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To think universities should state separate entry criteria for Indies?
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Wacamole · 01/04/2021 10:13

DD who is on track for 3A*s at A’level, thought she’d give Oxbridge a go after being encouraged by her teachers. All very excited, doing super curriculars etc. Only just been told she doesn’t meet minimum entry criteria that would be expected from an Indy, which is straight 9s. She doesn’t have straight 9s, she has straight 8s (couple of nines), not only that, the course she wanted to apply for at Cambridge doesn’t require Maths at all, but school has advised they won’t even look at her if she doesn’t do Maths AND Further Maths. She is doing neither. Apparently an EPQ is also mandatory even though none of this is mentioned on Cambridge website.

All this second guessing, reading between the lines has been really confusing.
I have no issue with universities asking for higher entry criteria for students from indies for obvious reasons but wish they would be more transparent and state this on their ‘Entry requirements’ same way they state contextual offers?

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MrsIsobelCrawley · 01/04/2021 10:20

I think your DD is being poorly advised by her school.

If your DD is on track for 3A*s at A-level, she should certainly give it a go if she is interested.

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Wetellyourstory · 01/04/2021 10:25

Echoing the previous poster, it would seem your DD is getting poor advice maybe due to assumptions the school have made over why some of their pupils who apply are rejected.

If you read the Oxbridge threads there are some very knowledge posters on there with some excellent advice and first hand knowledge.

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MarchingFrogs · 01/04/2021 10:26

not only that, the course she wanted to apply for at Cambridge doesn’t require Maths at all, but school has advised they won’t even look at her if she doesn’t do Maths AND Further Maths. She is doing neither. Apparently an EPQ is also mandatory even though none of this is mentioned on Cambridge website.

This bit alone would make me assume that your school is talking rubbish, but I'm sure that a properly qualified person will be along soon to advise.

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titchy · 01/04/2021 10:33

Who told her she didn't meet the entry requirement of straight 9s? School? Cambridge?

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Wacamole · 01/04/2021 10:54

To be fair, it’s usually been said on MN that universities look for higher grades etc if coming from an Indy. A 9 from an Indy being equivalent to an 8 in a state school etc etc. So I’m inclined to think there is some truth in what the school has said. But there’s also the doubt, ‘what if they talking bollocks?’ Perhaps there is some truth in there but not all of it?

I’d really keen to know if there is anyone here whose dc is applying to Cambridge from an Indy and what their grades are?

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Wacamole · 01/04/2021 10:56

@titchy

Who told her she didn't meet the entry requirement of straight 9s? School? Cambridge?

School careers.
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titchy · 01/04/2021 11:00

To be fair, it’s usually been said on MN that universities look for higher grades etc if coming from an Indy. A 9 from an Indy being equivalent to an 8 in a state school etc etc.

Doesn't mean it's right!

Sorry but your school is talking bollocks. The entry requirements are for all. Some unis will advertise a slightly reduced contextual offer (usually one grade) for applicants from low performing school or deprived postcodes, but otherwise there is no distinction made between state and private grade requirements.

She should email Camb herself and ask how they would regard an applicant without M or FM and 8s at GCSE, who is predicted A stars.

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Wacamole · 01/04/2021 11:00

@Wetellyourstory

Echoing the previous poster, it would seem your DD is getting poor advice maybe due to assumptions the school have made over why some of their pupils who apply are rejected.

If you read the Oxbridge threads there are some very knowledge posters on there with some excellent advice and first hand knowledge.

There could be some truth in this.
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Wacamole · 01/04/2021 11:01

@titchy She is emailing Cambridge now as we speak.

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Bluebris · 01/04/2021 11:25

Hi, mum of a current year 13 DS here. We're in the middle of the current admission cycle so I might as well give you my two cents. My son (academic independent day school, on academic scolarship ) applied to Cambridge for a highly competitive course. His GCSE's were 12 9's and an A in additional maths, his predictions AAAA (Maths, History, Economics, Further Maths). He was rejected after interview and pool, and so were all other candidates from his school for a variety of courses, many of them with 4A predicted and all with a straight run of 9s (the exception being some less competitive Oxbridge courses such as Classics, Philosophy , MFL etc). What was worrying is that they were also rejected from most top unis (UCL/Warwick/LSE/Durham etc), even though they far, far exceeded the requirements for both GCSEs and A levels and most had supercurriculars/ MUN/competitions etc. It is a very common theme this year and will probably be worse in the future. Maybe this has been a particularly brutal year, with more applicants with high CAGs from last year and fewer places, but it is clear that the entry requirements are the minimum expected and in practice apply only for contextuals etc; even when e.g. it is mentioned that FM or whatever is not needed, you are disadvantaged if you don't have it since everyone else has, and even more so if you come from an independent school (people seem to think that the students don't need to work for their grades?!). So even though in theory the school seems to be talking rubbish, they are actually trying to be helpul and honest. Of course nobody should prevent anyone from applying to Oxbridge (as always luck plays a very important part), but at least you know what to expect- and the experience in itself can be very useful for the future :)

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Wacamole · 01/04/2021 11:34

@Bluebris thanks for your post. There’s a lot to think about there. Sorry your DS didn’t get a place. With Oxbridge its always been about more than just grades but one at least hopes to make the grades criteria if nothing else. Really anxious about next yrs cohort if it's this bad this yr. it’s a real shame.

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Bluebris · 01/04/2021 11:39

@titchy I am certain that Cambridge will say that they look at applications holistically/no one will be disadvantaged/ of course the entry requirements are the same for everyone etc. What happens in practice is different, and the schools are in a position to know based on numbers and experience. Again, this definitely does NOT mean that students should not try- in the end, someone has to get in! Just expectation management.

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titchy · 01/04/2021 11:41

[quote Bluebris]@titchy I am certain that Cambridge will say that they look at applications holistically/no one will be disadvantaged/ of course the entry requirements are the same for everyone etc. What happens in practice is different, and the schools are in a position to know based on numbers and experience. Again, this definitely does NOT mean that students should not try- in the end, someone has to get in! Just expectation management.[/quote]
So schools know better than Oxford and Cambridge how their admissions work? I can assure you they don't....

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titchy · 01/04/2021 11:47

Thread is about whether there are different expectations for private kids - there aren't. Private schools would of course love to say there are as a way of explaining why Jonny or Arabella didn't get offers. But the reality is they are simply very very very competitive.

They'll expect state school kids to have A star predictions too, and to score highly on HAT, LNAT, STEP or whatever.

That said this year is a very odd year, with far more kids being awarded very high grades, and that will unfortunately affect Oxbridge admissions. And next year will also be odd, given that we don't know where grade boundaries will lie - will they go back to giving grade profiles of pre-covid, or nearer those awarded from the CAGs.

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SeasonFinale · 01/04/2021 11:49

In a normal cycle Cambridge would place less emphasis on gcses than Oxford who do score the applicant's gcses in a contextualised basis to the school at which they were sat. (My indie educated DS's eight x 9, two x 8, one x seven did indeed give him a minus contextualised score).

There are no set criteria for Cambridge that is different as between indies and state schools. And the school should not be preventing your daughter from applying to Cambridge if she wishes. They may however be managing her expectations in that a higher standard will be expected of her with the benefit of the education she has received to level out the playing field. Thus invariably even if an offer is received it may be at a higher level than the standard offer.

Cambridge interview a very high percentage of applicants (as many as 95% in some subjects) as opposed to Oxford who only interview about 50%. However when Oxford offer they tend to be all at the same standard offer as indicated on their website/prospectus. Cambridge however tend to thin out applicants further by making "usual offers" which allows them to also make higher than usual offers (generally again to those in indies to balance the playing field, or to others they have doubts about but use it as a "show us you deserve this" method).

The maths/fm thing is strange though. If they are required then it will state this. If you meant FM that would be different. Some do not require FM as not all schools offer it. There are some courses though that if your school does offer it there will be an expectation that you will have done it or need to explain away with a good reason why you did not. Is that perhaps the situation?

It may be that if your DD is at a high achieving school that gets plenty of offers that it is their experience that pupils with her profile do not usually get offers. As I said before they should not prevent her from applying, it is after all her application, but they may simply be altering her to the fact that statistically it may not happen because of all of the above.

This year has been different in that as the cancellation of exams was made earlier in the cycle unis have refrained from making as many offers and high achieving students have been receiving rejections from many of the competitive unis as there will be no natural deselection that occurs as a result of exam performance (bearing in mind predicted grades are only 17% accurate).

It will be interesting to see what happens next year when things should hopefully go back to normal at least as far as exams go.

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Lovecatsanddogs · 01/04/2021 11:51

When my DD is at Cambridge and applied in 2020 they viewed 8s and 9s the same way. She only did 3 a levels and no EPQ and was at an independent school.

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SeasonFinale · 01/04/2021 11:51

  • alerting not altering
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SeasonFinale · 01/04/2021 11:54

@Lovecatsanddogs

When my DD is at Cambridge and applied in 2020 they viewed 8s and 9s the same way. She only did 3 a levels and no EPQ and was at an independent school.

Yes unfortunately after the cags and tags debacle and too many high predictions they will be looking at ways to differentiate. This 2021 cohort will have had the benefit of actual 2019 gcse exams. The 2021/2022 applicants will have cags as gcses and therefore there may well be places looking at the difference between a 9 and an 8 when it is the teacher who awarded those grades.
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GlacindaTheTroll · 01/04/2021 12:00

It really does sound as if her school is shite as university transfer advice.

No, you don't need straight 8/9 GCSE, whatever school you come from, but you do need many at that level

FM and maths - depends on the course, check with department (if it's comp sci, the Cambridge course is very maths heavy, not much fun for those without strong maths). EPQ, fine if relevant but not key. Supra-curricular relevant activity important.

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Wacamole · 01/04/2021 12:05

The maths/fm thing is strange though. If they are required then it will state this. If you meant FM that would be different. Some do not require FM as not all schools offer it. There are some courses though that if your school does offer it there will be an expectation that you will have done it or need to explain away with a good reason why you did not. Is that perhaps the situation?

The course does not ask for Maths at all. DD also watched a Cambridge webinar on admissions questions for her intended course and they stated explicitly, ‘Maths’ is not a requirement. Most of the colleges do not ask for particular subject at all.

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chopc · 01/04/2021 12:05

@Wacamole if your DD does end up applying, I hope you post back to update us.

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KatherineSiena · 01/04/2021 12:05

My 2 DC went to Cambridge from an independent school. They did not need separate criteria to state schools. They did not need an EPQ either. They do sometimes offer contextual offers to those that need special consideration but that can mean a less steep offer for someone in a poor achieving school. I have also known some concessions from any school who have had difficult personal difficulties/bereavements.

The admissions tutors are the colleges are very helpful. I would encourage your DD to speak to them directly. At the end of the day they want to encourage talented students to apply. Obviously if her A levels are completely unconnected to her chosen degree subject then that’s another matter.

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Wacamole · 01/04/2021 12:11

@chopc Will do.

@KatherineSiena Her A’level subjects are directly related to the course she wants to apply for.

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SeasonFinale · 01/04/2021 12:18

@KatherineSiena

My 2 DC went to Cambridge from an independent school. They did not need separate criteria to state schools. They did not need an EPQ either. They do sometimes offer contextual offers to those that need special consideration but that can mean a less steep offer for someone in a poor achieving school. I have also known some concessions from any school who have had difficult personal difficulties/bereavements.

The admissions tutors are the colleges are very helpful. I would encourage your DD to speak to them directly. At the end of the day they want to encourage talented students to apply. Obviously if her A levels are completely unconnected to her chosen degree subject then that’s another matter.

This is actually not correct. Oxford and Cambridge do not make contextual offers. The pupil is still expected to meet the standard grade requirements. However, when deciding whether to make an offer the way they score the application may indeed be done with contextualisation. They do not give out offers where lower than standard grade requirements are given. Cambridge may however give out higher than usual grade requirement offers to some people and these usually tend to be to those at selective schools whether indie or state.
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ClashCityRocker · 01/04/2021 12:20

I'm sure there's somewhere you can find out the breakdown of what A levels a cohort of students on a uni course had... I'm sure I've seen it before. Perhaps pop onto the Oxbridge threads and ask?

This will give the best indication of what is needed/what they're looking for in practice. If there's 100 students on a course and 99 have further maths that's a pretty strong suggestion that further maths is something they look for and the 1 is something of an outlier. Of course, this still wouldn't be definite and applying for Cambridge is never a 'cert' at the best of times.

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