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The Official "Oxford or Cambridge?" Thread

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    (Original post by deltabomber)
    No, and heres where i reveal myself to be a hypocrite, i dropped my chemistry from as to a2 so i could concentrate on physics and further maths for uni :rolleyes: no questions were asked as i got almost 100% in most exams
    But did you apply to Cambridge? If you had really high UMS points then they might not care if you drop a subject. They would be able to see your high UMS marks and know that you would hit that A*AA, thus not needing Chemistry. And were your A2s Maths, Further Maths and Physics then?

    (Original post by purplefrog)
    I would say Oxford due to your UMS. But are the courses at the two places very similar in terms of structure and module options? At the end of the day, apply to whichever course you like the most. And I do know quite a few people at Cambridge that missed their offer for their college, but got accepted anyway because they were liked (only seems to be with arts subjects though, all the science ones i know who missed their offer would not get any leeway).

    and two guys in my year got into eng lit at oxford - one took bio, chem, history, eng lit. the other took chem, hist, eng lit, maths so your subjects should be fine as long as you have two substantial essay subjects in there
    Oxford's course is less flexible, options only becoming available in the third year. You do Shakespeare at different times and Cambridge have a unique Tragedy paper. With Cambridge you have an option to do either Old English (650-mid1300s), an English Language option, or the foreign literature paper which is the most common. Taking Latin to A2, Cambridge would expect me to carry it on for this paper in the second year (another reason for my reluctance with Cambridge rather than Oxford). Oxford you have to study Old English but there is no foreign language specified requirement for any part of the course. Oxford, as far as I can gather, incorporates more English Language/Creativity within the field of 'English' than Cambridge does. They are the main differences. Also, Cambridge's English course has some set texts whereas Oxford's is nearly entiely open and is more college specific.

    Some questions:
    How about me dropping Latin as it is relevant, would that be a hindrance? Also, I would only be taking three A2s. With such high competition and no UMS maybe Oxford want me to take four A2s (something I think I would struggle with taking into account Latin!!!) as to show my commitment and academic merit, just as your two friends who got in? So would dropping Latin be foolish and should I take 4 A2s with Oxford? Finally, do you know how well those two did with ELAT and their acedemic records, as to establish ELAT's significance with admissions?
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    (Original post by Wellie)
    But did you apply to Cambridge? If you had really high UMS points then they might not care if you drop a subject. They would be able to see your high UMS marks and know that you would hit that A*AA, thus not needing Chemistry. And were your A2s Maths, Further Maths and Physics then?



    Oxford's course is less flexible, options only becoming available in the third year. You do Shakespeare at different times and Cambridge have a unique Tragedy paper. With Cambridge you have an option to do either Old English (650-mid1300s), an English Language option, or the foreign literature paper which is the most common. Taking Latin to A2, Cambridge would expect me to carry it on for this paper in the second year (another reason for my reluctance with Cambridge rather than Oxford). Oxford you have to study Old English but there is no foreign language specified requirement for any part of the course. Oxford, as far as I can gather, incorporates more English Language/Creativity within the field of 'English' than Cambridge does. They are the main differences. Also, Cambridge's English course has some set texts whereas Oxford's is nearly entiely open and is more college specific.

    Some questions:
    How about me dropping Latin as it is relevant, would that be a hindrance? Also, I would only be taking three A2s. With such high competition and no UMS maybe Oxford want me to take four A2s (something I think I would struggle with taking into account Latin!!!) as to show my commitment and academic merit, just as your two friends who got in? So would dropping Latin be foolish and should I take 4 A2s with Oxford? Finally, do you know how well those two did with ELAT and their acedemic records, as to establish ELAT's significance with admissions?
    One guy had nearly all A*s at GCSE and straight As at AS, while the other at 5A*s at GCSE with AABB at AS.
    Oxford will not discriminate on the number of A2s you take so long as you take 3 A2s in rigorous subjects.
    No idea about their ELAT performance.
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    (Original post by Wellie)
    Because he probably did the foreign language option at Cambridge in which he also highly probably took Latin, something that you don't do with Oxford. But I do see what you mean. Do you think it would look weak dropping it?
    The main provision of the Latin A2 which is unique is a firm grounding in scansion. From AS, you will already have a rigorous background in formal grammar, and be familiar with 3500-4000 Latin words. English words with an obvious Romance etymology should be relatively easy to recognise.

    Arguably the literary analysis of Latin differs somewhat from that of English Literature, since in Latin there is more of a natural focus on identifying the meaning and grammatical significance of each individual word, though you will similarly have done a great deal of this already at GCSE and AS.

    So dropping Latin after AS would not be weak at all unless you are dropping it in favour of English Language (it is very unfortunate that the idea of a clause should be thought of as necessary for introduction only at 17, and then only to those who are interested).

    I personally dropped Latin after getting a high-ish A at AS (~180/200 UMS). Admittedly I am doing maths, but I think the same principles still apply.
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    (Original post by Mellete)
    The main provision of the Latin A2 which is unique is a firm grounding in scansion. From AS, you will already have a rigorous background in formal grammar, and be familiar with 3500-4000 Latin words. English words with an obvious Romance etymology should be relatively easy to recognise.

    Arguably the literary analysis of Latin differs somewhat from that of English Literature, since in Latin there is more of a natural focus on identifying the meaning and grammatical significance of each individual word, though you will similarly have done a great deal of this already at GCSE and AS.

    So dropping Latin after AS would not be weak at all unless you are dropping it in favour of English Language (it is very unfortunate that the idea of a clause should be thought of as necessary for introduction only at 17, and then only to those who are interested).

    I personally dropped Latin after getting a high-ish A at AS (~180/200 UMS). Admittedly I am doing maths, but I think the same principles still apply.
    I do agree that having done Latin for some years now that English words with Roman roots are easy to recognise. In fact, I can almost translate a lot of Old English due to my Latin background and sounding out, having looked at some older literature.
    You say that scansion is the main aspect that changes in the A2 course but isn't this worth very few marks? Also scansion would be a major aspect of the English Literature course at Oxford as we start to become accustomed to formulaic syllabic poetry. Thus, showing A2 Latin's importance for an English degree.

    Also, I have been told that the hardest thing about A2 Latin is the verse language aspect. The translations are not modified and that 3500-4000 vocabulary count has to be magnified extensively due to the absence of a vocabulary list. This is what I'm nervous about, not scansion.

    You applying for Maths means that dropping it is not an issue as it doesn't relate to your degree.

    I know I'm being picky but I just want to look at this from all angles to make sure I don't do something foolish.
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    (Original post by purplefrog)
    One guy had nearly all A*s at GCSE and straight As at AS, while the other at 5A*s at GCSE with AABB at AS.
    Oxford will not discriminate on the number of A2s you take so long as you take 3 A2s in rigorous subjects.
    No idea about their ELAT performance.
    Would you say that Economics, English Literature and Economics are thought of rigorous? I'm thinking Economics possibly less so? At least less rigorous than Latin.
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    (Original post by Wellie)
    Would you say that Economics, English Literature and Economics are thought of rigorous? I'm thinking Economics possibly less so? At least less rigorous than Latin.
    your subjects are fine
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    (Original post by Wellie)
    I do agree that having done Latin for some years now that English words with Roman roots are easy to recognise. In fact, I can almost translate a lot of Old English due to my Latin background and sounding out, having looked at some older literature.
    You say that scansion is the main aspect that changes in the A2 course but isn't this worth very few marks? Also scansion would be a major aspect of the English Literature course at Oxford as we start to become accustomed to formulaic syllabic poetry. Thus, showing A2 Latin's importance for an English degree.

    Also, I have been told that the hardest thing about A2 Latin is the verse language aspect. The translations are not modified and that 3500-4000 vocabulary count has to be magnified extensively due to the absence of a vocabulary list. This is what I'm nervous about, not scansion.

    You applying for Maths means that dropping it is not an issue as it doesn't relate to your degree.

    I know I'm being picky but I just want to look at this from all angles to make sure I don't do something foolish.
    My point was that scansion, which isn't something anyone should really be worried about, is probably the only unique aspect of Latin A-level actually applicable to English.

    Learning 3000 more words isn't going to help with English a great deal, and there's no new grammar at A2.

    You are in a good position to peruse more Ovid/Caesar/Cicero anyway.

    Latin A2 is not greatly relevant to an English degree, whereas having Latin AS is a great addition.
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    (Original post by Mellete)
    My point was that scansion, which isn't something anyone should really be worried about, is probably the only unique aspect of Latin A-level actually applicable to English.

    Learning 3000 more words isn't going to help with English a great deal, and there's no new grammar at A2.

    You are in a good position to peruse more Ovid/Caesar/Cicero anyway.

    Latin A2 is not greatly relevant to an English degree, whereas having Latin AS is a great addition.
    Ok cheers, so you think I should drop it and carry on Economics, English and History to secure my three As or higher?
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    (Original post by Wellie)
    I'm applying for English Literature and am not sure which ancient institution to go for. I have LOW As at AS in all four of my subjects (Eng Lit, Economics, History, Latin). Am going to drop Latin as it is too hard.

    I'm thinking Oxford as they can't see your UMS and if I destroy the ELAT test that may give me a better chance. What do you think?

    Also... does it hinder me dropping Latin; it being related to English and highly respected, almost like I'm giving up because it's too difficult ?

    So which one?
    Well, I hear Oxford my be slightly better for English, but it's no great shakes seeing as you would still be at Oxbridge doing a respected degree.

    In your situation, it matters more which city you prefer. Don't forget, if you get in, you'll be living every day of your life there for 3 years, so you better go where you enjoy.

    Good luck


    (PS I'm applying to Cambridge because I prefer the place. But that's just me )





    (Original post by Wellie)
    Ok cheers, so you think I should drop it and carry on Economics, English and History to secure my three As or higher?

    And yes^. English, History & Economics.

    Work hard.
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    You said you were at boarding school, right? I don't know much about English, or Oxbridge admissions, but I do know that very very few comprehensives will offer latin at A level. Or GCSE. Or even in Year 7. My comprehensive is the only one I've ever heard of that offered latin at all (I'm sure there are others), and a friend of mine had to get a private tutor so she could do it for GCSE as only 2 people wanted to do it so the school couldn't run it.

    My point is, any person applying to that course who went to a state school will almost certainly not have a latin A level. Relax.
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    (Original post by Wellie)
    Ok cheers, so you think I should drop it and carry on Economics, English and History to secure my three As or higher?
    Yeah. In my opinion, 3 As is better than 3 As and a B
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    (Original post by Mellete)
    Yeah. In my opinion, 3 As is better than 3 As and a B
    So the B is actually a negative?!

    Sounds very bizarre to me. Maybe if it's a choice of AABB or AAA, aim for AAA, but I can't see how AAAB could possibly be worse than AAA? You still have the same qualifications, but an extra (still very good) one.
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    (Original post by modgepodge)
    So the B is actually a negative?!

    Sounds very bizarre to me. Maybe if it's a choice of AABB or AAA, aim for AAA, but I can't see how AAAB could possibly be worse than AAA? You still have the same qualifications, but an extra (still very good) one.
    I suppose it's about presenting an image of being consistently good. Some discriminating universities who look at the percentage - rather than the number - of A*s at GCSE seem to share such a philosophy.

    Just a personal perspective.
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    I'm really not sure where I'll stand a better chance.
    I want to apply for undergraduate medicine.
    I know how the application system and short listing works for each university but I can't make my mind up

    GCSE-8A* 2A
    (I also have 1 B and a distinction A*, but Oxford said they won't consider these so I'll leave them out here).

    As levels- Maths 269/300-89.7%
    Chemistry 273/300-91%
    Physics 281/300- 93.7%
    Biology 288/300- 96%

    For each one of Oxbridge I have a weakness. For example I have lower proportion of A* grades than the average interviewed candidate has at Oxford, however I did go to a state comprehensive where the average no. of A* per pupil was very low so this may help.

    At Cambridge I have to declare all my exam marks. However I retook my first Biology module and it wnt from a high B grade to over 90%. But I'm not sure if Cambridge will hate me becasue I retook a module? On top of that I used to do Critical Thinking for which I only did the January exam and got a D so I dropped and didn't do the June exam. Since I have to put my mark down for this on the SAQ even though it's just critical thinking, it may disadvantage me?


    Any advice is appreciated!
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    (Original post by Insanity514)
    I'm really not sure where I'll stand a better chance.
    I want to apply for undergraduate medicine.
    I know how the application system and short listing works for each university but I can't make my mind up

    GCSE-8A* 2A
    (I also have 1 B and a distinction A*, but Oxford said they won't consider these so I'll leave them out here).

    As levels- Maths 269/300-89.7%
    Chemistry 273/300-91%
    Physics 281/300- 93.7%
    Biology 288/300- 96%

    For each one of Oxbridge I have a weakness. For example I have lower proportion of A* grades than the average interviewed candidate has at Oxford, however I did go to a state comprehensive where the average no. of A* per pupil was very low so this may help.

    At Cambridge I have to declare all my exam marks. However I retook my first Biology module and it wnt from a high B grade to over 90%. But I'm not sure if Cambridge will hate me becasue I retook a module? On top of that I used to do Critical Thinking for which I only did the January exam and got a D so I dropped and didn't do the June exam. Since I have to put my mark down for this on the SAQ even though it's just critical thinking, it may disadvantage me?


    Any advice is appreciated!
    You've got fairly good grades for both universities, the Biology retake should be ok (if they notice it), I think they'll let you off with that, also from what I know they don't really look at General Studies/Critical Thinking, it certainly doesn't come into the offers, and I got an interview (for maths) with a D in General Studies last year.
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    (Original post by Insanity514)
    GCSE-8A* 2A
    These will make it easy to get an interview at Oxford (or Cambridge), and as long as you got A*s in sciences there is very very very little disadvantage against people with 100% A*s.

    As levels- Maths 269/300-89.7%
    Chemistry 273/300-91%
    Physics 281/300- 93.7%
    Biology 288/300- 96%
    Cambridge don't like resits as much as straight exams (obviously), and I have a feeling that other unis also take this stance for medicine (but not sure, someone else will tell you...). The high mark is good, but it's with a pinch of salt. The others are all find though.

    I think you're reading a tad too much into your position. It's a decent set of grades to apply with. There will be plenty of people who are better and worse (on paper) than you, but you've probably put yourself in a good 'above-the-average' position. More important is to get a really good BMAT and interviews (practise for both!).

    I personally think that there is little discernable difference in your chances at either, better to just apply to the one you'd prefer to go to.
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    Cambridge durrr.. (Your UMS is excellent, your GCSEs are average (for oxford medicine))
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    Why do you think you have lower a* avg than most oxford candidates? With strong GCSEs (which ox care about) and 4As you'd definitely be fine (for both)
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    (Original post by deejayy)
    Cambridge durrr.. (Your UMS is excellent, your GCSEs are average (for oxford))
    What is avg GCSEs for ox? Are you saying generally or jut for medecine?
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    You probably have a better chance of getting into Cambridge because they have recently had only slightly more applicants for almost twice as many places.

    (Original post by hslt)
    These will make it easy to get an interview at Oxford (or Cambridge), and as long as you got A*s in sciences there is very very very little disadvantage against people with 100% A*s.
    8A* + 2A is below average for Oxford medicine interviewees, so they won't make it easy to get an interview at Oxford.

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