The challenge and fun in Computer Science is the problem-solving and revelations you face when you solve a problem – the solutions aren’t as easy to find as a maths problem, but are as straightforward as one step after another. When the understanding behind a goal “clicks” and you realise the path to your solution – that’s what makes it so fun. You can solve anything, and it’s satisfying too.
One of our students this year didn’t take Computer Science as a GCSE and wishes that they did. If you haven’t done any Computer Science before it’s not a disaster, but a good foundation is imperative, so we would recommend doing some more research and practice over the summer. Having a firm grasp of GCSE Mathematics and problem-solving is crucial to taking it to the next level – A Level. Those of us who did Computer Science GCSE found it an easier step up – but don’t let that put you off if you haven’t studied it before.
Our other piece of advice for those starting Year 12 is to start your NEA (Non-Exam Assessment – a programming project that needs to be documented) as soon as it is introduced. This will make it a lot easier and provide you with the time you need to get it done without problems – and if you get stuck, it means you have time to talk it through with your teachers and peers so they can help you.
I studied Maths, Further Maths and Computer Science. Maths is required for Further Maths at A Level, and Further Maths shares many important aspects with Computer Science, especially the decision aspect of the FM course. However, other students doing Computer Science have studied other sciences – Biology and Chemistry, mostly. If your goal is Computer Science after college, Maths is always a good choice, then Further Maths and Physics have shown to be really good support subjects too. I also completed an EPQ, using a self-learning neural network to try to predict students’ outcomes in exams.
I plan to continue taking Computer Science at University level, so studying A Level Computer Science has helped me to prepare for that leap, and also enabled me to enlarge my repertoire and portfolio of projects in the meantime.