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A Level Physics or Further Maths?

Hi everyone,
So I’m choosing my A Level subjects in the next month or so and am looking into going into a career in STEM or medicine , I’m definitely going to take Chemistry, Biology, and Maths but I don’t know whether to take further maths or physics as a fourth?
I hope to get 8s and 9s in sciences and maths but was wondering how hard (and enjoyable!) physics and further maths is and whether doing four totally separate A Levels would take over my life (as opposed to having maths and further maths which is obviously the same subject!)?
Any advice would be appreciated!!! Thanks 😁
Original post by Tedious_Cat
Hi everyone,
So I’m choosing my A Level subjects in the next month or so and am looking into going into a career in STEM or medicine , I’m definitely going to take Chemistry, Biology, and Maths but I don’t know whether to take further maths or physics as a fourth?
I hope to get 8s and 9s in sciences and maths but was wondering how hard (and enjoyable!) physics and further maths is and whether doing four totally separate A Levels would take over my life (as opposed to having maths and further maths which is obviously the same subject!)?
Any advice would be appreciated!!! Thanks 😁


If you really want to do a 4th A level physics would be the better option. It opens up doors to engineering, astro and well physics itself. Further maths is good if you want to pursue maths or CS. If you are also considering med, having A level physics will definitely aid you in your learning. In particular in the mechanics portion of maths. It would be useful (not a must) to have all 3 sciences and maths in the bag for when you prepare for the medical school entrance test (BMAT). Don’t worry about studying for four separate a levels. Many people at my school actually took this combination and found that many of the concepts between these different subjects intertwine and allow for easier understanding. Hope this helps!
Original post by Tedious_Cat
Hi everyone,
So I’m choosing my A Level subjects in the next month or so and am looking into going into a career in STEM or medicine , I’m definitely going to take Chemistry, Biology, and Maths but I don’t know whether to take further maths or physics as a fourth?
I hope to get 8s and 9s in sciences and maths but was wondering how hard (and enjoyable!) physics and further maths is and whether doing four totally separate A Levels would take over my life (as opposed to having maths and further maths which is obviously the same subject!)?
Any advice would be appreciated!!! Thanks 😁

Can you define STEM more precisely? Would you want to have options to go into various areas of engineering or physics? Would you be interested in a maths degree from a top end uni?
In the ideal scenario, you can do 3 sciences + 2 maths and meet the subject requirements for any degree in STEM. However, that's not usually possible. Should you do 3 sciences + math, you should be eligible for pretty much most of STEM, barring some picky maths and physics degrees.

FM and maths, contrary to your opinion are not really the same subject. FM is generally considered more difficult and builds on the foundational knowledge you get from maths. They are considered similar subjects for degrees where they are looking for well rounded candidates i.e. candidates with 3 very different A Level subjects. To do FM well, you need to be really good at maths and have a brain for it (or at least a lot of practice).

I am currently in the process of doing physics, so I can't give you a personal account. However, it's also said not to be particularly easy.

If necessary, you do have the option to do extra A Levels during your gap year - should this be the case, I recommend doing FM during your gap year as opposed to physics.
(edited 8 months ago)
Reply 3
Original post by MindMax2000
Can you define STEM more precisely? Would you want to have options to go into various areas of engineering or physics? Would you be interested in a maths degree from a top end uni?
In the ideal scenario, you can do 3 sciences + 2 maths and meet the subject requirements for any degree in STEM. However, that's not usually possible. Should you do 3 sciences + math, you should be eligible for pretty much most of STEM, barring some picky maths and physics degrees.

FM and maths, contrary to your opinion are not really the same subject. FM is generally considered more difficult and builds on the foundational knowledge you get from maths. They are considered similar subjects for degrees where they are looking for well rounded candidates i.e. candidates with 3 very different A Level subjects. To do FM well, you need to be really good at maths and have a brain for it (or at least a lot of practice).

I am currently in the process of doing physics, so I can't give you a personal account. However, it's also said not to be particularly easy.

If necessary, you do have the option to do extra A Levels during your gap year - should this be the case, I recommend doing FM during your gap year as opposed to physics.


Thanks so much for your reply!
If I were to continue to a more purely science based career I would focus more on biochemistry, but I think I’m leaning more towards medicine at the moment.
Can I ask how you’re finding physics? And are your other a levels sciences too? 😊
Reply 4
Original post by Tulipbloom
If you really want to do a 4th A level physics would be the better option. It opens up doors to engineering, astro and well physics itself. Further maths is good if you want to pursue maths or CS. If you are also considering med, having A level physics will definitely aid you in your learning. In particular in the mechanics portion of maths. It would be useful (not a must) to have all 3 sciences and maths in the bag for when you prepare for the medical school entrance test (BMAT). Don’t worry about studying for four separate a levels. Many people at my school actually took this combination and found that many of the concepts between these different subjects intertwine and allow for easier understanding. Hope this helps!

Thank you! That’s good to hear you know people taking this combination as I don’t think I know anyone considering taking 4 A Levels, as teachers don’t tend to recommend it at my local colleges 😁
Original post by Tedious_Cat
Thanks so much for your reply!
If I were to continue to a more purely science based career I would focus more on biochemistry, but I think I’m leaning more towards medicine at the moment.
Can I ask how you’re finding physics? And are your other a levels sciences too? 😊


Then you're more than OK with your current subjects; whether you do FM or physics is irrelevant so long you get the grades. The essential A Levels for biochem degrees is biology and chemistry (no surprise!); everything else is optional.

I haven't started the A Level in physics yet, but according to a number of people it's somewhat difficult (although my friends found it OK),
FM is definitely more difficult though, and I am currently reading up on it - whether I do the exams is something further down the line.

I didn't do the conventional A Levels for sciences, but they were fine. I did A Level maths privately though, which was quite an eye opener.
Reply 6
Original post by MindMax2000
Then you're more than OK with your current subjects; whether you do FM or physics is irrelevant so long you get the grades. The essential A Levels for biochem degrees is biology and chemistry (no surprise!); everything else is optional.

I haven't started the A Level in physics yet, but according to a number of people it's somewhat difficult (although my friends found it OK),
FM is definitely more difficult though, and I am currently reading up on it - whether I do the exams is something further down the line.

I didn't do the conventional A Levels for sciences, but they were fine. I did A Level maths privately though, which was quite an eye opener.

Thanks again, this was really helpful! Good luck with your physics, and FM if you decide to do the exams :smile:
Original post by Tedious_Cat
Hi everyone,
So I’m choosing my A Level subjects in the next month or so and am looking into going into a career in STEM or medicine , I’m definitely going to take Chemistry, Biology, and Maths but I don’t know whether to take further maths or physics as a fourth?
I hope to get 8s and 9s in sciences and maths but was wondering how hard (and enjoyable!) physics and further maths is and whether doing four totally separate A Levels would take over my life (as opposed to having maths and further maths which is obviously the same subject!)?
Any advice would be appreciated!!! Thanks 😁

Which of the 2 do you like best and think you will get the best grade in?
Reply 8
If you like the maths then further will be a far more enjoyable option. I really like physics but the a-level continuously rolls it up into monotonous glue paste and forces you to chew until it has hardened and incapacitated your will for the education system.
Reply 9
Original post by Tedious_Cat
Hi everyone,
So I’m choosing my A Level subjects in the next month or so and am looking into going into a career in STEM or medicine , I’m definitely going to take Chemistry, Biology, and Maths but I don’t know whether to take further maths or physics as a fourth?
I hope to get 8s and 9s in sciences and maths but was wondering how hard (and enjoyable!) physics and further maths is and whether doing four totally separate A Levels would take over my life (as opposed to having maths and further maths which is obviously the same subject!)?
Any advice would be appreciated!!! Thanks 😁

Further maths ix extremely challenging but if you enjoy maths and willing to put in the effort then you can find it enjoyable. I recommend you checking on uni websites whether you need to do it or not as it requires a lot of effort.

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