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Are these post-16 options ok for getting into a "top" uni?

(49 Posts)
stoopedey Thu 17-Oct-19 20:50:18

DC is thinking of doing Maths, Further Maths, Physics, BTEC Computer Science and possibly an EPQ. Are these a reasonable combo for a maths or engineering course at Oxbridge, Kings, Imperial, UCL?

I am unsure about the BTEC in particular, because I don't know much about them, but he really likes the look of the course.

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RedskyLastNight Thu 17-Oct-19 21:16:46

Good Maths, Further maths and Physics A levels will get him places anywhere for maths or engineering.

msmith501 Thu 17-Oct-19 21:23:05

They are fine but in all honesty, I'd pit less emphasis on what you term a top Uni and do some research on the quality of the courses and look at what past graduates have gone on to do.

PandaG Thu 17-Oct-19 21:34:33

Top grades in those A levels plus good step grades and successful interview could get you in to Cambridge for maths or physics. Above plus Oxford's equiv exam to step could be the same. But agree, look at the course content that will suit your son. D'S is at Cambridge studying engineering, and has friends at both studying maths who had those A levels (some had chemistry or a language also, but both do offer on basis of 3 A levels and I would think the btec offers more breadth)
Disclaimer- I am only a mum who has read the prospectuses/websites, not an admissions tutor!

TreePeepingWatcher Thu 17-Oct-19 21:42:51

Ds is doing maths, further maths, physics and computer science A levels, the universities he is looking at don't give a hoot about the EPQ. They just want pure AAA at A level or D* for any BTEC, admittedly he isn't looking at any London universities, just too far away from us.

If you look at the courses at those unis you have listed it will tell you the course content as it varies by university but will tell you their admission requirements.

StanleySteamer Thu 17-Oct-19 23:42:17

simply follow www.ucas.com/undergraduate/what-and-where-study/ucas-undergraduate-entry-requirements

milienhaus Thu 17-Oct-19 23:44:38

Good grades in Maths, FM, Physics will be perfect for that - would just be careful that doing the BTEC and EPQ on top of the A-levels doesn’t reduce the A-level grades which are the most important part.

YeOldeTrout Fri 18-Oct-19 20:08:50

I thought BTEC Comp Sci was equivalent of 3 A-levels; wouldn't do that AND 3 A-levels.

stoopedey Fri 18-Oct-19 20:30:59

YeOldeTrout, no, just one A level.
I've looked at the BTEC a bit more - difference between that and the A level seems to be it's less academic - no coding, and lower entry grades. As he'll already have GCSE Comp Sci I'm not sure it's going to add much to his knowledge - possibly some breadth, but no more depth. May have to think about it a little more and read the full spec.

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YeOldeTrout Fri 18-Oct-19 20:50:01

Ah, what my local 6thFC offers is BTEC Extended Diploma, which counts for three A-Levels.

stoopedey Fri 18-Oct-19 21:47:31

This one is the Edexcel "Extended Certificate" (not extended diploma) and has the same number of UCAS points as one A Level. But there are too many BTECs with similar names for my liking - it must be confusing for employers.

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stoopedey Fri 18-Oct-19 22:12:59

See what I mean about similar names ...

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GrumpyHoonMain Fri 18-Oct-19 22:20:08

Maths, further maths, physics would be good enough for top international unis like the IIT in India and MIT too. But to get into these top unis he would need to demonstrate his knowledge by being able to apply his A Levels.

stoopedey Fri 18-Oct-19 22:29:55

So I just looked up the entry requirements for a typical course that I think DC will be interested in ... Maths and Computer Science at Imperial College and it explicitly says the BTEC Extended Diploma isn't accepted. Of course his other subjects might be enough, but if he's going to do a fourth subject it should probably be something that's going to be "respected" by his future uni. Sad but true.

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GrumpyHoonMain Fri 18-Oct-19 22:52:04

Why not study a language? Spanish or German could prove very useful

Ginfordinner Fri 18-Oct-19 23:03:45

Why does he feel he needs to do a fourth subject?

No university asks for four subjects, not even Oxbridge or medical schools. Far better to get excellent grades on three than OK grades on four.

YeOldeTrout Sat 19-Oct-19 08:01:50

Does your son want to go to 'top university', OP? What does he want to do?

stoopedey Sat 19-Oct-19 08:44:21

YeOldeTrout, as I said at the start, he's interested in Oxbridge, King's, Imperial, UCL. His grades are high enough to aim high and he's ambitious. The only thing that will hold him back is bad advice on subject choices.

Ginfordinner - most students applying for these unis have 3 top grades, so to have an edge you need something else too. It doesn't have to be a fourth A Level, but for students doing Maths and Further Maths it's very common. That's because M/FM is considered to have a lower workload than two A Levels in other subjects.

For context, DC is looking at other sixth forms as well as staying at his current (state) school. At one (a grammar) a fourth A Level is compulsory for M/FM students. At another (specialist) sixth form, everyone does an additional AS and an optional EPQ and/or a range of very high quality tailored enrichment. If he stays at his current school he will be competing with those students, so to stay in the game he will need a fourth subject. The only question is whether that fourth subject needs to be an A Level. Now that I've done more research I've learned that BTECs are accepted at 95% of universities, but not at Imperial, Cambridge and some other very competitive unis. So taking a BTEC will close some of the doors he's peering through and that's all we needed to know - he will factor that into his decision making.

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Ginfordinner Sat 19-Oct-19 08:53:15

so to have an edge you need something else too.

That's true, but in the case of Oxbridge it will a passion for the subject and an excellent HAT/PAT/BMAT/other aptitude test score, EPQ, outside interests/hobbies/work experience, not necessarily a fourth A level. You are right about maths/further maths. I was thinking about other unrelated subjects here.

In the case of medicine having a fourth A level doesn't give you the edge. You need an excellent UCAT/BMAT score, plus work/volunteering experience.

High ranking universities are looking for rounded individuals, not just students who have been processed through exam factories.

KittyMcKitty Sat 19-Oct-19 08:55:08

Many “top” universities won’t accept maths and further maths as separate subjects- my dc’s school view them as only one A level.

A good few “top” uni’s will give a reduced offer based on an A in relevant EPQ - especially if grade is obtained as opposed to predicted.

Ginfordinner Sat 19-Oct-19 09:02:33

Many “top” universities won’t accept maths and further maths as separate subjects- my dc’s school view them as only one A level.

Most medical schools don't. They ony accept maths/FM if four A levels are taken as the subjects are too similar.

RedskyLastNight Sat 19-Oct-19 09:15:51

Maths and Engineering courses will definitely accept a further maths A level!

He doesn't need the BTEC to be "accepted" by universities as long as he gets good results in his A Levels - his offers will all simply be based on his 3 A Levels. They will just see it's something extra that he's done. Agree with PP that the "edge" he needs is a passion for the subject or some relevant extra curricular activities/interests (stressing "relevant" here). Remember that many students won't study more than 3 A Levels anyway - universities can't discriminate against those who weren't allowed to study more subjects because of the school they went to.

StanleySteamer Sat 19-Oct-19 09:19:45

People, as the bloke who wrote the book on this, literally, the only way to know what is acceptable for entry on any course in any uni is to look at the syllabus and if in any doubt email the uni, they will tell you, then do EXACTLY what they say.

stoopedey Sat 19-Oct-19 09:51:50

StanleySteamer, that may seem obvious, but at this stage most 15 year olds don't know exactly which course they want to do - at most they have a broad target range of courses. However they do know that the level 3 choices they make now can close certain doors, and open others - so for now it is about keeping as many of the preferred doors open as possible until they focus their interests over the next couple of years.

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YeOldeTrout Sat 19-Oct-19 10:11:48

as I said at the start, he's interested in Oxbridge, King's, Imperial, UCL.

You didn't... you listed what subjects he was interested in. Then you asked if those subjects were suitable for specific destinations. Not " he wants to go to these places."

It's great that you have time to help plan this and he is supportive. Ambitious kids is often a good thing. It certainly helps get their arses out of bed.

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