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GCSE Options - impact on Oxbridge application

(85 Posts)
NL3 Wed 13-Jan-10 11:13:26

DS1 is in Yr9 of a state comp. Quite bright - but also quite lazy.

We have to choose his GCSE options soon and I have a couple of questions that I hope someboby can answer.

Do your options at GCSE have any impact on your chances of gaining admission to Oxford or Cambridge?

Are any courses perceived as "soft" options similar to the list at A-level that top universities won't count?

Is it ok to choose solely academic subjects?

Any advice on this specific list -

English Language and Literature
Triple Science

Thanks in advance for any help

squeezedatbothends Fri 23-Nov-12 18:08:06

Piffle, not sure where you get your information from, but Philosphy is a very tough A level - well regarded by Oxbridge, where of course Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) is one of the most highly sought after and competitive courses! As for GCSE choices, as long as there is a range (Maths, Science, both Englishes, a Humanties subject and ideally a language, Universities are much more concerned with grades than subjects taken. If your child is interested in Science at Oxbridge, they must do triple Science. Oxford take a good look at GCSEs, Cambridge take a hard look at ASs and are less focused on GCSEs. Having said that, my son got into Oxford with 6A*, 3As and a B so they don't necessarily go for the 12a* kids - in fact many of his friends with better grades didn't get a place. It all came down to the interview in the end, so it's far better for your child to choose subjects they will enjoy, get the best grades they can and decide as soon as they can which subjects they want to do and immerse themselves in that subject with a passion. Oxbridge are not interested in the content of the A level - most questions will sit outside of that. They want evidence of wider reading, critical and connected thinking, and most of all a passion for a subject.

BeckAndCall Fri 23-Nov-12 09:42:31


Current q is from William, about 4 or 5 posts up from here.

William, as Bruffin says, start a new thread and you'll get good answers on there! Welcome to mumsnet, btw

bengalcat Thu 22-Nov-12 22:22:10

Aargh meant have

bengalcat Thu 22-Nov-12 22:20:48

Presume by triple science you mean physics , chemistry and biology as seoart GCSE's . If he were to drop anything would lose Economics and Citizenship . Better to hav fewer with top grades .

bruffin Thu 22-Nov-12 08:05:07

William start a new thread, otherwise people will come along and answer the OP not realising this is old and not see your thread.

Namechangeforapropertythread Wed 21-Nov-12 21:59:50

Just for clarification Trinity has both religious studies and philosophy on their arts 'good' list.

Tricccky Wed 21-Nov-12 21:47:52

Interesting. I did combined Eng Lang/Lit at GCSE (advised against above). And English Lang at A Level (on Trinity College's soft list). I got into 'Oxbridge' though. So nothing's concrete. More important to do things you'll be very good at and can talk about with passion (and demonstrate extended reading etc) at an interview. May also depend on the college you're interested in as well I would imagine. That was 15 yrs ago though so perhaps things are more difficult now.

williamagh Wed 21-Nov-12 21:22:16

hello, new member message...
Single dad, being lateral and seeking advice from wise women.
Browsed yr chat but need definitive answers please.
1) How to advise no1 girl (13yrs) on GCSE choices - what excludes what?
2) Mixing Arts and Sciences - what do colleges think?
3) Career impact of GCSE choices (if any)

AbbyLubber Wed 12-May-10 13:11:21

Not sure if anyone has said this... I am an Oxford admissions czarina, and Religious Studies is just another subject with 'studies' on the end.. .... Trinity Cambridge's list is pretty much the consensus.

calvi Wed 05-May-10 20:34:23

Thanks PeterT - DS's son did not give an option to drop any subjects but realise now why a friend's DS dropped Chemistry at his independent after getting a poor mock GCSE result. Wish I had known about this before. I guess his school is more interested in their league table position - I am depressed now!!

PeterT Tue 04-May-10 12:49:10

Having a daughter now at Oxford and two sons one 16 and the other 14 and about to start GSCE courses next year we (my wife & I) have similar concerns and perhaps some insight.

Points I would like to make:

Strongly agree with those who suggest looking at University entrance requirements now as they can be subtly different and may affect choices.

I think that exact subjects is not so important at GCSE as long as only one or two are not traditional academic subjects. It matters a lot more at A level.

The universities like to see consistently high grades. Nowadays 7 A* is considered a good starting point for a popular subject at a top university. Getting A*s in maths and English is particularly important. Where competition is particularly high even B grades are a disadvantage - much better not to take the subject at all if it is not a core one.

Better to sit fewer GCSEs and get more A* results. Our daughter only took 9 GCSEs but got A* in all of them and this got her the maximum mark (100%) for her GCSE results when applying to Oxford to do medicine. Doing ten GCSEs with 9 A* and 1 A would have got her 90%! However doing 10 subjects is probably about right. Subjects taken early would not have been counted so it may be best to avoid this dilution.

Hope this helps.

gerontius Sat 03-Apr-10 00:27:23

UCL from 2012 onwards will require a language at GCSE, as Edinburgh mostly does at the moment.

Phoenix17 Fri 02-Apr-10 18:30:11

DS is choosing GCSE options is strong on sciences and aspiring to Oxbridge - he has not got a language on his option list. I know Oxbridge and most unis don't officially require a language - can anyone shed light on how an application would be regarded? He is bright and all teachers predicting A/A* except perhaps Eng. lang. as he is dyslexic

gerontius Mon 29-Mar-10 19:31:19

Trinity Cambridge list of acceptable A-levels

calvi Mon 29-Mar-10 19:27:16

Re AS: Economics dept at Oxford have said basically that they encourage students to take the subjects which interest them the most in order to achieve the highest possible grades.

DS's school had 22 oxbridge acceptances last year (is that good for a state grammar?) and they have advised Politics is fine - so DS will take it at AS and we will keep our fingers crossed!

MrsMattie Sun 28-Mar-10 13:03:58

I would echo what Pixie says (may have a little inside knowledge myself wink).

bloss Sun 28-Mar-10 12:58:49

Message withdrawn

abride Sat 27-Mar-10 16:04:12

NL3--your list looks good as it is, what with three sciences and two languages, the two Englishes, history.

loungelizard Sat 27-Mar-10 15:56:34

Perhaps its the combination of Economics and Politics?? Perhaps he should do one or the other but not both. The Oxford website gives lots of detailed information about admissions.

calvi Sat 27-Mar-10 15:04:58

Yes loungelizard - PPE or one of the other economics combinations. I was told by one person in admissions that another subject might be better but another one said it was fine. I am getting edgy!!

loungelizard Sat 27-Mar-10 11:17:12

What does he want to study? My DN been offered place at Oxford (for English) and Politics is one of his A2s. Is he looking to apply for PPE?

gerontius Fri 26-Mar-10 23:04:57

Politics is a bit soft. Someone I know who teaches it claimed you couldn't learn anything from it you couldn't from reading a broadsheet.

calvi Fri 26-Mar-10 22:41:15

Starting to panic - DS was supposed to have his form in on Friday and has now changed his mind and wants to do AS Politics and not Physics as he says it interests him and not interested in pursuing three other subjects that he is predicted to get A*s for at GCSE. Is Politics a 'soft' option?

I am already concerned that he is restricting his options at A Levels given that Oxford don't even require him to have A Level Economics (again he says it interests him). What happens if he decides that he doesn't like Economics in the first year or finds that he is not so good at it - is he doomed?

ruggermum Sun 21-Mar-10 17:38:09

My DS might be an outside chance for Oxbridge but I looked at the amount of work expected of them and thought it was too much. I asked if there was any sort of concession for anyone playing for first XV and they said not. I would prefer it if DS went somewhere less intense that allowed time for his rugby (which is his true passion). If he wants to go then I will support him but I am not going to try to persuade him.

lazymumofteenagesons Sat 20-Mar-10 23:30:17

Milliways - your daughter's comments are very interesting. My son decided not to try for Cambridge saying it was too intense and he didn't want to spend the next 3 years working his socks of with little social life. I just thought he was being lazy. But maybe he actually knew this environment would not suit him.

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