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A Levels on Gap Year? watch

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    I didn't get into a university I want to go to this year, despite being predicted 3 As, and so I am taking a gap year before applying to study English.

    Now that I have a year to make myself a better applicant, I've been considering more A levels. I have already done English, Psychology and Sociology, and really regret not taking History and Classical Civilisation instead of Sociology, and so I have thought about taking an intensive A level this year.

    The problem is, I can't decide which subject I would rather study. Classical Civilisation seems interesting and very relevant to English, as it looks at classical pieces of literature, but when I look at the History syllabus, I realise I would love to be armed with that kind of knowledge for the rest of my life. The thought of another year as stressful as the last two is rather depressing, but would it be wise to take both a History A level and a Classical Civilisation A level in one year?

    Also, when considering English applicants, which subject do you think universities would respect most?

    Has anyone been in a similar situation, or know anything about this?
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    Its not really going to be a gap year then is it You could do both fairly easily in one year I think, but it probably would feel a bit too much like school.
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    Have you considered a modern foreign language?
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    I would personally choose Classics since it's much more literature-orientated and it would benefit you as a literature student to be aware of some of the great non-English works. Having said that I wouldn't think of it as an issue if you took History as it's such a solid respected A Level that admissions tutors will love. Both are respected and it would be great if you could do the two.

    I have a friend who kind of did what you did, she will finish this year with 4 A Levels and 3 AS Levels, and has an offer to study English (the usual offer is AAA but she had an offer of just one A as she already had two As before her 'gap' year).

    2 full A Levels in one year will be pretty hard going. You will be doing more work than what you were doing last year (you will be doing less subjects, but they will be at double the intensity) so it will be up to you whether you think you can handle the work load. I'd start reading the set texts now if you're thinking of Classics.
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    Classical civilisation used to be a good choice but it now seems to be about studying the texts in translation which is a shame.

    I would agree with whoever said a language would be a good idea, though I don't know whether you have any languages GCSEs.

    If you don't have GCSE Latin then this course is really worth considering. It's designed for home study and has had excellent reviews.

    If you didn't feel confident about doing a language A-level then I'd say take GCSE Latin and A-level history / classical civilisation.
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    (Original post by IndiePixie)
    Classical civilisation used to be a good choice but it now seems to be about studying the texts in translation which is a shame.

    I would agree with whoever said a language would be a good idea, though I don't know whether you have any languages GCSEs.

    If you don't have GCSE Latin then this course is really worth considering. It's designed for home study and has had excellent reviews.

    If you didn't feel confident about doing a language A-level then I'd say take GCSE Latin and A-level history / classical civilisation.
    Well I don't have any language GCSEs, but I am also considering a GCSE in French. I know it's very closely linked to the study of Classical Civilisation, but I'm not sure I'd really like to learn Latin.
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    As someone said, I would have a huge workload trying to keep up with all of this, but I can't seem to make a compromise and just pick one.

    One idea I have come up with is preparing for both subjects at AS level for January exams, and then making a choice of only one subject to carry on with to A2 for the June exams. More plausible? Is it actually realistic to expect to cover the whole of AS by January?

    Also, the only home learning schemes I have looked at are stupidly expensive. Is it possible just to buy the text books and teach myself? I know I could have succeeded by doing that in some of the A levels I have already done.

    Lastly, I kind of gave up the idea of applying to Cambridge when I realised I was on for AAB at the end of my A levels, but if doing more A levels would mean one or two more A grades, do you think I would stand a chance?
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    (Original post by jannike)
    As someone said, I would have a huge workload trying to keep up with all of this, but I can't seem to make a compromise and just pick one.

    One idea I have come up with is preparing for both subjects at AS level for January exams, and then making a choice of only one subject to carry on with to A2 for the June exams. More plausible? Is it actually realistic to expect to cover the whole of AS by January?

    Also, the only home learning schemes I have looked at are stupidly expensive. Is it possible just to buy the text books and teach myself? I know I could have succeeded by doing that in some of the A levels I have already done.

    Lastly, I kind of gave up the idea of applying to Cambridge when I realised I was on for AAB at the end of my A levels, but if doing more A levels would mean one or two more A grades, do you think I would stand a chance?
    Taking two AS levels in January and then one to A2 level is reasonable, but for arts / humanities subjects this is quite a lot of work given that it is supposed to be a gap year rather than a third year of sixth form. I'd be tempted to stick with one and try and do something interesting with the rest of my time (& something that also looks great on a PS ).

    I think it is definitely possible to self-teach A-levels. I have friends who have done it for a range of subjects (including history, biology and maths). There is so much information available online and resources such as TSR can keep you in touch with what taught students are doing. It would take a degree of self-discipline and determination though and could be quite isolating.

    I wouldn't give up on Cambridge if it is what you really want. However, the way part one of the tripos is structured you need the aptitude to learn a language or build on existing knowledge of another language. There is an alternative to the language paper but I have heard it said that many tutors are sniffy about people with a poor language background and this might work against you in the admissions process. For that reason, if I were you, I'd spend a year getting an A-level in French or Spanish (both are quite easy to pick up) and I think this would give far greater weight to your application than history or class civ.
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    (Original post by IndiePixie)
    Taking two AS levels in January and then one to A2 level is reasonable, but for arts / humanities subjects this is quite a lot of work given that it is supposed to be a gap year rather than a third year of sixth form. I'd be tempted to stick with one and try and do something interesting with the rest of my time (& something that also looks great on a PS ).

    I think it is definitely possible to self-teach A-levels. I have friends who have done it for a range of subjects (including history, biology and maths). There is so much information available online and resources such as TSR can keep you in touch with what taught students are doing. It would take a degree of self-discipline and determination though and could be quite isolating.

    I wouldn't give up on Cambridge if it is what you really want. However, the way part one of the tripos is structured you need the aptitude to learn a language or build on existing knowledge of another language. There is an alternative to the language paper but I have heard it said that many tutors are sniffy about people with a poor language background and this might work against you in the admissions process. For that reason, if I were you, I'd spend a year getting an A-level in French or Spanish (both are quite easy to pick up) and I think this would give far greater weight to your application than history or class civ.
    Thanks for your reply. I think I will probably stick with just one A level in the coming year and go for History, but I am finding it almost impossible to get any information on how to do it. I can't really go back to sixth form part-time because obviously they only do A levels over two years, and with the home-learning courses it seems an awful lot of money for very little, so I'm wondering whether I really should just go out and get the text books and then ask the sixth form to enter me into the exams nearer the time- a bit risky though. I never realised how difficult it is to gain qualifications when you're on your own, and not part of an institution.

    Other people have suggested another language too, and I'm seriously considering a GCSE in French. I might try and find an evening class to help me learn, and then sort out sitting the exam nearer the end of the year. And yes, I suppose the heavy workload I'll have will kind of defy the point of a 'gap year', and the prospect of yet another A level is a bit depressing to be honest, but I do need to work hard if I want to end up going somewhere I can feel proud of. I'm also doing some extra-curricular stuff like a creative writing course, finishing my first novel, I've written for a local paper, and I might be joining a magazine as a volunteer soon.

    I'm still considering Cambridge, but it does look scary as hell to apply to. I'm intelligent, but I don't know if I'm built for the pressure like a lot of other people are; I'd probably just crumble with fear at an interview. Pretty intimidating
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    (Original post by jannike)
    I'm still considering Cambridge, but it does look scary as hell to apply to. I'm intelligent, but I don't know if I'm built for the pressure like a lot of other people are; I'd probably just crumble with fear at an interview. Pretty intimidating
    I'd honestly say give it a go. The interviews aren't actually that scary and most colleges make an effort to be open and accessible to prospective applicants. The worst that can happen is that you don't get an offer but at least you will have tried rather than always wondering...

    As for A-level history, it would take some self-organisation. The exam board website should have lots of info though including syllabus, teacher's guide, and past papers. You could even think about getting a tutor and say meeting once or twice a month just to keep you on track and give you feedback on essays. It would still be far cheaper than doing a distance learning course.
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    (Original post by IndiePixie)
    I'd honestly say give it a go. The interviews aren't actually that scary and most colleges make an effort to be open and accessible to prospective applicants. The worst that can happen is that you don't get an offer but at least you will have tried rather than always wondering...

    As for A-level history, it would take some self-organisation. The exam board website should have lots of info though including syllabus, teacher's guide, and past papers. You could even think about getting a tutor and say meeting once or twice a month just to keep you on track and give you feedback on essays. It would still be far cheaper than doing a distance learning course.
    I'll see how I feel in October with regards to Cambridge. It sounds like a really good idea to get a tutor actually- I'm sure meeting a couple of times a month would be enough to ensure I'm doing ok. I suppose I'll just have to contact someone from my old sixth form to find out about what text books I'll need and when I'll be able to take exams.

    Thanks.
 
 
 
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