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Webbster

AS Level Applications

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From what I can tell I''m getting my AS level application forms next week, and there abit of a no-going back deal, so I just wanted to check with you guys, to see if I was making some good or not so good decisions. The subjects I have thought about are: Computing - Seems more relevant to my career choice than ICT, what with topics on programming. Mathematics - Seeing as I am looking to get into 3D Engine programming I would have thought Maths would be a good subject to take. Might even help me with some of the books Im reading now. Business Studies - I wudda thought this would be very helpfull if I ever wanted to ascend the ranks at a company and possibly take a managment role much later on. Further Mathematics - Not sure about this one, Im rubbish at physics so that WOULD have been my 4th choice but I''m not going to take a subject Im no good at. My plans are to take 4 subjects as AS and 3 as A2, I would really appreciate some help on this matter, I''m abit of a forward thinker so I''m looking at the long term possibilities of taking these subjects such as University etc. Some advice on other subjects I haven''t considered would also be greatly appreciated. Thanks a million and 1! Adam

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Maths and Further Maths are an absolute requisite. I''m taking them at the moment (P4 and M2/M3 - no stats, yay) and they become a bit of an arse, especially with the amount of calculus in the pure modules; but by the end, you''ll be really well prepared for uni courses in computing.

Computing... from what I''ve heard it''s not great. I was going to try and study it (in the end my school wouldn''t let me as they''ve got noone qualified on staff who can teach me), and I got a look at the syllabus... much of it is things like the social impact of computing, and designing business solutions. E.g:

Bill and Mary Bloggs run a caravan holiday camp in Brighton. Over recent years, business has grown to such an extent that Bill has trouble keeping track of all the bookings and payment details. Design a computer system for Bill and Mary that they can use to keep all their business details on computer.

And thus it begins; you talk about databases, spreadsheets, batch jobs, client/servers, etc etc. It''s pretty high-level; programming is only taught because without it you wouldn''t really be able to actually make anything. Oh, there''s one module on data structures (like linked lists) but it''s pretty insignificant compared to the rest of it.

Business Studies: I wanted to take it, but again my school didn''t offer it.. from what I''ve heard it''s a bit crap. You might want to look into Economics instead; it''s much more applicable to daily life, and will let you complain about the price of games with some authority

A lot of it depends on the teachers you get. I have two really great economics teachers; if I didn''t, I expect I would have dropped it after AS.

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates, and when he''s not doing that, runs The Binary Refinery.
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I think I''ll follow my instincts then! Thanks for that.

Actually I am not that sure if My school will actually let me do Computing, I might have to settle with Information Technology, but I would have thought thats not worth doing for my career choice.

Also, Should I do Math. with Statistics + Further Math. or just Math. + Further Math.

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Im doing my A2 course this year and have applied for university for entry next year.

I did Physics, Computing, Business and Maths for AS and dropped Business at A2.

I wouldnt go as far as saying futher maths was absoloutly a requirement, there are three people in our 180+ people year group.

Computing is a lot more theory than you might think (particuarly on our course)

I looked at both business and economics and business seemed a whole lot better though a lot of people that do one do the other. Business was more me tho at the end of the day i hated writing all of the bloody essays, you have to write tons in the exams too!

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quote:
Original post by Webbster
Actually I am not that sure if My school will actually let me do Computing, I might have to settle with Information Technology, but I would have thought thats not worth doing for my career choice.

Also, Should I do Math. with Statistics + Further Math. or just Math. + Further Math.



Yeah, IT is pretty much unrelated. It''s about using computers (word, excel, etc etc) rather than making/understanding them.

I wouldn''t bother with Stats, but that may just be my personal taste. I hate stats.

Further Maths isn''t ''officially'' a must, that''s true, but it will *seriously* increase your chances of getting into a university. Put it this way: Oxford and Cambridge both list it as ''highly recommended'' on their application forms. If they''re saying that, it must be pretty important...

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates, and when he''s not doing that, runs The Binary Refinery.
Enginuity1 | Enginuity2 | Enginuity3 | Enginuity4
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I have just finished A2 levels.
I took:

Physics - This was the science I was good at at GCSE. I didn''t really figure it would prove a useful choice later on. I pretty much sucked at Physics. I got like a B at AS but my A2 modules were really hard so I ended up with a D.

Maths - I took P1-P3, M1-M2, S1. I was supposed to take M3 instead of S1 but pfft, it was an easy A. We got screwed in the M2 exam though so I ended up with another annoying D.

Computing - A breeze. It''s actually not the stereotypical easy difficulty. There is a lot of theory (at least in our exam board), but the teacher didn''t even know OOP concepts so there were things lacking. We learned Pascal and Delphi, I took studying way over the level needed though. Got an A in all 6 modules.

I applied for Uni, was supposed to start last month. I got accepted into Kent for computer science despite they wanted BBB (I got ADD) so they must have liked me, I also got accepted into Lincoln to do Games technology.


Yea, Maths will help A LOT, and further maths is even better. I would have said take physics but it IS one of the hardest a-level subjects and if you arn''t too good at it, don''t force yourself.

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I did a degree in BSc Soft Eng. at the Uni of Central Lancs and, although i didnt finish the course, (due to issues i had with the course and outside of it) there wasnt much maths content at all from what i remember. Most of the stuff was pretty basic, i think set theory was about the only thing i didnt remember from A-lvl maths, and even that was taught from scratch.

btw, i went to a Soft Eng degree with A-lvls in Biology, Maths and Electronics (that said i did my A-lvls 5 years ago now (dear god i feel old, hehe) so i guess stuff could have changed as to how strict they are for entry subjects, heck i didnt even have a GCSE C in English

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Thanks for all the Help...

I think I''ll go for Computing, Business, Math & Further Math!

Im guessing when you mention PI-P2 M2/M3 etc. etc. your talking about the modules, I don''t know much about this yet so what sort of modules do you advice me to look into and research seeing as I am looking to get into 3D Games Programming. I figure that if i can get modules ''relating'' to my hobbies in programming, I may be able to ''enjoy'' them alittle more and find them easier to get into and learn..

Thanks
Adam

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Yes, maths is usually split into Pure, Statistics and Mechanics.
Being I didn''t do further maths I either had to choose:
Stats - P1,P2,P3,S1,S2,S3
Mech. - P1,P2,P3,M1,M2,M3

Since you are doing further maths as far as I remember you do: P1,P2,P3,P4,P5,P6,M1,M2,M3,S1,S2,S3

Pure - This is just the hardcore theory. Coordinate geometry, differentiation, integration. Hence "pure". A lot of it will be very helpful in Games programming.
Statistics is as you guessed lots of data manipulation. Averages, Graphs, Diagrams, stuff like that.
Mechanics is very closely related with physics. It is stuff like collisions, ladders, gravity, projectiles, all sorts of stuff like that so again it will most probably be quite useful.

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I feel I should warn you about the standard of A-Level maths. Basically the entire maths/further maths syllabus is covered in the first year of a maths degree... to bring everyone up to the same standard. This means if you have done further maths, you are about the standard of a 1st year maths student (which is not really very high in the real mathematical world). It is also worth remembering that what is called "Pure" maths at A-level is almost all considered "Applied" at university. The mechanics modules tend to be quite interesting though, especially the later ones, though they only go as far as setting up f=ma based motion ODEs. So basically what I am saying is... if you want to learn applied mathematics at a higher level, the pure modules are the important part. The mechanics modules tend to use premade mechanics equations like s=ut+1/2at^2 etc, and that is not really very useful at any reasonable level. If you can do all 6 pure modules you get up to partial differentiation and Simple harmonic motion type ODEs etc, and you cover more calculus. So in short, if you are going to do a maths degree... you only really need single award maths, further maths will all just be repeated in the first year, so don't waste your time on it. If you are going to do a computing related degree, do further maths, as this will give you a useful conceptual head start. This may sound strange, but I found 1st year uni very dull indeed having done further maths. Module wise... P1-6, M1-4, S1-2 for further maths... P1-3, M1-2, S1 for single (if you are going to do a degree in maths). i hope someoen finds this helpful.

EDIT: These choices are based on someone wanting to do game coding, who HATES statistics (BOOOOO STATS!!!).

[edited by - dmounty on October 17, 2003 9:38:01 AM]

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My advice is thus:

1) Talk to the universities and/or students who go there and see what they recommend for the course you would like to take.
2) Only do what you have to because there is no point trying to get 4 good grades when you can get 3 great grades and get where you want to be.

Personally I took Maths, Computing, Physics and AS Further Maths. Maths was a no-brainer for me as I found in quite easy although further maths involved having to work. I started doing the full a-level but when no universities asked for it I promptly dropped down to AS so I could focus on my other subjects (I did the old a-level system). Physics was my weakest subject simply because I didn''t pay attention in class, more on this later, but computing was also a no-brainer. I''d been programming since my early years in school and the course presented no problem. It doesn''t teach you anything particularly useful although you will probably get one or two good things out of it (for me the only thing new was database normalisation and design).

I now am in my 3rd year of my Physics (uh huh) Degree at Imperial. It''s quite good here. I got an ABB offer and achieved AAB.
The first term my knowledge of further maths was a godsend, it made getting full marks in the initial exams very easy. But after about 3-4 months *everyone* was on a level playing field. Sure every now and then it''ll help out but you''ll find that if you go to a good university then the course moves at a decent speed. This is why I say take it if you need it else do it if you really want to.

Also I''ve found that you don''t seem to touch the area your actually interested in working in until you are actually very close to getting there. My first two years seemed to be full of random core course content. Now with a few specialised option courses and a greater understanding of the topics I can see the applications and progress. Unfortunately, like when you get your A-levels your GCSEs seem completetly unimportant, a few years in to your degree and your A-levels will seem laregely irrelevant.

Oh and as for maths modules, yes pure is great but do what you''ll do well in. I took 3 pure modules, 2 mechanics and 1 statistics (guaranteed 75%+ exam mark if you learn it) for my a-level and as-level. I was doing the old system remember though which was 4 modules where old module = 1.5 new modules.

Hope some of this helps you, A-levels were a really enjoyable time in my life and I hope you can have as much fun as I had.

-Meto

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quote:
Original post by dmounty
So in short, if you are going to do a maths degree... you only really need single award maths, further maths will all just be repeated in the first year, so don''t waste your time on it.


Ah, but surely if you do it at A-level, you''ll have more time to party in the first year of university?

quote:

These choices are based on someone wanting to do game coding, who HATES statistics (BOOOOO STATS!!!).

Damn skippy! Students unite against the oppression that is Statistics! We have a 0.8 probability of successful overthrow! Oh, wait, damn...

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates, and when he''s not doing that, runs The Binary Refinery.
Enginuity1 | Enginuity2 | Enginuity3 | Enginuity4
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I remember the hell that was stats. If you can do mechanics instead, do it.
Brrr.
I''d take philosophy or art if you can, it''s much more useful than BS. (the acronym says it all really)

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quote:
Ah, but surely if you do it at A-level, you'll have more time to party in the first year of university?


< SARCASM >
Partying? University is all about hard work and dedication, if you are partying, you don't deserve to be there.
< /SARCASM >

EDIT: My sarcasm tags didn't appear

[edited by - dmounty on October 17, 2003 3:10:07 PM]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by Metorical
I now am in my 3rd year of my Physics (uh huh) Degree at Imperial...The first term my knowledge of further maths was a godsend


Tends to be at Imperial! I heard they''re trying to get the medics to do further maths as well...

FYI I''m doing engineering at IC

I''d definately suggest doing at least 1 {pure} science - probably physics as a reasonable physical understanding will be an advantage in an industry such as the game programming industry (where I assume you intend to head). It''s all very well trying to avoid the ''hard'' subjects, but they do add to your ability to approach the problem with a better analysis logic - I''m sure you know all the jokes about media studies. Further maths will also ease your passage into uni, even if you don''t need it.

quote:

Ah, but surely if you do it at A-level, you''ll have more time to party in the first year of university?



it''s been a good couple of weeks so-far...

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So if I had the choice of:

Math, Further Math, Pure Math, Mechanics and Statistics which ones shud I take?

I WILL be taking Business and Computing so I just want two types of maths from above, for AS then for A2 Ill drop one of the maths and focus on three subjects, or if i can handle it take all four (doubt it )!

Thanks, Adam!

PS Im looking for two maths subjects that will be applicable to my *fingers crossed* Games Career into Graphics Programming. The Uni. Course im looking to take is "Computer Science with Games Development" but its not at oxford, or other universitys such as, so the expectations for A Levels are not Extreme. (Triple CCCs I think, and Maths & English Grade C GCSE)

[edited by - Webbster on October 18, 2003 10:37:20 AM]

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Definitely Mechanics and Math; probably Pure Math and/or Further Math as well, though I thought that Math and Further Math were composed of Pure/Mech/Stats/Decision...

Actually, that''s a point. See if you can''t get someone to teach you Decision maths. It''s very applicable to programming - all about algorithms and stuff.

Richard "Superpig" Fine
- saving pigs from untimely fates, and when he''s not doing that, runs The Binary Refinery.
Enginuity1 | Enginuity2 | Enginuity3 | Enginuity4
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OpenGL is a language

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