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The Big "Are My Grades Good Enough for Cambridge?" Thread (Mk1)

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    (Original post by Igrisok)
    You can't apply to both, sorry! Oxford are much more selective for interview and they don't ask for UMS. They'll use an aptitude test of their own to select for offers.

    At Cambridge, performance at interview, I think, is key to getting a STEP offer. They'll use the UMS to filter out people with poorer AS results and the rest should go to interview. Cambridge interview the majority of their candidates.
    so if a person would have 80% UMS in 4 AS subjects, is that a real disadvantage to getting an interview? what is considered as poor AS grades?
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    (Original post by cooldudeman)
    so if a person would have 80% UMS in 4 AS subjects, is that a real disadvantage to getting an interview? what is considered as poor AS grades?
    The average successful Cambridge applicant has a UMS average of around 93% in their subjects... Ridiculous, I know! 80% would definitely be considered a disadvantage, sorry!
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    (Original post by Igrisok)
    The average successful Cambridge applicant has a UMS average of around 93% in their subjects... Ridiculous, I know! 80% would definitely be considered a disadvantage, sorry!
    :O well im pretty sure ive got that in maths and law but definitely not physics and fm...

    do you think i should give up Cambridge and try for Oxford since you said they dont look at ums?
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    (Original post by cooldudeman)
    :O well im pretty sure ive got that in maths and law but definitely not physics and fm...

    do you think i should give up Cambridge and try for Oxford since you said they dont look at ums?
    That shouldn't be your only reason for choosing a university. Look at their course structure, talk to some people who did the course, visit the campuses if you can... Don't pick between the two just because you think you might be more likely to get in! And as I said, UMS isn't treated as a huge deal with maths, and remember that 50% of people will get below the mean mark!
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    (Original post by Igrisok)
    That shouldn't be your only reason for choosing a university. Look at their course structure, talk to some people who did the course, visit the campuses if you can... Don't pick between the two just because you think you might be more likely to get in! And as I said, UMS isn't treated as a huge deal with maths, and remember that 50% of people will get below the mean mark!
    ok thanks for the advice, i've actually been to both in school trips. man the buildings looked amazing!
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    How do Cambridge look at ISA marks, i.e the practical of your science a levels? Your mark in these exams depends entirely on how nice your teacher is, I know plenty of people that got 60/60 ums because their teacher basically gave them their answer, whereas I'm looking at 48/60 (45/50 raw marks, ridiculous boundaries due to the aforementioned reason of cheating.)

    The reason this affects me is because if i got 95/100 in chem1, 140/140 in chem2 and 48/60 in the ISA then my chemistry AS = 94% but if they disregard my ISA then I have a 98% in chemistry (these are purely hypothetical numbers, just used for arguments sake)
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    (Original post by Extricated)
    How do Cambridge look at ISA marks, i.e the practical of your science a levels? Your mark in these exams depends entirely on how nice your teacher is, I know plenty of people that got 60/60 ums because their teacher basically gave them their answer, whereas I'm looking at 48/60 (45/50 raw marks, ridiculous boundaries due to the aforementioned reason of cheating.)

    The reason this affects me is because if i got 95/100 in chem1, 140/140 in chem2 and 48/60 in the ISA then my chemistry AS = 94% but if they disregard my ISA then I have a 98% in chemistry (these are purely hypothetical numbers, just used for arguments sake)
    you put all modules down and they'll see that your exams are better than the ISA and they'll be aware of the cheating so I don't think a 'weak' ISA is a problem.
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    (Original post by Extricated)
    How do Cambridge look at ISA marks, i.e the practical of your science a levels? Your mark in these exams depends entirely on how nice your teacher is, I know plenty of people that got 60/60 ums because their teacher basically gave them their answer, whereas I'm looking at 48/60 (45/50 raw marks, ridiculous boundaries due to the aforementioned reason of cheating.)

    The reason this affects me is because if i got 95/100 in chem1, 140/140 in chem2 and 48/60 in the ISA then my chemistry AS = 94% but if they disregard my ISA then I have a 98% in chemistry (these are purely hypothetical numbers, just used for arguments sake)
    Cambridge state that assessment of UMS is done on exam papers, not practicals. I'm sure they look at your practicals to see if you've done terribly or not, but they don't place any real weight on them.

    The reason for this is that they're a truly rubbish indicator of ability - they're nothing like degree level labs nor the rest of your course, and also are very circumstantial.
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    Hi I really want to study medicine and would like to apply to Cambridge. I got 7A*s and 5A's at GCSE and I've just done my AS levels! I'm grade 8 violin and I also play piano and guitar and I do taekwondo. Do you think I might be considered? Shall I take the risk and apply in October? Thanks!
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    (Original post by Aysena)
    Hi I really want to study medicine and would like to apply to Cambridge. I got 7A*s and 5A's at GCSE and I've just done my AS levels! I'm grade 8 violin and I also play piano and guitar and I do taekwondo. Do you think I might be considered? Shall I take the risk and apply in October? Thanks!
    Do you do anything relevant to the course? Cambridge honestly couldn't care less what instruments you play or which style of martial arts you subscribe to. They will be interested in very strong UMS as Medicine is a competitive course, combined with a set of extra-curriculars which display a strong passion and aptitude for the subject.

    If your music grades are all you have to put on your personal statement then I doubt you'd have a realistic chance at Medicine at Cambridge. Your AS grades could well be high enough to be competitive but without evidence of a strong commitment to and aptitude for Medicine as a career choice your chances are very slim.
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    (Original post by Extricated)
    How do Cambridge look at ISA marks, i.e the practical of your science a levels? Your mark in these exams depends entirely on how nice your teacher is, I know plenty of people that got 60/60 ums because their teacher basically gave them their answer, whereas I'm looking at 48/60 (45/50 raw marks, ridiculous boundaries due to the aforementioned reason of cheating.)

    The reason this affects me is because if i got 95/100 in chem1, 140/140 in chem2 and 48/60 in the ISA then my chemistry AS = 94% but if they disregard my ISA then I have a 98% in chemistry (these are purely hypothetical numbers, just used for arguments sake)
    On the SAQ you put all of your module scores down and there is a reason for this, because they want to know your exam scores really!
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    (Original post by Alex Bampton)
    On the SAQ you put all of your module scores down and there is a reason for this, because they want to know your exam scores really!
    I'm pretty sure you have to put your ISA mark down too?
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    (Original post by Extricated)
    I'm pretty sure you have to put your ISA mark down too?
    Sorry wasn't clear.

    You put down all of your individual modules (including practicals), they wouldn't do this if they were only interested in the "average UMS percentage" of that subject. They are looking at your exam record specifically.
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    Hey, I'm looking at applying to Cambridge for Maths this year. I've taken my Maths A level early and I'm quite sure I got an A* in that and over 90 UMS in all of my AS Further Maths modules except M2 which I messed up on and will probably be getting something like 70UMS. Do you reckon this would be an issue?
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    Go and look at a STEP paper. If all the questions look impossible to attempt, reconsider Oxbridge.

    (I was deciding between Maths and NST at Cambridge with >95% UMS average in Maths/FM and STEP still looked impossible so I made a decision not to do it. Then subsequently someone else in my year who I consider much better than me at Maths applied got an offer and missed the STEP grades on it. I'm now struggling with the Maths component of NST even.)
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    (Original post by Game_boy)
    Go and look at a STEP paper. If all the questions look impossible to attempt, reconsider Oxbridge.

    (I was deciding between Maths and NST at Cambridge with >95% UMS average in Maths/FM and STEP still looked impossible so I made a decision not to do it. Then subsequently someone else in my year who I consider much better than me at Maths applied got an offer and missed the STEP grades on it. I'm now struggling with the Maths component of NST even.)

    I don't really feel like that's a fair comment to make. Most people feel like the questions look impossible - especially if they haven't been especially pushed in maths by their school before. I was completely overwhelmed the first time I looked at STEP, and didn't even attempt questions until November. Then in January I still felt like I could barely do any questions. Now I feel I have a good shot at making my offer. I'm not certain or even very confident by any means, but I have a decent chance.
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    (Original post by Game_boy)
    Go and look at a STEP paper. If all the questions look impossible to attempt, reconsider Oxbridge.

    (I was deciding between Maths and NST at Cambridge with >95% UMS average in Maths/FM and STEP still looked impossible so I made a decision not to do it. Then subsequently someone else in my year who I consider much better than me at Maths applied got an offer and missed the STEP grades on it. I'm now struggling with the Maths component of NST even.)

    (Original post by hassi94)
    I don't really feel like that's a fair comment to make. Most people feel like the questions look impossible - especially if they haven't been especially pushed in maths by their school before. I was completely overwhelmed the first time I looked at STEP, and didn't even attempt questions until November. Then in January I still felt like I could barely do any questions. Now I feel I have a good shot at making my offer. I'm not certain or even very confident by any means, but I have a decent chance.
    I agree with hassi 100%. I'm not a mathematician by trade and I only have second-hand experience of STEP, but I'll share what I know. Many people in my year are doing the test for one reason or another, and the people who are now considered the best were not by any means the ones who were best at them initially. Everyone, and I mean everyone, will look at a STEP paper for the first time with a mixture of confusion and horror. It's only by plowing through the past questions (getting tutoring and attending STEP classes doesn't hurt either!) that you gain the confidence and skills required to succeed in them. Ain't nothing but practice.
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    (Original post by Nick_)
    I would quite like to know how important UMS scores are to cambridge, and what average would be considered bad/average/good/very good.
    If you mean in general, I believe (the information is floating around on the internet somewhere) that the average science applicant has 90%+ in their 3 most relevant subjects and the average arts applicant has this across their 3 best. The average offer-holder/student has closer to 95%.

    This is not a hard-and-fast rule. It is possible to get higher than that and get rejected. It's very possible to get lower than that and get an offer (I'm a final year law student who had an average of something like 88% across my top 3). It's supposed to be a good indicator of degree success but they take a lot of other factors into consideration, especially your interview.
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    (Original post by hassi94)
    I don't really feel like that's a fair comment to make. Most people feel like the questions look impossible - especially if they haven't been especially pushed in maths by their school before. I was completely overwhelmed the first time I looked at STEP, and didn't even attempt questions until November. Then in January I still felt like I could barely do any questions. Now I feel I have a good shot at making my offer. I'm not certain or even very confident by any means, but I have a decent chance.
    Whilst that is correct, Cambridge maths is a world beyond even FP3, which itself is a world beyond all the modules anyone will do in their AS year. The maths which is taught as part of the natural sciences first year is well above FP3, and the proper maths is another level up. Given that the OP hasn't been getting 90% in further maths AS modules, I would doubt Cambridge is for him.
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    (Original post by alphil)
    Well, your case might have been slightly different, but there can be cases in which they do ask those questions. A friend of mine who applied for medicine was asked: 'Here is a bottle of water. Talk about this bottle for five minutes'.
    I myself was asked: 'How do you know that you're in Cambridge?' and 'How do we perceive objects?'.

    These are tough questions that may need practice. It would be insensible to waste such a opportunity (of getting into Cambridge) because you weren't prepared enough.


    Ps- I applied for Philosophy and got an offer.
    Come on, what do you expect to be asked if you're doing philosophy. I spent the whole interview talking (heatedly arguing) about how much values are like colours. Are you doing philosophy now, or have you got an offer for next year?
Updated: August 16, 2012
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