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Good enough for oxbridge CS?

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    Hi
    Basically I'm kind of worried that I haven't got any "proper" science A-levels (bio, chem, physics). I do french, computing, maths and further maths and am continuing with them all along with an EPQ next year. In january I got all As as well as full UMS on my general studies AS (not really important but I suppose it's something).
    For GCSE I got straight A*s in maths, english lit, english language, french, spanish, chemistry, physics, business studies and graphics.
    I don't really have many extra-curriculars but I volunteer in a charity shop and am on the languages committee at college.
    I'm really interested in CS and might want to do a joint degree with maths but do you think I'd have a chance of getting in? Also, which do you think would be better for CS/maths, Oxford or Cambridge? Is one of them slightly easier to get into for these subjects ?
    Thanks
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    (Original post by lisamaria)
    Hi
    Basically I'm kind of worried that I haven't got any "proper" science A-levels (bio, chem, physics). I do french, computing, maths and further maths and am continuing with them all along with an EPQ next year. In january I got all As as well as full UMS on my general studies AS (not really important but I suppose it's something).
    For GCSE I got straight A*s in maths, english lit, english language, french, spanish, chemistry, physics, business studies and graphics.
    I don't really have many extra-curriculars but I volunteer in a charity shop and am on the languages committee at college.
    I'm really interested in CS and might want to do a joint degree with maths but do you think I'd have a chance of getting in? Also, which do you think would be better for CS/maths, Oxford or Cambridge? Is one of them slightly easier to get into for these subjects ?
    Thanks
    You should be fine, just concentrate on getting high UMS in your AS exams and you'll be in with a good chance.
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    (Original post by lisamaria)
    might want to do a joint degree with maths
    In case you don't know, at Cambridge you can do half-maths half-CompSci in your first year but the next two years you will only do CompSci. You can't do a joint maths-CS degree (afaik)

    Your grades and subjects look fine to me

    Not quite sure why this got negged... if anything I've said is incorrect mind pointing it out?
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    Yes, I had heard about that thanks Actually I think that may suit me more as it should focus more on the CS but I still don't know yet.
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    (Original post by lisamaria)
    Hi
    Basically I'm kind of worried that I haven't got any "proper" science A-levels (bio, chem, physics). I do french, computing, maths and further maths and am continuing with them all along with an EPQ next year. In january I got all As as well as full UMS on my general studies AS (not really important but I suppose it's something).
    For GCSE I got straight A*s in maths, english lit, english language, french, spanish, chemistry, physics, business studies and graphics.
    I don't really have many extra-curriculars but I volunteer in a charity shop and am on the languages committee at college.
    I'm really interested in CS and might want to do a joint degree with maths but do you think I'd have a chance of getting in? Also, which do you think would be better for CS/maths, Oxford or Cambridge? Is one of them slightly easier to get into for these subjects ?
    Thanks
    Your worry about proper science A-Levels is superfluous. Maybe physics would have been useful (not really sure how though); but you more than make up for it with Maths/Further Maths/Computing. Although EPQ isn't part of any Oxbridge offers as far as I know, and that it's not really regarded as key or crucial; it's good that you're doing it. Choose a suitable topic (in your case; something maths +/or programming based) and you have something to put on your personal statement and a potential topic of discussion at interview should you get one. Extra-curricular activities like the ones you are doing aren't really relevant to the application process for Oxford or Cambridge (though other Universities like them a bit more). The ECs Oxbridge look for are ones that show a passion for your subject (Summer Schools; Personal Projects; as mentioned before, relevant EPQs). Just try and show them you WANT to do Computer Science and Maths, basically. As for the course differences; what ElMoro said is correct. The CompSci + Maths course at Cambridge is only half and half for the first two years. As for Oxford; I know next to nothing about their courses and their content. But a glance at the Maths + CompSci page on their website suggests this is somewhat split down the middle in terms of what you learn:

    http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/under...ics_and_1.html

    I wouldn't try and think about which is easier to get in to. There are big differences between the admissions processes; both have their upsides and downsides. Both are intensive and competitive; and if there is in fact any objective difference in difficulty; it is minuscule and negligible. It would seem that Oxford is your best bet if you want to do a joint honours course. (Don't quote me on that; I know next to nothing about the actual course structure; this is just at a glance). Remember; if you choose Oxford; you would have to take the MAT which would then be used as a criterion for selecting you for an interview or rejecting you. For Cambridge; you would have to do STEP if you got an offer. All differences to bare in mind.
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    (Original post by lisamaria)
    Hi
    Basically I'm kind of worried that I haven't got any "proper" science A-levels (bio, chem, physics). I do french, computing, maths and further maths and am continuing with them all along with an EPQ next year. In january I got all As as well as full UMS on my general studies AS (not really important but I suppose it's something).
    For GCSE I got straight A*s in maths, english lit, english language, french, spanish, chemistry, physics, business studies and graphics.
    I don't really have many extra-curriculars but I volunteer in a charity shop and am on the languages committee at college.
    I'm really interested in CS and might want to do a joint degree with maths but do you think I'd have a chance of getting in? Also, which do you think would be better for CS/maths, Oxford or Cambridge? Is one of them slightly easier to get into for these subjects ?
    Thanks
    The important thing is to have maths and further maths, which you have, so I wouldn't worry about not doing any other sciences as your A levels are fine.

    There are many different pros and cons to both the unis and both their respective courses, off the top of my head I think you have to spend a quarter of your time doing something other than Comp Sci (or do half Comp Sci, half maths) in your first year at Cambridge, whereas first year Oxford is straight Comp Sci. I don't think either course or uni is inherently 'better' than the other, or viewed as better by the public/future employers, so largely it will be down to which uni you would prefer to live in.

    In terms of which one is slightly easier, you will hear a lot of people saying neither one is easier to get in to, and just pick the one you like best, which is true to a big extent. However you might want to consider that Oxford look at your GCSEs a lot more than Cambridge do, because Oxford only ask for your AS grades, e.g. AAAA; whereas Cambridge tend not to look at your GCSEs as much, since they also look at all your UMS scores at AS. Obviously ideally you would be expecting to do very well in all of your AS's this year this, in which case you would stand a very good chance applying to either, but if your AS's do not go as well as planned, Oxford MAY be the better shot because even with low As in all your AS's, you still have straight A*s at GCSE, and would have perfect grades on paper.

    At Cambridge, with good AS scores you are almost guaranteed to get an interview, but then you will only ever get 1-3 interviews, so if you mess up an interview, it can be costly. Whereas at Oxford, you must first take the Aptitude Test for Computer Science, and a lot of people get rejected pre-interview because they did not do well enough. I'm not sure how it works for Comp Sci, but I know for physics, only about 50% of applicants get interviews after the Aptitude Test, whilst at Cambridge they interview about 80-90% of applicants and there is no entrance test. The good thing about the Oxford Aptitude Test, is that if you do well and get invited for interview, you will spend a few days at Oxford probably getting 4-7 interviews. So you might want to think about which application process you prefer/ you would do better at.
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    (Original post by lisamaria)
    Hi
    I'm really interested in CS and might want to do a joint degree with maths but do you think I'd have a chance of getting in?
    Hi,
    To re-iterate the good advice given above, we'd be more than happy to see an application from you with that set of GCSE/A Levels.

    Our standard offer is A*AA with at least an A in Maths. The A* has to be in either Maths, FMaths, Physics or Computing for the straight CS course. For Maths and CS you'd need to get A*/A across Maths and FMaths. Either of which you could achieve with your set of chosen A Levels. In terms of subject choice, Maths is essential, and Further Maths is highly recommended - you've got that covered nicely. We do recommend a science subject such as Physics, but it's not essential. We've certainly had successful candidates with a very similar set of A Levels to yours. Your GCSE grades are great - above the average we normally see from CS applicants - so no worries there.

    Tutors make the admissions decisions based on your academic abilities and potential alone: extra-curricular activities do not form part of the selection criteria in any subject. But that's not to say we don't want to hear about your computing- and maths-related experiences. They can help us build an overall picture about you. Use the Personal Statement on your UCAS form to tell us why you are committed to studying your chosen subject at university. Having (for example) climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for your Duke of Edinburgh will undoubtedly make you a more interesting person, and will show us that you can manage your time, but it probably isn't going to make you a better (potential) computer scientist. It's extremely unlikely that having this on your CV would make the difference between you gaining a place or not. However, if you are achieving excellent grades in relevant subjects, and you have the time to excel in something else on the side, we will notice your ability to balance your time between studies and other activities. Having said this, your UCAS form is read by all the Universities that you apply to, and some of them will put considerably more emphasis on your extra-curricular activities that we do, and we will be aware of that when we read your form.

    (Original post by v2p)
    ...at Oxford, you must first take the Aptitude Test for Computer Science, and a lot of people get rejected pre-interview because they did not do well enough. I'm not sure how it works for Comp Sci, but I know for physics, only about 50% of applicants get interviews after the Aptitude Test
    That's correct. We interview about half of those who apply. As a rough guide the students we interviewed got above 50% in the 2011 Aptitude Test, shown here.

    You can click-through to detailed information on the content of our courses from here. But as has been pointed out above, you're straight into CS (or CS&Maths depending on the degree you've chosen) from the start with an Oxford degree.

    Hope that helps. Do feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.
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    Thanks for all your replies - they've been very insightful! I'm going to look deeper into the course structures and interview processes now that I'm slightly less worried about having zero chance of getting in haha.

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Updated: April 2, 2012
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