks folks -

the nub of the problem seems to that she will do what she considers an equally good job on each assignment, but then get very different marks. The teachers say that's normal and will get better - but this has knocked confidence and motivation. In Geography and Maths she is mostly spot on with assignments, and she considers that partly down to the questions having predictable structures and a right answer.

At GCSE she got 9s for stuff like English Lit, Geography, in my view (as a Uni academic) her knowledge/understanding is decent, her application is mostly decent and her critical thinking can be good - but I don't think A levels work like that, I believe the essay subjects expect you to play the game in a very particular way.

Also, I suspect an issue may be that gaining the higher marks, from the higher levels of thinking isn't as obvious in Politics. She has also got feedback from teachers that she doesn't express her own opinions very much, so tends to sit on the fence.
Examiners reports are useful here. Looking at 2019 and earlier papers for the examiner's feedback may help work out the "knack" of the essay mark schemes. Schools cut corners at GCSE with formulaic structures to hit mark schemes. Because the A Level requires more depth, some of the GCSE style of writing needs to be un-done.
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