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AIBU?

That it used to be easier to get to Cambridge or Oxford than it is now??

270 replies

countingdownagain · 01/10/2022 17:35

I know a few people that went to Oxbridge in the 70/80s that I struggle to imagine they'd have a hope of getting in today.

It strikes me that it if you were male, fairly well spoken, it was much easier to get in than it would be now??

OP posts:
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nightwakingmoon · 02/10/2022 18:55

Croque · 02/10/2022 18:26

The weaker applicants were given the chance, the stronger ones were not even given the chance to demonstrate what they know. It was as though the name of their school was enough to rule them out. The few who got in were scholarship kids from disadvantaged backgrounds with weaker academics.

Someone in your relatives isn’t telling you quite the truth here, because a candidate would only not be invited to interview under limited conditions, such as:

  1. they fell below the minimum acceptable standard in a standardised test pre-interview, eg mark was in the lowest quartile of applicants (Oxford)
  2. their school-predicted A-level grades did not meet the standard offer (Ox and Cam)
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TheRubyRedshoes · 02/10/2022 19:00

@HideousKinky

3 DDS!! That's incredible how did they all get in

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Sindonym · 02/10/2022 19:01

Signeduptosimplyreplytothis · 02/10/2022 17:04

It's more smart educated people who work professional careers tend to role model and produce smart educated children who want professional careers

Just to add some balance. Both dh and I attended Oxford (met there) and none of our children will be attending Oxford/Cambridge or any Russell Group uni.

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TheRubyRedshoes · 02/10/2022 19:03

@DelurkingAJ

Did he ever mention duke of Edinburgh?.
Does that count on admissions form? .
We can't afford for DD to.do it and two other trips this year'?

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Sindonym · 02/10/2022 19:03

badbaduncle · 02/10/2022 15:50

They are higher, not lower. It used to be EE, DS got 4x A and an A at EPQ as did his peers.

Only EE if you took the entrance exam.

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TheRubyRedshoes · 02/10/2022 19:04

@Sindonym


Why?? How old are they

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Sindonym · 02/10/2022 19:05

Late teens and early twenties. They're not remotely interested.

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Cheeselog · 02/10/2022 19:06

Sindonym · 02/10/2022 18:55

You can't compare A level grades from thirty years ago. C was seen as a perfectly good A level grade then and there were very few A's awarded. Now people pass out at a B.

I went to Oxford from a state school. I took the entrance exam so had a 2 E offer. The entrance exam was a lot more interesting than A levels tbh. It provided the opportunity to show what you knew rather than highlight what you didn't know. Finals were like that as well thinking about it. Don't know whether that has changed.

I do think it seems like a much more pressurised place now - not sure I'd enjoy it as much.

It is very pressurised. I had a great time nonetheless, but DP (we met there) says he would discourage our DC from going.

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nightwakingmoon · 02/10/2022 19:07

Sindonym · 02/10/2022 18:55

You can't compare A level grades from thirty years ago. C was seen as a perfectly good A level grade then and there were very few A's awarded. Now people pass out at a B.

I went to Oxford from a state school. I took the entrance exam so had a 2 E offer. The entrance exam was a lot more interesting than A levels tbh. It provided the opportunity to show what you knew rather than highlight what you didn't know. Finals were like that as well thinking about it. Don't know whether that has changed.

I do think it seems like a much more pressurised place now - not sure I'd enjoy it as much.

I’m not sure that’s completely true. I went to Cambridge thirty years ago this autumn (where has the time gone?!?) and my offer was AAA (the A* didn’t exist then).

My closest friend missed her offer for Natural Sciences at one of the big “Backs” colleges — her offer was AAA and two 1s in STEP. She got AAA, a 1 and a 2 and was bumped — went to Durham instead. Now is HoD of a major science department in the US so it didn’t exactly harm her career in science. But it’s a total myth that everyone got in with two Es and a wink and a nod in the past. Standards have been very high for a long time.

Cambridge still interview most candidates, but Oxford nowadays are quite ferocious with desummonsing any candidate who doesn’t score well enough in their pre-interview tests. If anyone knows of candidates from top public schools with great grades who didn’t even get asked to interview (as posters have been suggesting), they most probably scored really badly in an Oxford pre-interview test.

No-one is interested in an Etonian trailing streams of A*s, if they are scoring three quartiles below the top state comp candidates in a standardised test. No matter how naicely they converse. Sorry.

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Swedishmeatball · 02/10/2022 19:08

Absolutely certain that my white, privately educated, DH would not get in now. We’ve told our DC that if they want to attempt to get in they’ll have to move to the local comp for 6th form.

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nightwakingmoon · 02/10/2022 19:10

TheRubyRedshoes · 02/10/2022 19:03

@DelurkingAJ

Did he ever mention duke of Edinburgh?.
Does that count on admissions form? .
We can't afford for DD to.do it and two other trips this year'?

@TheRubyRedshoes No — DoE is never taken into account, never. Because we know it’s all about what school you go to and how wealthy your parents are. So please do not worry at all!

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PhotoDad · 02/10/2022 19:10

Sindonym · 02/10/2022 19:01

Just to add some balance. Both dh and I attended Oxford (met there) and none of our children will be attending Oxford/Cambridge or any Russell Group uni.

@Sindonym Same here. We both have multiple Oxbridge degrees.

DD is at art-school. And, I venture to guess, will be happier about her education than either of us.

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Sindonym · 02/10/2022 19:13

Which bit isn't true? I didn't mean people were offered places at Oxford or Cambridge with a C - just that generally it was seen as a perfectly acceptable grade whereas half of mums net seems to be think it is a disastrous grade now.

For Oxford thirty odd years ago you had the choice of the entrance exam, which could result in a 2 E offer, or A levels which tended to be 3As or 2As and a B. I went for the entrance exam.

At the time there was a bit of a hoo hah that private school candidates had better chances (they did) because they were supported to prepare for the entrance exam. I had some support from my state school, but it largely involved reading around and beyond the A level syllabus.

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Sindonym · 02/10/2022 19:15

PhotoDad · 02/10/2022 19:10

@Sindonym Same here. We both have multiple Oxbridge degrees.

DD is at art-school. And, I venture to guess, will be happier about her education than either of us.

Ha, ds2 is off to drama school. Can't see the youngest going to university, he certainly doesn't want to at the moment and no point paying a fortune if you are not keen.

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Pedallleur · 02/10/2022 19:16

Former cabinet minister got in when his father Lord Young made a phone call to the Bursar.

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Pedallleur · 02/10/2022 19:18

Toby Young that should read. Winchester always has a guaranteed number of places at Oxford but the pupils still have to get in

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Ruthietuthie · 02/10/2022 19:23

@user29, something shit like anthropology?
Cambridge anthropology graduate here. I became a professor and a best selling author. Also in my cohort, a diplomat, an incredibly successful film director, the director of a museum, the head of an international NGO... so perhaps not such a "shitty" choice after all?
(Beyond our career paths, how learning about humanity could be regarded as a shitty choice, as you state, is beyond me...).
On the "how competitive" question, each college only has a small number of places to offer on such courses. And the vast majority of those who put themselves forward at the interview stage have amazing grades predicted. So perhaps it wasn't quite as easy as you imagine for your child's friend to score his "shitty" anthropology offer.

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TheTurn0fTheScrew · 02/10/2022 19:25

In terms of grades, the ask is higher pretty much across the board.

H went from a comprehensive school to sixth form college and got into Cambridge with AAAB. My best mate got into a London medical school with BBB, and this wasn't uncommon then (1990s). My offer for a popular course at a Russell group university was BCC and no specific subject requirements. I've just checked and that's risen to AAA with some subject requirements. I'd have missed that offer as I got AAC.

It's a bit scary looking now at prospective universities with DC1, who's in Year 11. Half the places she's looked at want at A* A A for the subject she'd most like to apply for, which feels like a lot of pressure.

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Croque · 02/10/2022 19:30

nightwakingmoon · 02/10/2022 18:55

Someone in your relatives isn’t telling you quite the truth here, because a candidate would only not be invited to interview under limited conditions, such as:

  1. they fell below the minimum acceptable standard in a standardised test pre-interview, eg mark was in the lowest quartile of applicants (Oxford)
  2. their school-predicted A-level grades did not meet the standard offer (Ox and Cam)

Neither of these was the case. They also did the DOE. That is why we were surprised, I do not know what was in their statements but it is hardly likely to have been outrageous as they are quite shy and sheltered. School provided great references. They scored over 100% in two exams each (I think they are marked out of >100%
Their abilities were never in doubt.

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Croque · 02/10/2022 19:34

The only think I can think of would be that they mentioned being related to me. I may have been on a secret naughty list on account of one or two small incidents!

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nightwakingmoon · 02/10/2022 19:47

Croque · 02/10/2022 19:30

Neither of these was the case. They also did the DOE. That is why we were surprised, I do not know what was in their statements but it is hardly likely to have been outrageous as they are quite shy and sheltered. School provided great references. They scored over 100% in two exams each (I think they are marked out of >100%
Their abilities were never in doubt.

So they did get interviewed? If they is and they didn’t get in, then it will just be that other candidates were better. No naughty lists required! 😂

Sorry to break it to you, but there are plenty of candidates that have great school references and score 100 percent on some of their exams. (When we were using the old AS/A2 module scores, getting 98-100 percent was pretty much the benchmark for all our successful candidates.)

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Croque · 02/10/2022 19:49

nightwakingmoon · 02/10/2022 19:47

So they did get interviewed? If they is and they didn’t get in, then it will just be that other candidates were better. No naughty lists required! 😂

Sorry to break it to you, but there are plenty of candidates that have great school references and score 100 percent on some of their exams. (When we were using the old AS/A2 module scores, getting 98-100 percent was pretty much the benchmark for all our successful candidates.)

No they were definitely not interviewed!
DOE = Duke of Edinburgh reward which was mentioned upthread. I did not know that it is common to get 100% in A level exams these days. I don't believe any of their friends did.

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Sleeplessinthesouth71 · 02/10/2022 19:49

I think this year there are far more students this year and last as more probably deferred due to COVID. Plus those students benefitted from more generous grade boundaries.
Still proud DD got an interview at Oxford but neither of the state school Oxbridge applicants got in. Sure some of it was down to less interview preparation and the fact thst the interview was virtual.

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nightwakingmoon · 02/10/2022 19:51

*did not is.

(Also we never take DoE into account — see upthread.)

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ScrollingLeaves · 02/10/2022 19:53

I think it was easier in the 1970s before the men’s colleges began to take women. Once more women could apply, the cleverest of them were allowed in over less clever men.

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