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'Aspirational' vs 'safe' predicted grades for A levels?

(25 Posts)
OnlyTeaForMe Wed 13-Sep-17 23:49:12

What are people's views experience on this?
DS's school want to downgrade two of his predicted grades ( from A* A* A* A* to A*A*AA) on the basis of a 2 internal exams he did at the end of last year. He was also doing 2 AS levels at the same time, so understandably didn't do as much revision for the school exams as had thought they 'didn't really count'.
DS thinks he could still get all the A*s and he does have form for pulling out the stops in the final months - some of his GCSES went from C to A* between mocks and summer. Ended up with 10 A*s.

School say it's best not to have too high predictions as Unis may ask for them, but I've never heard of this happening?
The highest required grades for his course are A*AA but this is Oxbridge but I can't help feeling he'd be at a disadvantage up against kids with straight A* predictions?

Should he be fighting for the higher predictions, or is there a reason why this would be a bad idea?

OP’s posts: |
hazeydays14 Wed 13-Sep-17 23:58:57

I'm not of oxbridge standard by any means but I was predicted AAA at A level but missed my last A by one mark due to a particularly harshly marked piece of coursework (according to the teacher) and I wasn't offered my place on the course I wanted but on a less suscribed course that allowed me to switch to my preferred course at the end of year 2 (all biology related). It didn't really affect me in the long run but if I'd gone for AAB which was the course requirement I would have started on my preferred course.

Sorry I know that's not exactly helpful!

OnlyTeaForMe Thu 14-Sep-17 00:06:18

Hazey - are you saying you were offfered AAA because that was your prediction even when the standard offer was AAB?

OP’s posts: |
Needmoresleep Thu 14-Sep-17 10:01:50

It can happen. We have known a few DC who got 4xA* offers from Cambridge and one who had an offer from Imperial which was based on results from 5 A levels. The unknown is whether they would have go offers at all if their predictions were not so high.

goodbyestranger Thu 14-Sep-17 10:10:45

OnlyTeaForMe a lot depends on whether it's Oxford or Cambridge. Also, if it's Oxford, the way the various subjects select varies and in some subjects it might not matter at all. Does the subject have an aptitude test?

Surely the school has made its decision and will stick to it?

goodbyestranger Thu 14-Sep-17 10:13:28

Also, he's at a distinct advantage on any basis with 10A* at GCSE, especially if its Oxford. I wouldn't worry and I wouldn't annoy the school either, just ahead of the reference being written!

OnlyTeaForMe Thu 14-Sep-17 10:30:21

"Surely the school has made its decision and will stick to it?"

No, not really. There seems to be a lot of negotiation goes on! Last year quite a few of my friends' kids were predicted a grade lower than they thought they could achieve and they negotiated them back up with their teachers. All, except one I think, got the higher grade at A level.

I think the school is sometimes overly cautious. It's an independent and they've said in the past that they don't want to risk getting a reputation for over-predicting because unis will then just start raising offers.

I just don't think they are doing my DS any favours. He has consistently been predicted A*s all the way through and was given no 'notice of risk' at the end of last term.

OP’s posts: |
user7214743615 Thu 14-Sep-17 12:21:48

The highest required grades for his course are A*AA but this is Oxbridge but I can't help feeling he'd be at a disadvantage up against kids with straight A predictions?*

Not really, because not much weight is put on the predictions, relative to GCSEs, aptitude tests, interview etc. Some schools are more cautious than others in their predictions, particularly with the new A levels,

catslife Thu 14-Sep-17 13:39:56

I think it depends on which A level subjects he is taking and what degree subject he wants to take.
For the unreformed A levels e.g. Maths the teachers may be more confident but if he is taking any linear A levels (especially ones that are being examined for the first time in 2018) it's a bit unclear what the criteria for the new A* grade will be. This is likely to affect a lot of dcs this year as more A levels are reformed.

hazeydays14 Thu 14-Sep-17 17:46:46

Sorry for the delayed response, yes my offer was subject to the higher grades because I was predicted them. The minimum grades were either AAB or ABB I don't remember exactly! I can't say that would be the same across the board though, my course was very over subscribed so that may have been why they couldn't continue my offer with the lower grade despite being the minimum required.

whiteroseredrose Sun 17-Sep-17 17:34:44

This is confusing.

DS is predicted all A* * stars *at A level. As are a few others at his school.

He told me that some are asking to be predicted one A and two A* stars so that their offers might be lower.

I don't get it. Surely if a Uni says the course requirement is A,A,A star they're not going to ask one student for all A stars just because of predictions.

Or am I being naive?

Gannet123 Sun 17-Sep-17 18:42:19

I occasionally hear of it happening but only on hyper competitive courses - I think Cambridge say they may sometimes make more challenging offers, for example. Whether the reason for the more challenging offer is the prediction, or whether there is some other reason, is another matter - I'd be surprised if it was the prediction alone because different schools have different approaches to prediction.
Having said that, I think there's limited value to having AA*A predictions - the most competitive courses are likely to look far beyond predictions and certainly if those predictions are stretch predictions the university will see that from the other acheived qualifications and take the predictions with a pinch of salt.

whiteroseredrose Sun 17-Sep-17 20:09:44

He's had everything at A* for GCSE and all As for AS mainly 95-100 UMS. So all A stars isn't a stretch prediction. But it's still not a given. I'd hate him to be penalised because he's done so well so far.

goodbyestranger Sun 17-Sep-17 20:30:22

He won't be 'penalised' at Oxford and if if he's applying to Cambridge then my understanding is that they only ask for multiple A* s (above the standard) if they think the applicant is wanting either on past performance or at interview. So unless he's weak at a Cambridge interview then your DS isn't really in the frame.

user327854831 Sun 17-Sep-17 21:15:38

Mine was predicted aspirational grades, applied to uni and four asked for the aspirational grades, one asked for lower grades despite saying on the paperwork that they insisted on the aspirational grades and nothing less would do. They achieved the aspirational grades and went to the uni who asked for lower grades.

OnlyTeaForMe Mon 18-Sep-17 10:11:07

Quick update... DS & DH went to the Oxford Open Day on Friday and asked the admissions tutor about this.

They said their standard offer is A*AA and they would absolutely not ask for something higher just because a student was predicted higher.

They also said that predicted grades were the area they considered least important /relevant because there is no way of benchmarking them across the board - some schools overpredict, some underpredict.
For DS's course there is an admissions test (MAT) and they said that his performance in this was by far and away the most important factor in whether he would get called for interview - along with actual exam performance in GCSEs and AS levels (if taken).

OP’s posts: |
OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 19-Sep-17 08:36:53

I don't think that's true about Cambridge Goodbye, not in Maths anyway. Higher offers do seem to be given to the most high achieving students.

user918273645 Tue 19-Sep-17 09:22:29

Not true, Kitten.

The A level grades in the offers are pretty much irrelevant for Maths offers at Cambridge anyhow as everyone who receives an offer is likely to be a dead cert to get A stars in Maths, FM and Physics. (Many applicants will have a fourth or even fifth A level too, though the latter is now less common from students in state schools.)

Different colleges have slightly different policies about A level grades for Maths offers but it is not true that the highest A level grade offers go the "highest achieving" students. It is however true that the A level grades required for Maths may be adjusted a bit according to school background i.e top private school applicants may be asked for 3 A stars and an A or 4 A stars. So 2 A stars and A is the minimum offer - but as I wrote above most Maths applicants are very confident of 3 A stars across Maths, FM and Physics anyhow.

The STEP grades in the Maths offers are pretty much standardised as STEP 2 1, STEP 3 1. It is the STEP grades that are used to decide who gets places i.e, Maths candidates miss STEP grades way more often than A level grades are missed. As you know, a significant fraction of Cambridge Maths offers are missed, with these applicants ending up at Warwick, Imperial etc.

OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 19-Sep-17 10:30:34

Fair enough User - serves me right for lurking on student room grin I must remember there are as many fallacies lurking there as there are here! I wonder if the people who had posted had missed the vital bit of information about their school background. Quite probably I think.

I've seen a tiny number of people being asked for S grades in STEP. That seems really scary.

OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 19-Sep-17 10:31:08

And thank you, that was useful info to cut through all the crap I've read grin

user918273645 Tue 19-Sep-17 10:54:36

S grade offers in STEP are indeed rare. (I personally don't agree with them.) If given such an offer, don't accept it unless you are happy with your insurance!

I would say that Student Room does seem to have some deliberate untruths on it, particularly with regards to Oxbridge offers - I haven't read it for a while but I saw claims in the past that I knew weren't true.

OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 19-Sep-17 10:58:37

Fortunately for dd, she's really torn between her two favourites anyway, but it must be a mind boggling offer to receive. I think we would just laugh. I hope it doesn't come to that confused

Think I'm going to stay away from student room now that dd has decided where to apply. What will be will be.

hellsbells99 Tue 19-Sep-17 11:32:43

I know when DD had an interview at Bath a couple of years ago, they said in the group introduction that their offers did vary depending on their predicted grades. The course she was applying for stated the typical offer as AAB to ABB. they said anyone predicted AAA would be given the higher offer as they didn't want to be used as an insurance choice and only those predicted the lower grades would be given the lower offer.

FordPerfect Tue 19-Sep-17 12:01:45

Re differing offers for Maths at Cambridge, as per user918273645 two Ss is brutal. I know of someone who did get that offer, achieved the two Ss but suffered MH issues. I personally much prefer the Oxford approach where no matter which college you have applied for in a given subject, the offer is the same. I think that all the kids are under so much pressure at this point, that piling on extra can be counterproductive. As it is, most candidates overachieve in respect of their Oxford offer so clearly prospective students aren't doing the minimum to achieve their offer.

Oldie2017 Mon 25-Sep-17 09:49:40

My twins got AAAA at AS and were predicted AA*A by the school for UCAS which was silly. They ended up with AAA and AAB which is what we expected. Anyway they both got their first choice university (Bristol) but I could not see the point of the school o ver predicting. The older silbings' schools never did.

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