Oxbridge 2020

(1000 Posts)
GinWorksForMe Thu 02-May-19 14:15:52

Is it too early for an Oxbridge 2020 thread? I'm feeling in need of some hand holding through this process...

DS1 is going to apply to Cambridge for Maths. Doesn't know yet whether to name a college or put in an open application, so any tips gratefully received. We have visited two (very different) colleges and been to a Maths Open Day. It's unlikely we're going to have the opportunity to visit many more colleges as their open days seem to be on Saturdays and DS1 has a paid job Saturdays and Sundays.

Anyone else applying for Oxbridge for 2020 entry and want to share the journey?

OP’s posts: |
goodbyestranger Thu 02-May-19 14:43:24

I'll keep you intermittent company! DD4 intends to apply but not for Cambridge and not for Maths. Lots of people on here know about Maths though, so you'll get lots of advice.

hobbema Thu 02-May-19 16:55:05

Hi @GinWorksForMe thanks for opening proceedings! DD who is also a DT is planning to apply for 2020. I'm not sure why I've followed previous years' threads ( though someone did once post on how much she loved a "Eton/Winchester/Harrow" thread despite having no child planning to go for any!!) but I have and can see how supportive they can be. Was really moved by the travails of a woman who had twins applying last year who were both rejected. She was so open and frank and ultimately generous with other people. I learned lots by reading them so am dipping my toe into this one now I have a dog in the fight!

OKBobble Thu 02-May-19 18:03:32

First off let's not call them rejections but those that fail to receive an offer, after all any person who is in a position to make sn application is already successful. I would urge anyone joining this thread to look at admissions stats so they are fully aware of the longshot it is to gain an offer.

DS will be applying to Oxford. I too have followed the 2019 threads.

NetballHoop Thu 02-May-19 18:09:36

Thanks for starting the thread. I have DTs who are both hoping to apply. I have to say that secretly I'd rather neither of them get an offer than only one.

goodbyestranger Thu 02-May-19 18:18:12

Will your DTs be applying for the same subject and or same place NetballHoop? I'm glad I haven't had twins - no doubt there are lovely things about twins but feeding as newborns and dual Oxbridge applications are not two I envy!

hobbema it sounds as though your second twin doesn't intend to apply?

DD4 seems to want to apply for ab initio Classics.

goodbyestranger Thu 02-May-19 18:27:17

OP in terms of Open Applications, none of my DC have ever done one, either for Oxford or Durham, on the grounds that they felt they might as well have a degree of say in where they could hopefully end up. I don't think that an Open Application increases chances of an interview so there's not much to gain but there is a certain amount to lose in terms of autonomy. If an applicant genuinely doesn't have any preference then fair do's, but mine have all liked a particular one (not the same one, all different, but one each is what I mean).


hobbema Thu 02-May-19 18:31:02

@OKBobble, I absolutely stand corrected. No judgement or offence was intended at all, quite the opposite. I think everyone using this thread will be doing so in full knowledge of the scale of the challenge their DS’s face. Thank you for pointing that out . I will take care with future posts.
@goodbyestranger DT2 has no intention of applying; she is all about the parties!

hobbema Thu 02-May-19 18:40:19

@OKBobble, just re-read my post; I meant it to read as a thank you for the advice re using terms which are potentially insensitive rather than a sarcastic response to the unlikelihood of gaining an Oxbridge offer... Oh dear, I think I'm not going to be very good at this....

WickedGoodDoge Thu 02-May-19 19:08:55

DS is planning on applying to Cambridge for Maths. He sat his Maths Higher this morning so the decision will depend on today’s results <as well as the rest> grin He seems happy with how it went, but we’ll see...

OKBobble Thu 02-May-19 19:21:49

No offence taken - its just that the thread for those without an offer last time seemed to imply they had been rejected/failed. Although they hadn't been successful in their applications I'd rather like the 2020 cohort to celebrate the ability to apply rather than the actual outcomes whatever they may be.

sandybayley Thu 02-May-19 19:42:55

Signing in! DS1 is applying for Chemistry at Oxford. I think we have a plan. He's working on an extended essay and is acting as a lab tech for Year 9 chemistry lessons. He's also doing a Chemistry residential course in the summer.

School want him to indicate which college he's aiming for by end of June as they have quite a lot that apply and have a policy to discourage more than one application for the same subject at the same college. DS1 is really clueless about college choice. Would like fairly central, ops to play cricket and rugby and a few other chemists. Any suggestions?

NetballHoop Thu 02-May-19 19:44:01

@goodbyestranger no, not even close to the same subject, they are very non identical. One is applying for languages and the other for sciences which makes open days and taster sessions even harder to plan.

hobbema Thu 02-May-19 20:42:53

Bobble ; am all for celebrating their ambition and positivity. DD went to a History Masterclass in the Spring and the admission tutor was apparently really positive , encouraged applications ( you’ll only definitely not get in if you don’t apply) , but realistic. Told them most wouldn’t succeed but would still have brilliant careers “because your mothers will write to tell me in 4 years time”😂. Am trying v hard to keep it low key ( tough when you’re also supporting supracurricular stuff, buying masses of books she wants and watching for deadlines later in the year) which is why threads like this are so popular I suppose.

TheFirstOHN Thu 02-May-19 21:05:51

DS2 is hoping to apply for the Natural Sciences course at Cambridge. He has a college in mind (went to the college open day and was impressed).

He understands that he is more likely not to get an offer than to get an offer. There are several other universities he likes (he started going to open days last year) and for him the most important thing is the opportunity to study the subject he loves, not where he studies it.

goodbyestranger Thu 02-May-19 21:26:27

NetballHoop but also much easier in many ways than applying for similar courses. More interesting too!

sandy if he goes to the admissions statistics or even the individual college pages for Chemistry he'll be able to gauge which colleges take the most chemists. St John's could fit the bill as a starting point anyway.

TheFirstOHN Thu 02-May-19 22:25:30

Most pupils (especially in state schools) will not be taking AS exams. Do you think Oxford and Cambridge will put more weight on GCSE grades when deciding who to invite for interview?

In past years, I have read on here (and heard in real life) the general guideline that pupils would usually have a certain number of A* at GCSE in order to be in with a chance of getting an Oxbridge offer.

What do you think will be the equivalent threshold in number grades? A certain number of grade 9s? Achievement 8 above a certain level?

goodbyestranger Thu 02-May-19 22:29:49

AS levels are dead for the purposes of uni admissions TheFirstOHN. Oxford has said that it will treat 8s and 9s as equivalent for this year. Good for those with lots of 8s but a bit grrr for those with a string of 9s.

goodbyestranger Thu 02-May-19 22:33:05

Obviously aptitude tests are critical too, for Oxford anyhow, which interviews fewer applicants.

TheFirstOHN Thu 02-May-19 22:41:39

Obviously aptitude tests are critical too, for Oxford anyhow, which interviews fewer applicants.

Oxford has had aptitude tests for long enough that they can compare the score to final degree outcome, so they have confidence in using the test as a predictor of success. Cambridge introduced aptitude tests more recently; once they have enough data, perhaps they will start to put more weight on the score.

goodbyestranger Thu 02-May-19 22:54:45

Sure. Cambridge is borrowing a trick or two from Oxford though, having lost the fight to retain ASs.

TheFirstOHN Thu 02-May-19 22:59:42

From the Cambridge website...

There are no GCSE (or equivalent) requirements for entry to Cambridge. GCSE results are looked at as a performance indicator, but within the context of the performance of the school/college where they were achieved.
This is good news for DS2, whose GCSE grades are very high compared to the average at his school.

Applicants have generally achieved high grades in subjects relevant to their chosen course, and most students who apply have at least four or five As or A*s at GCSE (7 is considered equivalent to an A in the new grading structure; and 8 and 9 is considered equivalent to an A*). However, there are always exceptions and we don’t require a minimum number of As/A*s at GCSE. One of the strengths of the Cambridge admissions system is its ability to assess all applicants individually.
As a benchmark, five grade 8+ is lower than five A* and would widen the field compared to previous years.

Our research shows that post-16 examination performance is a much better predictor of degree success at Cambridge. While GCSE results are looked at as a performance indicator, this is within the context of the performance of the school/college where they were attained, and strong performance in Years 12 and 13 can make up for a less stellar performance at GCSE.
Without AS levels, I'm not sure how they will be able to gauge post-16 performance in pupils applying during Y13.

goodbyestranger Thu 02-May-19 23:12:29

Well I think a bit of salt is always useful to have to hand with websites designed to encourage access TFOHN.

Yes Cambridge is a bit peed off that the government went ahead with the KS5 reforms because they were insistent that Oxford's preference for GCSEs was inferior and wrote to a number of schools (including ours) to get HTs to rally against the demise of ASs (or rather reforms which were bound to see their demise). I guess all Cambridge can do is rely on school references for evidence of a marked upwards trajectory in those applicants who didn't do especially well at GCSE, for whatever reason.

I think it very unlikely that Cambridge has a startlingly different intake from Oxford, where most applicants will have really pretty strong GCSEs on any objective level, even contextualized.

goodbyestranger Thu 02-May-19 23:21:50

Also I suppose its worth saying that on the MN Oxbridge threads there are always a high percentage of independent school DC and those - as well as grammar school DC - will be given much shorter shrift on the 'less stellar' measure (assuming no special circumstances) than DC at non selective schools in the maintained sector. Cambridge sends out a warm cosy message but it's targeted.

BasiliskStare Fri 03-May-19 06:20:24

For what it is worth ( and there is a poster on here much better placed to give advice than me wink ) DS did 9 GCSEs - this was before they made them into numbers and when they were still A - A stars - he had 8 A stars & and an A and when he asked ( at the open day ) said are they enough - the very nice tutor / admissions woman said - "Oh that's plenty". So DS was a bit worried about others who had done 11 or 13 etc but didn't seem to be a problem. ( He went to a strange school where they typically do fewer GCSE''s but have to take two subjects alongside. )

So - DS applied to Oxford before he had a single public examination result in the subject he wanted to study. Bit scary. But it was History and he did the HAT. As I recall - there was something for GCSEs , more for the aptitude test , and then the interview ( given he got through to that bit) So & I am not an expert , but from DS experience , as long as the GCSEs are OK ( by which I mean good but don't worry about 9 or 11 or so forth and indeed in context it probably won't matter too much ) - Aptitude test and interview probably more - but then I do not know as not an Oxford admissions tutor.

For avoidance of doubt DS was independent school. His school recommended he and his friend not to apply to the same college for the same subject - they flipped a coin. Both got a place , both happy.

Re colleges - his friend applied to one and was pooled - ended up at another - and many are - but still happy where he ended up but I would agree with @goodbyestranger - at least worth having a punt at the one you want to go to .

Re college choices - the main difference seems to me re accommodation etc. So Ds's college ( which was old and central but not famous ) gave 3 years accommodation in short walking distance from centre & relatively inexpensive. ( But then as I believe most colleges in Oxbridge are relatively inexpensive compared to elsewhere ) That said as DS's friend did and as DS would have done - they would ( because of the course - first and foremost - and some would not - and the university ) - they would pretty much have shaken hands on any offer. Oxford is compact .

So I have said too much and posters need to get advice from those who know better than me , but just to say all the very very best to all your DCs. I wish them well. Oxford is fantastic , but so are other places , but best wishes to those going through the application with their DCS.

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