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5 A Levels

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
edited March 27 in Work & Study
I did a search on this and found nothing, but I'm need of a little help.

I've done quite well in my GCSE's, (7a* 3a & 1b) and I've decided to take five A levels instead of four, I was just wondering about the workload etc. and how people found it; if its worth doing etc. etc.

I'm taking Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, maths and further maths and I am hoping to study medicine after college. The teacher who I spoke to at college (who deals with all the people whom do 5 a levels) says that she talks to us every week see how we're coping, talks to our teachers regularly and we can drop one at any time. She also says I will still have 5 free periods a week.

So is it worth taking the extra further maths, or will it potentially damage the near enough all A's I need to get into medicine?

Thanks in Advance :D
Post edited by JustV on
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I did five ASs for about four weeks in October (English, History, Psychology, Sociology, Russian - General Studies as well, but that was only one period a week). I had about five free periods a week, and it was do-able. It was tough having so few frees - if you aren't used to any, five might sound like plenty but they soon get filled up with work you 'forgot' to do. Or maybe that was just me.. :chin:

    That said, I did this at the beginning of the year - Octoberish. I would probably have gone mad around coursework/exam time. Really. It depends on you though, and the effort and time you're happy to put in. If you can drop a subject at any time, then it's worth a try. So long as you don't feel pressured to keep on with five if you're struggling, then you should be alright, I would've thought.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    A word of advice my friend...do not do it. I also took up 5 a-levels and found it extremely stressful. Dont think that just because its 5 subjects instead of the 10 you did at GCSE its easier.
    Basically after my AS levels I dropped two and so had 2 AS levels and 3 A-levels beacuse I was getting far too stressed.
    But...if you think you can cope with A LOT of coursework deadlines and tests easily worth 20 subjects at GCSE then go for it.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    luckily my subjects are not heavily burdenned in coursework, from what I know. Its not like I'm doing art lol.

    And also, how many free periods to people who are doing 4 A levels get?
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I wouldn't do 5, do 4 and concentrate on getting 4 As I say. The workload at A-level is on another plane to what you will have experienced before. PLus let's face it, if you work hard and get 4 A's, whether or not you have a 5th is neither here nor there really.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Im doing 4 a levels but im also in a rugby academy so im basically doing 5 alevels. time wise. I think ill be able to cope pretty easily. Ill still have 3 free periods a week.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    i would say do it, only if you really have to. I did 4 A2's and an AS for a while but found it was too much and dropped the AS.

    Also depends how your school/college structures their timetable. for example, doing the 5 subjects I did meant I had no free periods whatsoever.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by Godders
    Im doing 4 a levels but im also in a rugby academy so im basically doing 5 alevels. time wise. I think ill be able to cope pretty easily. Ill still have 3 free periods a week.

    Thing is those 3 periods won't be 'free periods' as such, because you have hours and hours of out of school autonomous work to do. A lot of people fall into the trap of doing nothing in free periods if they're not careful, but you need all the time you can get to work.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Good luck if you do take 5 A levels because it will be hard. I took maths this year (AS) and found it really hard - but if you got a A* in it at GCSE level you should find it just an extension of GCSE work.

    My adive to you would be to do 4 A levels really well instead of taking 5 and maybe letting grades slip a level in a couple of subjects. Good luck whatever you decide to do.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    How will you manage to have 5 free's a week?! :confused: Im starting college next week and ive been told i wont have that many and im only doing 4 subjects?! Is that because my college is ultra gay and makes us do key skills and general studies or do all colleges make you do that?!:(
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Yea our college has to do key skills and general studies too, but I've recently found out off a friend whos there at the moment that I may only have five half period frees; which seems to make sense with the block system the college uses. Either way Its going to be hard lol.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    i started off doing 5 A levels, back in the days before modules and AS/A2s. it's ok if none of your subjects have a lot of essay writing/practical aspects. but i was doing theatre studies and art, and both of those were a hell of a lot of work. not necessarily harder, just the sheer volume of things i had to do.

    in the end i got ill, anyway, and it all went a wee bit pear shaped. ended up with 3 A levels and 2 ASs.

    but to be honest, if you're going to drop any of them, i'd keep doing further maths and drop psychology, cause psychology A level is less respected by unis than maths and the more traditional sciences.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Don't forget that academic work isn't supposed to take over your life - uni's are interested in other things than exam results.
    That said, if you take 5, you can always drop one. Just be wary of spreading yourself too thin.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I had about 18 free periods in my 3rd year at college. But, I did spend most of them in the library.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    This might be late but why not take the IB? It'll keep you busy and is credited world wide.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by Xila
    This might be late but why not take the IB? It'll keep you busy and is credited world wide.

    IB? Sorry what is that?
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    A couple of my mates started with 5 ASs when they started college but they both dropped one after a month or so. The workload is a lot!
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Eh, don't do 5, it will be incredibly hard work. Might as well do Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Further Maths. I know someone that did that and got all A's
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by solid_L
    IB? Sorry what is that?

    IB = International Baccalaureate.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by MoonArcanum
    IB = International Baccalaureate.

    ahh thanks, that helps me none though:(
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Its a different type of teaching and examination. To suggest that an A-level student can just swap is somewhat stupid though because its not taught in ANY state schools.

    Unless you fancy paying to go to a private school the option just isnt there.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Ok, first things first. You don’t actually need all A’s to become a doctor. Every medical school, except Oxford and Cambridge, would accept you with two A’s and B’s in everything else. Sheffield would accept you with ABB, and Sheffield has a very good medical school. They don’t even care what they A’s are in most of the time. I have a friend who had A in History, A in Politics, and B in Chemistry and Biology, and he got into Imperial, which is notoriously difficult.

    Secondly, your subjects. Most medical schools specify two sciences (which will include maths) and one other. Chemistry is the big one that everyone wants. Do NOT take someone’s advice and do physics instead of biology, that will get you nowhere fast. Most medical schools require Chemistry at A-Level and Biology at AS minimum, although Biology must be a B at AS. However, do not drop Biology after 1 year if you wish to go to Nottingham, they require Biology at A2. Maths and Further Maths is not considered to be two separate A-Levels, so really in their eyes you are only taking 4. If you consider dropping 1 this year and another next year, you should drop Further Maths at some point, because doing Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths is doing 2 A-Levels, which is not good. Oh, and contrary to someone else, A-Level Maths is NOT an extension to A* GCSE work, it is notoriously harder than that, and although they’ve rearranged the syllabus since I did it, all of the bloody hard Pure Maths is still in there. Psychology could be considered a soft option by some medical schools, however at many other medical schools they look for a non-science subject. They like humanities and social science subjects, which could bode you well. However, phone up medical schools you might apply to and ask them whether they’d accept someone with A-Level psychology, and don’t be fobbed off. Get a straight answer, have they ever done it before would be the clincher.

    Don’t forget that having 5 A-levels will put you in no better a position than someone who has 3, and in their eyes you only will have 4 anyway, considering Further Maths as being irrelevant. Your time on these additional A-Levels could be better spent elsewhere.

    Firstly, getting work experience. This is vital. Phone up everyone you know who works in a hospital and ask them for help, get your teachers to arrange work experience with any doctors they know. Phone the Human Resources department at your local NHS trust and ask to speak to the person who covers work experience. If they say that they’re out of the office, ask for an email address, or write to them via snail mail.

    Secondly, volunteer. It doesn’t matter what for, they like people who care about others and can demonstrate this. Work in your local charity shop, help out in an old people’s home, read to people at a hospice. Phone your friends as your NHS trust Human Resources and ask for the voluntary services manager.

    Thirdly, get a life. They like people who are not exam machines, who are well rounded people. Medicine is not about studying till you die, it is about being able to interact with people, and the easiest way to demonstrate this is to get involved with other activities. Play some sport, do some music, don’t go out with your friends drinking all the time, you might as well right on your UCAS form ‘I am a perpetual drunkard’. If you don’t do anything, start now.

    Fourth, if you can afford the £200+, go on the Medlink conference in Nottingham. It will be the greatest experience you can have. You get four days of lectures on life as a doctor and medical student, you get a chance to have a mock interview, you can have your personal statement criticised, you can meet patients. If you can afford the extra £50, go on the pathology option. You get the chance to write and have published a scientific paper, if it’s good enough. I did, and it was total crap, but writing a scientific paper aged 17 and saying that it’s crap is like going into your neighbour’s house, finding their dog playing the piano and saying it’s not playing it very well. It’s a DOG, and it’s playing the PIANO! It really will be worthwhile if you can go, plus you get a feel of university life.

    Fifth, read the New Scientist every week for the next year and a half if you can. It will be really invaluable for your application, they like people who can talk about current science issues in the news.

    If you need any more advice with any of these issues, particularly Medlink, or advice on writing your personal statement or getting through your interview, I will be happy to help you, post back or PM me.

    Good luck.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by bongbudda
    Its a different type of teaching and examination. To suggest that an A-level student can just swap is somewhat stupid though because its not taught in ANY state schools.
    theres a school in dartford that does it as long as you pass the entrance exam.

    im being made to do 5 but the fifth one is spread across two years, so at the end of this year i'll have 4 and a half As's i didnt choose to do it but i guess it's a less harsh way of tackling it
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by kart
    I know this is a bit off topic, but if you really want an advantage, do some volunteer work throughout the year. You don't *have* to work at a hopsital; care homes and places like that are just as good. Stuff like Millenium Volunteers is good for this. I think you can do a pledge, saying that you will keep volunteering for a given amount of time. If you do this over the course of a year, it shows that you have dedication and it'll look amazing on you PS.

    I'm actually doing a millunium volunteers with one organisation and I am also volunteering at the local hospital :D
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thanks for all the help guys, its been invaluable; after reading what has been put, I am tempted to drop further maths and take on a humanity; because from what I can gather I'm not putting myself at an advantage over other applicants by taking further maths. Is this right?

    What I do like about further maths though is that I will be getting a full A level in my first year, which means I can drop both maths after my first year and concentrate on the final 3 subjects; giving me 4 a levels overall. Would this be a good idea?

    If I did drop further maths, and kept single maths (and I will definately either do single or further maths) what subject should I take on in its place? I am actually completely open for ideas here. What would universities prefer as my fifth subject here?
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Originally posted by solid_L
    Thanks for all the help guys, its been invaluable; after reading what has been put, I am tempted to drop further maths and take on a humanities; because from what I can gather I'm not putting myself at an advantage over other applicants by taking further maths. Is this right?

    What I do like about further maths though is that I will be getting a full A level in my first year, which means I can drop both maths after my first year and concentrate on the final 3 subjects; giving me 4 a levels overall. Would this be a good idea?

    If I did drop further maths, and kept single maths (and I will definately either do single or further maths) what subject should I take on in its place? I am actually completely open for ideas here. What would universities prefer as my fifth subject here?

    I really would say that taking your maths to the 1 A-Level stage in the first year would be a good idea. Nothing pleases the medical schools more than seeing someone who can do a lot of work in a short space of time, which is why they hate A-Level resits. (Not unit resits, resitting the whole bloody thing - they want people who can manage 3 A-Levels in 2 years at a good grade)

    If you decide to drop further maths, I would consider not taking a fifth subject. Think of your time. Doing volunteer work, work experience and managing 5 A-Levels is not easy, and will get you no further ahead. Most medical students will only have 3 A-Levels and an AS, normally at AABb, and you will stand a much better chance of getting in by demonstrating that you have found out a lot about a career in medicine, have demonstrated dedication to helping people, and have shown that you have a life outside of your education.
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Ah ok, I might attempt the maths for one year and try and get the grade, then drop it after the first year. Tbh, the life outside of college issue is not a problem at all; I play sports and also play the guitar and keyboard. I just need to be able to show them without just saying "I play these in my spare time" - I think I need to join some kind of organisation with them which may be better. Maybe playing a sport at college will help.

    Btw Dr C - I've PMed you :)
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I should go on mastermind - specialist subject, getting into medical school :p
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    :lol: yea. You wanna go on my interviews for me?
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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
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