Acceptable GCSE grades to be considered for Cambridge?(20 Posts)
My DS is good at Math's but English has never been his strong point. He has 7a* all in maths and the sciences and also an A grade in Additional Maths. His English lit and History were A's and English language a B. He has his heart set on studying Engineering and would like to Apply to Cambridge. Is it worth doing or would he be better not wasting one of his chances at Cambridge?
If he wants to apply to Cambridge, even if he doesn't get in, it isn't a waste. He's got a really decent set of GCSEs so no reason why he can't give it a go.
Your son will be able to research all this for himself-all the universities have their entrance requirements online now, along with the structure of the courses and information about their halls of residence, campus, etc.
Your best bet is to send him off armed with Google and a large notebook. Get him to look up anywhere he's interested in. It'll be much better for him to do it because it'll really get him thinking about what he wants out of the course and where he wants to live. It may even motivate him to work extra hard for his a levels!
Cambridge tend to look at AS UMS levels and for STEM subjects they should be over 90% and then a STEP exam which is taken towards the end of Yr13. Oxford look at GCSE's plus the results of the aptitude testing (different for each subject). The tests for this is November and candidates are just finding out if they have secured an interview based on their application and entrance test. Cambridge and Oxford interview candidates as well so an offer is a result of many factors. My DC's have applied to Oxford & Cambridge so I have been through the process with each University.
I would really encourage your son to look at Cambridge. I assume he is lower sixth so have a look at when the Open days are (you can never go too early) and see if his school has a Oxbridge program. He will have 5 choices and you only need 1 so it's not a waste of a choice.
The Student Room is an excellent place to get advice.
Imperial is also an excellent for Engineering and Bath (I think) ran a week long course on engineering in the summer aimed at Yr12's considering Engineering.
From my understanding and research 7A* has always been enough to tick the GCSE box, Cambridge have traditionally placed much greater importance on AS UMS than GCSEs, not sure what will happen with the linear A2 exams.
Probably for engineering they might overlook the B in English as his maths is strong. They may ask him to sit another paper but I doubt it if he's not EAL. Should be fine, I got in with a B in maths because my other grades were very high. They will be looking more at his year 12 performance and his other credentials such as sport and outside activities. Make sure he shows he's a team player and well organised and he'll be fine. X
"his other credentials such as sport and outside activities."
Sorry- this is wrong. Unless they are directly related to the course he wants to study, extra curricular activities make no difference at all, apart from possibly giving him something to talk about if he gets an interview.
Thank you for your advice. He's currently in lower 6th. He did some work experience during the summer holidays at an engineering company which he really enjoyed. He is really enjoying his A levels especially since they are no longer essay based. I'll suggest he does some more research and maybe try and do some more work experience.
They will be looking more at ... his other credentials such as sport and outside activities. Make sure he shows he's a team player
Agree with bertrand on this.
Engineering is a vast subject, so he needs to think what type of engineering he is interested in - mechanical, chemical, structural, electrical, civil, naval, aeronautical etc - and have a look at those courses. Engineering (except chemical) tends to be general at Cambridge, although I think you can specialise in manufacturing engineering. Imperial College has an excellent reputation for more specialised engineering courses, so also worth looking at as an aspirational choice.
Based in his research and work experience, he would like to study mechanical engineering. Would it be wise to apply to both Cambridge and Imperial based on his GCSE results.
I don't want him to end up without an offer from anywhere.
As long as he applies to other unis with lower entry grades that'll be fine. He gets five choices.
You haven't mentioned his a level predicted grades-they are much more important. It's great his GCSEs are so good but in reality they aren't going to make a big difference to his application (as long as he has met the minimum requirements for the course).
If you look at the various Uni ranking sites you might be surprised at the UK Unis that make the top 10. Cambridge doesn't always figure in the tables because the make up of the course is different - 2 years of broad engineering before specialising.
Imperial has an applications to admissions ratio of 8.5:1, and he'd need A* Maths and A* or A in Physics plus another A* or AA.
I'd also look at MEng courses as it is an easier route to Chartered Engineer status.
I think it might also be worth considering how many Engineering graduates actually go into Engineering jobs from Cambridge. How many go into city jobs with higher starting salaries? If he really wants to be an Engineer, Imperial may be the better choice. MEng should be the goal and this is available at any top class university and some will not require the A level grades of Imperial. There are plenty of jobs for Engineers who want to be Engineers!
Is it worth doing or would he be better not wasting one of his chances at Cambridge? ... Would it be wise to apply to both Cambridge and Imperial based on his GCSE results. I don't want him to end up without an offer from anywhere.
Every now and then we get threads about widening participation etc at Oxbridge. The admissions people say that they would love more students from a wider range of backgrounds but it doesn't happen because they don't apply. Don't let your DS's first stumbling block be his/your lack of belief in him. Of course he should apply! What's the worst that could happen? - that one, or maybe two, of his five choices don't offer. So what? If he never applies then it definitely won't happen; you have to be in it to win it.
Has he got himself booked on any courses like Headstart.
He has applied for headstart but hasn't had a response yet. I'm not sure what other courses there are. It's also proving very difficult to get work experience in the engineering field within reasonable commutable distance of London. He spent a week with a company during the summer which he really enjoyed and was a two hour journey each way. I know he's willing to put the hard work in.
My DS is in his first year studying Engineering at Cambridge - having a great time. They are far more interested in UMS scores than GCSEs so really don't worry about the English. He could try a taster day if can't get on Headstart? Look carefully at the colleges - they don't all want STEP - DS did sit the college exam. No related work experience and no questions about hobbies in the interview. Out of interest he found Imperial too "elite" but its obviously a very personal choice. Specifically wanted general engineering as doesn't know which direction to go yet. Absolutely nothing to lose by applying. Best of luck.
information on the student room website is more accurate than on mumsnet now that Cambridge admission staff answer questions on TSR.
Cambridge are interested in extracurriculars only if relevant to your subject or so demanding that they are likely to distract you from your studies.
They care more about AS ums than about GSCEs and like to see evidence of progression, so better ums than gcses might have suggested.
I dont know about the engineering course at Cambridge but some science courses have to write a lot of essays, he might like to ask an admission tutor or a current student about that, bearing in mind that colleges can differ. If he is happy about the teaching style and course structure apply.
I do know an engineering student at Imperial who has found no problem arranging internships in first and second year holidays and will therefore be very marketable when he looks for a permanent job.
Check if he could go on the shadowing scheme www.applytocambridge.com/shadowing/
I dont know about the engineering course at Cambridge but some science courses have to write a lot of essays, he might like to ask an admission tutor or a current student about that, bearing in mind that colleges can differ.
For engineering (as well as maths/sciences...), the course does not differ between colleges. All students attend the same lectures/labs, organised at departmental level. They have supervisions in their own colleges to go through problem sets but all students get the same problem sets. Thus the only difference, educationally, is between the supervisors you get in different colleges.
Engineering courses, as well as maths/physical sciences, do not involve essays. Biological sciences do involve essays. Bear in mind that engineers need to write up lab and project reports, and are expected to be reasonable at technical writing for internships/later employment too.
Join the discussion
Please login first.