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Good enough for Maths? (UK)

  1. Nov 1, 2011 #1
    So i have pretty much terrible GCSEs compared to most people (Bs/Cs), i messed around a lot after my GCSE's and finally fixed up around 18, now i'm in my second year of a levels (A2) studying A level maths, chemistry, economics, AS Further maths. I achieved AAAA in Maths chem and economics and biology (AS) but dropped biology. Now your probably wondering why i didn't take further maths from the start if i had the intention of studying maths, well i did try to but the college didn't allow me to as my GCSE maths grade is a B (this was 2 years ago...) and they thought i wasn't capable enough, but i think i am, and they now think i am so they're allowing me to take it to AS. Looking around forums, reading about mathematicians etc it seems like they all had perfect grades in mathematics, and everyone has A2 further maths, and i'm just here with my AS (predicted A and A* in regular mathematics).

    So with all my qualifications, the lack of further maths at A2 would i really be capable for a mathematics degree at a good university (i'm hoping to go around top 10 for maths UK, top 50-100 world (hopefully))? I really do love mathematics, the only reason i got a B at gcse is mainly because i didn't do anything at all, and have stepped up my game at a levels, but every other good mathematicians was good throughout their life, and i just feel like a failure and not capable at a good university (I want to go to kings/nottingham/york).

    Let me know what you think... thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 1, 2011 #2


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    If you have straight As in maths at A-level, I don't think anybody will care about your GSCE maths grade.

    But poor GSCEs in mandatory subjects like English, and/or poor grades across all your GSCE subjects, might count against you. Given the dumbed down state of the UK exam system, getting strainght A's at A-level doesn't mark you out as being all that "special".
  4. Nov 1, 2011 #3
    I completely agree, thats why i'm worried.

    My GCSE's were all Bs/Cs, luckily for mathematics they don't really look at GCSEs (I emailed universities), i was pointing out my GCSEs just to show i'm really nothing special.

    Thanks for your response.
  5. Nov 1, 2011 #4
    Well it's always worth applying, you could perhaps ask some of your teachers to write something about your improvement over the past year compared to GCSE? Also, any uni that cares especially about GCSEs will take into account whether you got them at Eton with extensive 1 on 1 tutoring, or at a sinkhole comprehensive. If you just make sure you have at least one backup you will easily do fine.
  6. Nov 1, 2011 #5


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    you seem to be double posting, which i think is discouraged here.
  7. Nov 2, 2011 #6


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    I have a maths degree from one of the universities on your list and did not do further maths A level.
  8. Nov 2, 2011 #7
    Many people have recovered form mediocre grades to do great things - you don't see many people boasting about low grades here, because, well, it's human to hide such things!

    You're getting straight As at A level, forget about GCSEs, the A levels alone will get you into a good University to do Mathematics. Also, there are more than 10 good Universities for mathematics in the UK:


    Take Leicester (23) - I know someone who went there and ended up as the dean of mathematics at another top university. They require AAB (with an A in Maths, no further maths required.)
  9. Nov 2, 2011 #8
    My apologies, i saw the mathematics thread after, but thank you for responding.

    Really encouraging, which university did he go to? Would be nice to read about him. (PM if you don't want to share)

    Thanks for the responses guys, back to studying for A2 now :).
  10. Nov 4, 2011 #9
    I think you are overconcerned about GCSEs. If you had worked hard for that B in Maths then I could see why you may have been concerned about studying it at Uni but you never really tried. To give you a more encouraging example of a Mathematician, my older brother got an A at GCSE Maths and didnt do that well in his GCSEs overall (Few As but mostly Bs and Cs), like you he wasnt really bothered at GCSE and only became interested in Maths at A Level. He still got an offer from Warwick but ended up doing so well on STEP that he took a gap year and applied to Cambridge and hes now in his second year at Cambridge.

    Im currently doing my A2s too and Im taking Further Maths. Further Maths is nothing you cant do if you can handle normal Maths and especially if you like Maths, its pretty much just extra content you have to learn and nothing you cant self study anyways if youre really that worried about it (I recommend self studying FP2 and FP3). If you actually like Maths then I see no reason for you not to go for it here.
  11. Nov 5, 2011 #10
    ^Damn, I should have applied to Warwick :(

    I know your pain when it comes to awful GCSEs, I wouldn't worry about it. If you're predicted at an A in maths you can definitely get conditionals for decent universities and after that I don't believe anyone anywhere cares about GCSEs.
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