A common question asked by parents is whether their son or daughter has the ability for further study in mathematics or physics. This usually means the study of the subjects at A-level or IB level or the national equivalent. It can be difficult to judge since it often comes down to deciding whether past poor performance is due to a lack of effort or not. If the student is really keen, I tend to say “try it – you are young and if you don’t succeed, you can always say you tried.” Much depends on the maturity of the student concerned and the support he or she has. I put a keen student through his A-level course in ten months, gaining him a sufficient grade to go on to study finance at university. He had achieved a C grade at GCSE aged 16 and was about 24 years old when I tutored him.
Everyone has their limits. Reasons for poor performance in previous exams may be down to bad teaching, lack of support, learning difficulties, emotional problems and so on. It is also worth saying that one person’s failure may be another person’s success as we all haver different targets.