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Oxbridge Medicine with 6A*& 4A-For GCSEs, Is it still possible?

(57 Posts)
zara77 Fri 26-Aug-11 13:46:36

Really after some advice. My DD got 6A* and 4A for her GCSEs and need to know if she can still apply for Oxbridge? I just read on another thread, someone worrying that their child didn't get 7A*-so may have ruined Oxbridge chances.
My DD wants to study Medicine but didn't get straight A*s. I did not realise that you needed at least 7A*.
My DD has her heart set on Oxbridge even though i've tried to advice her against it.
I do stress we are happy with her results but just need to figure through the next step for her.

peggy0062 Fri 26-Aug-11 14:07:13

In my days (90s) straight A's from A-levels / GCSE wasn't enough to get you into Oxbridge or even other popular university, especially for Medicine. You need other interests and achievement, for example, play an instrument, or play for sports team at school and show that you are a high achiever all round. From what I know she should also do work experience in a hospital or caring environment, show that she can work with the general public etc. After that she will need to perform well at the interview. I suggest you and your DD look at the UCAS websites and other university website to find out what the college tutors are looking for, use the school holidays to get some experience in the area and then see if she really does want to do medicine. There is a high drop out rate. One of my best friends studied medicine at oxford but she changed her mind after the 1st year and went on to do pharmacy at another university.

zara77 Fri 26-Aug-11 14:14:47

Thank you Peggy. She does do volunteering,has D of E, active member of School Choir and will be doing a Charitable expedition next summer. I have told her about being an all rounder but she doesn't enjoy sports.

Ladymuck Fri 26-Aug-11 14:17:11

In part it will depend on what school she has come from, and how these results compare with what would be expected at that school. But no, I don't think that she has ruled it out at all. Why on earth are you advising her against Oxbridge? Yes it is very competitive, but GCSE grades are not the only criteria, especially for medicine.

What does she want to do after uni? Has she looked into medicine as a career as the way in which medicine is taught at Oxbridge is distinctive from some of the other universities.

I assume that she will be starting her Alevels shortly. I suspect that over the next few months her ideas will focus. Is she at a school or 6th form college for A levels?

EverSoLagom Fri 26-Aug-11 14:25:54

I don't think you have anything to worry about whatsoever. SPeaking from experience, the Oxbridge offers are based on A-level results and interview - only a very poor set of GCSEs would cause any kind of problem. It's most important that she gets high grades in A-level (or Highers, or Bac or whatever) subjects relevant for medicine.

Although it's nice to play instruments etc, and most successful applicants do manage plenty of extra-curricular activities to a high standard, what Oxford and Cambridge want is people who have a high aptitude for their subject and who are committed to it. The sports thing is not relevant.

I would second Peggy's advice to find some work experience in a medical environment - could be anything from summer job as a GP receptionist, helping in an old people's home, St John's ambulance/first aid, even dentistry etc. Not only can she decide if medicine is what she wants to do but these things will differentiate her from other candidates who can't demonstrate a commitment to medicine.

Congratulations to your daughter on her excellent results!

zara77 Fri 26-Aug-11 14:25:56

Ladymuck, she is staying on at current private School. The only reason i was advising against Oxbridge-Medicine is hard enough to get into and i'm guessing Oxbridge will be worse.

Yellowstone Fri 26-Aug-11 14:41:19

I'm afraid Peggy is a little out of date about extra curriculars. They don't count at all. At Oxford she will get an interview on the basis purely of GCSE's combined with the BMAT score. That's according to the Admissions Tutor for Medicine at Brasenose a few weeks ago, who should know what he's about. Mumsnet is almost bound to tell you different. Cambridge uses the BMAT too but is much more focussed on stellar AS module results than on GCSE's.

DD2 says that from her own empirical observation, the standard of medical applicants is so uniformly high that there's a point (after the interview selection process) that an element of luck or randomness is introduced. She's not a medic herself, she's just trying to help DS1, who's applying for 2012. FWIW DS1 got 12 A*'s in Y10 and 100% in 9 out of 10 papers at AS and we are all telling him the same: don't count on it, you may well not get in.

Amongst DD3's friends this year, it's staggering who didn't get in.

Yellowstone Fri 26-Aug-11 14:48:20

Honestly, look at the websites, talk to those there, attend Open Days and don't be persuaded by anything you hear on MN unless you trust its source.

Unless her BMAT is utterly outstanding, she's at risk of not getting an interview at Oxford I'd say. With fab AS results she may be better trying Cambridge.

DeWe Fri 26-Aug-11 16:21:12

Probably depends on what the A*/As were in. If the science and maths were all A* then I suspect the others won't matter. If none of them are then I'd have thought you may want to deflect interest away from medicine, but I may be wrong there.

Extra curriculum stuff doesn't matter for Oxbridge, didn't when I went (90s), doesn't now. It's a bit of luck whether you happen to hit the right college as your first choice, and if you click with the tutors. You do come across the odd person who has written an orchestral piece being performed at the Albert Hall, grin but they're unusual, most people have the usual amount of outside interests and find a few new ones while they're there.

In my year of applications for medicine at my college there were 30 candidates for interview (after exam had removed a fair few) for only two places as the organ scholar was medicine and he'd already been awarded a place and there was someone who'd been accepted the previous year for a deferred place.
The next year I think there was half that number for the usual 4 places (again after exam), when my brother applied his college there were 11 people for 4 places and there wasn't the exam then so much better odds.

iskra Fri 26-Aug-11 16:42:54

Do encourage her to look at the different ways medicine is taught at different universities, & to think seriously about what would suit her.

notevenamousie Fri 26-Aug-11 16:46:45

Probably - the number of applicants per place is less at Oxbridge compared to pretty much everywhere else for medical school (because the course is still very theoretical and therefore not so popular, plus the number of local places for the clinical years is very low). Tend not to get an interview in anywhere that has a more modern course if you put it down though.
She needs some serious people stuff to put down - to show that she doesn't live in a middle class priveleged bubble.
And many congratulations!!

Yellowstone Fri 26-Aug-11 16:52:26

The system has clearly changed. When you read medicine there DeWe, Oxford clearly didn't have the system of selecting candidates for medicine on the basis of GCSE scores (as adjusted by contextual data) combined with the BMAT scores. It appears to be quite a strict mathematical decision making process and is centrally administered. What subjects you get at A* won't matter at that initial stage though presumably it might when the tutors look at everything in the round after interview.

The statistics charts show up to date figures for how many interviewees there are for each place and what percentage of applicants are invited for interview in the first place.

Yellowstone Fri 26-Aug-11 17:10:18

Not sure that any of you trying to be positive have seen seriously stellar kids with 11 A* turned down year on year. I have and all of them have had very strong grounds to be confident, but nevertheless got the thumbs down. It probably helps OP more to be realistic and to have up to date info. The fact that kids with 11A*'s have been turned down doesn't mean that those with fewer don't get in, but by definition they'll have done better on the BMAT. And the BMAT is no walk in the park. We're also talking about a pupil from a private school, so her GCSE scores won't be adjusted upwards.

Tactically your DD's best bet is to look at the up to date information given out officially by the two universities in question and to look at the different weights placed by each on the different factors. They're looking for the same sort of people (who might be a slightly different group from those sought by most other universitites), but they find them through different approaches.

Given the weight placed on GCSE's at Oxford for Medicine to get to the interview stage, Cambridge seems the better way to go.

I agree that your DD's results are objectively extremely good, it's just that Medicine and esp. at Oxbridge, Imperial etc. is now exceptionally scary. It's important with only four choices on the UCAS form to get it right and not to be lulled into a false sense of security by people who are trying to be nice.

HardCheese Fri 26-Aug-11 17:22:33

Agreeing with Yellowstone - am ex-Oxford, though not medicine, and had a lot of medic friends when I was there. Go to the Open Days, do your research on the website etc, don't worry about the extra-curricular stuff, unless it's specifically about deciding whether medicine is actually the career for her - and definitely have your daughter consider very carefully whether a particular university is the right place for her to read medicine. Some of my Oxford postgrad medic friends originally from other institutions/countries were quite critical of the way in which it is taught at undergraduate level at Oxford, and it's entirely possible that another university might suit her much better.

Agree too about the level of randomness and luck that starts to kick in with Oxbridge and other 'prestige' medical programmes after a certain point - you can have astonishing exam results and give an excellent interview and still not be accepted, just because so many candidates are now that good. It was the thing a lot of people didn't get in that Laura Spence case at Magdalen a few years back - she was an excellent candidate, but other people were better, in the eyes of the admissions tutors.

zara77 Fri 26-Aug-11 19:15:42

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time and effort to respond.
There certainly seems that a lot needs to be considered and i don't want her, at the end of the process-have no uni place.
Cambridge seems to be the way to go but as everyone has pointed out-even those with 11A* don't interviews.
The BMAT should be interesting-i have no experience in this area at all!!! Now if she wanted to do Law-then i could help!!
Medicine just seems to be so difficult to get into that i wonder about the effort needed.

spiderpig8 Fri 26-Aug-11 19:39:01

I don't think oxbridge are interested in well-rounded individuals , but in having a great passion and ability for the subject!

beanlet Fri 26-Aug-11 19:50:08

My DH was Senior Tutor and Admissions Tutor at an Oxbridge college very recently, and is also a scientist. He says no, they won't turn their noses up at your DD's GCSE results. They will reject her if she does not take Chemistry ALevel, and they will look at the raw UMS scores for her AS levels - they count for a lot, as does a high score on the BMAT.

But don't worry about her GCSE's.


notevenamousie Fri 26-Aug-11 21:31:16

Yellowstone, fair enough about the "in my day" bit of advice, but I have shortlisted/ interviewed recently for medicine though not at Oxbridge so maybe discount the fact they are looking for a human being! The medical schools I have worked for were. The ratios of applicants for places have been the lowest in the country for Oxbridge for nearly 20 years so that bit still applies - for medicine, it is easier to get into Oxbridge than almost anywhere else in the country in terms of the numbers applying for places. But definitely ask on the Open Days - if you ask straight out, they will answer. Would she consider doing another degree first? Another route to consider. (Though she'd do a BSc anyway at Oxbridge but it can be a very good route in for lots of reasons)

Yellowstone Fri 26-Aug-11 22:12:21

notevenamousie I love the simplicity of the idea that fewer people applying than to other universities mean that it's easier to get in. Durham for Law, for example, always has way more applicants than Oxford, it's called blanket applying. Most of the Oxford and Cambridge hopefuls also apply there. This is standard for competitive subjects at top unis. It's about quality not quantity and looking at the extraordinarily talented students I've seen rejected in recent cycles for Medicine from both Oxford and Cambridge (the latest who has just got 4 A2 A*'s), God help anyone who thinks it's got easier. Perhaps applicants are being more realistic precisely because they are better informed about the intensity of the competition.

beanlet OK your DH was Senior Tutor until recently but please explain how he can say GCSEs don't count in the formula used to select candidates for interview for Medicine when the Admissions Tutors for Medicine say that the whittling down is managed centrally and is numerical, based on a combination of GCSE and BMAT scores? Are those tutors putting out misinformation? Perhaps your DH glanced up from a weighty academic tome when you asked how to reply to someone on MN and just gave you the criteria that his own specialty would employ. Or perhaps he was thinking about criteria after interview? Those would of course be irrelevant for a student not invited to interview in the first place. Please could you check again because students need a consistent line if they've only four choices. It matters.

Yellowstone Fri 26-Aug-11 22:19:19

Oi hang on beanlet, was he Cambridge? I think it was made very clear I was distinguishing in order to help OP.

If he was Oxford, then as I was, please ask him to clarify and Medicine specific and very precise. Thanks.

Yellowstone Fri 26-Aug-11 22:20:49

and be Medicine specific etc.

Yellowstone Fri 26-Aug-11 22:25:41

Hitherto Oxford most definitely, definitely hasn't required raw UMS module scores for AS's, so I think he must have been Cambridge?

That's part of the reason my three girls applied to Oxford....

beanlet Sat 27-Aug-11 07:53:24

Read my post properly Yellowstone. I didn't say GCSEs don't count. I said they wouldn't turn away a candidate with OP's DD's very specific set of 6A* and 4A.

My DH's specialty is medicine, to be precise, so somewhat better informed than you, methinks. And Cambridge, but he also studied and worked at Oxford. I was trying not to out myself, and now I will have to namechange, so thanks a bunch.

FFS get some glasses and wind your neck in.

beanlet Sat 27-Aug-11 07:57:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

beanlet Sat 27-Aug-11 07:58:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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