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8s at GCSEs not valued like old A*?

(28 Posts)
ouda Sun 26-Aug-18 15:33:11

There's been lots in the news about students getting lots of grade 9s. But the students getting grade 8s have not really been mentioned, even though the old A* cuts across grade 8 too.

Does this mean that the pressure is now on for students to get strings of 9s even though only about half as many get them as previously got A*s, and someone getting an 8 now may be getting a higher raw score than someone who got an A* last year?

I'm writing as dd got all 8s and one 9 and I was really chuffed for her but looking at stuff about kids getting strings of 9s makes me feel like her grades would not be seen as good enough for top unis? Would Oxbridge now expect 6+ 9s (as used to be thought they needed 6+ A*s)?

OP’s posts: |
TeenTimesTwo Sun 26-Aug-18 15:39:27

I can't see Oxford & Cambridge expecting straight 9s as they wouldn't get enough students!

Instead of the 1000s (?) getting straight A* we now have 700 getting 9s. 8s (and 7s) are still excellent and you need to remember that and see any 9s as a bonus.

The whole point of the numbering was to be able to mark out the very very top (why that's needed I'm not too sure as that is what A levels are for, but still).

Dickybow321 Sun 26-Aug-18 15:45:26

But the headline figure of 732 students getting 7 9s or more is artificially low bc it doesn't count kids who say got 7 9s and 3 8s.So there's probably thousands of kids with a clutch of 9s. I can't see how they won't start using 9s as the new standard for Oxbridge.

Holidayshopping Sun 26-Aug-18 15:48:32

Definitely. The kids who got mostly 9s at DS’s school are the ones who will do Oxbridge. The ones who got 8s or 7/8s, won’t.

TeenTimesTwo Sun 26-Aug-18 15:52:07

I think Oxbridge will have to be very careful not to let introduction of 9s have the unintended side effect of reversing the progress they have made in encouraging more applications from state schools, especially under achieving ones.

Plus there is a difference between 'most successful candidates have a lot of 9s' and 'we require a lot of 9s'.

TheThirdOfHerName Sun 26-Aug-18 16:21:51

DS2 has just finished Y11 at a state school.

He got 9 in six subjects, including those he's doing at A-level and that are related to the degree he wants to do. He got 8 in the other four subjects.

Providing his predicted A-level grades are high enough, he is thinking about applying to Oxford next year. For the subject he wants to study, the initial stage of selection is based on an aptitude test (rather than GCSE results).

jeanne16 Sun 26-Aug-18 16:53:57

Both Oxford and Cambridge have their own entrance exams now and these are far more important than gcse grades.

ScipioAfricanus Sun 26-Aug-18 17:04:57

As Teen said, I think Oxbridge will be quite flexible about GCSE results because otherwise they will rule out more state school candidates and also in general they will lose out on people who are not quite as well rounded but still very strong on their core subjects.

Peaseblossom22 Sun 26-Aug-18 20:57:47

Ds went to an event at Cambridge in March where the admissions tutor specifically said that they would not be differentiating between 8s and 9s

Oldowl Sun 26-Aug-18 21:12:28

DS's best friend got 3x A*, 11 x 9s and 1 x 8 (yes, 15 GCSEs and an A in AS level German all taken this year- state school). Because of his 8, he is not counted in the 732, but will apply to Oxbridge.

Dickybow321 Sun 26-Aug-18 22:31:10

In other words there are so many more than 700-etc getting more than 7 9s! I bet there are thousands getting it!

Isentthesignal Tue 28-Aug-18 08:40:22

I though the 732 was at least 7 GCSEs at level 9.

DumbledoresApprentice Tue 28-Aug-18 08:51:52

The 732 was the number of students getting 7 or more grade 9s. Oxbridge aren’t going to be requiring strings of 9s. Of course a good proportion of those 700 or so kids will end up at Oxbridge but so will a lot of kids with mostly 8s and 7s who do well on the entrance tests and at interview.

IrmaFayLear Tue 28-Aug-18 11:23:49

When ds got his GCSE results he got a B in one subject. He went to bed for the rest of the day; he was devastated.

When he (or rather I - he was too awkward at that stage) asked the Admissions people at Oxbridge whether a B would scupper one's chances, they laughed and said a B in Business Studies was a badge of honour, even better a U. In other words, bombing one GCSE that is irrelevant to one's intended course is not a terrible thing.

That being said, clearly a lot of people got 9s - way more so than were originally intended, I think, so I think anything less than an 8 in most subjects would possibly be a deal breaker if one is looking towards Oxbridge. (The entrance exam is very important, but GCSE grades do make up a portion of the whole picture, especially now that AS Levels are no more.)

Isentthesignal Tue 28-Aug-18 12:00:02

The Admissions Tutor told us that they were open to the view that GCSEs favoured the generalist and they were not looking for a generalist - they were also aware that many excellent students found their feet with A levels and that less than stellar GCSEs would not necessarily hold you back.

Dickybow321 Tue 28-Aug-18 18:08:17

isentthesignal which university was the Admissions tutor for?

Isentthesignal Tue 28-Aug-18 18:16:43

Cambridge

MarchingFrogs Tue 28-Aug-18 18:23:03

Ds went to an event at Cambridge in March where the admissions tutor specifically said that they would not be differentiating between 8s and 9s

Well, they can't do for a while yet, surely? Not while not all the independent schools' favoured exam boards have moved over to the 9-1 grading, also not all parts of the UK have changed their GCSEs.

Isentthesignal Tue 28-Aug-18 18:28:36

Actually Dickie I found the selection process they described for admissions to be very rational. They were not interested in you as a “rounded” person - they expected you to sort out your own rounding in your own time. Music grades, DofE expedition, volunteering, work experience, your trip to Ghana etc were of no interest - unless you could properly demonstrate it was very relevant to the degree you were interested in studying with them.
I don’t think my dcs will apply to Oxbridge, who knows though - dh went, so we thought a trip to see what went on there would be good for them regardless.

Dickybow321 Tue 28-Aug-18 19:55:19

Thanks for that Isentthesignal. Very interesting and helpful.

TabbyTigger Wed 29-Aug-18 12:21:37

I don’t think Oxbridge - particularly Cambridge, let GCSEs be a make or break factor. For Oxford it’s usually admissions test scores that rule out candidates pre interview. DS’s gf is studying English at Cambridge with just 3A* GCSEs in relevant subjects (the rest were As and 3 Bs) from a very good school. Of his four good friends who applied to Oxbridge the two who got rejected had 10A*s (pre interview) and 9A*s (post interview) - more than the two who got in combined (the other had 5 or 6 and definitely at least one B).

8s are amazing grades and definitely don’t rule any future out for her.

TabbyTigger Wed 29-Aug-18 12:23:20

They were not interested in you as a “rounded” person - they expected you to sort out your own rounding in your own time. Music grades, DofE expedition, volunteering, work experience, your trip to Ghana etc were of no interest - unless you could properly demonstrate it was very relevant to the degree you were interested in studying with them.

This is certainly true - it’s all about interest and aptitude for the subject you’re applying to. Other subjects and activities are usually inconsequential to the admissions to the big prestigious universities.

IrmaFayLear Wed 29-Aug-18 14:28:36

I don’t think much store can be placed on what Admissions people said prior to August’s results. When predictions were that only two candidates in the country would get all 9s, then of course Oxbridge couldn’t expect all 9s. But, given that clearly many thousands of pupils achieved a decent clutch of 9s, then presenting with 6s and 7s is not going to make for a very competitive application.

True, Oxbridge are not looking for generalists, but they do want to see that an applicant is generally clever, as evidenced by good GCSEs. You may not be studying French, but a good French grade indicates aptitude. They are looking for people focused on their chosen subject, but not one-trick ponies.

maZebraltov Wed 29-Aug-18 14:34:56

Oxford University FOI request, Law applicants. I presume this is a high achiever's course? You can find similar data for medicine courses at most Unis. maybe I'll look up vet school in a moment...

See for yourself that C, D and worse grades are not unheard of among the GCSEs. Bs are pretty common. Twas ever thus.

maZebraltov Wed 29-Aug-18 14:49:55

Medicine applicants to York Uni who were successful at getting to interview. There are Bs in their GCSEs, too.

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