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Physics at Imperial(22 Posts)
DS is about to go into year 13 and we have for the past few months been discussing his ucas application. He wants to apply to Imperial. I don't think he stands a chance of getting in and that it would be a waste of a choice on his ucas form.
He's always been very intelligent but this isn't properly reflected in his exam results (how many mums have said that!). His GCSEs were mainly Bs with A in physics and music and A star in maths. He got AAB today for AS - A in maths and physics and B in electronics (tantalising close to the A boundary!). He also got C for a Computing a level he started early (was predicted an A).
From my limited experience Imperial students are straight A/A star students and their typical offer for physics is A star, A star, A (sorry phone messes up post if I try to use an asterisk!). He says that's what he's aiming for and I've no doubt he's capable IF he puts the work in. But I think Imperial would just reject him outright based on his previous results.
I really don't want to rain on his parade but want to manage his expectations. Any thoughts?
I honestly think it would be a no. They take on 1 applicant out of 7 for Physics and he would need A*A*A at A level as you know. His GCSEs would not pass muster for Oxbridge and Imperial is seriously competitive. Obviously his AS results are not great either and you cannot hide the B and C. There are more opportunities out there that he would find it easier to get into. Imperial interview like Oxbridge too, so no hiding place! Save yourself the expense and try and get him to be a bit more realistic.
I was hoping I could find something on the Imperial website to reinforce the fact that you need stellar GCSEs and AS results to apply but I can't. It would just be me saying he's not a up to it.
Has your DS identified the other university courses he wants to apply for?
In the case of both my DS what started as overwhelming choice - engineering so offered by just about every university, - quickly narrowed down to 2 or 3 definite choices. And both ended up including places that they thought were ok just to use the 5th choice but didn't really see themselves attending.
In that scenario, it's worth using a choice for Imperial if he really wants to, and then go for a more realistic aspirational choice, 2 good a achievable and an insurance as the 5th.
After all, better to try and fail than regret not trying (but only if he's got 4 other good choices!)
It is one choice out of 5 so of course he should put it on his UCAS form if he wants to go.
It will all depend on his predicted grades surely? As Imperial won't consider him unless he is predicted A*A*A there is little point in applying there if his predictions are lower. Teachers will be very reluctant to put unrealistic predictions on his UCAS application. Obviously if someone underperformed at AS and the teacher didn't think it was a true reflection of their ability (and willingness to work hard) they might predict higher than he is currently achieving.
He will have to wait till next term to see what his predicted grades are
That's a good point about predicted grades. He should be predicted A X 3 but whether there will be any stars in their remains to be seen.
We've been talking about which other open days he'd like to go on and I'm horrified to see just how high the typical offers are for physics. Durham, Birmingham, Exeter, Bath and Nottingham all want one or two stars and most others want AAA. No room for slipping up!
The thing with physics and maths is that it is right or wrong, not so much grey area as there is for a more essay based subject.
What what his UMS for Maths? Is it physically possible for an Astar given his AS result?
Unless he's predicted 2 X A star I doubt he'd get an offer. However it's only one slot out of five...
Physics offers from top 20 are high, but there's usually room for a missed grade given that there aren't that many applicants and it's usually in clearing, even at RGs.
There is quite a lot of evidence that the most A*s at A level are awarded in Maths. Languages and essay subjects are much lower.
I too could not see anything on the Imperial website about GCSEs but it would seem very obvious from the A level grades they require and the competition from all over the world for a place, that a string of A*s at GCSE would be the norm, as at Oxbridge. Likewise As for AS. Imperial will decide who they want to interview based on all the information available to them. It seems unlikely that prior attainment in exams would not be part of that.
I think that Physics is offered at lots of universities and they can ask for high grades due to the high grades achieved by students in maths. However, has he looked at Engineering, in any of its multitude of disciplines?. Is he practical at all? This would lead directly to a job as there are shortages of engineers! Employers are not so fussy about which university either!
Imperial have a statistics guide. Useless at links but I googled it and found one for 13/14. The ratio of successful students:applicants has widened from 5.5:1 in 13/14 to the nearly 7:1 they are quoting now. The average UCAS tarrif score for students on the Physics course was 588 in 13/14. Is he likely to get anywhere near this? I believe this includes other scoring qualifications but it is very high!!! This might persuade him that he should look elsewhere! Having said that, it is only one choice!
If he got an A at AS maths then go get an A* he needs to average 80% over all modules (as he has already done at AS), plus get over 90% in C3 and C4.
Not sure what you mean Titchy about getting an A star in maths? His exam results sheet show total marks of 251 and he got A in C1, C2 and D1 so I suppose it is possible? Though I know A2 is harder.
Grades aside, I think Imperial would not be a great place for him. We are in Greater London so he doesn't need the London 'experience'. Accommodation is hugely expensive and he could end up having to room share as one of his brother's friends did at Imperial last year. My boss also went there and he said it's not a place for a rounded university experience.
He really liked Southampton (went on a physics taster day) and they 'only' want AAB!
Lots of good RG physics courses (including several named above) go into clearing at several grades lower than their standard offer, as physics is undersubscribed. Imperial will however insist on A stars and most successful applicants exceed the standard offer (many have four A levels, including further maths).
If he's dead set on Imperial and gets the right predictions, then why not have a stab? He probably wouldn't be accepted, but it's one choice out of 5. The danger, if you stopped him applying or discouraged him too strongly, would be him forever thinking you clipped his wings.
Imperial is terribly pressured and not a very happy place for either students or professors. So it's a case of "be careful what you wish for"... and you can heave a secret sigh of relief if he doesn't get in.
Make sure he understands the odds are stacked against him, but without appearing anti-Imperial. Then let nature take its course.
Could you have a chat with his tutor at school?
My DC will be starting physics at Birmingham in a month. What we found was Oxbridge, Imperial, Durham and Manchester offer A*A*A, Birmingham offer A*AA because they don't want to be the insurance choice for those aiming for the two A* universities, most others offer AAA with an occasional AAB (Sheffield in DCs case). Nothing to lose from applying to Imperial if that what your DS wants, I'm sure he will get offers from others as well.
RG and worth considering is QUB:
as only BBB needed for the BSc or AAB for the MSCi.
DS is starting MPhys at a top ten uni in a few weeks. His offer was A*AA but in clearing it was AAB. His insurance was AAA and was in clearing for BBC. Huge differences.
Lots of options for clearing/adjustment if needed.
Crikey raspberry - that's amazing! But I wonder why they don't just make the offers more realistic in the first place?
As Benson says above, they don't want to be the insurance option. They are all competing at trying to be the first choice.
Your DS has nothing to lose if he puts Imperial as a choice as long as he makes sure he puts down at least a couple of choices that want grades similar to his AS levels. He will have 5 choices, it doesn't matter if he only gets a couple of offers as long as they are places he wants to go. Offers will depend on the predicted grades that school will give him to a large degree.
Stonecurcle, I was talking to a Uni admissions tutor about this. He said it was because his Uni don't want to be seen in a lower category and less desirable than universities that require higher grades so his Uni also keep a high offer level (AAA iirc), but will certainly accept BBB and possibly BBC for applicants that put the course as their firm choice. This was for a computing related degree in a London Uni.
Imperial have some videos your DS might find useful. Although he may have found them already...