Yet Another Cycling Forum

Random Musings => Miscellany => Kidstuff => Topic started by: Woofage on November 26, 2015, 10:23:59 am

Title: A level options
Post by: Woofage on November 26, 2015, 10:23:59 am
Seems scary that we're now at this stage of life when it didn't seem long ago that Miss W was at primary school. Thankfully her choice of school (the current one) and subjects is clear: Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Biology. I admire her clear vision of what she wants to do in life. At her age I had absolutely no idea.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: hatler on November 26, 2015, 10:34:57 am
I still don't. (And mini has just started on his GCSE years.)
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on November 26, 2015, 10:38:26 am
Are you *sure* it is clear?

Some unis ask for English, even for STEM subjects.

That said, Math and more maths is a god foundation for further study

(yes I noticed the typoe and decided it seemed appropriate)
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: hatler on November 26, 2015, 10:49:23 am
But not for A levels, surely.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Kim on November 26, 2015, 11:18:26 am
If you're capable, I don't think you can really go wrong with all the maths you can eat.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Woofage on November 26, 2015, 11:23:07 am
Are you *sure* it is clear?

Some unis ask for English, even for STEM subjects.

Yes, we've checked. She wants to study TEH SCIENCE and her choices are appropriate.

That said, Math and more maths is a god foundation for further study

I agree. I don't think you can study too much maths. We've told her younger brother the same (he'll probably do Comp Sci and we've told him 4 year MEng or don't bother - gosh we're tough parents).

I regret dropping out of Further Maths A Level myself (I was working towards my Grade 8 violin at the same time) as it would have prepared me better for HE.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: clarion on November 26, 2015, 11:23:32 am
I did Maths, Maths, Maths & Physics.  And look where it got me!
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Woofage on November 26, 2015, 11:24:35 am
If you're capable, I don't think you can really go wrong with all the maths you can eat.

Agreed (you post crossed with mine).
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Woofage on November 26, 2015, 11:25:22 am
I did Maths, Maths, Maths & Physics.  And look where it got me!

Education isn't just about careers :).
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Mr Larrington on November 26, 2015, 04:44:53 pm
I did Maths, Maths, Maths & Physics.  And look where it got me!

Physics, Sums and Stinks here, with S-level papers in the first two.  Easy access to BEER as a PSO was probably a more important factor in subsequent career choices.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: nikki on November 26, 2015, 06:27:33 pm
Physics, Sums, Harder Sums, Stinks (I'm assuming that's Chemistry!), Art and S-level Physics here.
Self-emplyed, but at least I can wield a budget spreadsheet!
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: matthew on November 26, 2015, 09:15:41 pm
Sums, Harder Sums, Physics and Stinks here, then Chem Eng and now I work designing plants that will go bang or really big bang if I get it wrong depending on which project I  am on. previous projects were refineries and fertilizer plants, just not on the same site.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Clare on November 26, 2015, 09:25:19 pm
Are you *sure* it is clear?

Some unis ask for English, even for STEM subjects.

That said, Math and more maths is a god foundation for further study

(yes I noticed the typoe and decided it seemed appropriate)

English and maths at GCSE is usually a requirement for any degree in the UK but not at A level IME.

Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Kim on November 26, 2015, 09:29:03 pm
Electrickery, Physics (should that be 'Doesn't Work'?), Sums, 50% Harder Sums Free, and Stinks here.

Had a hard time at home (*handwaves*) from about halfway through, and discovered too late that I was a lot less good at sums than everyone (including me) had assumed, and that patchy teaching at a speed consistent with an extra AS's worth of workload was a terrible idea.  Stinks didn't affect my university offers, so I stopped making an effort partway through; I never got the hang of Hexagons.

Losing the plot with Hard Sums does not prepare you for an Engineering degree.  So I ended up doing Random Hacking And Sums That Only Go Up To 2 instead.


In real life, it's the Sums, lab skills and Things I Learned While Slacking Off that have been most useful.  'twas ever thus.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Mr Larrington on November 26, 2015, 09:33:06 pm
I made myself a little cardboard hexagon template which improved the appearance of my Stinks notes no end.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: IanN on November 26, 2015, 09:39:28 pm
I think most people get to a stage beyond which Sums make no sense at all.
I did Sums and Harder Sums, but rapidly ran out of brain.
I got through my physics degree by being able to measure Stuff, concentrating on scary deth rays. Which I still do, to an extent.

(I also did economics at A level. Not sure how much use that was, but it was my best grade)
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: rr on November 26, 2015, 09:46:58 pm
Sums, Harder Sums, Physics and Stinks here, then Chem Eng and now I work designing plants that will go bang or really big bang if I get it wrong depending on which project I  am on. previous projects were refineries and fertilizer plants, just not on the same site.

I did Maths, Maths, Maths & Physics.  And look where it got me!

Physics, Sums and Stinks here, with S-level papers in the first two.  Easy access to BEER as a PSO was probably a more important factor in subsequent career choices.
Sums, physics and stinks (including the special paper) chem eng (and beer with Mr L and friends) now try to make sure that people like Matthew have done their sums right and it really won't go bang.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: phantasmagoriana on November 26, 2015, 09:57:31 pm
If you're capable, I don't think you can really go wrong with all the maths you can eat.

That's what my school drummed into us - if in doubt, take Maths. (I did, along with English Lit, Music and Latin - to this day I've never met anyone else who took exactly the same combination of subjects!) I was terrible at Maths, though, and probably shouldn't have bothered.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Kim on November 26, 2015, 10:03:26 pm
I was terrible at Maths, though, and probably shouldn't have bothered.

I've wondered about that, but everything I've ever been substantially interested in or any good at has had a non-trivial maths component.  :-\

If I'd eschewed maths, I'd probably have ended up studying botany or something.  And even that has maths in.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: drossall on November 26, 2015, 11:50:58 pm
I did physics, sums and stinks too, then went on to physics at university. Mind you, this was all in another era.

Sadly, even at a very good school, I discovered that I had been taking an O-level chemistry syllabus that emphasised understanding far more than learning, and A-level required more learning of formulae and so on. Thus, I stank at stinks (others did fine, it was my weakness). This was made worse by the teacher being a friend of Dad's.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Mr Larrington on November 27, 2015, 12:11:12 am
A contemporary of mine did lat., gr. and div. at A-level and was thus assured of two years of one-to-one tuition.  He is now a CoE vicar.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: hellymedic on November 27, 2015, 12:13:32 am
I did physics, chemistry and biology but studied pure maths in the lower sixth and statistics to A Level (didn't attend exam having done full two years but lost interest as it didn't feature in my university offer).
Couldn't really understand why most medical schools insisted on physics but seemed to appreciate some understanding of the subject later on.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Woofage on November 27, 2015, 08:50:36 am
I don't know how many of you will be familiar with the current structure of the A Level Maths courses but it's a lot more flexible and sensible than when I took mine (early 80s). For A you take 6 modules : 4 core (pure) and 2 applied. Further Maths students do Further Pure modules (2 I think) plus 2 more applied modules. Applied modules can be selected from mechanics, stats and decision maths. Students taking both just sit a whole bunch of exams and the exam board sorts it all out for them.

In my day we did either pure & mechanics or pure 'n' stats. No mixing of applied subjects like today. Our Further Maths course was taught in the upper 6th but I dropped out after a term as I was horribly ill (plus I was trying to fit in my grade 8 violin before I left school).

So I did stuffs (physics), sums & stinks. Further Maths would certainly have helped me later as my Engineering degree was very theoretical. I managed to get by though.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Woofage on November 27, 2015, 08:53:37 am
A contemporary of mine did lat., gr. and div. at A-level and was thus assured of two years of one-to-one tuition.  He is now a CoE vicar.

Miss W has done some Latin and on occasion her tuition has been one-to-one.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: menthel on November 27, 2015, 11:59:29 am
I did (relatively) funny A-Levels that got me into Medical School (back in 1995!); chemistry, biology and geography. They made me suffer for the geography as I had a higher offer than my friends, but that was not a problem as I was very good at it!
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: rr on November 27, 2015, 01:03:21 pm
A contemporary of mine did lat., gr. and div. at A-level and was thus assured of two years of one-to-one tuition.  He is now a CoE vicar.

Miss W has done some Latin and on occasion her tuition has been one-to-one.
Mini and micro get two years of compulsory Latin, and like it.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: TimC on November 27, 2015, 03:05:02 pm
I did Sums, Moar Sums, and teh Physik. Gave up Moar Sums after a year, as just Sums was maxing out my poor brane. Miss C Minor did Sums, Moar Sums, Stinks and teh Physik and has just embarked on a 4-year MSc in Physics with Theoretical Physics at King's. I think it's a ploy to get into the video games industry and play GTA5 until she retires.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: ElyDave on November 27, 2015, 03:25:39 pm
Sums, Harder Sums, Physics and Stinks here, then Chem Eng and now I work designing plants that will go bang or really big bang if I get it wrong depending on which project I  am on. previous projects were refineries and fertilizer plants, just not on the same site.

Same here, now I work for a consultancy telling people like you why it's all going to bang and where the holes in your systems are.  Did a 4-year MEng, extending it to 5 as a thick sandwich which was very useful.

Now have an 11 year old of my own who is having sums drummed into her breain at every opportunity.  Maps and hills (Geography) got turned into a sums lesson on map scales last week
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Mr Larrington on November 27, 2015, 04:25:27 pm
A contemporary of mine did lat., gr. and div. at A-level and was thus assured of two years of one-to-one tuition.  He is now a CoE vicar.

Miss W has done some Latin and on occasion her tuition has been one-to-one.
Mini and micro get two years of compulsory Latin, and like it.

My skool also had two years of compulsory lat. and while most people dropped it like a red-hot jar of mouldy Marmite as soon as they were able I enjoyed it enough to keep doing it another three years up to O-level.  Timetabling constraints meant I couldn't do lat. and geog. chiz so the latter had to go.  Omnia Gallia in tres partes divisa est - Wigan, Hunslet & Hull Kingston Rovers.  Or something.

So I did stuffs (physics)

Damn, I wish I'd thought of that one!
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: rogerzilla on November 27, 2015, 07:17:12 pm
I'd have opted for physics instead of further maths - physics is nowhere near as hard as its reputation suggests, and I found it probably the easiest (mentally much easier than maths and not as much stuff to remember as chemistry).  Or is further maths what kids need to actually cope with university these days?

Anyway, I ended up doing chemical engineering like various other people here.  I was terrible at it and it was deadly dull.  Got a 2:1 purely through exam technique and would have killed thousands had I ever gone into the industry.  Mind you, one girl got a First and I remember patiently and fruitlessly trying to explain to her why the condensate from her high-pressure steam circuit wouldn't flow back to the boiler of its own accord and that she needed a pump  ::-)
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Feanor on November 27, 2015, 07:29:35 pm
Mind you, one girl got a First and I remember patiently and fruitlessly trying to explain to her why [...] she needed a pump  ::-)

I'll bet you did:-)
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Kim on November 27, 2015, 07:53:13 pm
Or is further maths what kids need to actually cope with university these days?

If it's a hard science or engineering, where you have to muck about with serious calculus etc, I think that's a good rule of thumb.

The maths content of softer sciences is more statistics, which is (IME) much easier to pick up as you go along - assuming a good grounding in the basics.


Further Maths is a far more relevant A-level for Electronic Engineering than Electronics is.  (DAHIKT.)
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: ElyDave on November 27, 2015, 09:58:50 pm
I'd have opted for physics instead of further maths - physics is nowhere near as hard as its reputation suggests, and I found it probably the easiest (mentally much easier than maths and not as much stuff to remember as chemistry).  Or is further maths what kids need to actually cope with university these days?

Anyway, I ended up doing chemical engineering like various other people here.  I was terrible at it and it was deadly dull.  Got a 2:1 purely through exam technique and would have killed thousands had I ever gone into the industry.  Mind you, one girl got a First and I remember patiently and fruitlessly trying to explain to her why the condensate from her high-pressure steam circuit wouldn't flow back to the boiler of its own accord and that she needed a pump  ::-)

In my experience Chen eng is so wide ranging that you end up using g bits of it all over the place without conscious effort. There aren't many degrees that cover anything from advanced mathematics, chemistry, metallurgy, economics, people management, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics...

That said you wouldn't give me the job of designing a distillation column these days, but I can deal with people, understand how almost any business works, manage risk and not be baffled with bullsh$t in a technical conversation. 
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: rr on November 27, 2015, 10:21:23 pm
I'd have opted for physics instead of further maths - physics is nowhere near as hard as its reputation suggests, and I found it probably the easiest (mentally much easier than maths and not as much stuff to remember as chemistry).  Or is further maths what kids need to actually cope with university these days?

Anyway, I ended up doing chemical engineering like various other people here.  I was terrible at it and it was deadly dull.  Got a 2:1 purely through exam technique and would have killed thousands had I ever gone into the industry.  Mind you, one girl got a First and I remember patiently and fruitlessly trying to explain to her why the condensate from her high-pressure steam circuit wouldn't flow back to the boiler of its own accord and that she needed a pump  ::-)

In my experience Chen eng is so wide ranging that you end up using g bits of it all over the place without conscious effort. There aren't many degrees that cover anything from advanced mathematics, chemistry, metallurgy, economics, people management, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics...

That said you wouldn't give me the job of designing a distillation column these days, but I can deal with people, understand how almost any business works, manage risk and not be baffled with bullsh$t in a technical conversation.

Indeed the first thing I ever applied chem eng to was the refectory queue, and a good slice of our year ended up as accountants, which is process analysis with easier sums.

Mrs R and my brother did business studies degrees, I've yet to find anything that they studied and I didn't.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: hellymedic on November 27, 2015, 11:45:06 pm
FWIW my sister did Sums (P&A), Stuffs, Stinks and Biology before she studied Biochemical Engineering at UCL.
She has remained a polymath superwoman.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Mr Larrington on November 28, 2015, 12:02:49 am
Far be it for me to introduce the vexed question of whether exams are so easy these days that Bagpuss could get a hatful of top-end GCSE passes without even cribbing off Professor Yaffle.  But the build-up to our Hard Sums O-Levels (1980) one of our teachers spent a long time drumming some particularly abstruse concept into our thick skulls before blithely telling us "But you probably won't need to know this until the second year of a Sums degree".

So we killed him and sold the film rights to Lindsay Anderson.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: clarion on November 28, 2015, 05:59:12 pm
My degree covered International Relations, history, ethics, psychology, conflict resolution, development studies, weapons development, philosophy, politics, economics...
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Mr Larrington on November 28, 2015, 06:04:26 pm
...and as a result you know how best to pick up a bargain 155mm self-propelled gun?
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: tatanab on November 28, 2015, 06:37:31 pm
A Levels were in 1968 for me.  Maths, Further Maths and Physics.  The usual "engineering" choices although in retrospect I would have been better served taking Chemistry instead of Further Maths.  In those days we had no modules, no pick and choose, no course work included - you did the whole subject.  e.g. statistics was not a separate subject or module.  In Physics that year, our teacher decided there had been no questions on thermionics for some years so we did not cover much.  Of course some came up in the exam.  For some reason I was obsessed with the photo electric effect and spent many lunch times in the Physics lab messing about.

This all led me to a life in electronics and related subjects.  Nobody told me I'd have been wealthier and better regarded if I'd used the sums to be an accountant.  If asked I usually advise people not to go into professional engineering, but if they must then they should work for a small company or preferably abroad.  Bitter - no I've got over that since I retired early 6 years ago and the trouble was I enjoyed my work too much to be worried about a trifling thing like salary.  Typically I worked 30% extra hours each year in unpaid overtime.

I get miffed when people say that their nephew is doing an engineering degree.  I always ask "civil, electronic, electrical, etc". Of course they mean mechy stuff.

Latin - that was compulsory in the first year at grammar school.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: ElyDave on November 28, 2015, 09:30:18 pm
A Levels were in 1968 for me.  Maths, Further Maths and Physics.  The usual "engineering" choices although in retrospect I would have been better served taking Chemistry instead of Further Maths.  In those days we had no modules, no pick and choose, no course work included - you did the whole subject.  e.g. statistics was not a separate subject or module.  In Physics that year, our teacher decided there had been no questions on thermionics for some years so we did not cover much.  Of course some came up in the exam.  For some reason I was obsessed with the photo electric effect and spent many lunch times in the Physics lab messing about.

This all led me to a life in electronics and related subjects.  Nobody told me I'd have been wealthier and better regarded if I'd used the sums to be an accountant.  If asked I usually advise people not to go into professional engineering, but if they must then they should work for a small company or preferably abroad.  Bitter - no I've got over that since I retired early 6 years ago and the trouble was I enjoyed my work too much to be worried about a trifling thing like salary.  Typically I worked 30% extra hours each year in unpaid overtime.

I get miffed when people say that their nephew is doing an engineering degree.  I always ask "civil, electronic, electrical, etc". Of course they mean mechy stuff.

Latin - that was compulsory in the first year at grammar school.

I think that's par for the course as a professional engineer whether in mainstream, or having branched out as I did into various safety related specialisms and now a professional auditor of other peoples management systems.  I'm reasonably well paid and love my job, hence I've been here 8 years and am looking to buy into the business in a year or so. 

I could have earned more as a counter of other peoples money, but would I have been happier, no.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: DuncanM on March 25, 2016, 09:54:21 am
I did Maths, moar Maths, Physics and French. Mainly because I didn't enjoy Chemistry!
Then a Physics degree, and Aerodynamics masters -> computer programming.
I would have thought that Physics would go with either Maths and Further Maths (and get you a nice crossover with Mechanics) better than either Chemistry or Bio, but it sounds like a nice set of options that would keep things open... And what do I know - my A levels were 20 years ago!
Cheers
Duncan
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: hatler on March 25, 2016, 10:07:24 am
Ooo. Where did you do your Aerodynamics Masters ?  Mini-h is thinking along similar lines (but is still a year away from GCSEs.) Thanks.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Woofage on March 25, 2016, 05:27:01 pm
I would have thought that Physics would go with either Maths and Further Maths (and get you a nice crossover with Mechanics) better than either Chemistry or Bio, but it sounds like a nice set of options that would keep things open... And what do I know - my A levels were 20 years ago!
Cheers
Duncan

She's not keen on physical SCIENCE but having a talent for TEH SUMS will (hopefully) make her a strong candidate when she applies for university. Plus a couple of her closest friends will also be doing maths and moar maths which is always a help.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: David Martin on March 25, 2016, 11:00:07 pm
I did Stinks, stuffs, and furry things. (Chemistry Physics and Zoology). Should really have done Maths and More Maths but I had done AO pure maths and theoretical mechanics so have the basis of calculus.

I'm pretty sure the standard of maths for O'level /GCSE has declined, and if you want to do a proper science at University then an absolute minimum of a top grade at GCSE, and preferably A level/Higher is to be desired. The biggest challenge we see is application and problem solving.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: DuncanM on March 29, 2016, 07:03:36 pm
Ooo. Where did you do your Aerodynamics Masters ?  Mini-h is thinking along similar lines (but is still a year away from GCSEs.) Thanks.
Cranfield. I did Aerospace Dynamics specialising in CFD, though there were Aero and Flight Dynamics specialisms sharing the majority of the courses. If you're interested further, PM me and I can elaborate (though it was over 10 years ago)...
Cheers
Duncan
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: fd3 on June 24, 2016, 11:05:11 pm
I don't know how many of you will be familiar with the current structure of the A Level Maths courses but it's a lot more flexible and sensible than when I took mine (early 80s). For A you take 6 modules : 4 core (pure) and 2 applied. Further Maths students do Further Pure modules (2 I think) plus 2 more applied modules. Applied modules can be selected from mechanics, stats and decision maths. Students taking both just sit a whole bunch of exams and the exam board sorts it all out for them.
Almost; moar maths is 2 further pure options +4 other options, which can be 2 further pure and 2 applied, or 4 applied (actually it might be min 3 further math but I don't think so).  You can keep stacking up math a levels as long as you complete a set of 6.

... And ffs there's a helova lot of mathsy physicists about here!
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Woofage on June 25, 2016, 03:15:22 pm
Thanks for the clarification. Good job it's not me taking the courses! Miss W has finished her GCSEs now and is looking forward to 6th form. I'm looking forward to catching up with some of the maths that I've forgotten.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Jock Stewart on July 25, 2016, 08:24:03 am
Mine will be doing Politics, Philosophy, History and Drama. He wants to be a Drama Teacher. He's also an A star Maths student and I encouraged him to take this at A level and drop one of the Arts subjects. I thought it would be a good quality-add to his CV.

However he said no as he's not passionate about the subject. This is fair enough as one needs to be passionate about A levels in order to do well in them.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Hot Flatus on July 25, 2016, 08:35:58 am
I don't know how many of you will be familiar with the current structure of the A Level Maths courses but it's a lot more flexible and sensible than when I took mine (early 80s). For A you take 6 modules : 4 core (pure) and 2 applied. Further Maths students do Further Pure modules (2 I think) plus 2 more applied modules. Applied modules can be selected from mechanics, stats and decision maths. Students taking both just sit a whole bunch of exams and the exam board sorts it all out for them.

In my day we did either pure & mechanics or pure 'n' stats. No mixing of applied subjects like today. Our Further Maths course was taught in the upper 6th but I dropped out after a term as I was horribly ill (plus I was trying to fit in my grade 8 violin before I left school).

So I did stuffs (physics), sums & stinks. Further Maths would certainly have helped me later as my Engineering degree was very theoretical. I managed to get by though.

Don't forget than new A levels are coming on stream for some subjects and already have for others. OTOH new style already in for physics for last year's Year 12, Maths will come on stream in 2017. (Better check...I could be wrong)

New ones are probably harder (although how that relates to grades is anyone's guess),  and are decoupled from AS, so backloads all the pressure to Year 13. Good news for procrastinators!

Other possible good news for you is that Ofqual produced a study of grade disparity between subjects, and found there was a two grade difference in difficulty between the easiest and the hardest subjects at A level (phys, chem, f.maths, multiple being the hardest) and are running a consultation on how to redress this.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Kim on July 25, 2016, 02:19:22 pm
Other possible good news for you is that Ofqual produced a study of grade disparity between subjects, and found there was a two grade difference in difficulty between the easiest and the hardest subjects at A level (phys, chem, f.maths, multiple being the hardest) and are running a consultation on how to redress this.

How do they measure that?  Even if there is an objective way to measure the hardness of Physics compared to, say, Geography, wouldn't the same technique be able to settle once and for all that bollocks that old people talk about exams getting easier?
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: phantasmagoriana on July 25, 2016, 03:03:26 pm
New ones are probably harder (although how that relates to grades is anyone's guess),  and are decoupled from AS, so backloads all the pressure to Year 13. Good news for procrastinators!

Back to how they used to be, then? We had our exams at the end of Upper Sixth; Lower Sixth was for procrastination.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Hot Flatus on July 25, 2016, 03:28:44 pm
Other possible good news for you is that Ofqual produced a study of grade disparity between subjects, and found there was a two grade difference in difficulty between the easiest and the hardest subjects at A level (phys, chem, f.maths, multiple being the hardest) and are running a consultation on how to redress this.

How do they measure that?  Even if there is an objective way to measure the hardness of Physics compared to, say, Geography, wouldn't the same technique be able to settle once and for all that bollocks that old people talk about exams getting easier?

They measure it in a variety of ways  ;)

If interested go and find the Ofqual inter-subject comparability study published this year, or see the Coe study of 2006 by Prof Coed of Durham University which drew similar conclusions.

Title: Re: A level options
Post by: seraphina on August 24, 2016, 10:25:06 am
Sums, Stuff, Stinks and Frogspeak here. I'm an academic now...

I have a horror of one of the children growing up with an interest in Interpretive Dance.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Woofage on August 24, 2016, 10:39:58 am
GCSE results day tomorrow - yikes!
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: hellymedic on August 24, 2016, 08:13:51 pm
Nephew #10 gets his tomorrow AAW. Wants to be a lawyer. Suspect he'll choose Arts, probably Drama and 3 Serious Subjects.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Greenbank on September 06, 2016, 02:05:31 pm
New ones are probably harder (although how that relates to grades is anyone's guess),  and are decoupled from AS, so backloads all the pressure to Year 13. Good news for procrastinators!

Back to how they used to be, then? We had our exams at the end of Upper Sixth; Lower Sixth was for procrastination.

Depends where you went I guess. At my sixth form college we sat mock exams at the end of Lower Sixth (1993). There were exceptions but the general rule seemed to be that, based on the mocks, anyone predicted anything below a C for an A-Level was pushed down to AS level, and anyone predicted anything below a C at AS level was booted off the course.

This was at the height of league table shenanigans. 3rd best A-Level results in the country the year I got mine (1994), best state school (#1 and #2 in the country were rather famous private schools).

I procrastinated lots but survived the cull.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Woofage on September 06, 2016, 05:01:08 pm
Don't remember personally. I do remember sitting my last paper (Physics) and heading off to my first Glastonbury that afternoon. I think tickets were about £13 in those days (about £40 in today's money). We did something called AO Maths at the end of L6. I guess that's been replaced by AS levels. Pretty sure everyone got an A.

Miss W came home from her first day in 6th form yesterday to tell us that there are 7 people in her Maths class :thumbsup:.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Wascally Weasel on September 06, 2016, 05:13:17 pm
I did English, History and Archaeology.

I now work as a transport planner/modeller and spend all my time doing numerical and statistical analysis.  A maths A Level would probably have come in handy.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: fd3 on November 12, 2016, 11:05:59 pm
...wouldn't the same technique be able to settle once and for all that bollocks that old people talk about exams getting easier?
A simpler technique would be to look at the papers from 5 years ago, 10 years ago and last year.  At the end of the last spec they were setting questions worth 1 mark when the same thing was worth 3 marks five years earlier.  The previous spec? Don't make me laugh!
...
I have no experience of A levels from 20+ years ago though, so they could have been hard as nails.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: DrMekon on November 13, 2016, 09:06:23 am
Started with sums with levers, electrickery, and stuff.

Finished with psychosis, a speech impediment, and an AS level in reading books. Ended up an academic psychologist (via Access when you could still do it whilst signing on JSA and smiling sweetly at the advisor meant no questions asked). Even in the state I sat through maths with mechanics, I took away enough to be the kid who found stats easiest on my degree, and could go toe to toe with faculty from second year on. I think admissions have figured out how vital maths is for psychology; a maths a-level is very desirable on our course, and a B at GCSE is minimum (in the context of us asking for AAA at A-Level).
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: djmc on November 13, 2016, 06:09:51 pm
I did Latin, History, English at A level. Classics at university. I am now retired but all my working life I was a programmer/software engineer. I was mostly involved with operating systems software. In those days a lot of programmers were recruited as graduates without necessarily any knowledge of computers and the recruiters trained them themselves. The maths I needed during my career was trivial.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Woofage on November 13, 2016, 09:36:32 pm
It seems many 6th form students also do a project called EPQ which looks like it could be a lot of fun, and is worth half an A-level. Miss W is taking hers in an art type subject (she took art at GCSE and got an A) rather than adding more SCIENCE.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Woofage on August 24, 2018, 02:46:58 pm
I'm pleased to report that Miss W now has some A levels and will soon go to a University to study some SCIENCE.

it's all good :thumbsup:
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Butterfly on September 03, 2018, 08:53:09 am
 :thumbsup:

Congratulations  :D
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Woofage on November 04, 2019, 03:21:20 pm
Woofage jnr has some GCSEs (9s and 8s, clever b***er) and is studying Babbage, sums and stuff at A-level.

He wants to study even more Babbaging at University. Does anyone have any inside info or advice?
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: fimm on November 05, 2019, 10:53:32 am
I did an MSc in Computing Science at Newcastle in 2002-03 (as a mature student; my 1st degree was in Chemistry, back in the early 1990s), and now work as a software tester.
What sort of information / advice are you looking for?
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Kim on November 05, 2019, 12:24:55 pm
I did (amongst other, less successful things) Computer Science at Kent (then UKC) in 2001-2003.  The department was notable for having an extremely hands-on approach, without the over-emphasis on gratuitous Hard Sums that people like to cram into STEM subjects to add credibility.  I'm not sure the department is as well respected as it used to be thobut, which is a shame, given its history as one of the first in the UK.

My advice (especially if you're good at Hard Sums[1] or have more than a passing interest in hardware) would be to give serious consideration to related fields, such as Software Engineering, CSE or EE.  Or even something specialist like Avionics.  Lower-level stuff isn't sexy, but is probably a good career move.  You're going to be learning the specifics of whatever you end up doing by googling anyway, so a thorough grounding in the fundamentals is more valuable in the long term than whatever the current fad is while you're a student.

And the golden rule of not applying to any university that is in the process of building a Shiny! New! department with bleeding-edge facilities that will totally be ready[2] in time for September applies.


[1] Top tip: don't go near an engineering course unless you think Further Maths (or modern equivalent) sounds like fun.
[2] Spoiler:  It won't.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Woofage on November 09, 2019, 12:41:39 pm
I did an MSc in Computing Science at Newcastle in 2002-03 (as a mature student; my 1st degree was in Chemistry, back in the early 1990s), and now work as a software tester.
What sort of information / advice are you looking for?

I know it was a long time ago, but is Newcastle somewhere you can recommend for CS?
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Woofage on November 09, 2019, 04:22:38 pm
I did (amongst other, less successful things) Computer Science at Kent (then UKC) in 2001-2003.  The department was notable for having an extremely hands-on approach, without the over-emphasis on gratuitous Hard Sums that people like to cram into STEM subjects to add credibility.  I'm not sure the department is as well respected as it used to be thobut, which is a shame, given its history as one of the first in the UK.

My advice (especially if you're good at Hard Sums[1] or have more than a passing interest in hardware) would be to give serious consideration to related fields, such as Software Engineering, CSE or EE.  Or even something specialist like Avionics.  Lower-level stuff isn't sexy, but is probably a good career move.  You're going to be learning the specifics of whatever you end up doing by googling anyway, so a thorough grounding in the fundamentals is more valuable in the long term than whatever the current fad is while you're a student.

And the golden rule of not applying to any university that is in the process of building a Shiny! New! department with bleeding-edge facilities that will totally be ready[2] in time for September applies.


[1] Top tip: don't go near an engineering course unless you think Further Maths (or modern equivalent) sounds like fun.
[2] Spoiler:  It won't.


Excellent advice as usual Kim. He's really enjoying the HARD SUMS at the moment (I told him he would) but I still think he'd prefer a course that's isn't too theoretical (probably rules out Cambridge, which is a bit of a relief). I doubt that he would choose EE as he has no apparent interest in h/w.

Interestingly, Leeds is in the process of building a Shiny! New! facility with a target completion in about a year's time. This still leaves almost a year before Woofage jnr would start University, should he decide to go there.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: fboab on November 09, 2019, 08:58:15 pm
No1 & No2 Sons did All The Hard Sums & both got A* & A* @ A level. No1Son went to Warwick (2013-16) but pissed it away and finished with nothing- he did Decision Maths and didn't hand in his dissertation. No2Son went for something Purer @ York and has a First - but given he was supposed to come out with a Masters you can see they both lack sticking power. Most important thing is that they needed to know what they're doing it for. Neither son had has a clue.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Karla on November 09, 2019, 10:37:37 pm
Speaking from a EE perspective

As per Kim, definitely go for as general a course as you can.  So not as per Kim, don't go for 'Avionics' or whatever, go for vanilla CS, or even a joint CS-Maths degree if that takes your (or rather, his) fancy.  There will be stuff that you think you're interested in beforehand but which turns out to be either hard or boring, and there will be other stuff that you didn't think you'd like until you get there.  Similarly, try to go for a department that is part of a larger faculty so you can move around a bit if you want. 

A case in point: muggins.  My degree is in Electronic Engineering, which is notable for the absence of a "Electrical and ... " prefix; unlike most EE (a.k.a. EEE) departments, mine had no power engineering courses.  I ended up specialising in electromagnetic stuff that was right up next to that sorta thing, and a couple of those courses at undergrad could have opened up a whole new sector of jobs to me.  Not to worry, I've done okay for myself but I do see a whole load of people in industry who have physics degrees and are also doing perfectly well for themselves.  It's always easier to specialise later rather than try to climb out of the over-specific hole you've dug for yourself.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: Kim on November 09, 2019, 11:35:09 pm
As per Kim, definitely go for as general a course as you can.  So not as per Kim, don't go for 'Avionics' or whatever, go for vanilla CS, or even a joint CS-Maths degree if that takes your (or rather, his) fancy.

My thinking behind 'Avionics' was that being a combination of lower-level CS, a large helping of EE and enough Aero Eng that you don't break out in cold sweat whenever someone mentions "fluids and thermodynamics", it gives you a load of really useful general skills, even if you don't actually end up debugging 737s.  I expect the same applies if you mix CS up with, I dunno, medical physics or something.  CSE certainly doesn't seem like a bad idea, anyway.  But then neither does straight CS, physics or indeed Hard Sums.

Whereas CSish courses focused on things like AI or graphics techniques or computer security or whatever the cool kids are doing these days do seem much more likely to specialise you into a corner.

Interestingly, a friend on my E&EE course was studying it because he wanted to be a diplomat.  He was Good With Computers, and reckoned a solid engineering background was as good as anything else as a starting point.  Which makes at least as much sense at the coursemate who was Good At Maths and applied for E&EE because her school careers advisor told her to.  She was extremely bright and got fantastic grades, but had no love of the subject matter.

If I've learned one thing, it's that interest and enthusiasm are no substitute for cleverness and hard work.  Okay, that's probably two things, but you know what they say about off-by-one errors.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: fimm on November 11, 2019, 03:21:15 pm
I did an MSc in Computing Science at Newcastle in 2002-03 (as a mature student; my 1st degree was in Chemistry, back in the early 1990s), and now work as a software tester.
What sort of information / advice are you looking for?

I know it was a long time ago, but is Newcastle somewhere you can recommend for CS?
Yes, I would say so. It is quite an old department (this is a good thing - I mean they have been teaching and studying CS for a long time as these things go). I was happy with the teaching I got there.
I should add that I chose Newcastle so that I could sponge off live at home with my parents for the year. So I can't really comment on the aspects of being a student outside of the course. Though the reputation of Newcastle's night-life is well-deserved!
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: davelodwig on November 11, 2019, 08:22:05 pm
I did (amongst other, less successful things) Computer Science at Kent (then UKC) in 2001-2003.  The department was notable for having an extremely hands-on approach, without the over-emphasis on gratuitous Hard Sums that people like to cram into STEM subjects to add credibility.  I'm not sure the department is as well respected as it used to be thobut, which is a shame, given its history as one of the first in the UK.

My advice (especially if you're good at Hard Sums[1] or have more than a passing interest in hardware) would be to give serious consideration to related fields, such as Software Engineering, CSE or EE.  Or even something specialist like Avionics.  Lower-level stuff isn't sexy, but is probably a good career move.  You're going to be learning the specifics of whatever you end up doing by googling anyway, so a thorough grounding in the fundamentals is more valuable in the long term than whatever the current fad is while you're a student.

And the golden rule of not applying to any university that is in the process of building a Shiny! New! department with bleeding-edge facilities that will totally be ready[2] in time for September applies.


[1] Top tip: don't go near an engineering course unless you think Further Maths (or modern equivalent) sounds like fun.
[2] Spoiler:  It won't.


I did software engineering, I wasn't very good at maths when I started but was by the time I finished. Lots of it suddenly made sense when I had something to apply it to.

I tend to do Architecture these days which is less direct programming and more spreadsheets, and smashing technologies together to see they will work.
Title: Re: A level options
Post by: fd3 on May 31, 2020, 11:46:11 pm
If I've learned one thing, it's that interest and enthusiasm are no substitute for cleverness and hard work.  Okay, that's probably two things, but you know what they say about off-by-one errors.
I'd say interest and cleverness are no substitute for enthusiasm and hard work.  As you move on in career/academia everyone ends up clever, it's the hard work that wins out.