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Are these A Level options suitable for what I want to do?

  1. Sep 5, 2011 #1
    I'm doing Physics, Maths and Further Maths for A Levels. I'm planning on doing Theoretical Physics in University. I had A* in Maths and A in Physics for GCSE's. I'm wondering if I should choose another subject? If so, what?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 5, 2011 #2
    I would advise you to add another subject just for the sake of getting something different in. Physics, Math, Further Math and say, Economics or maybe Computer Studies, or maybe Chemistry would be a decent combination.

    Also, excellent username \m/
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2011
  4. Sep 5, 2011 #3
    Thanks for answering :D What would be the advantages of doing another subject? If so, I'd do Chemistry. Megadeth are AMAZING! :P Oh yeah! I know a little about Theoretical Physics but what are computers used for in the area?
  5. Sep 5, 2011 #4
    Well you aren't gonna get another chance to learn a subject outside of your field when you enter college, since you're in the UK I presume, so it might be something different and a nice change. Another reason to add another subject would be that some universities might consider only 3 subjects a "light load", however that may not be a problem since Further Math is one of those 3 subjects. Also, I don't think universities are gonna care much about subjects other then Math, Physics and Further Math.

    As for Computers, I'm only an undergrad myself, but there are a lot of calculations which need to be done in Theoretical Physics, and not all of them can be done by hand, so computers are used to solve say, things like Partial Differential Equations numerically. They're also used for simulations, among other things.

    Haha Megadeth is my favorite band :D
  6. Sep 5, 2011 #5


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    Three A levels is pretty much standard, and is certainly not seen to be a light load. All universities have entry tariffs consisting of 3 grades.

    As for the OP, I think you've chosen the most suitable A levels for your choice of degree.
  7. Sep 5, 2011 #6
    I guess I was looking at it from the US universities admission perspective, where the heavier your load is, the better it looks. Secondly, I personally think that 3 subjects wouldn't be much of a challenge. I did 4 (including Further Math), and still had loads of time to waste. Others do even more.
  8. Sep 5, 2011 #7


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    That doesn't really make much sense to me. But no, in the UK, you will be applying to a university who give you an offer of, say, AAB; if you meet this you get accepted. Other A levels don't really get taken into account.

    When I did three A levels I certainly didn't feel unchallenged. I think I had a day a week with no classes, in total, which I tended to spend doing homework. Ok, so it's not a 12 hour day, 7 days a week schedule, but you're 17-18 years old and there's a lot more to life than studying at that age!
  9. Sep 5, 2011 #8
    Well in the US, you have to prove that you were handling a heavy load. And I said the same thing that other A levels won't be taken account in my previous post.

    I personally feel that the A-level system has gotten very easy to crack as the examinations barely differ in structure. All you have to do to get an A or even an A* is to practice enough past papers, whether you properly understand the material or not. That said, Further Math is still quite challenging, but having the right guidance and books can help a lot. I basically prepared without using a book because I wasn't aware of all of my resources at that time (such as this forum) and our teacher kept insisting that we didn't need a book.
  10. Sep 6, 2011 #9


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    I think I'd agree with Cristo. Mine is a "non-academic", and "did my A-levels in the eighties" opinion, so things may have changed. I actually chose the same, Double Maths and Physics, and that was certainly enough to be working on. I'm sure my abilities are no way near in your league, so maybe a fourth A-level would be possible for you. I would suggest Computer Studies, as that may not tax you too much except for actually doing the work. I would only do it though, if it was actually going to be useful for you in the future other than having an extra A level to your name, which I do not know. If it wasn't, I'd stick to doing three.

    EDIT: Forgot to add - I suppose you could take the fourth A level and just drop it if it becomes too much.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011
  11. Sep 6, 2011 #10
    I was thinking of doing computing but it's in the same option box as further maths. The only thing that I can really take that I'm good at it chemistry, but I probably wont do it now so I can just focus on doing really good in physics and double maths. Say there was one place left in Uni for Theoretical Physics,me and the other guy had the exact same grades in physics and double maths, but I had chemistry as well, will the University pick me over the other guy?
  12. Sep 6, 2011 #11


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    I hate it when that happens.

    My gut feeling is that that would be the correct choice, but I'll emphasize my limited knowledge of both your personal situation, and the A level system as it operates today.

    My guess is no, taking Cristos example, if you are offered a place with AAB and you achieve AAB, I would be very upset if I wasn't given that place. Hopefully, there are many members on this forum in a better position to comment than me, who will chip in. (Hint guys, this is important!).
  13. Sep 6, 2011 #12
    UK universities usually make conditional offers with regard to your grades. You apply and they respond back saying for example, that you have to get an A*AA with the A* being in Maths, in order for you to get admitted. If you manage to get those grades, you'll get admitted. So if you're absolutely sure that you're going into Theoretical Physics, then there's no point in adding a fourth, unrelated subject. My personal opinion however is that one shouldn't specialize THAT much at least while you're in A-Levels. I went into A-Levels thinking I'd go into Accounting of some sort and had Economics, Accounting and Math as a subject combination. But just out of sheer interest I took up Further Math, even though it would have been useless if I went into Accounting. However it introduced me to a whole new world and now I'm pursuing a degree in Math and Physics as opposed to Accounting, like my original plan. As for 4 subjects being too much work, check this guy out for motivation :P


    Like I said before, I can imagine it being hard for you old-timers like cristo and cobalt124, but the A-Level system has gotten pretty easy to crack these days. I don't know whether its like that for every board, but it was for the CIE (Cambridge International Exams) exams.
  14. Sep 10, 2011 #13


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    Just want to add, sometimes you can get offers for 4 subjects, e.g. A*A*AA. There are a quite a few colleges at Oxbridge that do this (their websites have a list of each college's usual offers for maths/physics).

    Sometimes if they give you an offer of A*A*A and you end up getting A*A*A but that A was in one of the subjects you were told to get an A* in (like Maths), you can call them up and switch to another course, like Engineering. I heard of a girl who did that.
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