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Oxford but with spiky GCSE profile?
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24petlegs · 03/02/2022 21:36

How much does Oxford Uni place on GCSE grades?

DD (Year 12) has quite a spiky GCSE profile compared to her peers, her year group is one of the covid assessed grade groups.
However, DD had done most of her GCSEs by the end of Y9 (home educated and mostly self taught) and has:
9 9 9 9 2xA* A 7 B plus an A for an AS level that she took in Y10.
Her first A* was in Y7 in the subject she'd like to do at Uni.
She's currently doing 3 A-levels at sixth form plus another AS level and so far, her grades are looking good.

Is it worth her even considering Oxford or will her lack of straight 9s/A* rule her out?

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3Daddy31982 · 03/02/2022 21:40

Go for it. What has she to lose. I think she gets in.

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HoneyMobster · 03/02/2022 22:21

In normal years Oxford place a lot of emphasis on GCSEs, particularly compared to Cambridge. This year (DD has just got an offer for Medicine) they placed little emphasis on GCSEs because the exams were not taken. I suspect they'll adopt a similar approach next year.

This means for many subjects there will be strong weighting on getting a really good result on any admissions test taken. I also think really strong predictions will be needed.

What subject is your DD thinking of @24petlegs ?

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24petlegs · 03/02/2022 22:51

Congratulations to your DD, @HoneyMobster
DD is looking at Physics. It was the first GCSE she sat back when she was 11 (Y7) so she's always had a passion for it. She was home schooled from Y3 until she went back for Sixth Form so is fairly unusual with her educational background.

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pantjog · 03/02/2022 23:01

My DC are also home edded to GCSEs. I think it hasn't done them any harm in university applications in fact I think it's a positive thing to mention and it's particularly striking that your DD did so well at such a young age. My DS is also a bit slanted in his grades all top grades in Maths and sciences but an A in English and a B in Religious Studies. He's now reading Engineering at Cambridge (though TBH it's been a struggle for him, but that's another story).

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Greatauntdymphna · 03/02/2022 23:04

It's often commented that Oxford in particular prefers all GCSEs to have been taken in one sitting. I don't know how true that is. At least doing 3 A levels in one sitting so she's showing she can manage the workload (that seems to be the reason behind preferring one sitting from what I've heard).

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Tryingtohelp23 · 03/02/2022 23:17

For Physics at Oxford she will need to sit an admissions test (the PAT). Her GCSE’s are good and with a strong PAT score they definitely won’t count against her. Also she has nothing to lose by applying. Depending on which parts of physics she likes best she might want to look at Materials Science and Engineering too in case one of them appeals to her even more. Good luck!

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pantjog · 03/02/2022 23:22

@Greatauntdymphna

It's often commented that Oxford in particular prefers all GCSEs to have been taken in one sitting. I don't know how true that is. At least doing 3 A levels in one sitting so she's showing she can manage the workload (that seems to be the reason behind preferring one sitting from what I've heard).

This is possibly true for A-levels but not true for GCSEs. DD2, also home ed, has just had an offer from Oxford and her GCSEs were spread over several sittings.
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clary · 04/02/2022 01:23

Op only on MN would that be a spiky profile! To me spiky is some 9s and 8s with 3s and 4s. You dd if I read it right has 9 GCSEs with (numerical equiv) 677889999 (or even 677999999 if you make the As into 9s) - that's excellent for anyone's money so well done to her. As I understand it Oxford traditionally looks for 6 grades of A or 8/9. I would also agree that her HE background may well give her an advantage - both in application and in terms of being at uni and understanding how to self motivate.

FWIW mate of DS2's is at Cambridge now with a grade 6 in Eng Lang (the horror!) - I only know this as ds2 was so delighted to beat him with his 7 in Eng Lang. Mate is an amazing mathematician and such a bright boy.

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ErrolTheDragon · 04/02/2022 08:44

FWIW mate of DS2's is at Cambridge now with a grade 6 in Eng Lang (the horror!) - I only know this as ds2 was so delighted to beat him with his 7 in Eng Lang. Mate is an amazing mathematician and such a bright boy.

Cambridge seems to understand that applicants (perhaps particularly on the STEM side) may be asymmetrically talented. My DD had Bs in Eng lit and Lang and German, but alongside 3As and 6 Astars, the latter all on the STEM side, so not a dissimilar spread to the OPs DD.

I'd hope the OPs DD would be fine with her grades (and evidence of precocious talent and enthusiasm for physics!) for Oxford. She might want to consider writing to some admissions tutors to see how they respond.
But as others have said, she's really got nothing to lose by applying - she's still got 4 other options and lots of excellent physics courses to choose from.

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24petlegs · 04/02/2022 09:32

Maybe spiky was the wrong word; 'unusual' would have been better.
Sitting GCSEs aged 11 is unusual but we know that the age you sit exams isn't considered a factor by college/uni. Having an A grade AS level by Y10 is unusual too.
I've suggested she talks to school this term about it all a bit more.

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ChildHeadache · 04/02/2022 09:38

It is a lot easier to do exams spread over several years which is why they like gcses to be done in 1 sitting now (ie do 4 over 2 years then another 4 over another 2 years is far easier than 8 over 2 years and revised for at once.) I think that's a failing of our system though - and there's a pressure on schools not to enter any early entries now.

I think given covid disruption things will ne looked at differently and I think they maybwell look differently on a home ed application if they show talent anyway? Definitely worth giving it a go. Have you thought of contacting the admissions dept of your subject ir college st Oxford. Would be worth asking.

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ChildHeadache · 04/02/2022 09:40

Generally doing ASs early is discouraged too to enable students to concentrate on the 10 gcses they are sitting in one go and not bring any of their grades down.

Being home ed though they should expect a non linear approach?

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ChildHeadache · 04/02/2022 09:43

Definitely get in touch with them. It will help to clarify if it is the 6 highest/ 8 highest grades.

When I was at Oxford and anecdotally most people had a string of A/A*s so that may be expected but it may not rule out a child who has been educated differently. Are they predicted top grades /done well in mocks etc? I imagine they would perform well in interview?

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Namenic · 04/02/2022 10:21

Dunno about Oxford, but DH was not a straight A student in either gcses or a levels - just good at his chosen subject - maths. He had a D at AS and a couple of As and a B at gcse. I’d say go for it. At the very least interview practice and practice for the aptitude tests (I believe Oxford do written assessments as part of the process for some subjects) will be good experience. I don’t think most people should put great hope in getting in to oxbridge as it’s so competitive and there will be an element of luck - but people should give it a go if they would like studying there. Good luck!

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Namenic · 04/02/2022 10:21

DH went to cambridge

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Thoosa · 04/02/2022 10:24

I believe traditionally Oxford is less concerned about GCSEs than Cambridge is and, Cambridge is less concerned about AS levels than Oxford is. That certainly seems to be borne out by my smallish sample.

So go for it if GCSES are the only concern.

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Namenic · 04/02/2022 10:26

Also ask school about physics Olympiad - she might enjoy it and give good practice. And she might like amateur radio as a hobby (depending on what parts of physics she enjoys)

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Thoosa · 04/02/2022 10:26

@24petlegs

Congratulations to your DD, *@HoneyMobster*
DD is looking at Physics. It was the first GCSE she sat back when she was 11 (Y7) so she's always had a passion for it. She was home schooled from Y3 until she went back for Sixth Form so is fairly unusual with her educational background.

That’s one of the subjects for which they will put a lot of weight on their own test (PAT). Definitely encourage her to give it a go if she’s talented.
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ErrolTheDragon · 04/02/2022 11:58

@Thoosa

I believe traditionally Oxford is less concerned about GCSEs than Cambridge is and, Cambridge is less concerned about AS levels than Oxford is. That certainly seems to be borne out by my smallish sample.

So go for it if GCSES are the only concern.

No, the other way round.
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pantjog · 04/02/2022 13:13

@ChildHeadache

Definitely get in touch with them. It will help to clarify if it is the 6 highest/ 8 highest grades.

When I was at Oxford and anecdotally most people had a string of A/A*s so that may be expected but it may not rule out a child who has been educated differently. Are they predicted top grades /done well in mocks etc? I imagine they would perform well in interview?

OP’s daughter does have a string of As and A stars.
Being home educated isn’t a disadvantage IME. It can be a positive thing. My three eldest Dc were all home educated and are all either at O or C or have an offer.
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ChildHeadache · 04/02/2022 13:28

I meant string of A/A* from one sitting. Sorry I wasn't explicit.

And no home ed doesn't need to disadvantage - as I said they may perform v well in interview particulalry if they've had time to pursue their interest.

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pantjog · 04/02/2022 14:01

Ah ok.

Funnily enough I think O and C are more receptive to an unusual background than other universities who don’t even necessarily read the personal statement for some courses.

I know of one young man who had literally 4 GCSEs from home ed and had to retake English in year 12 as he had failed. He was a brilliant mathematician and went to the specialist maths college in London and then to Oxford.

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RampantIvy · 04/02/2022 23:37

How did she sit these GCSEs if she was home schooled? There haven't been any proper public exams since 2019. Did she take them all early?

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minipie · 05/02/2022 00:14

I expect they might want to know how she kept up her Physics in between y7 and y12?

I assume her Maths is similarly strong?

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pantjog · 05/02/2022 01:26

@RampantIvy

How did she sit these GCSEs if she was home schooled? There haven't been any proper public exams since 2019. Did she take them all early?

There were normal exam sittings in Nov 2019 and Jan 2020. In June 2020, some home educated candidates were able to submit evidence of their learning and get grades. Others missed out. I presume a similar thing happened in June 2021.
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