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Courses Self teaching A-level maths and physics?

  1. May 18, 2016 #1
    This year I have been doing a BTEC in Engineering, which is equivalent to 1.5 A levels and I am thinking about what to do next year. I have three options, I could carry on and do the second half of the BTEC, which is equivalent to another 1.5 A levels, I could do a foundation year for university (mech eng), or I could do this (in theory).

    The problem I have with carrying on the BTEC next year, is that tbh I haven't actually learnt much this year, I haven't had to retain any information, as it is all course work. The foundation year is £6,000 (on student loan), which is undesirable to say the least, but I would prefer it to the first option as I know I want to do Mechanical at university.

    I think self-teaching would be best, because it would force me to learn something, and most of what I learn academically prior to this year has been self-taught with a textbook.

    What do you think? Also, what textbooks would you recommend. Looking in the contents of this 'revision guide', I can see the modules for OCR, but for example the only C1+C2 textbook I found on amazon was from 2004 and I doubt the syllabus has remained the same since then.


  2. jcsd
  3. May 18, 2016 #2
    I did a foundation year a year ago because I didnt do A-level maths. (I am in the uk)

    On a note of the foundation year, you need level 3 equivalent qualifications to get onto a foundation year program so you will need to complete your btec next year to gain the other 1.5 A-level equivalent.

    You can self teach it is entirely possible (in fact you may find at uni if you have bad lecturers you will have to do some self teaching) but you need to consider the following

    1. Depending on where you are looking at applying you will need a full A-level maths and full A-level physics but some unis might not consider your btec as an A-level so in some cases you would have to take a third A-level for some unis

    2. You need to know where you are at ability wise with maths, as say if you got a C/D at GCSE maths, just starting straight away with C1 will make it seem really hard as you dont have the foundation it build on, I would say you would need to recover all of the GCSE higher content up to A/A* standard before starting C1

    3. You need to be able to cope without help when you are stuck and search for online resources (this can be difficult)

    5. To do A-level physics you need somewhere where you can take the ISA practical assessment (this is may be tricky and expensive to find + do)

    4. Dependent on where you want to go you will need AA - BB in maths and physics A-levels so you will need to work very hard and be self motivating

    Cant say anything about the book as I use university texts so I am used to dense texts for learning maths, I heard the edexcel ones were good though for C1-4

    How good at maths are you? I cant really see many people taking 2 full A-levels in one year along side a full time college course and do well

    While for me the foundation year meant extra loan, I personally am glad I took it instead of self studying A-level maths because it gave me a better grounding than I would of been able to give myself meaning now I actually teach myself maths beyond the scope of my first year course for fun, but without that initial push from the foundation year I wouldnt be anywhere near as good at maths as I am today
  4. May 18, 2016 #3
    It looks like the practicals would be too expensive, so I think I'll have to abandon the idea.
  5. May 18, 2016 #4
    Don't give up though! the foundation year is a great option, yes its more debt but if it means you eventually get a career as mechanical engineer itd be worth it
  6. May 19, 2016 #5
    It looks like with the new spec, it isn't necessary to do the practical assessments, I'll contact exam boards and check, but it looks more promising now.


    I've seen loads of accounts of self-taught students getting As aswell, so it looks like it's far from impossible and I am very much the autodidact sort so...
  7. May 19, 2016 #6
    If there are no more practical assessments that makes it much easier to self teach then! :D

    I never said it was going to be impossible, just hard, especially when you wont have done much maths for a year and if you dont have a excellent GCSE grade you will have gaps in your knowledge that need to be filled before starting to learn A-level maths or it will make it much harder. The case you linked is a terrible example as they have already proven they are really good at A-levels (as they have A*AA) but again as I said you can self teach A-level maths and physics its just going to be hard :)

    Good luck
  8. May 19, 2016 #7


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    You may be interested in this free step-by-step guide to the A-level maths syllabus:

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