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GCSE's, the myth exposed

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    I can see why gcse's are looked at, because alot fewer people get 10A* than get 3A's.

    GCSE's are more important that AS level grades when applying to university (but not for all courses, e.g. Medicine/Vet Med not declaring your AS grades would probably be very detrimental, same goes for courses like Law, English literature, History, Economics).
    I disagree, your AS levels say far more than your gcse's do, they are more up to date and show the subjects that you probably need to do at uni. I personally would place more importance on them than predicted a2's aswell as predictions are subjective.
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    I think the predicted grades should be scraped, instead we should apply to uni AFTER we got our results... so 1) we can apply to univerisities and courses realisticly, 2) we dun need to be such a kiss ass all the time in classes, 3) so we don't need to face bitchy teachers that tend to under-predict students cuz their lives are full of crap!
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    (Original post by sillygirl)
    OMG. this is horrible. i got 2 A's 8B's and a C. I never worked. Why o' why didn't anyone tell me GCSE's were so important?
    Off topic but I got similar GCSE's to you and I am a WWE fan :p:
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    if this is true its totally unfair! i went to a crappy state school with a GCSE pass rate of 11% :mad:
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    Hi.

    Kristin and Helki, I can relate to you both. Helki, because like you I suffered a family bereavement last year that completely jeopardised my studies - I dont know how it happened with you, but the worst thing about a bereavement is the reultant problems, not the bereavement itself - and I wasted a year at a top uni doing medicine and am thus now applying to do Law. Only good thing about that is that I get unconditionals this time! That's it.

    Kristin, like you I'm a huge WWE fan and have watched it since I was knee high. Didn't stop me gettin A's though, just resulted in me injuring myself a lot trying to copy the moves. The worst was when I moonsaulted off a trampoline and missed the crashmat. Fun....

    Best of luck to you both tho.
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    Oh NOOOOOO!!! My GCSE grades are crap ~>.<~ I mean seriously, do they expect you to be diligent, hard working students at the age of 15?

    And besides...there are plently of people who get wonderful results for GCSE but mess up in their A levels...so its hardly a great basis to decide upon!

    Im just waiting for my LSE rejection now...
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    I think it's unfair that GCSEs are used as a filtration method but if there aren't other accurate methods of seperation for candidates, I suppose you can't blame them.
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    (Original post by TwickleC)
    Oh NOOOOOO!!! My GCSE grades are crap ~>.<~ I mean seriously, do they expect you to be diligent, hard working students at the age of 15?

    And besides...there are plently of people who get wonderful results for GCSE but mess up in their A levels...so its hardly a great basis to decide upon!

    Im just waiting for my LSE rejection now...
    It's not a great basis, and I'm sure some would argue it's not fair. The problem universities have is sometimes it's the only way they can differentiate between candidates. If they have 10 places and 20 students with the same-level of application, they may have to resort to GCSE scores to decide who should get those places. Some would argue that's unfair, but that's how it goes.

    Don't worry - like many on here have said, you can still get offers from good universities with lower GCSE grades - there have been examples running throughout this thread. The only thing I would say is that no-one should assume that universities won't decide places on the basis of GCSEs - at times, I think they do.
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    (Original post by randomname)
    It's not a great basis, and I'm sure some would argue it's not fair. The problem universities have is sometimes it's the only way they can differentiate between candidates. If they have 10 places and 20 students with the same-level of application, they may have to resort to GCSE scores to decide who should get those places.
    Randomname is exactly right. Nobody thinks GCSE results are the best way to decide who should get into university. But the fact is that, among applicants to the best university law schools, almost everyone has identical AS-levels and A-level predictions. Moreover most of the predictions come true. For many of these universities, GCSEs are the only concrete way of arbitrating among candidates, short of pure lottery. And can you imagine the howls of protest if university law schools used a pure lottery?

    Universities in the LNAT scheme now have an extra measure that can be combined with GCSE performance to reach a more balanced picture of candidate abilities. But I notice that some people don't think that's fair either. What do you guys think? What way forward is fairest? There's no point telling me it's ALL unfair. There needs to be some system. Nobody should be allowed to point the finger of 'unfairness' without first offering a constructive suggestion! (And don't say 'change the A-level system' because the universities no longer control the A-level system.)

    Best suggestion wins a place at Harvard (only kidding)
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    I think the LNAT is a useful thing for universities to have as it gives them an extra factor to go on. My main worry is how much emphasis universities place on it; some of them treat it as a means to rapidly shortlist candidates based on LNAT score, which I think is unfair as;

    a) It's multiple choice so there's going to be some level of guesswork/luck involved.
    b) I don't think you can draw a line on scores under which you definitely won't accept (cough, Durham, cough) because other factors need to be taken into account
    c) I just don't feel it measures aptitude for a law degree very successfully. Certainly it's an indicator as to how applicants will cope, but I'm more inclined to suggest that the results can be very random depending on what sort of questions you get and whether you get good passages. I sat 3 mock tests before the real thing. In one I scored 23/30. In another I scored 13/30 and in another I scored 17/30. If this was a test that could measure my aptitude, surely I'd be getting around the same mark, give or take a few marks?

    Don't get me wrong, I think the LNAT is a good idea - I just worry that some universities are a bit too eager to offer/reject based on a score on a 30-question multiple-choice test.
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    (Original post by randomname)
    I sat 3 mock tests before the real thing. In one I scored 23/30. In another I scored 13/30 and in another I scored 17/30. If this was a test that could measure my aptitude, surely I'd be getting around the same mark, give or take a few marks?
    Do you mind saying where you got the three practice tests? Were they commercial simulations of the real thing? If so they are not indicative, because they were not correctly calibrated. The real LNAT is correctly calibrated - we have a large enough number of candidates to do continual checks on means, medians, and standard deviations.
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    (Original post by John Gardner)
    Do you mind saying where you got the three practice tests? Were they commercial simulations of the real thing? If so they are not indicative, because they were not correctly calibrated. The real LNAT is correctly calibrated - we have a large enough number of candidates to do continual checks on means, medians, and standard deviations.
    I'm not exactly sure, sorry. I know one was the one on the actual LNAT site, the others were set by my college, I'm not sure whether they were taken from books or not...
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    (Original post by randomname)
    I'm not exactly sure, sorry. I know one was the one on the actual LNAT site, the others were set by my college, I'm not sure whether they were taken from books or not...
    Fair enough. But you can see how that would make a difference.

    Meanwhile, your suggestions about how the LNAT is used are important. I hope and expect that all the LNAT universities use it in a balanced and cautious way, but I'm not in a position to know for sure.

    Anyone else have ideas for fair admissions to law school?
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    I think all the top universities need to interview. A lot of people can get A*s at GCSE, straight As at AS and straight A predictions at a-level by simply learning how to pass exams through effective exam technique. Academic performance on its own doesn't necessarily reflect the skills an individual can bring to the study of law. Interviews would enable universities to see whether the candidate possesses these skills and has a genuine interest in the law and the study of law.

    A process like this, similar to the way Oxbridge operate - and i think other unis like UCL and Warwick who have also began to interview, would be very effective. Obviously the downside to interviewing is that it can be considerably time-consuming, but the benefits clearly outweigh the positives; there is so much competition for places at all the top institutions, I think it is now essential for universities to meet and converse with applicants to successfully differentiate between them.
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    (Original post by Sarah_Kiya)
    I think all the top universities need to interview. A lot of people can get A*s at GCSE, straight As at AS and straight A predictions at a-level by simply learning how to pass exams through effective exam technique. Academic performance on its own doesn't necessarily reflect the skills an individual can bring to the study of law. Interviews would enable universities to see whether the candidate possesses these skills and has a genuine interest in the law and the study of law.

    A process like this, similar to the way Oxbridge operate - and i think other unis like UCL and Warwick who have also began to interview, would be very effective. Obviously the downside to interviewing is that it can be considerably time-consuming, but the benefits clearly outweigh the positives; there is so much competition for places at all the top institutions, I think it is now essential for universities to meet and converse with applicants to successfully differentiate between them.
    Unfortunately, a lot of us have applied to all, if not most top unis for our 6 choices, and i know that i DEFINITELY couldnt afford to traipse round the country for a couple of months going to interviews. It's going to cost me £35 jusy to get to Cambridge and back! I couldnt afford to go to Nottingham, warwick, bristol or manchester as well, let alone all of them! Some of us are broke!
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    (Original post by LawHopeful)
    Unfortunately, a lot of us have applied to all, if not most top unis for our 6 choices, and i know that i DEFINITELY couldnt afford to traipse round the country for a couple of months going to interviews. It's going to cost me £35 jusy to get to Cambridge and back! I couldnt afford to go to Nottingham, warwick, bristol or manchester as well, let alone all of them! Some of us are broke!
    lol fair enough, maybe in that case unis should pay for interviewees to travel? although i doubt they would - universitys like to bleed students dry
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    I definitely think the LNAT is the way forward. Their difficult, and although there’s a possibility of guesswork involved in the multiple choice, the essay does help distinguish between candidates further. I personally don’t think I don’t to well on it, but its much fairer to judge prospective students on their ability to do well on the LNAT, then on how well they done in exams when they were 15/16. Incidentally I feel GCSE's are for the most able students are measure of discipline and how hard people work rather than actual ability as they are fairly easy. Many people will say tough, and that those who got good GCSE's deserve it more as they were willing to put in the work. However, people mature at different rates and how focused/intelligent a student was at 15/16 is no indication of how focused and intelligent a student they have matured to in the next couple of years. Students should be judged on ability and potential, not their past, and therefore I feel LNAT is definitely the way forward.
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    I think that the current system is pretty fair, i mean there are a number of different ways that they can assess you. In the case of some apllications it will be obvious that they will give you a place however where cases are more tighter then they should interview you, which would reduce the number of interviews and give a more fair overview.
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    (Original post by John Gardner)
    There's no point telling me it's ALL unfair. There needs to be some system. Nobody should be allowed to point the finger of 'unfairness' without first offering a constructive suggestion!
    Best suggestion wins a place at Harvard (only kidding)
    In Australia, we do the HSC ( like the A levels). The marks from this are converted into the University Admissions Index(UAI). This is a percentile ranking. Only certain subjects count to the calculation of the UAI ( the universitities decide which subjects count ) http://www.uac.edu.au/pdf/table2.pdf

    Applications are processed by a centralised agency once the UAI is available. Admission is then a mechanical process.

    The university simply* chooses the applicants with the highest UAIs. The cutoff UAIs are published each year. The UAIs for law vary from as little as 92 at our less established universities to 99.6 at the more respected law faculties.

    The benefits are that:
    1. The system is transparent
    2. Making equity adjustments ( eg: to help the disadvantaged like Australian Aborigines) is relatively simple
    3. State/private, white/non-white considerations do not enter into the admissions process.

    The disadvantages are:
    1. No interview.
    2. Communication skills are not tested
    3. A dull swot can reasonably often get a higher UAI than a bright goof-ball.
    4. State/private school resourcing and ethnicity issues DO play a factor in
    HSC performance and therefore affect the UAI. For instance, it is a given that Sydney Grammar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Grammar_School ) does rather better than less privileged schools.
    5. UAIs are driven by demand rather than by the real requirements of the course eg:
    a.UAI demands for popular subjects like law are driven higher each year
    b. Unpopular subjects have ridiculously low UAIs. Some engineering subjects has entry UAIs of 70. A significant number of those entering fail to cope with the maths and drop out.

    *There is a special Access quota for those disadvantaged by prolonged illness, disability, death of a parent or carer and a few other things. This effectively reduces the UAI required by between 3 to 5 points.
    For full fee-paying students ( around A$ 20,000 / year) , the entry requirement is similarly lower by 3 to 5 points.

    I'll pass on the offer of a place at Harvard ( not enough money )
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    (Original post by Sarah_Kiya)
    I think all the top universities need to interview.
    I can see why you think this, Sarah, but the value of interviews tends to be exaggerated by applicants. Most universities have given them up simply because they aren't especially reliable as an intellectual assessment tool. Selfconfident people disguise their weaknesses, unselfconfident people disguise their strengths. I don't mean to diss interviews altogether: my wife, a comprehensive school pupil who failed one of her A-levels, was rejected by every university she applied to except Oxford. She got into Oxford because the interview revealed something about her brain that couldn't easily be detected on paper. That was great. But it was an odd case. In many more cases the interview either confirms what the interviewer already knows from the UCAS form, or leaves the interviewer uncertain what to think. Contrary to what you imagine it is not usually very revealing, academically speaking, to talk to a nervous young stranger for 20 minutes.

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