Why are GCSE's even considered?? I find it astounding.. Watch

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Fluffy
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#21
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#21
(Original post by Alexdel)
Surely Cambridge should look at more in depth courses such as A-level and not bother with GCSE's. Why is there a need to have amazing GCSE's results? I will probably get AAA however my GCSE results are pretty rubbish taking into account the fact that I was inserted into the English education system directly into the GCSE's (of which I did approximitaly 1 year and a half, and econ and business just 1 year) without any knowledge of English, therefore I managed to get some mediocre grades, 1 A*, 2A's, 5B, 4C. I was thinking of applying to cambridge but I see a lot of emphasis is put on the GCSE results and I think it's quite unfair really since in my school teachers refered to these particular exams as just an indication of what you might be doing for your A-levels and never was I educated properly on the importance they have when applying to Uni. Anyway enough of my ranting, Ill let you get on with more important stuff .

P.s Enjoy your holidays!
According to much research, GCSEs are a better indication of university potential than A-levels. Hence many universities take them as seriously, if not more than your AS grades or your predicted A-Level grades.
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Nima
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(Original post by Fluffy)
According to much research, GCSEs are a better indication of university potential than A-levels. Hence many universities take them as seriously, if not more than your AS grades or your predicted A-Level grades.
Of course, to conveniently discriminate against ethnic minorities and those from lower income groups and poorer schools.

All so *convenient*.

Typical.
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Fluffy
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(Original post by Invisible)
Of course, to conveniently discriminate against ethnic minorities and those from lower income groups and poorer schools.

All so *convenient*.

Typical.
Why? It's also been shown that GCSEs are more even across the board. Crap schools can get good GCSE results more easily than they can A-Level results. I would have thought on that basis them looking at GCSEs as a major bench mark was a positive thing...? :confused:
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Nima
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(Original post by Fluffy)
Why? It's also been shown that GCSEs are more even across the board. Crap schools can get good GCSE results more easily than they can A-Level results. I would have thought on that basis them looking at GCSEs as a major bench mark was a positive thing...? :confused:
No, because at A-Level it's more down to the student as he/she is conentrating on a few subjects only and hence getting an A is dependant on them. At GCSE, you do so many that it's more down to the teaching and things picked up etc.

I also think all these stats are absolutely ******** and private schools are stupid, because its providing a direct link between wealth and quality of qualifications, which I think is wrong.

It isn't easier to do well at GCSE than at A-Level if you're from a normal school; at A-Level I have to work more on my own anyway, I specialise more, so it's down to me more.
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Fluffy
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(Original post by Invisible)
No, because at A-Level it's more down to the student as he/she is conentrating on a few subjects only and hence getting an A is dependant on them. At GCSE, you do so many that it's more down to the teaching and things picked up etc.

I also think all these stats are absolutely ******** and private schools are stupid, because its providing a direct link between wealth and quality of qualifications, which I think is wrong.

It isn't easier to do well at GCSE than at A-Level if you're from a normal school; at A-Level I have to work more on my own anyway, I specialise more, so it's down to me more.
wait until you've done a degree, you wouldn't make thoses statements about A-level students then. Compared to degree study, A-Level students are spoon fed. I'm sure many of the boards current degree students would agree...

At GCSE you aren't usually suffiently specialised for most teachers to give much of a damn. At A-Level, you tend to have their undivided attention, which is where the difference between bad schools and good schools becomes mammouth...

I agree - at a 'normal' school it may not be easier to get better GCSE results, which is why it's a more robust bench mark that A-Level
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Nima
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(Original post by Fluffy)

I agree - at a 'normal' school it may not be easier to get better GCSE results, which is why it's a more robust bench mark that A-Level
No it doesn't, it just conveniently allows uni's to discriminate against those from poorer backgrounds, because they can't base offers on a-level results due to the ineptness of the current application system. Hence, they turn turn to GCSE's (and AS Levels where the lack of parity may be reduced slightly) whereby rich people can get away with average intelligence and big heads.

This is why the Oxford access scheme is brilliant, because it specifically applies to those from less privileged backgrounds and hence there is explicitly stated lenience with such applicants; at least this goes some way in allowing equally able candidates to apply on a more level playing field.
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Fluffy
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(Original post by Invisible)
No it doesn't, it just conveniently allows uni's to discriminate against those from poorer backgrounds, because they can't base offers on a-level results due to the ineptness of the current application system. Hence, they turn turn to GCSE's (and AS Levels where the lack of parity may be reduced slightly) whereby rich people can get away with average intelligence and big heads.

This is why the Oxford access scheme is brilliant, because it specifically applies to those from less privileged backgrounds and hence there is explicitly stated lenience with such applicants; at least this goes some way in allowing equally able candidates to apply on a more level playing field.
I agree with your comments re: access @ Oxford. I did a lot of work on the cause whilst a student there. Largely going to schools in Rose Hill and Cowley trying to get kids to believe Oxford was open to them, be it at undergrad or post grad level.

However, it still stands that with the number of students and the general lack of teacher effort as compared to A-Levels, GCSEs are a better bench mark. They predict degree result far more acurately than A-level results do. Fact!

In my first degree, 4 people failed the first year to the point of being asked to leave. All 4 of them were AAA A-level students that were fed the requisit info at school and couldn't cope with having to get their on their own at university. This is not an uncommon story, and I'm sure PQ can back it up with recent fact.
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Nima
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(Original post by Fluffy)
I agree with your comments re: access @ Oxford. I did a lot of work on the cause whilst a student there. Largely going to schools in Rose Hill and Cowley trying to get kids to believe Oxford was open to them, be it at undergrad or post grad level.

However, it still stands that with the number of students and the general lack of teacher effort as compared to A-Levels, GCSEs are a better bench mark. They predict degree result far more acurately than A-level results do. Fact!

In my first degree, 4 people failed the first year to the point of being asked to leave. All 4 of them were AAA A-level students that were fed the requisit info at school and couldn't cope with having to get their on their own at university. This is not an uncommon story, and I'm sure PQ can back it up with recent fact.
That fact means very little to me, because:

1.) How much more accurate a predictor than A-Levels
2.) How accurate?
3.) Why?
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Alexdel
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#29
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I dont get this. Why are they better indicators than A-levels. Could you please give us a link of this research rather than just state it. I find it hard to believe that by doing 11 subjects in totally different subjects (half of which are ridiculous) is a better indicator of how well students will doing in a single course whose core will not have such diverse topics.

Also I do agree that teachers and the school do influence GCSE's immensilly. My maths teacher didnt have a clue what he was doing. there were 3 different situations in which I asked him about some exercises and he didnt know what to say just 'Ill get back to you on that'. Guess what the next year he was fired. My physics teacher couldnt handle the class at all, 40 students shouting and having conversation amongs themselves and being at the back of the class you cant hear a thing and you start to lose interest in the whole subject. Dont get me started on my business studies teacher! My point is that why should my uni application be based on how well organised, disciplined my school was because fundamentally thats exactly how the GCSE's grades are allocated, sad but true.
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Alexdel
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(Original post by Fluffy)
In my first degree, 4 people failed the first year to the point of being asked to leave. All 4 of them were AAA A-level students that were fed the requisit info at school and couldn't cope with having to get their on their own at university. This is not an uncommon story, and I'm sure PQ can back it up with recent fact.
Do you know what they got for GCSE's? My bet is they did rather good.
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Fluffy
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(Original post by Invisible)
That fact means very little to me, because:

1.) How much more accurate a predictor than A-Levels
Better than A-Levels. A-levels are usually more an indicator of good teaching. Not to rubbish those that are intelligant, but a less intelligant peep can ace A-Levels with enough contact hours.

Across the board, GCSE teaching conditions are more standard. Class sizes tend to be typically the same. As does the number of 'contact' hours a student can expect to spend with the course leader. The sylabuses are more standardised across all the boards, meaning that a constant stream of supply teachers is less crucial at GCSE than it is at A-Level.

At A-level, the gap between bad and good schools is emmense. At a good school you can expect class sizes of 10-15, regardless of how many people are taking the A-Level. From university friends, it seems at private schools this number is reduced to as few as 4 people per tutor per subject at any one time.
At a bad school (mine included as an example there were 35 of us in Biology, 25 in chemisty. Hmmm - I wonder who has the better deal, someone in a class of 4-15, or someone in a class of 35?
At a good school, staff are more likely to be retained. At a bad school turn over is immense. We had 5 different teacher for Biology over the 2 years (non-modular). Two of which had never taught our sylabus. Crazy! The supply teacher we had for genetics had never taught it before, and was in fact a physicist! To say he made it up as he went along was an understatement. And unfortunately for most of our class, what he 'made' up was wrong!!!

Also bear in mind things like 'fitness for purpose' and 'stat of the art' performance indicators will also take into consideration cost as a factor...


(Original post by Invisible)
2.) How accurate?
Taking horrific home life out of the picture, and looking at school leaver entry (not mature students) GCSEs usually predict degree result well. A-levles do are not as robust, with a much higher z-score. I will see if I can dig out references as to this as they have been posted on plenty of other similar web sites. There's a very famous paper on this subject taken from a pool of medical students and applicants.
(Original post by Invisible)
3.) Why?
see 1)
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Fluffy
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(Original post by Alexdel)
Do you know what they got for GCSE's? My bet is they did rather good.
I know one girls. A barristers daughter. Shocking GCSEs so her bad pulled her out of the local comp and sent her to private school. Very sweet girl, but a definte example of someone that wasn't ready at 18 for university...
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Alexdel
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I see you are giving exampels from your own experience but you said that a research showed (or someone did). Can you please give us a link or something that shows such thing?
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Squishy
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(Original post by Invisible)
I also think all these stats are absolutely ******** and private schools are stupid, because its providing a direct link between wealth and quality of qualifications, which I think is wrong.
Of course it's wrong, but there's as much a correlation between for example, Oxford colleges' wealth and their rank in the Norrington table as there is between the price of a school and its GCSE/A-level results (i.e. some). Money makes the world go round.
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sashh
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(Original post by Alexdel)
Thanks for the reply, well Ill try anyway. If I had done the exams in my language even while not concentrating a lot Im pretty sure I would have got better marks but hey thats life.
I think you have said it all there. A UK uni degree is conducted in English (not sure about Wales/ Welsh so if i'm wrong please don't blast me) so the university needs to know you have at least GCSE level English.

It is possible to have A grades in maths, futher maths etc and not be able to string a sentence together. GCSE English (or equivelant) is neccessary for any degree course. The same goes for Maths, if you don't have GCSE level you will struggle with some parts of a degree, some subjects more than others but you need English and Maths for everything.

The uni also needs to see you have got a broad basic education. What else can they go on?

From your posts it looks like you have good reason for poor results so I'd put that in your PS.
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Wagamuffin
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This may sound a little prejudiced, but I sorta think if people work harder for gcses than others, showing that they worked hard their whole life, they deserve slightly more (i say only slightly) to get into cambridge, because they have been hoping for it longer

Besides, from what I have seen they accept a very broad spectrum of GCSE results. I think the reason they value it is because it is the only fully accredited and completed standardised test you would have when applying. If they based it solely on Alevel offers, there could appear huge problems:

-if they give offers to ppl expecting say 70% of them to get the grades and be accepted, if there weren't any previous standardised info,as far as they know all of them could get the grades and it would be very much overstocked with students .

As-levels imo are just like GCSEs and they probably count more so it wouldnt make very much difference placing all the pressure on them. It is better imo for MORE areas of your academic career to influence uni, because it balances out and you would get a fairer chance of being accepted. I liek the cambridge system because they base it on all exam results and mostly on the interview, so you always stand a fair chance.

Cya
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AT82
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In my experience people change a great deal after their GCSEs due to any many factors GCSEs are a very very unreliable indicator on how well you will do later in life.
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Nima
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(Original post by amazingtrade)
In my experience people change a great deal after their GCSEs due to any many factors GCSEs are a very very unreliable indicator on how well you will do later in life.
I don't see how you can say that, those who do well at GCSE usually go on to do well at A-Levels, degrees and so on - They are academically strong and have been throughout their life, that's just how it is.

It's all a process, and most who do good at one stage do so in the others.

Infact, GCSE's are actually a better indicator of degree success than A-levels.

However, they should be taken with a pinch of salt - i.e.) Some consideration towards the school and background, but clever people should do well at GCSE irregardless of school; just perhaps a few grades short of what could be possible at a very good school, but decent grades (hopefully anyway) all the same.
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H&E
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(Original post by Alexdel)
Surely Cambridge should...not bother with GCSE's...I see a lot of emphasis is put on the GCSE results
i) You are criticising the methods of one of Britain's top academic establishments, with decades of experience in selecting the top talent of 100,000's of students. What knowlege and/or experience puts you in a position to criticise this legitimately?
ii) How do you actually know how much emphasis Cambridge places on GCSE results? Are you an admissions tutor? Have you studied in depth profiles of statistically significant samples of applicants? Or have you just concluded that because Cambridge take in GCSE scores this immediately amounts to "a lot of emphasis"?
iii) Have you considered the fact that Cambridge don't have a choice over inspecting GCSE scores, because as part of UCAS admissions they have to seem them?
iv) Have you considered that Cambridge's purpose is to attain the most precise selection process possible and that this can only be achieved by taking in as much relevant information as resources permit?
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mobbdeeprob
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(Original post by Invisible)
And that's why I find it ironic when people do 7/8 GCSE's and get nearly all A*'s, when infact doing another 3 makes a huge difference.
I would agree.

Doing 8 GCSEs in carefully selected subjects is not nearly the challenge that some may think it is.
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