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UK Education/Careers advice

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I couldn''t think of any better place to ask about this so here i go Basically i''m in my last year of school and wondering what to do after school. I''ve spent 2-3 years using computers, teaching myself how to program using the internet and programming small games and programs and such but i want to get into game devlopment or maybe just programming properly and get a job with a proper company or something. I''m looking for people who have programming related jobs or have had programming related jobs or anyone who knows something about the qualifications required. I live in England if it makes any difference (I think Scotland and Wales have different education systems or something). Basically anything and everything anyone could tell me would be great. What GCSE''s would help if i do well with them, what to do after school, college courses that might help, university courses that might help and anything else. I was thinking about going to university and studying computer science but i checked out the website for a university close to me and all the computer science courses said they required some number of points to get in. I don''t really understand this but i''m guessing different things such as GCSE''s and things i do at college have different point values or something? Any help would be great Thanks so much!

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Make sure you do well in the following GCSE''s:

English (you need to be a good communicator)

I recommend that you go on to Uni and do a computer science degree course. I know this will be expensive, but with your head start you should be able to do well. Dont get less than a 2.1 in your degree (degree grades decending are: 1, 2.1, 2.2, 3, Degree without honours, fail) because employers are gits who only look at 2.1''s and above, regardless of University. Spend your summers programming for some company if you can- for free if necessary, and finally - get a break from academia and go travelling or something- its likely the only chance you will get to do so.

In order to get on a decent degree course you need to do A-levels or A/S levels. An A/S level is approx. half the work of a full A-level and is worth half the number of UCAS points (which are used by universities to determine if you should get in or not + later by employers). For A+A/S levels you get the following point break down:

A = 10 UCAS points
B = 8 UCAS points
C = 6 UCAS points
D = 4 UCAS points

A = 5 UCAS points
B = 4 UCAS points
C = 3 UCAS points
D = 2 UCAS points

You can do combinations of A and A/S levels. Look at possibly doing some of the following subjects:

Further Mathematics
+anything else you may be good at.

Top universities expect about 30 UCAS points (3 A''s at A-level).
If you are bright rather than near the top of the class then only do 3 A-levels, if you are particularly clever you may wish to do more, but just be aware every A-level you add is another set of exams to stress about.

Example- I did 4 A-levels and got ABCC (30 UCAS points) and went to York Uni, which is a good Uni in my opinion. However, this was back when A-levels were difficult subjects- I dont know what Uni''s are expecting now. York may well be expecting nothing less than straight A''s in whatever you take.

Congrads., you have just had the next 5-6 years of your life mapped out for you.


p.s. for A-level I recommend doing summer and easter revision courses- they can boost your grade as well as your confidence in a subject. I couldnt do them as my parents couldnt afford them, but they are about 300-400 pounds I think.
When learning a subject remember to do plenty of example problems and questions- think about getting some A-level revision software and maybe some of the Schaum''s Outline series books, which are very good.

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I will just add a game dev related comment. I would suggest you do a Computer Science degree course rather than a Game Development related course. The jury is still out on these courses so an established comp sci course is better. It will also allow greater flexibility if you want to do non-games programming.

However, if you want to get into games you will need to spend your spare time working on demos and small games to build up a good portfolio.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions
Game Development & Design consultant

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"Congrads., you have just had the next 5-6 years of your life mapped out for you."

Hehe thanks!

Obscure, i think i saw some kind of computer science course that had something to do with game development on the univsersity website. It caught my eye at first but i decided it would be better to just do a normal computer science course because i would then have other opportunities open for me rather than just game development.

I have a nice big folder on my hard drive with many demo programs and small games i''ve written since i learned to program and i have just recently decided to start writing bigger and more complex demos and games to show off what i can do and learn even more.

"Spend your summers programming for some company if you can- for free if necessary"

Thanks for that idea, i would of never thought of it myself but i will definitely look into it as it will at least give me some experience.

Thanks loads to both of you!

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