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A-Level Science

  1. May 2, 2006 #1
    This is more for the British posters.

    Later this year, I should hopefully be starting my A-Levels, and I know I definitely want to take 1 science subject.

    I asked my science teacher today about A-Level Chemistry and he advised that it probably isn't for me as it involves a great deal of maths, of which I'm not too good with. That excludes physics obviously, although I didn't know that chemistry involves a lot of maths.

    Anyway, he mentioned an A-Level subject, "21st Century Science", that includes physics, biology, and chemistry... but with less maths involved. I'd never heard of this and I asked a geography/science teacher that I talk to online and she, too, hadn't heard of it. I did a search and found little info, mostly stuff that has nothing to do with A-Level.

    So if any students/teachers that are familiar with this could give me some info, I'd much appreciate that; also any additional info regarding A-Level in general would help.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 3, 2006 #2
    What? A2 chemistry involves NO maths whatsoever! In the syllabus I'm doing it's even forbidden to set a question involving quadratic equations! (ok, it involves a bit of maths - baciscally calculations to determine concentrations, the pH of solutions etc, but they're just simple algebra, most people I know could do the maths standing on their head, it's the theory that's the evil bit :-)

    If you have GCSE maths you'll b e fine for chemistry - I don't know about 21st century science but to me it sounds very much like a mickey-mouse subject. If you want to do a science do a proper one.

    I would recommend chemistry. I have found the course pretty difficult, but it's very rewarding and if you plan to do geography a background chemical knowledge would be useful.
  4. May 3, 2006 #3


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    Like the poster above, I would strongly advise against this "21st century science". It does sound mickey mouse.

    Again, the maths in chemisty will involve working out some concentrations from given formulas, and equating numbers to work out which elements go together and charges of compunds etc.

    Or you could consider Geology - back when, I started an AS in Geology and thoroughly enjoyed it. Although, I did drop it for further maths in the end...

    Or even biology?
  5. May 3, 2006 #4
    Physics and chemistry A Levels have very little maths in them, precisely so they are accessible to people who weren't brilliant at maths at GCSE and/or aren't taking A Level maths.

    If you can rearragne formula, you can do the maths in physics A Level. Theres WAY less maths in chemistry. Just things like rearranging [tex]PV = nRT[/tex] that kind of thing.

    21st century science sounds like a rubbish course to me. The problem with doing such a course (a bit of everything) is you don't learn enough of specific things, which you'll need for uni (should you plan on doing something science related).

    If you got a B at GCSE maths, physics and chemistry A Level maths content would be fine. A C at GCSE and you'll still be fine with chemistry. Most of the time it's maths involves weighing stuff and working out how much has changed during the chemical reaction.
  6. May 3, 2006 #5
    Doesn't sound too difficult then, and I should be OK with that.

    I agree that this 21st Century thing sounds a bit strange, but I'll find out more about it and see what it's about.

    Thanks for the help all.
  7. May 3, 2006 #6


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    There are a lot of "alternative" GCSE and GCE subjects (hailing from Singapore, I've sat for these exams). Some like this new fangled thingy are more "mickey mouse" than standard science, some are actually more challenging (you can take an "A" level in Astronomy or in Electronics, for example) than the standard Physics/Chemistry/Biology/Maths fare.

    Do find out all you can about this, but my advice to you : at this late stage in your education, avoid "survey" courses (that's what this sounds like).
  8. May 3, 2006 #7


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    What are you thinking of doing after your A-levels?

    Chemistry is really difficult in my opinion, compared to physics and maths/further maths. There is so much more to remember in chemistry and this made it kind of boring to me.
  9. May 3, 2006 #8


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    ...plus you have to do experiments and they can go wrong :wink:
  10. May 3, 2006 #9
    I'm thinking of going onto university to study physical geography. And then perhaps teach geography, although I'm not too sure about that just yet.
  11. May 3, 2006 #10


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    If you want universities and employers to take a second look at you, forget about this 21st century bollocks. While the course content is potentially pretty good, it hasn't got a reputation, and as a result won't really count for anything.

    My Chemistry A level needed no more maths than an intermediate maths GCSE, don't let that put you off. However, your science teacher must have some reason for asking you to think twice. I'm not saying believe him, but question it further. What does your maths teacher think?
  12. May 3, 2006 #11
    I'll take your advice and give the 21st Century thing a miss then, and take either chemistry or biology. Is either of them more favourable to employers or universities for whatever reason?

    For that matter, are there certain A-Levels that are generally more favourable than others? I'm definite about geography, and other possibilites are English language, chem/biol and someone suggested psychology.

    I much appreciate the help.
  13. May 3, 2006 #12
    Mathematics always looks good if you think you can handle it - the syllabus certainly has become easier in the last few years.
  14. May 3, 2006 #13
    Agreed. Its become absolute p*ss this year.

    As for the original poster query, Yeah, A level maths has little maths involved, as in VERY little. Another note though; Don't think much of getting far in a physical science in your later career without a solid background in mathematics. If you're THAT worried about maths, just choose biology.
  15. May 3, 2006 #14


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    I think you meant "A level Chemistry" has little maths involved. A level Maths has quite a bit of maths involved. :rofl:

    Event then, I found A level Maths to be unchallenging, which is why I took the S (Special) paper, and wished I had taken Further Maths. But that would've made too many A-levels (I needed Bio and Chem to enter Medicine, which was another big mistake, but that's another story). This was before doing 5 A levels and 3 S-papers became fashionable in Singapore. During my time, the brightest contented themselves with 4 A levels and 2 S papers (I did Phy/Chem/Bio/Maths as "A" levels and took S papers in Physics and Maths).
    Last edited: May 3, 2006
  16. May 4, 2006 #15
    I suppose there's no point in trying to kid myself - I'm no good at maths. So it's probably best to try to avoid it, even if there's just a small amount involved. So I'll go for the biology course... that's no problem to me as I enjoy all 3 science subjects equally, so it's not as if I'm going to do something I won't enjoy when I do biology.

    When you say 'physical science', do you mean subjects such as chemistry and physics? My main interest above all is physical geography. I'd love a career in that, whether it be teaching or otherwise. As far as I know, it doesn't involve maths unless doing statistics and such, even then that's more for human geography.
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