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Maths A'level

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
edited March 27 in Work & Study
I'm choosing A'levels at the moment, and so far I've got French, Spanish, History and Photography, but my parents are telling me that it would be incredible foolish of me not to do maths.

I want to study French and Spanish at uni, then I'm thinking about journalism as a career.

Do I really need a maths A'level? I'm good at maths, but I really really hate it, and five AS'levels is quite a lot of work.
Post edited by JustV on
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Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I don't think it makes much sense for you to do Maths at A level. :p

    You're right, 5 A Levels is a lot of work... I don't do them, but my sister is and she started off doing 5 and then dropped one... Maths actually. Its so much better to do 3/4 well... than attempt to do too much.

    You sound like you'll get a good mark at GCSE which is all you really need. From your career plans, it sounds like maths isn't too necessary.

    Worth seeing someone at school about it? Careers advisor or whoever?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm a big believer in doing what you enjoy for A level as it is two years work which you have to get through. Even though you say you are good at it, unless you enjoy it too I would avoid it and concentrate on what you want to do.

    I did all arts subjects for A level, it's not necessary to do a mix unless you need it for your future career plans.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I got an A* at GCSE, and I'm taking additional maths this year, but my mother said that noone pays any attention to GCSE's when interviewing for jobs. And that it'll show that I'm not just another arty private school girl.
    Is this right?
    I can see where she's coming from, but when I've spoken to my tutor at school, he just told me to opt for my four best subjects (French, Spanish, Maths and English) whether I like them or not, and I didn't agree with that.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You should do what you want to do. It sounds as though you would only be doing the Maths A level to please your mum, but it's you who is going to be sitting through the course and ultimately the exam. I did the subjects which I enjoyed most for A level, even though the grades for other subjects were higher for my GCSEs.

    GCSE maths pass is all most jobs require (along with a pass at English) unless you are going for something specifically maths related in which case an A level would be asked for. In most cases, most jobs overlook GCSE results once you have A level passes because you are able to specialise much more at this level. Which brings me full circle, although there is nothing wrong with keeping your options open at A level (in terms of keeping a balance between arts and science) it is by no means necessary to do this. A levels are for specialising for learning the skills you will need later on in life (be that at Uni or in a job). If you already have an idea of what you want to do and maths doesn't come into this don't do it and overwork yourself just for the sake of pleasing those around you.

    [edit] and I've just re-read your initial post which states you do plan to go to Uni - once you have a degree employees look at this in the first instance, as long as you can prove you are numerate (which you obviously can through your GCSE grade) then you will not encounter any problems in terms of getting interviews/jobs.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    geneve wrote: »
    Your mum's got a point. It's nice to have some technical A Levels, and no one cares about GCSEs as long as you've got them. Photography A Level isn't going to help you with a whole lot and it's something you could do at evening college later in life if you're really interested in it, so in a way it's a bit of a wasted choice. I would be surprised if universities include the UCAS points from it now I think of it. I think if you could get an A or B in Maths without too much fuss it would be a great opportunity to get a technical/hard subject in there. You never know, you could end up looking for a city grad scheme, in which case it would definitely prove your technical skills.

    French, Spanish and History are all "hard" subjects in there... so I don't really see the problem with doing photography. Especially since Grace wants to go into journalism... AND she enjoys it. And Maths A level is a massive step up from GCSE. No one can get it "without too much of a fuss". I'm sure you could do it if you wanted to Grace, but err... you don't. :p

    Most of the time unis only disallow general studies and sometimes critical thinking.

    Did a quick google....
    Requirements for entry are typically grades ABB at A-Level, and a minimum of grade B in GCSE English. General Studies is not currently considered.

    Humanities and Social Science A-Levels are good preparation for the degree - but Arts and Science students can also benefit from our programme, as can students with an interest in Information Technology.

    Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies - Cardiff University 3rd out of 87.


    You may wanna check out UCAS Course Search, have a look at the entry requirements for the sort of coures you're interested in.

    All the best xxx
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If you're good at Maths, I would do Maths for the AS option and do photography as a hobby.

    Depends what kind of level you're aiming for though. If you're looking at top universities, then you're not going to appear to be as strong a candidate with Photography as one of your three A levels compared to someone who has take three traditionally academic subject. That means if you're looking at high calibre courses, your committing yourself now to drop Photography and not leaving yourself with much choice.

    I'm a firm beliver that you should study what you enjoy, and what you need to to develop yourself, but that you shouldn't mix education with hobbies without thinking very hard first.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I did chemistry because people told me it would look good, and in case I decided I wanted to do a BSc in archaeology instead of a BA. But then I screwed it up, replaced it with French (which I took to A2 level in a year) and was much happier. If you don't need it, and you don't want it, don't take it. Better to get 4 As in subjects you enjoy.

    I ended up with AAAB in French, History, Spanish and Politics and that got me to where I needed.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    As a journalist a Maths A level (especially one which covers statistics) would, in my opinion, be a good thing.

    However, it seems that journalists believe otherwise.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I've spent 2 years with people studying a load of subjects, some of them studying subjects they hated. I do/did the IB so its more likely that people had to study one or two subjects they didn't really like and they weren't able to drop them.

    It can have a negative effect on the rest of your studies, but equally some people just get through it. I realised that actually I didn't really like history after about 6 months of starting, and I wasn't able to drop it / change it and erghhhhh it was so hard to get better, because I didn't *want* to work on it.

    I think you're doing the right thing by asking around, check with unis directly. Even some teachers get it wrong! When I was applying (for medicine) all the teachers were telling me I need Maths at higher level... You have to be REALLY GOOD at Maths to do it @ HL, and I'm not :p And I got in contact with about 15 unis, and about 14 all said that aslong as I was doing biology and chemistry they didn't have any preference to what level of Maths I did. (You have to do Maths for the IB).

    All the best Grace.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I have an AS in Maths, I work in a creative industry and can honestly say that it has never been a single ounce of use.

    In my experience, once you have A levels no one gives a shit what GCSEs you have, once you get a degree no one gives a shit about what A levels you have, and once you have a few years work experience, even your degree becomes less and less important.

    French, Spanish and History are all good, solid, respectable subjects, and personally I think Photography on the side would be a nice balance. Don't let people bully you into taking subjects you don't like or need. I did, and have regretted it ever since.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Kaff wrote: »
    I have an AS in Maths, I work in a creative industry and can honestly say that it has never been a single ounce of use.

    In my experience, once you have A levels no one gives a shit what GCSEs you have, once you get a degree no one gives a shit about what A levels you have, and once you have a few years work experience, even your degree becomes less and less important.

    French, Spanish and History are all good, solid, respectable subjects, and personally I think Photography on the side would be a nice balance. Don't let people bully you into taking subjects you don't like or need. I did, and have regretted it ever since.
    :yes:.

    I was forced to do Chemistry for my first year of IB and I hated it and almost failed because of it. I had to completely retake the year (rechoosing all my subjects because eugh).

    Do what YOU want to do, Grace, not what your parents want you to do.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Franki wrote: »
    Do what YOU want to do, Grace, not what your parents want you to do.

    :yes: As long as you choose subjects relevant to your career path; I don't get the issue here. You need to do what you think is right for you.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thank you guys!! What I'm thinking about doing is starting out doing 5 AS's, and seeing if I can cope with the workload. If I can't, which seems quite likely as I struggle with one GCSE taken in my free time atm, Maths'll be the one I'll drop, though I'll try my hardest to keep all five. Does this sound like a sensible idea, or should I just drop photography :( ?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If you've got the option to start off with 5 I'd be tempted to start of with 5, try them all for a bit and see which one you want to ditch by half term.

    You may find, as a lot of my friends did, that while you love art/photography that doing it for A Level is a complete killer on all your other subjects because of the completely disproportionate amount of time it takes up.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'd agree with both Scary Monster and Franki on different parts - you need to do what you want to do, but don't pass up Maths so easily! It's an extremely valuable A level to have (although, so is History) for getting onto a degree, and even if that's not what you want to do and you want to fasttrack into journalism by doing some freelance stuff etc. its worth trying the AS because you might glide into it fairly ok. IIRC the modules C1 C2 and S1 which are likely what you would do in your first year, are all fairly elementary. It gets a tiny bit more complex in second year but it would be up to you - but most people I know who did Maths got A for their AS just straight off the classes without too much revision.

    So, if you are good at maths already (and on the flipside, if you didn't like / get maths at GCSE then its probably going to be hell), it's probably easy UCAS points and in a good subject - and if nothing else it does nicely adorn your CV. Unless you have something better to be doing, why not take it as an extra AS as Scary Monster says?

    Also, rough workload estimate:

    AS level = 4 hours in class, 4 hours out of class*, per module, per week.
    A2 level = 5 hours in class, 5 hours out of class*, per module, per week.

    *The 'out of class' work is whats generally recommended by teachers but I never did that much, I just did what I needed to... (which isn't a great deal in Maths, maybe 2hrs a week to go over what you did / do the problems, even at A2).
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    ShyBoy wrote: »
    Also, rough workload estimate:

    AS level = 4 hours in class, 4 hours out of class*, per module, per week.
    A2 level = 5 hours in class, 5 hours out of class*, per module, per week.

    *The 'out of class' work is whats generally recommended by teachers but I never did that much, I just did what I needed to... (which isn't a great deal in Maths, maybe 2hrs a week to go over what you did / do the problems, even at A2).

    :eek: Oh man, I wish I did A Levels.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Maths is a really good A level to have. If you are able to do it I would recommend it. And people with A level maths tend to earn more than people with A levels in other subjects (although not true in my case so far! Lol).
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Im a number whizz kid in my head, but the thought of doing A level maths scares the hell out of me :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    geneve wrote: »
    I would question the point of a photography A Level. I don't think a photographer would need an A Level to take good photos, and in getting a job would surely use examples of their work, not their qualifications. Basically, you can be a good photographer without it.

    Without wishing to sound like an educationary snob, I would agree with this. As someone who took three "hard" A Levels (including Spanish & French), I would argue that three "hard" A levels looks better than three hard ones and a soft option but that might just be me.

    Incidentally, what are the Spanish & French set texts for A Level? Might be able to help you out since I have an A level in both and a degree in the former.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Without wishing to sound like an educationary snob, I would agree with this. As someone who took three "hard" A Levels (including Spanish & French), I would argue that three "hard" A levels looks better than three hard ones and a soft option but that might just be me.

    Incidentally, what are the Spanish & French set texts for A Level? Might be able to help you out since I have an A level in both and a degree in the former.

    Im one of these weird people, I couldnt pass an exam at A level for french, but with my basic working knowledge, and recoverable french skills that have suffered at the hands of skill fade, parachute me into paris for a few week and I would more than just survive.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    geneve wrote: »
    I would question the point of a photography A Level. I don't think a photographer would need an A Level to take good photos, and in getting a job would surely use examples of their work, not their qualifications. Basically, you can be a good photographer without it.

    Education has value for its own sake, and since grace is doing 3 other more traditional subjects, it might be fun and enjoyable to additionally take one that is just for fun. Why not? It will be just as pointless to her as the maths A Level would be, but a damn sight more enjoyable, I would imagine.

    In my opinion, Grace, if you had come on here and said I'm thinking of doing A Levels in Sociology, Media Studies, Photography and Drama, I would have advised against it as that would have looked bad and like you were picking soft options that employers and higher education institutions wouldn't respect.

    But if you're doing French, Spanish and History then you've chosen three traditional subjects that are recognised as academically demanding, so I don't see the harm in taking Photography just for fun.

    Oh, and if you're planning on going to university anyway then it really doesn't matter. No one cares what A Levels you took once you've got a decent, respectable degree, and all anyone cares about with respect to maths is that you've got a GCSE in it.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    jamelia wrote: »
    Oh, and if you're planning on going to university anyway then it really doesn't matter. No one cares what A Levels you took once you've got a decent, respectable degree, and all anyone cares about with respect to maths is that you've got a GCSE in it.

    To be fair there are plenty of jobs where they specify they either want an A level in maths or a numerate degree.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    ShyBoy wrote: »
    To be fair there are plenty of jobs where they specify they either want an A level in maths or a numerate degree.

    Well of course, in the same way that they specify you need a degree in Medicine to be a doctor. But unless it's a requirement of the job, then no one cares about it. No one has ever asked me about my A Levels, apart from perhaps wanting to know the grades. I don't include the subjects of my GCSEs and A Levels on my CV any more, just the grades.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    jamelia wrote: »
    Well of course, in the same way that they specify you need a degree in Medicine to be a doctor. But unless it's a requirement of the job, then no one cares about it. No one has ever asked me about my A Levels, apart from perhaps wanting to know the grades. I don't include the subjects of my GCSEs and A Levels on my CV any more, just the grades.

    It's not in the same way though, its because for some jobs, there are that many applicants, that they are simply raising the bar to entry to either a numerate degree or an A level in Maths. It's not a requirement of the job, just another way they have found of sorting the wheat from the chaff.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think we're fortunate in this country in that we have a system whereby your degree choice does not dictate your career path. Otherwise I'd be stuck in linguistics, translation and the like which I would loathe, as opposed to my job in the City which I love.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    jamelia wrote: »
    Education has value for its own sake, and since grace is doing 3 other more traditional subjects, it might be fun and enjoyable to additionally take one that is just for fun. Why not? It will be just as pointless to her as the maths A Level would be, but a damn sight more enjoyable, I would imagine.

    In my opinion, Grace, if you had come on here and said I'm thinking of doing A Levels in Sociology, Media Studies, Photography and Drama, I would have advised against it as that would have looked bad and like you were picking soft options that employers and higher education institutions wouldn't respect.

    But if you're doing French, Spanish and History then you've chosen three traditional subjects that are recognised as academically demanding, so I don't see the harm in taking Photography just for fun.

    Oh, and if you're planning on going to university anyway then it really doesn't matter. No one cares what A Levels you took once you've got a decent, respectable degree, and all anyone cares about with respect to maths is that you've got a GCSE in it.

    Exactly this. At the risk of sounding a bit laissez-faire about it all: if someone doesn't enjoy a subject, then I find it difficult to see any point in studying it - especially if you know from the off that it's not something you enjoy. Learning should be something that gives you a buzz, and if it isn't doing that, then the learning ain't right.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    ShyBoy wrote: »
    It's not in the same way though, its because for some jobs, there are that many applicants, that they are simply raising the bar to entry to either a numerate degree or an A level in Maths. It's not a requirement of the job, just another way they have found of sorting the wheat from the chaff.

    Depends on the job. From the other subjects Grace is taking, I'd imagine she'd go down an arts/humanities type career path, and maths isn't generally seen as an advantage in these areas. On the other hand, if she does plan to look into journalism later on, there's an obvious link with photography.

    I work in an editorial/creative field, and the only comment anyone's ever made about my Maths AS is that it seems like it was an odd choice considering my skill set. It hasn't helped further my career in any way, shape or form, despite the insistence from my parents that it would. I only wish I hadn't let them shame me into taking a 'proper' subject at the time.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    if someone don't enjoy a subject, then I find it difficult to see any point in studying it - especially if you know from the off that it's not something you enjoy.

    :yes:

    it's also worth remembering Grace that A levels are damn hard and you have to have a strong interest and enthusiasm for what you are doing if you want to get a good grade.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Kaff wrote: »
    Depends on the job. From the other subjects Grace is taking, I'd imagine she'd go down an arts/humanities type career path, and maths isn't generally seen as an advantage in these areas. On the other hand, if she does plan to look into journalism later on, there's an obvious link with photography.

    I work in an editorial/creative field, and the only comment anyone's ever made about my Maths AS is that it seems like it was an odd choice considering my skill set. It hasn't helped further my career in any way, shape or form, despite the insistence from my parents that it would. I only wish I hadn't let them shame me into taking a 'proper' subject at the time.

    It's something to bear in mind though, as someone who has been keenly scouting the job markets of late. Graduates with maths or numerate degree would seem at the current time being to be more in demand than those without. Of course it depends on the job, but that's missing my point that there are an increasing number of jobs where for new graduates they are saying some analytical / numerate focus in either the degree or A levels is important.

    I know plenty of people who didn't take something and got on just fine, doesn't meant to say it won't be an asset if they had though. In your case that might not have been what happened, but like I say - the increasing number of recruiters who are mentioning or asking about it means it's something to at least bear in mind.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    geneve wrote: »
    I would question the point of a photography A Level. I don't think a photographer would need an A Level to take good photos, and in getting a job would surely use examples of their work, not their qualifications. Basically, you can be a good photographer without it.

    I'm not choosing my A'levels (except maths) on the basis of their ability to get me a job, I know photography as an A'level won't look that good, but I enjoy it a huge amount, it being the only subject where I'm really allowed to do what I want.

    I think I'm going to start off with 5, and just drop maths if I can't do them all, regardless of whatever my parents say.
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