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Is Oxford easier to get into than Cambridge for Modern Languages watch

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    (Original post by Alex2424)
    I have heard the same about the difficulty of an A*. Inevitably under such pressure that a Cambridge offer could bring, mistakes may be made in the speaking for example. It's not that I don't feel capable of the A*, it's just, I know it'll sound bad but I am not one of those people who can lock themselves away for whole days revising. If I did this, then yes I may well achieve an A* but that just isn't in my nature. I did hardly any revision for gcse and I'm struggling to for as levels. All credit to the students who work themselves sick to get straight A*s at a level from As at gcse, but that simply won't work for me. Thanks for all your help guys, it's much appreciated, and I'm definitely leaning more towards Oxford now )


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    (Original post by Stanners95)
    Ah, we have a Hispanist... rejoice! :P yeah, the one thing that i really like about Cambridge is that, if i wanted, I could just drop to Spanish later on as I find it miles more interesting than German. Plus, at Oxford it seems that German is taken much more seriously in Spanish. It's a general impression so I could be wrong, but I'm defo leaning towards Cambridge
    I suggest you both speak to current offer holders and students and see how they feel about the A* if they need it. The Stalking Pages or the applicant threads ought to help you find some.
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    (Original post by Upper Echelons)
    I suggest you both speak to current offer holders and students and see how they feel about the A* if they need it. The Stalking Pages or the applicant threads ought to help you find some.
    Thanks for the advice... I think I could get an A* in Spanish. My problem's more my German... as I don't think I'd get an AS score that looks particularly amazing for Cambridge. I guess it's just a case of sitting tight and hoping for the best. And let's face it, there are worse dilemmas to have than Oxford or Cambridge
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    (Original post by Upper Echelons)
    The Oxford MLAT looks really easy to be honest. In comparison, I know that at Cambridge you could have to submit essays in your language and in English, then sit admissions tests which test you on formal comprehension and more complex essay writing. Other colleges might give you a text to read and then translate/analyse which in my opinion is much harder both generally and in linguistic difficulty.

    That said, it seems like the MLAT is more of a filter to see who could cope on the course, rather than a tough selection criterion.
    It is tbh, we did it for a "fun" lesson in French before Christmas and I got full marks, although I didn't time myself. For Cambridge you only have to submit essays in English if you are applying for an ab initio language - I submitted one in French and one in German since I'm doing them both post-A level. The admissions test I did at Emmanuel was read a text in English then write 300 words on it in a language you are going to study there post-A level so if you're like me you can choose based on your strengths. It was honestly the least challenging thing ever, easier than the MLAT and easier than AS essays even. The point of the MLAT is to decide who gets an interview though, which is why it is beforehand (November iirc) whereas any Cambridge test you may have to do (not all colleges test) is on the day of your interview.
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    (Original post by Etoile)
    It is tbh, we did it for a "fun" lesson in French before Christmas and I got full marks, although I didn't time myself. For Cambridge you only have to submit essays in English if you are applying for an ab initio language - I submitted one in French and one in German since I'm doing them both post-A level. The admissions test I did at Emmanuel was read a text in English then write 300 words on it in a language you are going to study there post-A level so if you're like me you can choose based on your strengths. It was honestly the least challenging thing ever, easier than the MLAT and easier than AS essays even. The point of the MLAT is to decide who gets an interview though, which is why it is beforehand (November iirc) whereas any Cambridge test you may have to do (not all colleges test) is on the day of your interview.
    Hmm. I suppose it varies by college of course. I've heard of there being easy and hard tests at different colleges, with some doing translation, some literature, some essays etc. all on the day of interview.
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    (Original post by Upper Echelons)
    Hmm. I suppose it varies by college of course. I've heard of there being easy and hard tests at different colleges, with some doing translation, some literature, some essays etc. all on the day of interview.
    That's odd because I thought the test was set by the department, with the colleges deciding whether to require it or not. I was given a text to read for each interview though, which we discussed.

    (Original post by Upper Echelons)
    I agree, they're both of the same difficulty to get an offer from, but not to meet the offer. I expanded on this in my earlier post ^ regarding how it could be more difficult to get an offer from one than the other once you have your AS results.

    The problem with the Cambridge A* is that increasingly, they ask for it in a specific subject, and an A* in a language is very very difficult. I believe that Oxford trialled the language A* and were promptly met with criticism from a number of leading schools due to the difficulty of it, after which they went back to AAA.
    I think it tends to be more in science subjects that they ask for specific subjects. Mine is literally A*AA excluding general studies, and I don't see that changing much considering how few applicants there were this year.
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    (Original post by Etoile)
    That's odd because I thought the test was set by the department, with the colleges deciding whether to require it or not. I was given a text to read for each interview though, which we discussed.

    I think it tends to be more in science subjects that they ask for specific subjects. Mine is literally A*AA excluding general studies, and I don't see that changing much considering how few applicants there were this year.
    Just looking at the stalking page I can see that The Polymath was asked for an A* in German last year, as was someone else the year before. It probably does tend to be in science subjects, but an admissions tutor told me that the trend to specify the A* is becoming stronger.

    Ah I see, perhaps the texts and translation sheets which I've heard of were for interview discussion, but simply given to the candidates a few minutes beforehand, as opposed to being formal tests :yy:
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    (Original post by Upper Echelons)
    Just looking at the stalking page I can see that The Polymath was asked for an A* in German last year, as was someone else the year before. It probably does tend to be in science subjects, but an admissions tutor told me that the trend to specify the A* is becoming stronger.

    Ah I see, perhaps the texts and translation sheets which I've heard of were for interview discussion, but simply given to the candidates a few minutes beforehand, as opposed to being formal tests :yy:
    The Polymath is a bit of a special case because he took his A levels a year early iirc, and also because his other A levels are maths based so they probably wanted to make sure he was appropriately talented at languages. You could be right though.

    OP and other potential applicants - don't be put off by an A* offer if you think you might be able to achieve it. On the other hand, if you aren't prepared to work to get an A*, Oxbridge is probably not the place for you.
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    In terms of the whole "Oxford is more heavily focused on literature and Cambridge offers more flexibility" thing, potential applicants should not forget that you still have to do a hell of a lot of compulsory literature at Cambridge for any language you do post A-level (in the first year, before you specialise). If literature's really not your thing, then these courses might not be for you. Having said that, don't knock it before you've tried it. Before coming to Cam, I was sceptical about having to study medieval French in the first year, but it's turned out to be one of the most interesting things I've studied. Some of the other literature is fantastic, too.

    In terms of the whole A* thing, I didn't realise how much pressure it puts on you. Admissions for both Ox and Cam are similar; both require school essays (apart from a couple of Cam colleges) and both have their own written test - Oxford before interview and Cambridge on the same day. For this reason, despite slightly preferring the Cambridge course, I'd have picked Oxford if I had to do it all again. I was lucky enough to have an offer which didn't specify the A* subject, but only doing languages at A-level (always a bit of luck needed to do well in such subjective exams) meant a fair amount of stress in my final school year.
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    (Original post by Ho Chi Minh)
    In terms of the whole "Oxford is more heavily focused on literature and Cambridge offers more flexibility" thing, potential applicants should not forget that you still have to do a hell of a lot of compulsory literature at Cambridge for any language you do post A-level (in the first year, before you specialise). If literature's really not your thing, then these courses might not be for you. Having said that, don't knock it before you've tried it. Before coming to Cam, I was sceptical about having to study medieval French in the first year, but it's turned out to be one of the most interesting things I've studied. Some of the other literature is fantastic, too.
    Medieval French is great... I did a tour of my college for a group of French students and they were highly amused that I had a (vaguely) working knowledge of Old and Middle French and that I had read more French classics than most of them

    First year at Cambridge also includes linguistics and philosophy doesn't it? (At least that's what the Open day people said to me 3 years ago)
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    (Original post by qwertyuiop1993)
    Medieval French is great... I did a tour of my college for a group of French students and they were highly amused that I had a (vaguely) working knowledge of Old and Middle French and that I had read more French classics than most of them

    First year at Cambridge also includes linguistics and philosophy doesn't it? (At least that's what the Open day people said to me 3 years ago)
    Haha, that's brilliant! I have to say I like Middle French too (or at least the Ronsard and Montaigne I've done this year!)

    Well it depends on the language. Linguistics is optional for French. I think that it's compulsory for Spanish :P. For Russian there's none in the first year. Same with philosophy. I've done a lot of philosophy, but that's because my DoS loves it and gives us seminars in it.
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    (Original post by Ho Chi Minh)
    Haha, that's brilliant! I have to say I like Middle French too (or at least the Ronsard and Montaigne I've done this year!)

    Well it depends on the language. Linguistics is optional for French. I think that it's compulsory for Spanish :P. For Russian there's none in the first year. Same with philosophy. I've done a lot of philosophy, but that's because my DoS loves it and gives us seminars in it.
    I love the few Ronsard poems I've read, especially 'Mignonne allons voir si la rose...' and 'Quand vous serez bien vieille...' Dress it up all you want Ronsard, you just want to pull...
    I did some Montaigne last year - his essay 'Des coches'.

    In first year I had a French Thought paper which I found really interesting - I don't know if you've ever heard of Henri Bergson but his stuff kind of blew my mind (took me a while to understand what the hell he was talking about but I got there...eventually )

    Are you thinking of doing more Medieval later on in your course? It's pretty challenging having to read so much Old French but the up side is the texts are generally shorter (much to the annoyance of my friends doing the Modern period paper - they have to read mountains of novels). The whole concept of the 'author' also goes a bit whacky when looking that far back, which is cool to explore.
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    (Original post by qwertyuiop1993)
    I love the few Ronsard poems I've read, especially 'Mignonne allons voir si la rose...' and 'Quand vous serez bien vieille...' Dress it up all you want Ronsard, you just want to pull...
    I did some Montaigne last year - his essay 'Des coches'.

    In first year I had a French Thought paper which I found really interesting - I don't know if you've ever heard of Henri Bergson but his stuff kind of blew my mind (took me a while to understand what the hell he was talking about but I got there...eventually )

    Are you thinking of doing more Medieval later on in your course? It's pretty challenging having to read so much Old French but the up side is the texts are generally shorter (much to the annoyance of my friends doing the Modern period paper - they have to read mountains of novels). The whole concept of the 'author' also goes a bit whacky when looking that far back, which is cool to explore.
    Ah yes. I recognise "Quand vous serez bien vieille" (book 2 of sonnets pour Hélène, if memory serves) because that was talked about in one of the lectures. It's very true, and he's the same in all of them...Having to learn the whole anthology gets pretty boring after a while - it's so repetitive. I've heard of Bergson and he sounds really interesting, but we haven't done much C20th philosophy yet, apart from Sartre and his missus

    I may well do, yep. Which is your favourite? It seems that there's a considerable amount of intertextuality, so I don't think there'll be too much primary material to cover. Although, as you say, some of the ideas are pretty complex; I remember a certain critic spending pages and pages talking about Renaud de Beaujeu's protofeminism :P
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    (Original post by Ho Chi Minh)
    Ah yes. I recognise "Quand vous serez bien vieille" (book 2 of sonnets pour Hélène, if memory serves) because that was talked about in one of the lectures. It's very true, and he's the same in all of them...Having to learn the whole anthology gets pretty boring after a while - it's so repetitive. I've heard of Bergson and he sounds really interesting, but we haven't done much C20th philosophy yet, apart from Sartre and his missus

    I may well do, yep. Which is your favourite? It seems that there's a considerable amount of intertextuality, so I don't think there'll be too much primary material to cover. Although, as you say, some of the ideas are pretty complex; I remember a certain critic spending pages and pages talking about Renaud de Beaujeu's protofeminism :P
    Bergson has some really interesting stuff to say about the nature of sensation, emotion, our experience of time and free will. His stuff is also very relevant to Proust's exploration of time and memory so studying the two in conjuction was really great. Haha, Simone de Beauvoir - Le deuxième sexe is soooo long. My tutorial partner was a massive feminist but even she admitted that she may have skipped some bits....

    As for Medieval, I really liked Chrétien de Troyes' romances and La Mort le roi Artu - I'm a sucker for all those Arthurian legends... I especially liked La Mort le roi Artu because of the tragic tone. I also loved François Villon - a lot of cheeky humour in his poetry, though his work is littered with in jokes that no one seems to be able to truly understand.

    Intertextuality is like the big thing with Medieval literature it seems. This is in part because people often write from the same basic plot (Like the various versions of the Tristan tale) and also because of the conventional nature of a lot of the literary forms - you have lyric poets writing about ostensibly exactly the same thing over and over again (Oh cruel lady who won't love me like I love her etc. etc.) and also poets engaging in court competitions where they are given a theme and then have to create a poem (I like to think of them as Medieval rap battles). As a result medieval writers always seem to be referencing other writers/using similar themes or imagery but then building on it or trying to exploit it in an original way that shows their superior skill. One example that comes to mind is when in Béroul's version of the Tristan tale he pokes fun at other versions "Others have said that this happens but they've not remembered it properly. I know that actually this happened..."

    It's really a refreshing to study a time where the notion of originality didn't necessarily lie in coming up with a new plot, but in being creative within a certain framework and engaging very clearly with an almost communal literary ritual.

    *Geek indulgence over*
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    I have an AAA offer from Oxford for French and Russian starting this October. At Oxford obviously the grade boundaries are lower and in terms of league tables Oxford is top for pretty much every language - 1st in French and 1st in Russian in my case. Cambridge is like 5th and 4th best in the country for these things. Cambridge is only better for Italian, so I am told. Sure, there is less literature at Oxford, but the teaching is better, the chances of getting an offer are higher, you don't need to do the SAQ and, most importantly, THE TEACHING IS BETTER!
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    (Original post by hfwl)
    I have an AAA offer from Oxford for French and Russian starting this October. At Oxford obviously the grade boundaries are lower and in terms of league tables Oxford is top for pretty much every language - 1st in French and 1st in Russian in my case. Cambridge is like 5th and 4th best in the country for these things. Cambridge is only better for Italian, so I am told. Sure, there is less literature at Oxford, but the teaching is better, the chances of getting an offer are higher, you don't need to do the SAQ and, most importantly, THE TEACHING IS BETTER!
    No there's MORE (compulsory) literature at Oxford. And your chances of getting an offer are slightly lower (31.6% success rate at Oxford compared to 39.3% at Cambridge for 2012 entry)

    I wouldn't put so much stock by league tables to be honest - they fluctuate year on year. I very much expect the quality of teaching to be similar at both institutions - I know that Oxford's French department tends to do slightly better in research exercises but this has little impact on the undergraduate experience. None of the league tables even have a truly indicative measure of teaching quality, tending to use approximations like student:staff ratio or student surveys.

    Congrats on your offer though! Which college?

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    (Original post by hfwl)
    I have an AAA offer from Oxford for French and Russian starting this October. At Oxford obviously the grade boundaries are lower and in terms of league tables Oxford is top for pretty much every language - 1st in French and 1st in Russian in my case. Cambridge is like 5th and 4th best in the country for these things. Cambridge is only better for Italian, so I am told. Sure, there is less literature at Oxford, but the teaching is better, the chances of getting an offer are higher, you don't need to do the SAQ and, most importantly, THE TEACHING IS BETTER!
    I think of all the things to put people off, the SAQ is not one of them It is literally just for extra info about you e.g. what topics you'll have covered by the time you're interviewed so they know what they can ask you. Nothing really that requires thinking. There is space for an extra mini PS but that's optional, I only wrote a couple of sentences.
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    (Original post by hfwl)
    I have an AAA offer from Oxford for French and Russian starting this October. At Oxford obviously the grade boundaries are lower and in terms of league tables Oxford is top for pretty much every language - 1st in French and 1st in Russian in my case. Cambridge is like 5th and 4th best in the country for these things. Cambridge is only better for Italian, so I am told. Sure, there is less literature at Oxford, but the teaching is better, the chances of getting an offer are higher, you don't need to do the SAQ and, most importantly, THE TEACHING IS BETTER!


    1. Lol league tables are a rubbish indication. You seem to have got these rankings exclusively from the Complete University Guide, (a site which decided to put Cambridge Maths below Oxford and Oxford only 4th for History :laugh:) and you still managed to get the Russian one wrong. Of course, if you were to look at the table published by The Guardian (a similarly questionable table), you would find Cambridge ahead of Oxford for languages.

    2. There is just as much, if not more literature at Oxford.

    3. Erm..."The teaching is better" is a very vague and general statement to make, and there is no evidence of this.

    4. The chances of getting an offer are almost certainly very similar. The acceptance rates for 2012 were 37.4% at Cambridge (178/476) and 31.6% at Oxford (179/567), although these fluctuate from year to year; the year before, this was 31.9% at Cambridge but slightly higher at Oxford. In addition, these raw percentages fail to acknowledge actual applicant quality, rendering them not entirely useful on their own as indicators of how "easy" it is to get in. There is a certain quality of applicant that will always be taken, and some years the quality of applicants is undoubtedly higher. It's not any "easier" to get in (in the strictest sense) because you still have to be just as good as in previous years, and those who are not as good aren't suddenly going to be taken simply because more people are being accepted in a certain year.
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    ​No I don't think oxford is easier to get into than cambridge you should judge each on its individual merits.
 
 
 
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