Further Mathematics and Medicine at University

Further Mathematics and Medicine at University

Further Mathematics and Medicine at University

Following increasing concern regarding the management of Further Mathematics courses and the studying of Medicine at university, it was decided to survey all university schools of medicine to discover their views on the matter. The following three questions were posed:

  1. If Further Mathematicians certificate for Maths A level in the Lower sixth, will this count towards any offer received?
  2. If Further Mathematicians sit and complete any A2 modules in the Lower Sixth, will these be able to count towards any A level included in an offer received?
  3. For ordinary mathematicians could you clarify your view on whether an AS resit module would be allowed?

Twenty six responses were received, which are reproduced in full in the table below. Some universities place no restrictions on the further maths courses pupils follow; some universities object to the certification of Mathematics A level in the Lower Sixth, but make no mention of when module examinations are sat; some universities object to the sitting of any A2 modules in the Lower Sixth; some universities will not make an offer that includes both Mathematics and Further Mathematics A levels, and it is likely that this holds for other universities that do not actually mention the issue.

As a consequence of this survey, Warwick School has adopted the following policy towards Further Mathematics A level and Medicine at university:

  • Any pupils who know in Year 11 that they wish to study medicine at university are discouraged from taking A level Further Mathematics.
  • Any pupils who realise during the course of the Lower Sixth that they wish to study Medicine at University have all their examinations in A2 modules delayed until the Upper Sixth, and are consequently certificated for AS level Mathematics in the Lower Sixth rather than A level Mathematics.

The rationale for this is to ensure that pupils are not disadvantaged in their university application by having a likely excellent performance in A-level Mathematics ignored. It is recognised that a likely consequence of the policy is that some pupils may decide during the Upper Sixth that Further Mathematics has no relevance to their application and so they downgrade its priority, drop it from A level to AS level or drop the subject completely.

Survey of responses to enquiries about medicine applications
Aberdeen /
  1. Yes, but we would require evidence of learning in upper sixth so we would still expect 3 A levels at A grade.
  2. If the candidate achieves 3 A grades at A Level in Upper Sixth plus an A Level in Lower Sixth this would increase their academic score. We do not want our scoring system to penalise very able candidates. However, our minimum requirement would still be 3 A grades at A Level in Upper Sixth.
  3. AS resit modules are allowed, but we do not allow resits of the final exam.

Belfast / Module repeats within the normal two-year period between GCSE and A-level do not place applicants at any disadvantage. An A-level taken a year early would also be counted. Not more than one A level and one AS level in Mathematical subjects may be counted.
Birmingham / Our policies relating to the issues you raise are as follows:
  • We do not consider Maths and Further Maths as separate subjects
  • Four AS subjects must be studied in their entirety in one year
  • Three A2 subjects must be studied, which will form the basis of an offer; again, all modules studied and examined in the same year

Bristol / We require Medicine candidates to gain the three A-level entry grades or equivalent in two years and one sitting. We accept AS module re-takes within this two year study period. However, we do not accept A-level re-takes or additional A-level subjects studied subsequent to a candidate’s first sitting.
  1. YES
  2. YES
  3. Within the two years of study - YES

Cambridge / We are, of course, in favour of stretching and challenging learners, but not at the expense of levels of achievement. Thus, we would discourage schools and colleges from entering their students early for public examinations unless they are very confident that top grades will be obtained. A grade B in a AS level taken in Year 11 is still a B in our eyes; it is not equivalent to an A in the same qualification taken in Year 12. Where students are successfully taking qualifications early, we would still want to see evidence that they can cope with a workload equivalent to three A levels taken simultaneously.
We must also highlight the potential disadvantages of taking A levels early in subjects where the knowledge and understanding will be required at university. Students who have not studied a key subject in a structured way the year before they arrive at university can find that their knowledge, all-important to some undergraduate courses, has atrophied. A good example of this would be a student studying a maths-based course like Mathematics or Engineering whose maths has become rusty during a pre-university year in which maths has not been systematically done.
If a school is looking for ways to stretch its most able students in Year 11, we would strongly recommend that they encourage students to read widely around the subjects that interest them. This might be facilitated by the provision of appropriate reading lists or even material; and appropriate follow-up, for instance via a discussion group, should help develop the sort of analytical thinking and intellectual flexibility that we look for in applicants - and which is central to success at university.
Dundee / I know its early days yet but I am getting the impression the general advice is don't do Maths in L6!
  1. Our minimum requirement of three A Levels, at A grade passes, must be achieved in one sitting i.e. the final AS Level results must all be achieved in the same year.
  2. We are not concerned with A2 modules as such, but, taking three years to complete an A Level is not in keeping with our entry requirements as they must be achieved within the two-year time limit.
  3. As I stated in paragraph 2, we are not concerned with A2 modules as such (we understand other universities are and put lots of caveats on them) and we would not discount an application where they had been re-sat/re-taken. It is the final result we consider.
Further to paragpah 3 - Obviously high A2 results, achieved at first sitting, show continued achievement and we do take that into consideration. The applicant is given extra weight for continued achievement.
East Anglia / At the University of East Anglia, we ask that all A2 subjects are completed within a 2 year period. In order to be fair to all applicants, we expect all to have carried the workload of a minimum of three A2 subjects and one AS subject over a two year period.
Offers will not include a combination of Mathematics and Further Mathematics at A2/ AS level. We require three A2 subjects at AAA, to include Biology and a second science from Chemistry or Physics. The third A2 and the AS subject at grade B can be in any subject but not a combination of Mathematics and Further Mathematics.
We are happy to accept applications from those taking both of these maths subjects, however, they would need to be studying at least one further A2 or AS in order to be able to meet our subject entry requirements.
So to answer your questions:
  1. We ask that three full A2 levels should be completed within two years. If study for Further Mathematics began before lower 6th (ie in the GCSE year) we may not be able to consider this in an offer. However, if the full A2 is gained within one year, we may be able to consider it, depending on what else is studied.
  2. This will depend on the other A2 levels studied and our '2 year study' rule.
  3. If A2 study is not certified, then students may resit modules within the two year AS/A2 year.

Edinburgh / Any certificates achieved in Lower Sixth are currently only accepted as a fourth subject in addition to the 3 required full A-levels in Upper Sixth.
With regards to AS levels resits, we allow a maximum of two module resits in total.
Exeter / We do accept Further Mathematics as the third A Level for Medicine even if the applicant has completed it in the Lower sixth form. Students are therefore free to do A2 modules in their Lower sixth form. We do not discriminate against retakes or the length of the time taken to complete full A levels
Glasgow / In order for applicants to meet our minimum requirements they should possess AAA in three A2 examinations at one sitting to include Chemistry and one of Maths, Physics or Biology. General Studies is NOT acceptable as a third subject at A2. A GCSE pass in English at a minimum of Grade B is also required. If Biology is not studied at A2 level, it should be taken at AS level, grade A required. Biology and Human Biology are considered as equal subjects. We do not consider Maths and Further Maths as two separate subjects at A Level. All applicants must sit the UKCAT.
The applicants must sit three A Levels all in the same year and achieve the above grades at the first attempt. We do not take AS results into consideration (except that mentioned above). The full A Level must be achieved over the normal two year period.
Imperial College London / Provided applicants are taking 3 A2 subjects in year 13 then the fact that they have completed qualifications early will not disadvantage them. Applicants offering 4 full A2 levels will be made an offer of AAAC.
We do not object to applicants resitting modules in order to boost their overall grades provided these retakes are sat in the normal 2 year time frame in which is takes to complete A Levels (i.e. in Year 12 and 13).
King's College London / AAA at A-level and a further AS-level at grade B, including Biology and Chemistry.
Further Maths is accepted as the additional AS-level. If Further Maths is taken to full A-level it is expected that the applicant will also have Maths, Chemistry and Biology all at full A-level.
A-level module resits are considered providing they take place within the standard two year period for A-levels.
Leeds / As long as the A2 Maths is obtained with a grade A and over 2 years, applicants who have taken this a year earlier would be allowed to carry this grade forward as part of the AAA requirement at A2. However we would not accept AAA in Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths.
Leicester /
  1. Our offer would be based on the A Level subjects taken in Year 13. However, should a candidate not achieve an A in Further Mathematics, the Mathematics grade achieved in Year 12 would be taken into account.
  2. Further Mathematics modules taken in Year 12 can be counted towards Further Mathematics A Level in Year 13.
  3. We are happy to consider candidates who are resitting a module in Mathematics. We would be concerned if multiple resits were required.

Liverpool / Our current policy is that we assess GCSEs by the end of year 11 and A-levels by the end of year 13 and thus if they are taken earlier we do not discount them when considering making offers. We do not limit the number of resits taken as long as they all occur by the end of year 11. We are currently reviewing our criteria but my expectation at this moment in time is that the policy is unlikely to change in the next admissions cycle.
Manchester / We do not accept A2 subjects taken at the end of year 12 as part of any offer made. We only offer against three A2 subjects taken at the end of year 13. We currently accept A2 resits.
Subjects required: Chemistry plus one from Biology or Human Biology, Physics, Mathematics or Further Mathematics plus one further subject (not Critical Thinking or General Studies; Further Mathematics not accepted alongside Mathematics;
Newcastle /
  1. With regards to an applicant who has completed a full A level (AS and A2) a year early and has achieved a grade A and this was school policy we may consider the A Level as part of an offer to an applicant.
  2. We are not normally informed of individual modules where a full AS or A2 has not been completed. If the final A level examination is sat at the same session as the other A levels we require this may be considered as long as the full A Level was completed within two years.
  3. If an applicant resits an AS module we are not normally informed about this however if we to be informed this would be considered as a resit. If an applicant resits an A2 module we are normally informed about this and therefore the A level would be considered a resit.

Nottingham / We prefer A levels taken over two years. While we understand that some schools encourage bright students to take Maths A level a year early we do like to see that a student can cope with the rigour of three A levels at one sitting.
Where students have taken Maths over a maximum of two years but early we would require that they are taking three A levels at one sitting including Biology and Chemistry but, if they are holding an offer and on results day they have A's in Chemistry and Biology but B third subject, we would use an A in Maths taken early to meet the offer of three A's.
We accept Further Maths as third A2 if they have taken Maths a year early. We will accept only one module re-sit per subject during the two year period of A levels in any subject.
After meeting the academic requirements, we look at the application as a whole rather than placing any further importance on the academic side.
When assessing an application, we first look to ensure that our minimum academic qualifications have been met, at GCSE and predicted grades at A level. Applicants who have met the academic criteria are then considered using a range of factors.
We consider and score the following criteria when making our decisions:
  • academic ability; top 8 GCSE's including the ones required - 21%
  • personal and referees statements on your UCAS form; - 16%
  • responses to our on-line questionnaire; - 15%
  • UKCAT scores for the four cognitive components. (there is no cut off , each section score is used) - together 48%
These factors are considered and compared against other applications received when deciding who will be invited for an interview.
Oxford / Our entrance requirements are: three A-levels at A*AA grade or equivalent qualifications, taken in one academic year. One A-level must be Chemistry, the second should be Biology, Physics or Mathematics and the third can be any other subject except General Studies or Critical Thinking.
As long as you satisfy the entrance requirements, any choices above and beyond that are up to you. Some applicants choose to take just science subjects or Maths, whilst other applicants prefer to add a subject in the humanities or social sciences. We express no preference whatever towards particular subject combinations; our only stipulation is that applicants must offer Chemistry, plus Biology and/or Physics and/or Mathematics. Successful applicants have offered a wide range of combinations, many including subjects in the humanities or social sciences. You should choose the third (and/or fourth) subject that most interests you and in which you expect to do best.
We expect high standards of numeracy, literacy and scientific aptitude in all our students, whatever A-level subjects they choose to take.
Plymouth / We do not disadvantage students who have been able to take an A level subject a year earlier than expected. We would only require further information should a student have taken 3 years rather than the usual 2 to achieve their A level subjects.
We also accept AS module resits. However, please note that we do not accept both Mathematics and Further Mathematics at A level. We are happy to accept one at A level and the other at AS level, but it is felt that they are too similar in subject to be considered separately at the same academic level.
Saint Andrew's / Only one of Mathematics or Further Mathematics will be considered for the 3 subjects required at Advanced Level.
If Further Mathematicians certificate for Maths A level in the Lower sixth, this will not count towards any offer received. If Further Mathematicians sit and complete any A2 modules in the Lower Sixth, these will be able to count towards any A level included in an offer received.
Current we do not assess applicants on their AS grades, only on GCSEs and A2 predictions/exams obtained. Please see our website for details of competitive academic requirements, how we use the UKCAT and the other qualities and experience we seek.
Sheffield / We do not consider resits or examinations taken early. Our A2 level requirement must be met within the two year period.
Southampton / For ordinary mathematicians we allow module resits as long as they are within the 'normal two years of normal A level study'. No third year resits would be accepted.
Any student who has completed an AS + A2 in one year (in normal two years of normal A level study) is acceptable and can be offered and applicants wouldn't be disadvantaged. Again resits are allowed.
Please note however the following for our 5 year medicine programme for 2014 entry:
  • 3 A's (AAA) at A level (A2) including Chemistry and Biology.
  • 1 A at AS in a subject not taken to A2 or alternatively grade A in an EPQ.
  • Minimum of 7 GCSE'S at grade A or above, including Maths, English and Double Award Science.

St George's University of London / That would not pose a problem at all.
Students that start A levels early can still apply as long as they meet the grade requirements we have. However, once they have sat their A2 exams for the subjects started early, they can not resit them if their final grades are lower than our requirements.
  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. Modular resits before final grades obtained (within the 2 years of A level study) is acceptable.

UCL / If candidates certificate for Maths A level, or any other subject, in the Lower sixth or sit and complete any A2 modules in the Lower Sixth this subject would not be included in the AAA offer. It would fulfil the fourth AS/A level entry requirement. In order to be eligible to apply these candidates would need to be predicted to achieve in the Upper sixth AAA in Chemistry, Biology and another A2 subject with all of the A2 modules sat in the final year and none of the modules sat before the Lower sixth.

Warwick School (WKH/SRC)1 / 512/12/2018