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A-Level Maths, Further maths, Physics, Computer science DECISIONS!!!!

I have just started sixth form and was hoping to do Maths, Further maths, Physics, and Computer science at A-level but due to clashes in the timetable I am only able to do 3 of these. However I still have a place at a different college which allows me to do all 4.

I did very well at GCSE (9's in maths, further maths and physics) but I am still unsure as to what I want to do in the future at university. Also I have aspirations to go to oxbridge or one of the top schools in the USA.

What should i do:
Go to the college where I can do all 4
or
Choose 3 of either maths furthermaths physics or computer (what ones)
(edited 1 year ago)

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hello, I think it really depends on how passionate you are about your college, because if you feel that you are very comfortable and will excel in your subjects there then it might be worth narrowing down to 3 or picking up an alternative subject (3 A*-As is better than 4 A-Bs!!), but if not it shouldn't be too late to change over so long as you have a place available!

in terms of having to choose between your preferred subject, I would DEFINITELY recommend that you don't give up on further maths!!! because both physics and computer science courses at more competitive unis will be expecting that you have this. I'm applying at the moment for a course hopefully involving computer science but I am slightly limited with only A-level maths and little compsci experience - this said, I have been told that universities are happy to accept people to study computer science without having studied it at alevel, but that they are looking more than anything for students with further maths. In this aspect, physics might also be a little bit of a stronger choice purely in terms of keeping your options as open as possible while remaining competitive!! in that you can probably study computer science at uni without having taken the alevel, but you definitely need alevel physics to be a viable applicant for physics or engineering.

also, if you are someone who wants to take 4 alevels anyway for the challenge and breadth but choose to stay at your current college, consider branching out of the stem a little to make your application stand out :smile: my friend is currently studying maths further maths physics and english lit, and loves all her subjects - she is currently applying for engineering after changing her mind from maths and philosophy. plus if you're interested in aerospace engineering I think gov agencies like nasa will likely be looking for proficiency in russian... so a language is always good
Taking FM will open up many more degree subjects and Universities to you if you are keen on a STEM career.

You don't need CS to do CS at Uni - you do need A level Maths, and for top Unis, also FM.
For Physics at Uni you need A level Physics, Maths, and again for top Unis, also FM.

So, you would still be okay with only 3 subjects - unless you are desperate to take CS as well, can cope with the extra workload and dont mind changing sixth form for college.
I disagree with you bella, on a couple of points:
I haven't seen a uni that requires Further Maths outside of for Maths courses, which Unis want F Maths for Comp Sci?
I don't agree that branching out to irrelevant subjects makes you stand out. Having studied MacBeth doesn't make you a better Computer Scientist and I can't see how you could spin it in an application.
I totally agree that:
Many universities don't require Computer Science
Universities will rather AAB than ABBB

To me, if you do Maths, FMaths and Physics you are basically doing 2 or 2.5 A levels of content. If you do FMaths with Mechanics and Decision you will have loads of cross coverage with Comp Sci and Physics. It's probably the only 4 A level combo that makes as much (or more) sense as 3 A levels. I would worry at a college that doesn't allow that combo.
Original post by Phys&Math_Ethan
I disagree with you bella, on a couple of points:
I haven't seen a uni that requires Further Maths outside of for Maths courses, which Unis want F Maths for Comp Sci?
I don't agree that branching out to irrelevant subjects makes you stand out. Having studied MacBeth doesn't make you a better Computer Scientist and I can't see how you could spin it in an application.
I totally agree that:
Many universities don't require Computer Science
Universities will rather AAB than ABBB

To me, if you do Maths, FMaths and Physics you are basically doing 2 or 2.5 A levels of content. If you do FMaths with Mechanics and Decision you will have loads of cross coverage with Comp Sci and Physics. It's probably the only 4 A level combo that makes as much (or more) sense as 3 A levels. I would worry at a college that doesn't allow that combo.




oxbridge absolutely does, to which op has said they are looking to apply - for a competitive application to those sorts of subjects you really need fm, according to every admissions officer/tutor/head of year I've asked. further maths also typically provides you with opportunities to take part in / excel at supercurricular activities related to stem and mathematics like the senior maths challenge or maths/physics/etc related essay competitions. I take maths without further and found that I just didn't have the time I would have liked to devote to things like the senior maths challenge, because I had to focus on my other subjects too, and because I didn't really have enough contact hours to cover the relevant concepts. it's definitely different imo.

and surely fmaths is not 0.5 alevels of content?!!! at least not in terms of lesson time, and not from a university perspective, especially if you're getting very high grades in all of your subjects (from what I understand... maybe I'm wrong here. ask a maths teacher ig??). I do agree with you though that maths, f maths, compsci and physics have lots of crossover, making for a very strong combination, and that it's pretty weird for a college not to offer them together.

in terms of taking an "irrelevant" subject as an alternative 4th to support maths fm and physics, I really don't agree - unless you have no interest at all in pursuing any unrelated subjects. for me as someone split between humanities and stem in general, taking alevels on either side kept my application competitive without narrowing down my options prematurely, plus the subjects absolutely do inform one another. studying macbeth might not make you a computer scientist, but studying french or russian might give you insight into the way a language is constructed so that you can approach coding with a better understanding of the syntax relevant to a coding language such as python or c++, which have their own 'grammar' to be followed - and proficiency with a modern language might always help with employability as well as giving you a different approach to your subject. in my case, the connection between my subjects (maths english music latin) ended up as a project on the mathematics behind pythagorean tuning and an interpretation of maths and music as partial scripts/languages, which made up a key part of my personal statement as well!!! my point isn't that it's something that would work for everyone, just that it might be worth considering as an idea on an individual basis before dismissing as completely pointless
(edited 1 year ago)
Looking at Oxford, neither Physics nor Comp Sci require F Maths (though they would like it, but the entrance test score would be decisive for interview and then interview performance is irrelevant of subject choice).
Obviously you have more time for Maths if you do double Maths!

If you do FM with Mechanics all the Mechanics concepts (including Maths as well as FMaths) are covered in Physics (and some of Core F Maths - the SHM stuff - is also on the Physics Spec). So that's 1/6 of Maths, and 1/4 of F Maths is in Physics, just short of 1/2 an A level.

I know of Physics admissions tutors who have been uninterested in students taking Chemistry, let alone something that has no crossover with Physics. Maths obviously works with anything because it's Maths, but an Engineer with English or a Historian with Chemistry is not going to make a positive difference to the application.
Original post by hscotchmer970
I have just started sixth form and was hoping to do Maths, Further maths, Physics, and Computer science at A-level but due to clashes in the timetable I am only able to do 3 of these. However I still have a place at a different college which allows me to do all 4.

I did very well at GCSE (9's in maths, further maths and physics) but I am still unsure as to what I want to do in the future at university. Also I have aspirations to go to oxbridge or one of the top schools in the USA.

What should i do:
Go to the college where I can do all 4
or
Choose 3 of either maths furthermaths physics or computer (what ones)

Heya!
What do you want to do in the future? If you want to do a STEM at the top unis then FM is recommended (espc Oxbridge) - they are very competitive courses and FM will give you an advantage. As well as this, FM adds to maths so it won't be too overwhelming unlike if you picked history for example :smile:
Physics or computer science depends on what you want to do in the future. If you can't decide then perhaps having both at the beginning would be better and then later you could drop one.

I hope this helps!
Milena G.
UCL PFE
Study Mind
Original post by Phys&Math_Ethan
Looking at Oxford, neither Physics nor Comp Sci require F Maths (though they would like it, but the entrance test score would be decisive for interview and then interview performance is irrelevant of subject choice).
Obviously you have more time for Maths if you do double Maths!

If you do FM with Mechanics all the Mechanics concepts (including Maths as well as FMaths) are covered in Physics (and some of Core F Maths - the SHM stuff - is also on the Physics Spec). So that's 1/6 of Maths, and 1/4 of F Maths is in Physics, just short of 1/2 an A level.

I know of Physics admissions tutors who have been uninterested in students taking Chemistry, let alone something that has no crossover with Physics. Maths obviously works with anything because it's Maths, but an Engineer with English or a Historian with Chemistry is not going to make a positive difference to the application.




I wouldn't want to study under those physics tutors then. It's very weird to me that students would be encouraged to narrow down their options and interests so severely purely based on making a perfectly streamlined application. An engineer with english and a historian with chemistry (some of my friends are doing exactly these combinations!) are likely to have research skills and subject specific knowledge which you would be unable to develop without engaging with both STEM and humanities simultaneously - as many education systems outside the UK demand that students do anyway. You don't have to have any interest in it yourself! and neither does the person who initially posted (I think you can tell pretty quickly on a personal level if it's something that you want to do or not), but to preach that it's a mistake because it doesn't adhere to university expectations feels close minded to me. it's 2 years of your life studying subjects that should excite you, there's no problem with branching out and there's every chance that making that choice will contribute to either your application or career at some point later.
Sure you should do things that you enjoy. Education is value of itself, so learning something different will be useful (being the only Physicist at uni who has had essay writing experience since GCSE will be an asset).
But A level #3 is all about the high grade to get into uni - if you are in the group of people where getting an A/A* is a given you can do whatever.
Most courses only care that you have [relevant subject] and high grades, some courses require [relevant subject 1 and relevant subject 2] and high grades. Admission tutors have better things to do with their time than care about your third subject (most of the time).
Original post by Phys&Math_Ethan
Sure you should do things that you enjoy. Education is value of itself, so learning something different will be useful (being the only Physicist at uni who has had essay writing experience since GCSE will be an asset).
But A level #3 is all about the high grade to get into uni - if you are in the group of people where getting an A/A* is a given you can do whatever.
Most courses only care that you have [relevant subject] and high grades, some courses require [relevant subject 1 and relevant subject 2] and high grades. Admission tutors have better things to do with their time than care about your third subject (most of the time).


Ah you may have misunderstood me. I suggested a non stem subject as a 4th not as a 3rd alevel, if they weren't able to do the intended combination of maths f maths physics cs because of their college timetabling - ie maths further maths physics and something different. I agree that for subjects like physics or compsci you would need high grades in 3 relevant subjects to keep your application centred and competitive!
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 10
Hi,I'm in Yr 13 and I do Maths, Physics and French. I'm applying to Oxford for Computer Science, even though the course doesn't require Further Maths or Computer Science. I would advise you to take Further Maths, Maths and Physics. Because Maths and Physics open so many career paths for you in the Engineering field since you're still not sure of what you want to do. All Russel group schools don't need you to take computer science at A level to go into a computer science degree. Taking Further Maths at A-level will make A-level maths easier and comprehensive for you. As a Yr13 I regret not taking Further Maths A-level, not only will it help you with that but also with the university entry exams such as the MAT for Oxford and the STEP for Cambridge and Imperial.If you would still like to take Computer Science, they're a bunch of free courses online, and adding that you're self taught to your personal statement would increase your chances of getting into your university choices. I'm currently doing a computer science Harvard Course online, let me know if you need any links to free CS courses.I'm also applying to Ivy League schools in the US and I know a bunch of people that have gotten in and taking further maths will help you sit your SATs (Scholastic Aptitude test). I could also go more into the difference between US schools and UK schools when it comes to applications. I hope this helps.
Original post by Phys&Math_Ethan
Looking at Oxford, neither Physics nor Comp Sci require F Maths


they can't require it because not every school offers it. they expect it if it is offered, though.
Original post by tekwe4
Hi,I'm in Yr 13 and I do Maths, Physics and French. I'm applying to Oxford for Computer Science, even though the course doesn't require Further Maths or Computer Science. I would advise you to take Further Maths, Maths and Physics. Because Maths and Physics open so many career paths for you in the Engineering field since you're still not sure of what you want to do. All Russel group schools don't need you to take computer science at A level to go into a computer science degree. Taking Further Maths at A-level will make A-level maths easier and comprehensive for you. As a Yr13 I regret not taking Further Maths A-level, not only will it help you with that but also with the university entry exams such as the MAT for Oxford and the STEP for Cambridge and Imperial.If you would still like to take Computer Science, they're a bunch of free courses online, and adding that you're self taught to your personal statement would increase your chances of getting into your university choices. I'm currently doing a computer science Harvard Course online, let me know if you need any links to free CS courses.I'm also applying to Ivy League schools in the US and I know a bunch of people that have gotten in and taking further maths will help you sit your SATs (Scholastic Aptitude test). I could also go more into the difference between US schools and UK schools when it comes to applications. I hope this helps.




good luck with your application!!! is there any chance you could send me some of those links even though I'm not the person you're answering haha? I'm doing the codecademy course for python 2 atm but it's the only good CS course I've found for free online so far.
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 13
Original post by bellasamocha
I'm doing the codecademy course for python 2 atm

yo idk if by "python 2 atm" you just mean like 'python too atm'; but if not - you do know that python2 is deprecated right? which means that if you're learning python rn with the goal of being able to make use of new technologies/libraries/etc (for which recent versions of python3 are usually only supported) by the end of it, then I think you should just save yourself the hassle of having to unlearn/relearn some of the syntax when that time comes and switch to a course on python3 (codecademy has a bunch on youtube)
Reply 14
I was in the exact same boat last year (now yr 13). i didnt have to drop a subject but the workload was way too much for me. i dropped cs because unis dont require it to do cs, physics opens up engineering and further maths is pretty much the standard for oxbridge
Reply 15
As someone who just finished their a levels in those subjects (maths, fm, physics & cs) and went through the oxbridge application process for computer science last year, I would say definitely take further maths as: (1) assuming you're applying to oxford, although im sure this applies to other admission tests as well, there will likely be certain topics on the MAT which you may have only just got around to learning in class (and hence won't be very confident in) if you were to only study maths - but then again, if you were to do well on the MAT then you're pretty much in no matter what; (2) as someone else said above me, the only reason it's not explicitly 'required' is because not every college offers it - but when it does it is probably expected that you take it (and even if it's not, you're making your application a hell of a lot less competitive by not taking it); (3) again as someone else said above, when you study it alongisde physics and cs, it really is like 'half' an a level, especially if you take mechanics and decision as your optionals - mechanics, other than just being **** easy anyway, you just learn in physics, and then decision is literally just cs; (4) by learning the contents of the course (whether that be actual fm or just maths a year early) you'll find it far easier to access more advanced topics in maths/cs/physics/etc (outside the curriculum), which could enable you to write an impressive personal statement or even start building up your portfolio/resume early (for example, I found that I was able to use what I'd learnt to understand the contents of some courses on AI which I did over y12 summer/start of y13 - which I was then able to: put on my personal statement, use (what I'd learnt from the courses) when creating my final project for computer science, and rn to understand the contents of more AI courses). Ultimately though, if studying further maths sounds daunting then, sorry to be blunt, applying to oxbridge probably isn't for you (especially for cs, as the course there is far more mathematical than that of other unis)
(edited 1 year ago)
ah yes I do know.... but the python 3 course costs money whereas python 2 is free and pretty comprehensive - plus there's lots of practice opportunities which is great as a beginner. my plan was to finish the course to get more familiar w the coding process in general and then move to the c++ one and probably invest a bit more in that so I'd have a more useful language under my belt haha.
Original post by hscotchmer970
I have just started sixth form and was hoping to do Maths, Further maths, Physics, and Computer science at A-level but due to clashes in the timetable I am only able to do 3 of these. However I still have a place at a different college which allows me to do all 4.

I did very well at GCSE (9's in maths, further maths and physics) but I am still unsure as to what I want to do in the future at university. Also I have aspirations to go to oxbridge or one of the top schools in the USA.

What should i do:
Go to the college where I can do all 4
or
Choose 3 of either maths furthermaths physics or computer (what ones)

Further maths or physics!
Reply 18
Original post by bellasamocha
ah yes I do know.... but the python 3 course costs money whereas python 2 is free and pretty comprehensive - plus there's lots of practice opportunities which is great as a beginner. my plan was to finish the course to get more familiar w the coding process in general and then move to the c++ one and probably invest a bit more in that so I'd have a more useful language under my belt haha.

ah right I guess that kinda makes sense. All I would say though is, I know for a fact that there's loads of great free resources which you can find on youtube, or literally just from searching up 'learn python', for beginners (and intermediate/advanced) in python3 - which may not hold your hand as much as something like codecadamy would (which personally I think will actually enable you to experiment more, and as a result learn faster), but atleast you won't be knowingly learning a version which doesn't even really allow you to directly reap the benefits of python's massive ecosystem. This will also mean you'll reach your goal of getting "a more useful language" under your belt, as the breadth of the things which you can do with python (by making use of it's ecosystem) is mad. In terms of getting "more familiar with the coding process" and then moving on to c++, I think that definitely is a good idea as unfortunately python's simplicity is also its downfall (lots of the key ideas around oop and memory/process management you won't even encounter), but then again it does kinda depend on what you're wanting to do after you've learnt to code as lots of the popular avenues don't even require that sort of knowledge. Ultimately though I would just say don't get so caught up in trying to learn what you think is a 'useful language' that you neglect actually using what you've learnt to make projects, as thats where you'll truly gain experience. I'd be happy to help if you need any guidance in finding good resources for learning to code/cs in general :smile:
A-Levels are no joke but it makes it slightly easier when you are studying subjects that you actually enjoy. You need to be motivated and somewhat enthusiastic about what you are learning otherwise you may not put in a 100%.

Your A-Levels grades will be YOURS only so follow your gut and do what YOU think is best for you. Talk to your family, teachers and do more research in order to gain a better insight. Wishing you all the best and good luck!

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