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Pupil wants to drop A-level maths after a week

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by robyn147, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. I tutor a boy who got Grade A in his GCSE maths. He is doing physics, biology, chemistry and maths for A-level. However he really lacks confidence in himself and has decided maths is too hard after a week of surds and line geometry. In his words, "everyone in the class got A* and they get it all the time and I don't want to ask for help and I just feel stupid!"
    Thing is - he's doing physics and there's a lot of maths in physics. I think he wants to do physics at University as well. I've told him to try and keep perservering but he's very depressed about the subject.
    Really need some advice - has anyone had pupils in a similar situation? Can you do physics A-level and not do maths?
    Thanks

     
  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    I tutor a boy who got Grade A in his GCSE maths. He is doing physics, biology, chemistry and maths for A-level. However he really lacks confidence in himself and has decided maths is too hard after a week of surds and line geometry. In his words, "everyone in the class got A* and they get it all the time and I don't want to ask for help and I just feel stupid!"
    Thing is - he's doing physics and there's a lot of maths in physics. I think he wants to do physics at University as well. I've told him to try and keep perservering but he's very depressed about the subject.
    Really need some advice - has anyone had pupils in a similar situation? Can you do physics A-level and not do maths?
    Thanks

     
  3. DM

    DM New commenter

    Sadly you can certainly do physics A Level without maths - you just need to learn a little about logarithms. You cannot study physics as an undergraduate without maths - the IoP recently released a report called 'Mind The Gap' that bemoans the mathematical skills of undergraduates and emphasises the value of further maths.
     
  4. An ex pupil of mine (A level music teacher!) recently did Art, Music and Physics...She did better in physics than music despite being a grade 8 musician so I guess its possible :)
     

  5. The docM is correct in that A-level physics can be done without A-level Maths, but that such a scenario does not easily extend to university physics courses. I would be very wary of a university that did not require some post-GCSE mathematics for a physics course.
    Perhaps your tutee sees himself more of a hands-on physicist, perhaps even an engineer. Again I'd be wary of engineering courses that do not require post-GCSE maths. Civil and Building Engineering require less maths than others.

     
  6. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    However in reality he is lazy - poorly motivated and not interested - let him drop it - with this attitude he will fail anyway.
     
  7. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    I would agree. This boy sounds as if he expects everything to fall on to a plate for him, without putting in any real effort. He has thrown in the towel without even trying. Let him find himself a nice soft option.
     
  8. harderfaster

    harderfaster New commenter

    I lived with a physics undergraduate and would say that there is absolutely no way you could consider doing a physics degree without AS-level maths. Some of the calculus will be far beyond C4 so if he is in fact incapable (or not motivated) then I'd consider a different degree.
     
  9. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    Listen, chaps, I know exactly where you are coming from, but this is jumping the gun, somewhat. After considerable deliberation, possibly, a boy chooses maths and then wants to drop it at the first hurdle. I've tutored such students and many have been better off dropping it, but not all. I can think of a number who we took under our wing and kept them going and they did really well in the end.
     
  10. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    We had a long chat on Monday. It's really hard motivating him - I'm sure he can do it and I wish he would give it a go. He loves his physics which (IMHO) is incredibly difficult and I know that he needs maths. He has a self confidence problem which is why his parents hired me a year ago and he made great improvements in his maths. He's got nothing to lose by continuing with maths. But it's convincing him.
     
  11. My daughter did maths, physics, biology and PE for her AS-Levels with the intention of dropping the PE after a year - she did it because she knew she'd get an A in it for her AS, and she did.
    My point is that if he thinks maths is hard now, and he's doing 3 sciences, he has no IDEA of how hard it's going to get! If he were my son I would implore him to just put his back into his maths now because in about 6months' time when the sciences start to get really hard he will wish he still had the luxury of a droppable subject.
    My girl got an A* for maths and only B and C for the other two - which took up about 90% of her time and energy between them.
     
  12. Not wanting to make a sweeping generalisation here as I know there are those who do well at AS level after grade A at GCSE, but it could be that he is just not up to it. Grade A at GCSE means he has lots of gaps in his knowledge and will need to fill those gaps to succeed at AS
     
  13. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Well he's dropped it. So I'm going to be teaching him all the maths he needs for his physics.
    Surely Grade A pupils only have some gaps (or is that a naive statement?)
     
  14. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    That's a big shame but, not knowing the context, may be best for this person.
    Edexcel Grade A threshold was just over 60% this year. That's an awful lot of gaps if, in a crude sense, you view C1 was an opportunity for all students to get up to A* standard which is so often the way it is described.
     
  15. davidmu

    davidmu Occasional commenter

    You are going to be very busy robyn147. My first degree was in Physics from a top Russell group university with a Nobel prize winner for one of the profs. We took Maths for two years to accompany the Physics course and in my opinion it was essential. No university will take a proper student for Physics without a high grade at A level. How is your knowledge of Thermodynamics?
     
  16. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    I know - I told him and I'm really upset for him / disappointed as I wish he could have stuck at it. I know he will not be able to do physics at University. Will have to help him as best as I can.
     

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