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I am supposed to choose between mathematics and biology for the next stage of my academic career, i.e. college at undergraduate level. This will broadly classify my local career options into engineering (if I pursue math) or medicine/related fields (if I pursue biology). This bifurcation is the prevalent reality in my country, where 'professional courses', I.e. engineering and medicine are the most sought after college courses. Entrance to either course is through competitive exams with a low selection rate.

My interest is in maths, whereas I am confident (after analysing myself and taking many reputed aptitude exams) that my aptitude lies in biology. What should a student do in such a situation...choose their interest or their skill?

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    Is this undergraduate or postgraduate?
    – nick012000
    Jan 9, 2022 at 10:25
  • @nick012000 this is for preparing for an entrance exam for undergraduate i.e., NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) or JEE(Joint Entrance Examination)
    – Anonymous
    Jan 9, 2022 at 10:31
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    Is it really necessary to downvote this question so much? The question might leave a slightly naive impression, but I think this shows that OP could actually benefit quite a lot from a few good answers here (as, e.g., the two answers already given). Jan 9, 2022 at 13:36
  • Talk to an advisor who knows you well.
    – Buffy
    Jan 9, 2022 at 14:33

2 Answers 2

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This is a disturbing question based on a false premise that early stereotyping is inevitable, and that it determines your career. I cannot tell you which is better right now but I encourage you to take the long view: gain the skills you need to pursue your interests.

I cannot believe that doing a session or two of maths will stop you doing biological work in future. Indeed, most (I emphasise not all) of the biologists I have encountered, interviewed, employed or worked with have been weak in maths (even to High School standards) and their biological work would have benefitted from a better grasp of mathematics.

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I was facing a similar question when deciding what to study. I went for maths ("aptitude" in my case) and I'm happy with that decision with hindsight, however I wouldn't recommend generally to go for "aptitude" (or "maths" - in fact obviously my choice is aligned in some sense with both of your alternatives).

I think it depends on finding out more precisely what you want and what you can do. If you go for "aptitude", how much interest do you actually have? Can you find a direction in that choice that would also interest you and motivate you? For me it was very central to develop (or partly already have) a passion for math or parts of it, even though "interest" as criterion in isolation would probably have drawn me to history. If you go for "interest", how much less do you think your aptitude is? Ultimately I think it makes sense to make a decision that unifies them both, and I agree with the other answer that you shouldn't think that either decision, made early in the process, determines your future. People change from one field to another or find their niches to bring the two together.

Also generally maths is required almost everywhere, so focusing on that, at least for some time, will hardly ever be a mistake (or course requiring at least a basic aptitude).

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