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Oxbridge entry

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Got a question about Student Finance? Ask the experts this week on TSR! 14-09-2014
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    This sounds ridiculous but it just seems strange, to me at least that every year people with lesser grades get in ahead of the candidates with the best grades possible. Now I do understand why they get in, because of their personality, flair, extra curricular stuff etc. But do you think that say in some cases having say 5A* 5A and AAB might benefit you as every year people with those sort of grades will get in? Could getting straight A*'s at GCSE disadvantage you because so many people are getting them now? It sounds a ridiculous argument I know but one that I think kind of stands up in some respects. Any thoughts?
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    That's because the people that gain Oxbridge entry are not the academic elite, as academia is not a meritocracy. Or did you think the system was basically fair?
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    It's not that at all that I thought that if you got all A*'s and A's you should automaticallt gain an entry (if that's what you meant, please correct me if I'm wrong). I just think that maybe being at the very top can make you look slightly material and perfect if you catch my drift? Your probably not :confused: Okay, do you think that if you're on the same boundary as many other people, e.g. there's twenty people all with A* at Gcse and A's at A-level, it can make you look a little moulded and exactly what you should have. Is it not possible that perhaps universities, mainly Oxbridge because of their reputation will go for what are weaker candidates on paper as it makes them look more human?
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    I'm not going to comment further because I might get banned again...
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    One thing I will say is that Cambridge at least (don't know about Oxford) take the quality of your school into account when considering your GCSEs. If two candidates had exactly the same grades but one went to a top school where everyone got top grades, and the other went to a much worse school where grades tend to be lower, the candidate from the worse school would be seen as better in terms of GCSE grades. Also, grades are only part of an application - personal statement, interview, reference, etc. are all very important.
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    (Original post by Esquire)
    I'm not going to comment further because I might get banned again...
    Okay, i'm extremely sorry if I've touched a nerve esquire.
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    No, it's simply because it's possible to get 11A*s and be utterly mindless; and to have 5A*s and occasionally have rather interesting thoughts that will go down well at interview. The corellation between GCSE performance and being right for Oxbridge is strong but by no means perfect. Although the schools undoubtedly dress it up into some insanely big deal, there really is very little between 5 and 10 A*s.

    That's it. So forget all this stuff about being "rounded" and extra-curricular and all these tactics about what grades you should get to stand-out or under-stand-out. Just be yourself. They'll either like it, or they wont.
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    If you get straight A*s it doesn't mean you will be particularly good in your degree. If you follow your line of argument, two applicants applying for, say, English would be able to be differentiated quite easily:

    Applicant 1: 11A*s (two of which are English and English Literature)
    Applicant 2: 2A*s (English and English Literature) and the rest As, Bs, Cs, or even Ds.

    If what you are saying is right, Oxbridge should definately take applicant 1...and applicant 2 is perhaps borderline. But surely GCSE subjects such as Maths, Technology, Science and so on are not relevant to an English degree? I think the important thing is good grades in the relevant subjects and that admissions tutors should pretty much ignore the irrelevant subjects. If my getting a B (shock horror) in GCSE Drama is a massive hinderance in a philosophy application, the system would be flawed. Likewise, if an applicant with straight A*s is dull at the interview, does not have much enthusiasm for the subject, struggles with the admissions test because they are different to GCSE/AS level, then why should they be let in over the 'below average' applicant who would do well on the course?
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    another point i was discussing with my teacher was progression. If you do get 11 A*s you're then expected to get a minimum B grade at A level (not always the case, complacency plays a part). Therefore, you appear to be a better candidate if you get a "mere" 5 A*s, one that is always learning and improving on themselves. Also it seems that A*s dont really amount to much at A level, especially for essay subjects where GCSE's are said to favour the real concise "short and sweet" candidate. However at A level you need to be able to right at length (not waffle) but be creative with your style. anyway, thats what i was told just have to see next year.

    I sincerely do think that it is all a lottery and its just a case of whether you feel you want to buy a ticket. However, one thing that was repeatedly said to me when i visited the uni in january was that you need to do something that sets you apart from everyone else that applys. Intelligence is a mutual attribute to all candidates, what else can you give. Also they did make note of the fact that they dont want or need an absolute genius, so dont think you need to get the greatest marks ever..because in my opinion genius is much more than grades on a piece of paper and very few (if any) of us will ever reach it.



    AHHHHH well thats my rant over CONGRATS on the all A*s (if thats what you got)

    i only managed 6A* 3As and 3Bs,,, A* in maths though YAYAYAYAYYA lol...gd luck in whatever you do...
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    Also, Oxbridge tutors want people they can teach and talk to, as they will be spending a lot of their own time with these students. If someone who didn't get such good grades, but has an amazing personality and is a very good person to talk to academically, than he might be better than someone who has good grades, but is just too arrogant to learn anything from these tutors.
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    (Original post by Athena)
    Oxbridge take the people they think are both academically able and who are not spoon fed candidates - lots of people are capable are learning to pass exams, this doesn't mean they would prosper in the more independent environment of Oxbridge.
    So you're saying that there are NO spoon fed Old Etonians at Oxbridge? Pull the other one.

    You also seem to be saying that Oxbridge is more independent than other top unis, which again is preposterous.

    Getting into Oxbridge is a matter of getting AAA + Performing relatively decent on the interview (i.e. no nerves, answering questions with a decent level of knowledge and awareness etc) + doing well on the admission tests (if there are any for your subject) + LUCK!!! If they don't like you, you're unlucky.

    People seem to think that the Oxbridge admissions tutors are Jedis, that have some extra terrestrial intelligence.
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    As I am not an Oxbridge Tutor I cannot comment on 'what they are looking for' beyond pointing to the admission criteria they use. All I can do is share my experience. I am reading History and English at Oxford with As in those subject at A level even though I got a B and C at GCSE respectivly. This suggests that more priority is placed on performance at interview and sample work than just previous results.

    Bob.
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    So you're saying that there are NO spoon fed Old Etonians at Oxbridge? Pull the other one.
    Or possibly eton (and other top public schools) is actually a very good school, and produces many very good students who've been taught how to think for themselves, rather than spoon feeding them, regardless of how many black people there are.
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    (Original post by thomasjtl)
    Or possibly eton (and other top public schools) is actually a very good school, and produces many very good students who've been taught how to think for themselves, rather than spoon feeding them, regardless of how many black people there are.
    ;laugh; I would rep you for that but I'm all out.
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    (Original post by Athena)


    Platocrates, chill for a moment. You always take people absolutely seriously. For the sake of clarity, I do not couch my posts in the terms of "they try to endeavour to do their best to..." - I just make my point

    The OP wanted to know why Oxbridge don't just admit those with the best GCSE scores and the most A grades. I was trying to explain that exam sucess and suitability for Oxbridge entry are not always the same thing, as well as reiterating some of the comments of Oxbridge tutors at a higher education fair I went to.

    I know that luck, interview technique and coaching play their parts just as much as raw talent and intelligence, but I'd argue that Oxbridge's interview system allows more accurate (note the "more" - I haven't said it's entirely accurate or infallible) selection of candidates for Oxbridge's teaching methods than just letting the computer pick those with the best scores.

    I'm sure the debating skills you practice on TSR will stand you in good stead for your Oxbridge application (if you haven't decided Oxbridge is racist or not diverse enough for you), but I would prefer it if you were a little less dogmatic about it - slip in the odd smilie occaisionally
    Athena you made some excellent points however I think you slightly misunderstood what I meant. I don't think that people with straight A*'s etc should get in automatically (then i'd have no chance!). What I sort of emant was more hypothetical, I meant in simple terms, do you think that Oxbridge perhaps pick lesser candidates (grade-wise) for the reasons: one, that those students offer perhaps more in that they aren't as perfect and exactly as the system dictates you should be, and two, it perhaps makes Oxbridge stand out a little more than it already does. By this I mean that everbody knows the reputation Oxbridge has and by giving offers to lesser candidates(again I mean in terms of grades) and turning away the obvious choice candidates it kind of makes it more appealing in a way, this is the point where I'm finding it hard to explain myself so I will stop.

    Thanks to all for giving your views. And by the way I'm not one of those who got all A*'s although I wish I was! 4A*'s,4A's,1B and 1C for me.
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    btw platocrates, since you asked about it a while ago, there's a black tutor at st. peters. I saw him in a video on the uctv website video for oxford.
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    GCSE's aren't a perfect indicator of academic potential at Oxbridge. Hardly a complex concept is it?

    And why should they be, frankly? They're designed to differentiate an the entire population, Oxbridge are sifting through the top 5% or so. Completely different tasks.
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    (Original post by Pascal)
    do you think that Oxbridge perhaps pick lesser candidates (grade-wise) for the reasons: one, that those students offer perhaps more in that they aren't as perfect and exactly as the system dictates you should be, and two, it perhaps makes Oxbridge stand out a little more than it already does. By this I mean that everbody knows the reputation Oxbridge has and by giving offers to lesser candidates(again I mean in terms of grades) and turning away the obvious choice candidates it kind of makes it more appealing in a way, this is the point where I'm finding it hard to explain myself so I will stop.
    Oh yeah, sure, just after the two interviewers finish discussing exactly who impressed them, they get on the phone to the omnipotent, omniscient god of oxbridge admissions and ask him/her whether this candidate should be sacrificed to the almighty PR monster that is the individual college based admissions scheme.

    One thing that seems to get forgotten in these discussion is the individual nature of the decisions made about exactly who gets in. Sure, they can be briefed some time in November on what to look for, but the people making decisions are almost always intellectually self-confident academics who feel more than able to make their own decisions about who they want to teach. You- i.e. no one in particular- seem to assume that there is some input variable that they can use to skew the system this way or that, but when you appreciate the nuts and bolts of the system you see that that could never be the case. Please stop referring to 'Oxbridge' like an individual with specific goals, its bad enough referring to it as one university.
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    Yeah, you told him rambo.

    It's ass-whopping time on this thread.
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    I declare this argument over.
    *bangs gavel*

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