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Agh! GCSE Option questions - Design?? Looking at Oxbridge

(48 Posts)
longtallsally2 Thu 08-May-14 07:43:50

Sorry, I know that similar questions have been asked, but DS1 has asked me to consult MN wisdom on this one smile.

DS1 in Y9, putting in option choices. He has discovered this year that he is brighter than he/we thought and was a little surprised to discover that he should get A/A* in all subjects. He has totally embraced this and now is setting his sights on Oxbridge, but is now looking again at his options.

He was down for triple science, double maths, double English, History, Geography, German and PE (the love of his life. Not up for negotiation.) For his final option, he was putting in French, but his Design teacher would love him to take Design, and says he will get a top grade. I am quite interested in him doing this as he is now getting good at working academically, but I think that Design will mean he has to think and work in a different way - and will give him an insight into processes as well as straightforward academic stuff. He will have to work with people eventually, after all.

So, oh wise MN, how will Design or a second language sit on an Oxbridge application, alongside 10 academic subjects, plus PE???

Thank youuuuu

Sally and DS1

Bonsoir Thu 08-May-14 07:45:11

French versus Design for Oxbridge? Do you really need it spelt out?

Auntimatter Thu 08-May-14 07:53:29

Go for whatever he will get best grade in/ enjoy most.

He's got a language anyway. But they don't do PE at Oxbridge so if that's where is heart lies he may have to rethink. Though bags of extracurricular sport if his academic interests are in science (say).

senua Thu 08-May-14 08:08:38

As long as he gets a good "best 8" that is the main thing. So get brilliant grades for his top eight academic subjects and they won't look so closely at the rest. Oxford put more emphasis on GCSE than do Cambridge.

his Design teacher would love him to take Design, and says he will get a top grade

Bet the French teacher will say the same thing! Any idea of long-term plans? - will Design or French fit any better into those?

gymboywalton Thu 08-May-14 08:13:29


HercShipwright Thu 08-May-14 08:25:08


AtiaoftheJulii Thu 08-May-14 08:26:49

What senua said. I honestly don't think it matters.

Is there a project book type thing to be produced in Design? Having seen my daughters do Product Design and Textiles GCSE, I think the skills you develop from doing that sort of research and long term project are really useful. It's a very different discipline from doing another MFL, where he will pick up (the basics at least) of another language, but not any new supporting skills. Unless he thinks he's likely to love German and want to pursue languages?

Chopchopbusybusy Thu 08-May-14 08:29:56

He's already doing German so it doesn't matter.

Lancelottie Thu 08-May-14 08:32:16

If he loves it and is good at it... it will take over his life for the next two years. So would Art, by the way. Endless possibilities for re-doing, polishing, angsting over teeny details (is he an angsty kind of a boy?).

Have I counted right and he's doing 12 GCSEs? DS1 did 8 including Design, and got an Oxbridge interview, though didn't make the cut, so I'm not sure that helps you! DS2 is doing 12 and finding himself spread a little thinly.

Martorana Thu 08-May-14 08:36:14

Design if he loves it. He's already doing 10 academic subjects. Is that set in stone, but the way? It seems a lot.

For Oxbridge- particularly Oxford, it's the As and A*s that count, within reason regardless of subject. So go for design- bearing in mind that it does take up a lot of time.

HolidayCriminal Thu 08-May-14 08:44:14

Why Oxbridge? It must matter what subject he wants to study (at least a little?). And what is "Design", do you mean DT?

DT is great for engineering at Uni. French is great for, er, French at Uni (or maybe business, International Development, classics). Art is fab for Art & some other design subjects.

OublietteBravo Thu 08-May-14 08:51:47

What subject is he interested in studying at Oxbridge? I'd imagine Design would be more relevant that French for something like Engineering. However, if he wants to do something like history then the extra language may be a better option.

However, if he is really keen on Design, he should do that. (I did 8 academic subjects and cookery at GCSE and ultimately got a place at Oxford).

creamteas Thu 08-May-14 08:53:59

As the others have said, he already has a solid crop of academic subjects so go with what he wants.

meditrina Thu 08-May-14 09:03:13

As he's already got one MFL on the list and a strong range of other subjects, then I think you can go with what he wants to do.

Though that should be guided by what subject he wants to study at university. D&T would be a good choice if he is interested in for example any form of engineering.

HPparent Thu 08-May-14 09:03:20

I know someone with an art A level (plus 3 science/math) interviewed for a science course at Cambridge. I would go with the one he likes best.

Toadsrevisited Thu 08-May-14 09:05:59

Unless applying for engineering, French is definitely more 'academic' and the better choice.

Martorana Thu 08-May-14 09:13:31

French would be they better choice if the OP's' son was not already doing 10 academic GCSEs and a MFL.

HercShipwright Thu 08-May-14 10:23:24

DT is quite time consuming. Although I have kids who have been uniformally bobbins at French, I'd still say it was easier than DT in terms of the amount of time it takes. The fact that OPs DS is doing German might indicate he has a facility for languages (might not, of course). If you're doing a lot of GCSEs (something I have experience of with my DD1) things like time commitment become more of an issue than if you are just doing 8 or 9.

HercShipwright Thu 08-May-14 10:23:46

I agree that DT is an acceptable subject from an academic POV

StretchyCat Thu 08-May-14 10:31:13

Unless he wants to do languages at uni go with the one he likes the best. To be honest at this stage he should be mostly thinking about his a level choices. Design wouldn't be a great choice at a level for Oxbridge (unless as an additional subject to the main 3 or 4) but if he really likes it and will do well it would be a great choice for a gcse and may help to show well roundedness.

What does he want to do at uni?

Fwiw I did design at gcse and went to Cambridge.

StarDustInTheWind Thu 08-May-14 10:40:26

Design..... it is heavily project orientated and makes you think and work in a different way to the more traditional academic subjects... shows a breadth of learning and working styles.

Slipshodsibyl Thu 08-May-14 10:43:29

DT will be fine as part of the mix he already has. It's an interesting GCSE.

MrsWobble3 Thu 08-May-14 10:51:32

my dd did DT. the advice from the teacher was that having a subject that required different thinking/effort provided respite during the GCSE years and that given the mark allocation was heavily weighted to coursework it was good to have one GCSE where you go into the exam knowing you are virtually certain to get a top grade - and this helps confidence in the other subjects too. This advice works if DT is a subject your dc love and are good at I think. It worked for dd.

mabelbabel Thu 08-May-14 10:55:01

In my experience, grades matter but not GSCE choices as such. Unless it impacts on his A-Level choices and therefore his ability to get the grades required for the Uni course he wants to do. Eg as other people have said, if he was interested in languages at Uni, then French would be better. Otherwise I'd say it doesn't matter at all. He should do what he finds interesting.
It's more important to make sure he's studying the correct A-Levels for the course you want, however, you can still have a mixture as long as you have the ones that you definitely the need.
(Cambridge graduate - and I did Design GCSE)

Everard Thu 08-May-14 10:59:28

My son is a little ahead of yours - about to take his GCSEs - and also planning on an Oxbridge application. Also taking 12 GCSEs, 11 of which are traditional academic subjects, the 12th being what he considered a soft option (IT). He has been identified by the school as an Oxbridge candidate, visited Oxford with the school, etc. As far as I understand it, his choice of A levels is considered far more important than his choice of GCSEs.

That said, all other things being equal, I think your son would be better off doing French. If he is anything like my son, 12 subjects won't seem like a lot at all. And you have to harden your heart when it comes to teachers begging your son to do their subject. Every single teacher begged my son to do their subject for A level! Fortunately, he was quite clear about what he wanted to do otherwise he would still be there, listening to their pleas.

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