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I don't know what to pick for my A-Levels

First of all, my predicted grades are:
Maths: 9
Biology: 9
Chemistry: 9
Physics: 9
English Language: 9
English Literature: 8
RE: 8
History: 8
Computer Science: 9
French: 9

And I already did my GCSE Further Maths and got an 8 on it.

Currently, I don't know what to pick at all. Like completely.

So what I already can determine is that I definetely am going to Maths and Further Maths for A-Level.

But I don't know if I should pick Biology and Chemistry or Computer Science and Psychology.

I do not wanna do a literacy based A-Level.

And I don't know what I want to do. The deadlines are all coming up, and I don't know any good sixth forms around where I live - Tower Hamlets.

Please send help.
(edited 2 months ago)
Reply 1
Original post by atsuko_
First of all, my predicted grades are:
Maths: 9
Biology: 9
Chemistry: 9
Physics: 9
English Language: 9
English Literature: 8
RE: 8
History: 8
Computer Science: 9
French: 9

And I already did my GCSE Further Maths and got an 8 on it.

Currently, I don't know what to pick at all. Like completely.

So what I already can determine is that I definetely am going to Maths and Further Maths for A-Level.

But I don't know if I should pick Biology and Chemistry or Computer Science and Psychology.

I do not wanna do a literacy based A-Level.

And I don't know what I want to do. The deadlines are all coming up, and I don't know any good sixth forms around where I live - Tower Hamlets.

Please send help.

Hi, so firstly- your grades are amazing, so your options are open to literally any course, so there's no need to panic.
Also, having Maths is a great A Level, and automatically puts you in a good light, so having a Science is not really necessary.
I've based my options around what career I'm interested in, but alot of students like to pick courses they expect to enjoy and learn for the first time. So Psychology is a great subject take (only WARNING- there is quite a bit of essays involved, imo i would class it as a literacy based exam). Your CS grade is amazing- so you can defo go forward with that, and it makes quite a nice mix.
My best advice for you rn is to speak to a Head of Year or Careers adviser, and center your Alevels around your career choice. This isnt a requirement though!
For the sixth form sitch- I'd advise you to begin looking into commuting to a different area (IF the area lacks ANY good sixth forms).
Reply 2
Original post by shiftycatz
Hi, so firstly- your grades are amazing, so your options are open to literally any course, so there's no need to panic.
Also, having Maths is a great A Level, and automatically puts you in a good light, so having a Science is not really necessary.
I've based my options around what career I'm interested in, but alot of students like to pick courses they expect to enjoy and learn for the first time. So Psychology is a great subject take (only WARNING- there is quite a bit of essays involved, imo i would class it as a literacy based exam). Your CS grade is amazing- so you can defo go forward with that, and it makes quite a nice mix.
My best advice for you rn is to speak to a Head of Year or Careers adviser, and center your Alevels around your career choice. This isnt a requirement though!
For the sixth form sitch- I'd advise you to begin looking into commuting to a different area (IF the area lacks ANY good sixth forms).

I feel like I might burn out one way or another, but I am trying. Erm, in the future, I want to do either coding or medicine and I don't which to do. I like them both, and it's hard to choose.

That's why I feel like I should switch Psychology to Physics. But, I don't like really like either subject.

For sixth form, I guess I am feeling stressed since I haven't been able to apply because of mocks so I feel like most applications have ended. Now, I am stuck you could say.
(edited 2 months ago)
Reply 3
πŸ‘‹ Hey there, I'm taking Computer Science as one of my A-levels. Thinking CS is just coding is a common misconception so I wanted to share an honest overview of my course.

I have 4 papers and only the last one is a coding exam (2h30m on a laptop); the other three are more theory based. I've just taken a look at my textbook, and only 4 out of 20 chapters are programming. Also as I do CIE so I don't have coursework, but from what I've heard, that's more of an EPQ style project than just coding.

LMK if you have any further questions or need me to clarify anything πŸ™‚
Reply 4
Original post by atsuko_
First of all, my predicted grades are:
Maths: 9
Biology: 9
Chemistry: 9
Physics: 9
English Language: 9
English Literature: 8
RE: 8
History: 8
Computer Science: 9
French: 9

And I already did my GCSE Further Maths and got an 8 on it.

Currently, I don't know what to pick at all. Like completely.

So what I already can determine is that I definetely am going to Maths and Further Maths for A-Level.

But I don't know if I should pick Biology and Chemistry or Computer Science and Psychology.

I do not wanna do a literacy based A-Level.

And I don't know what I want to do. The deadlines are all coming up, and I don't know any good sixth forms around where I live - Tower Hamlets.

Please send help.

my friend also lives in tower hamlets and she studies at brampton manor college so it's defo worth looking at! (note: not the academy because that's private)
Reply 5
Original post by zaykenyon
πŸ‘‹ Hey there, I'm taking Computer Science as one of my A-levels. Thinking CS is just coding is a common misconception so I wanted to share an honest overview of my course.

I have 4 papers and only the last one is a coding exam (2h30m on a laptop); the other three are more theory based. I've just taken a look at my textbook, and only 4 out of 20 chapters are programming. Also as I do CIE so I don't have coursework, but from what I've heard, that's more of an EPQ style project than just coding.

LMK if you have any further questions or need me to clarify anything πŸ™‚

Can you please give me like a brief overview of the papers?

My CS teacher highly recommended me to do it, plus I do like coding, but I guess I just had a surface-level knowledge of it.
Reply 6
Original post by atsuko_
Can you please give me like a brief overview of the papers?

My CS teacher highly recommended me to do it, plus I do like coding, but I guess I just had a surface-level knowledge of it.

Sure thing, liking coding is a good thing too! Sorry if I sounded dismissive.

Papers 1 & 2 are the AS level. These are both written. Any coding is done in the form of describing a program or drawing a flowchart. Personally, I found the content here nearly indistinguishable from my CS CIE IGCSE.

I will summarise the chapters in those papers too, and you can read the syllabus for more information:

β€’

CH1 Information Representation and multimedia - manipulating binary and file compression types

β€’

CH2 Communication - rough idea of how the internet works

β€’

CH3 Hardware - a repeat of GCSE logic gates

β€’

CH4 Processor Fundamentals - Von Neumann (RIP) architecture and more complex Assembly

β€’

CH5 System software - what OS' actually do and how scripts are ran

β€’

CH6 Security, privacy, and data integrity - GCSE encryption

β€’

CH7 Ethics and ownership - "How code impacts people, also AI exists i guess"

β€’

CH8 Databases - Office worker training simulator

β€’

CH9 Algorithm design and problem solving - you are examined on methods of writing programmes.

β€’

CH10 Data types and structures - constructing paradigms in code, you are usually asked to fill in the blanks for these.

β€’

CH11 Programming - "declaring an assigning values to variables and constants", "using constructs including IF and CASE", "different types of loops". This is examined through written pseudocode.

β€’

CH12 Software development - this is not coding, it's very meta about how software is created and maintained during use.

Reply 7
Original post by atsuko_
Can you please give me like a brief overview of the papers?

My CS teacher highly recommended me to do it, plus I do like coding, but I guess I just had a surface-level knowledge of it.

Pt. 2 since TSR cut me off,

Papers 3&4 are A-level. Paper 3 examines A-level theory whilst paper 4 is that aforementioned coding paper. Please excuse my laziness and accept a screenshot of my textbook's contents page.

https://imgur.com/a/JNTUMf4

My teacher refers to papers 1&3 as theory and papers 2&4 as coding so that's one way to look at it.
You can refer to this for more reference: CAIE 9618 Past Papers
Original post by zaykenyon
Sure thing, liking coding is a good thing too! Sorry if I sounded dismissive.

Papers 1 & 2 are the AS level. These are both written. Any coding is done in the form of describing a program or drawing a flowchart. Personally, I found the content here nearly indistinguishable from my CS CIE IGCSE.

I will summarise the chapters in those papers too, and you can read the syllabus for more information:

β€’

CH1 Information Representation and multimedia - manipulating binary and file compression types

β€’

CH2 Communication - rough idea of how the internet works

β€’

CH3 Hardware - a repeat of GCSE logic gates

β€’

CH4 Processor Fundamentals - Von Neumann (RIP) architecture and more complex Assembly

β€’

CH5 System software - what OS' actually do and how scripts are ran

β€’

CH6 Security, privacy, and data integrity - GCSE encryption

β€’

CH7 Ethics and ownership - "How code impacts people, also AI exists i guess"

β€’

CH8 Databases - Office worker training simulator

β€’

CH9 Algorithm design and problem solving - you are examined on methods of writing programmes.

β€’

CH10 Data types and structures - constructing paradigms in code, you are usually asked to fill in the blanks for these.

β€’

CH11 Programming - "declaring an assigning values to variables and constants", "using constructs including IF and CASE", "different types of loops". This is examined through written pseudocode.

β€’

CH12 Software development - this is not coding, it's very meta about how software is created and maintained during use.


out of 10 how difficult would you rate the course
Original post by Iluvgcc_aspxxx
out of 10 how difficult would you rate the course

Personally, I have found it mostly easy with only a few harder concepts, so around a 3/10; though please don't take my experience as a sole representation for the difficulty of the course. My class only has five people so this isn't the best sample size, but those who didn't take the GCSE variant are struggling significantly more.

A reason why my friend and I find the course so much easier is probably because we are so enthusiastic about the subject. We program and apply what we learn as real-world practice beyond just the homework and there have been so many occasions where we have learnt a concept that later came up in the book just because we stumbled our way into it during our free time.

I know people say that the first year covers all of the GCSE spec, but I still believe that those who did not take the GCSE will be at an incredible disadvantage.
Original post by atsuko_
First of all, my predicted grades are:
Maths: 9
Biology: 9
Chemistry: 9
Physics: 9
English Language: 9
English Literature: 8
RE: 8
History: 8
Computer Science: 9
French: 9

And I already did my GCSE Further Maths and got an 8 on it.

Currently, I don't know what to pick at all. Like completely.

So what I already can determine is that I definetely am going to Maths and Further Maths for A-Level.

But I don't know if I should pick Biology and Chemistry or Computer Science and Psychology.

I do not wanna do a literacy based A-Level.

And I don't know what I want to do. The deadlines are all coming up, and I don't know any good sixth forms around where I live - Tower Hamlets.

Please send help.

Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Psychology would keep your options open, but if you want to do Medicine, then take Biology instead of Psychology. Your grades are good enough for Brampton Manor, LAE, Newham Collegiate, Harris Westminster and even Ilford County Grammar, Westcliff Boys Grammar and King Edward's Grammar in Chelmsford. πŸ™‚
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by zaykenyon
Personally, I have found it mostly easy with only a few harder concepts, so around a 3/10; though please don't take my experience as a sole representation for the difficulty of the course. My class only has five people so this isn't the best sample size, but those who didn't take the GCSE variant are struggling significantly more.

A reason why my friend and I find the course so much easier is probably because we are so enthusiastic about the subject. We program and apply what we learn as real-world practice beyond just the homework and there have been so many occasions where we have learnt a concept that later came up in the book just because we stumbled our way into it during our free time.

I know people say that the first year covers all of the GCSE spec, but I still believe that those who did not take the GCSE will be at an incredible disadvantage.

Thanks so much, I do take the GCSE but I'm not doing as well but I'm currently using sololearn to revise, if you don't mind can you recommend me any tips to revise?
I genuinely find computer science fascinating I'm just not that good at coding but I'm trying to learn slowly by slowly.
Original post by Iluvgcc_aspxxx
Thanks so much, I do take the GCSE but I'm not doing as well but I'm currently using sololearn to revise, if you don't mind can you recommend me any tips to revise?
I genuinely find computer science fascinating I'm just not that good at coding but I'm trying to learn slowly by slowly.

πŸ‘‹ Hi! I'm glad to hear that you find the subject fascinating; and sorry if I come off sounding dismissive with this, but I hope you also realise that it's incredibly impressive to ask for help. I'm going to split my reply into two parts, theory (textbook work) and practical (coding).

Firstly, I would recommend talking with your CS teacher since they will know you best. You could ask them what topics they think you should focus on, if there are any CS-specific revision practices that they recommend, and for other general notes about you that I hope they've been creating, or thinking, over the past two years. I would also suggest asking those doing well in the class how they are learning/revising the material, it wouldn't be bad to expose yourself to different revision techniques. If you are asking for how I revised, my board has these revision books (https://i.imgur.com/RkdfttI.png) (there is a great enough overlap between boards where you can learn from any one) that can be mighty useful; I would take a topic that I wasn't confident in and work my way through that chapter doing each question. I learnt from the one labelled "OLD" in the linked picture but unfortunately your "NEW" book comes with so much new content I'm not sure whether I can recommend my copy.

Secondly, I had never heard of Sololearn before so I did some research; and if this learning is in respect to your GCSE, and if your coding-spec is the same as mine was, then honestly I think it is a little over the top. My memory is a little foggy, but the only code I needed to write, excluding pseudocode, was Python for a pre-released document. Because it's a pre-release we had time in class to work on our solutions so I am sure that your teacher would give you a hand when designing/implementing code. You may even be able to find inspiration from other solutions online. Take a look at what specifically the papers are asking you to do, because I think all you're required to do is write down an abstraction of what the original pre-released spec needed to do. In other words, you don't need to learn the entire solution line by line, just how to roughly implement the core components β€” you don't need to get a coding question completely correct to earn marks.

As always, let me know if you have any further questions. Keep up the good work 😊.
Original post by zaykenyon
πŸ‘‹ Hi! I'm glad to hear that you find the subject fascinating; and sorry if I come off sounding dismissive with this, but I hope you also realise that it's incredibly impressive to ask for help. I'm going to split my reply into two parts, theory (textbook work) and practical (coding).

Firstly, I would recommend talking with your CS teacher since they will know you best. You could ask them what topics they think you should focus on, if there are any CS-specific revision practices that they recommend, and for other general notes about you that I hope they've been creating, or thinking, over the past two years. I would also suggest asking those doing well in the class how they are learning/revising the material, it wouldn't be bad to expose yourself to different revision techniques. If you are asking for how I revised, my board has these revision books (https://i.imgur.com/RkdfttI.png) (there is a great enough overlap between boards where you can learn from any one) that can be mighty useful; I would take a topic that I wasn't confident in and work my way through that chapter doing each question. I learnt from the one labelled "OLD" in the linked picture but unfortunately your "NEW" book comes with so much new content I'm not sure whether I can recommend my copy.

Secondly, I had never heard of Sololearn before so I did some research; and if this learning is in respect to your GCSE, and if your coding-spec is the same as mine was, then honestly I think it is a little over the top. My memory is a little foggy, but the only code I needed to write, excluding pseudocode, was Python for a pre-released document. Because it's a pre-release we had time in class to work on our solutions so I am sure that your teacher would give you a hand when designing/implementing code. You may even be able to find inspiration from other solutions online. Take a look at what specifically the papers are asking you to do, because I think all you're required to do is write down an abstraction of what the original pre-released spec needed to do. In other words, you don't need to learn the entire solution line by line, just how to roughly implement the core components β€” you don't need to get a coding question completely correct to earn marks.

As always, let me know if you have any further questions. Keep up the good work 😊.

😊 Yes I was thinking the same thing, I really need to ask my CS teacher because I have an NEA where I need to be able to code a music guessing game on python and we learned a bit of basics in ks3 but I definitely need to develop my knowledge in programming for my studies and for hobby purposes as even though most people in my class are on the same level as me I really aspire to study CS beyond GCSEs so therefore I'm hoping to be one of the top of my class.

I strongly agree that I need to look at past papers and exam questions on what they're specifically asking me to focus on. And I generally think i should try to focus on the GCSE content for now before I move on to A-level which I'm guessing has similar content? But thanks for all the advice and tips I'll definitely try all of them πŸ€—
Original post by atsuko_
First of all, my predicted grades are:
Maths: 9
Biology: 9
Chemistry: 9
Physics: 9
English Language: 9
English Literature: 8
RE: 8
History: 8
Computer Science: 9
French: 9

And I already did my GCSE Further Maths and got an 8 on it.

Currently, I don't know what to pick at all. Like completely.

So what I already can determine is that I definetely am going to Maths and Further Maths for A-Level.

But I don't know if I should pick Biology and Chemistry or Computer Science and Psychology.

I do not wanna do a literacy based A-Level.

And I don't know what I want to do. The deadlines are all coming up, and I don't know any good sixth forms around where I live - Tower Hamlets.

Please send help.

Seems like you're interested in some sort of STEM area, correct me if I'm wrong. Here is my stance on Bio, Chem, Maths, Further Maths - which I take.

This combo is definitely manageable - I had my December mocks back and got 75% Biology, 60% Chem, 81% Further Maths and I'm waiting for Maths although I'm confident I will have done well in it. Chem I got highest in the class by 20%, so Chem is a hard subject (one I still need to work on nevertheless) but for a STEM subject those grades are good - not to sound cocky but jut so you understand with the context of grade boundaries. I want to do Medicine, but when choosing my subjects I was between Med and STEM/Maths in general. Chemistry and Further Maths are my trickiest A Levels (and they're also known as the top two hardest A Levels to do), although that of course is subjective to if you really struggle in a subject. Biology and Chemistry tie nicely together, Maths and FM of course tie nicely together too. So all of the choices kind of connect. Biology is most content heavy, whilst Chemistry is hard but interesting because it mixes a lot of maths but you need to understand the theory and how molecules react with each other. This combo is ideal if you're thinking of anything Bio/Chem, Maths, Engineering and even Computer Science which I know is one of your options, because they like Maths and Further Maths.

Computer science I took for GCSE, and so if you enjoy it and think you'll go into more of a computing/maths/engineering side it may be better. Although in my exam board a lot of the content for A Level seemed to be similar to GCSE, not sure if that applies for the English exam boards though. Psychology my friend takes, it is another content heavy one, not as much as biology BUT a lot more essays. That could balance out your workload along with Maths and FM, but it can be considered a 'soft subject'. That doesn't neccessarily mean you shouldn't do it as it is still challenging, but bear in mind if you want to apply for a STEM subject other than Med/Biology sort of area it may not be as useful as say Physics or Computer Science.

Ultimately it depends on what you're interested in.

After writing all of this I read that you thought either Medicine or Coding - with that I'd say take my combo. Maths and Further Maths cover Computing, Bio, Chem, Maths cover Medicine. Also contact the sixth forms and ask if you can change by September if needed?

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