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Single English GCSE -- barrier to Oxbridge?

(15 Posts)
Umeboshi Sat 03-Dec-11 22:33:56

Do Oxbridge and top unis look down on the single English (combined language and lit) GCSE? Would it be a barrier to applying to Oxbridge for science/maths subjects?

happygardening Sun 04-Dec-11 00:21:33

The boys at. Winchester College only do Eng Lang for IGCSE, Eng Lit is studied as a non examined subject. Last year about 38% went onto Oxbridge the rest to the top UK universities and the Ivy League.

Umeboshi Sun 04-Dec-11 17:47:34

Thanks for your reply, happygardening -- that's interesting. Why don't they take Eng Lit as an exam? Don't they need a GCSE/IGCSE grade to go on to do Eng Lit at A level?

happygardening Sun 04-Dec-11 18:20:19

They don't do IGCSE Eng Lit or history but study a non examined course known as Div in both, I think English Lit is specifically studied in yr 10 and history in yr 11. Both subjects are offered at Pre U level (they don't do A levels) and their results are excellent; you should look at their website for more details about Div and their exam results.

Tortu Sun 04-Dec-11 19:04:07

Boshi, the simple answer is that they don't know yet. Schools are generally using it as a way of differentiating, so that the weaker students do English only and the higher ability do both. However, I understand that the exam boards had not realised that this would happen. It is certainly not reflected in the exams, as the ones that I have seen seem to be targetted at roughly the same ability level: for AQA, English only students sit one of the same papers as the double pathway students.

I don't think universities/ colleges are yet aware of the situation as the first cohort has not really arrived at that stage yet.

Our suspicion, however, is that in the future universities will think less of children who haven't done both. Yes an A grade in English only is clearly going to be worth the same as an A grade at either English Literature or Language......but it will only be in one GCSE, thus suggesting that staff didn't think the student was capable of doing both.

Umeboshi Sun 04-Dec-11 20:50:43

Tortu -- thanks very much. I'd really appreciate your thoughts on my DS's situation. He's gifted in maths and wants to do Computer Science at uni, but his verbal reasoning is sadly not commensurate with his non-verbal ability sad.

He's at the top of his English set and doing well, and there is still time for him posssibly to move up to the double English set. What I'm trying to figure out is whether a (hopefully) high single English GCSE would be better or worse than two Eng GCSEs possibly with lower grades. His nonverbal/numerical ability is very high and I think he'd have a realistic chance of applying to Oxbridge.

IndigoBell Mon 05-Dec-11 13:48:29

But I don't think Oxbridge is a good choice to study Computer Science.....

Dustylaw Mon 05-Dec-11 14:16:49

Actually both Oxford and Cambridge are top or near the top for Computer Science, possibly joined by Imperial. More importantly though, I would suppose this query and comments apply more or less to all the top universities.

Umeboshi Mon 05-Dec-11 19:57:05

IndigoBell -- do please correct me if I'm wrong, but Oxbridge seems the best option for students interested in the maths and theory of Computer Science; Imperial for a more practical approach (and amazing job opportunities).

On the one hand, I suspect Eng Lit is the least relevant of my DS's GCSE subjects to Comp Sci. Eng Lang, on the other hand, seems very relevant -- there seems to be a lot of team work and the need for strong communication skills in Comp Sci.

In any case, if anyone has any further thoughts or insights to share, I'd be really grateful smile.

IndigoBell Mon 05-Dec-11 21:03:36

I haven't been in this country long enough to get my head round all the different universities smile

But I can confirm that nowadays employers are looking for great teamwork and communication skills in computer programmers.

I've never interviewed or worked with any programmer from Oxbridge, but have been very impressed with the grads from imperial. I'd want my son to get into imperial rather han Oxbridge smile

I forget which are the other great places for computer science, but I've been in London for almost 15 years, worked in many, many companies, and can't recall ever working with someone with a computer science degree from Oxbridge.

I could be totally wrong. But that's my experience. Feel free to PM me if you want.

LizzieRH Tue 06-Dec-11 07:44:01

Havinig just applied to uni, (expecting medicine which is unusual) Bs in an English, a Maths and Double Science closes no doors. After that, subjects just need to be done well and sometimes relevant options taken at A Level.

crazymum53 Tue 06-Dec-11 08:07:17

I don't think this will be a problem for Computer Science but it depends on what other subjects are being studied. When I applied for Oxbridge for Science (wasn't successful though) with only English Language O level it really was not a problem. But I did do Latin rather than English Lit and was in the top set for all the subjects that were taught in sets. My school wouldn't have considered somebody to be Oxbridge material who was not in the top sets.
Having said that there are plenty of other universities with excellent computing departments such as Imperial and Bristol so I would look at other choices. Also I would check how many graduates go directly into relevant employment rather than further research.

mummytime Tue 06-Dec-11 09:49:59

It really depends on the type of Computer Science he wants to do, and where he wants to end up. Computing at Oxford is more recent so I wouldn't expect loads in top jobs yet, although I know a lot of Oxbridge Graduates in other fields who work in computing areas (eg. developing models for hedge funds).
I would look at a whole range of Universities, and remember you can't apply to both Oxford and Cambridge (except Organ scholars I believe). Imperial is great, but so is Birmingham and even places like Royal Holloway dependsing on the area you want to go into.

Umeboshi Wed 07-Dec-11 00:33:46

Very helpful points made here -- thank you everyone. Of course it's still early days regarding which unis to apply to, but very interesting to read all your advice. smile

Indigo -- I have heard that people do turn down Oxbridge offers in favour of Imperial. I guess closer to the time DS can look into the courses, go to the open days and weigh up his options. I'm impressed that he already knows what he wants to do at university!

EdithWeston Wed 07-Dec-11 00:59:38

I think it's misleading to compare doing one IGCSE in a single English course with a combined GCSE. The latter (fairly or unfairly) is seen as softer.

Whether that would matter depends on the range other subjects taken and the course aimed for. For science/maths subjects, having excellent maths and other science A levels will of course be far more important.

But if there are any courses you know you are particularly interested in, why not ring the admissions tutor and find out?

Is there still time to change options if you get unfavourable replies? Or is this about managing expectations?

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