Difficulty of Harvard Watch

Lothar Warlock
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#21
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#21
(Original post by jew unit)
They seem to go for a number of intabgible qualities. Getting into Oxbridge is much harder academically, but Harvard seems to pick an interesting range of candiadates so guys who are academically gifted (sometimes published) may not get in.
Oxbridge is not necessarily harder academically. Where did you get that from.
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j.caesar
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Harvard is very much American--many students get over 90% (As) in coursework, and some have even argued that it overinflates grades (see www.gradeinflation.com--it's something useful now [that you should browse], but that site used to end up on the Harvard homepage ). A 70% is nothing to boast about at Harvard, but I've heard that that is not the case at Oxbridge.

And, as has been mentioned, Harvard also desires students that "contribute to the diversity of the student body." That means racial, socioeconomic, and experiential diversity: There are poor kids working demanding jobs during high school who have gotten in with 1800/2400 on the SAT, and there are middle class kids with 2400s on the SAT and publications in academic journals that have been rejected. It's possibly the most arbitrary admissions processes in existence, so a lot of top students apply to a myriad of schools: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Caltech, Penn, Cornell, etc. etc. etc. and only get into one (or none).

[Just as a note, if you got only one wrong on the bio and math SAT IIs, you've basically gotten yourself 800s. On the math portion of the SAT I, however, one missed question is death: I got a 770 by missing a medium-level, algebra multiple choice question.]
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Jean-Paul Sartre
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(Original post by εїз pinga εїз)
:eek:

How how how would a person our age manage that

Am I completely out of the loop here? Should I have had something published?



OP I'm also considering Harvard (as I'm taking a gap year due to illness that disrupted my a-levels) and am very confused about everything

Don't bother e-mailing them, I tried and was given an automated response not even related to the question I was asking :mad:

What other US colleges are you considering?
Some of them do work with researchers and professors, the published work wasn't all their own but still having your name in a scientific journal is a big deal. I did some research with my uncle, he's a pharmacology and toxicology professor, and I'm definitely putting that somewhere in my application/personal statement.

And as for your questions about Harvard, anything I can help with?
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Jean-Paul Sartre
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(Original post by Teofilo)
That's madness. What was your SAT score?

Georgetown is the business as well...
750 Math 680 CR (resitting in october), 800 Biology E, 800 Math II, 770 Lit
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εїз pinga εїз
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(Original post by Jean-Paul Sartre)
Some of them do work with researchers and professors, the published work wasn't all their own but still having your name in a scientific journal is a big deal. I did some research with my uncle, he's a pharmacology and toxicology professor, and I'm definitely putting that somewhere in my application/personal statement.

And as for your questions about Harvard, anything I can help with?
I'm very envious

I take it it is quite a rare thing though? That happens through family (like in your case) or maybe through a kind of scholarship thing?

Well I am a little lost, I haven't sat any SATs yet - do I have time? And when do the applications have to be in? How long is the personal statement essay thing? I haven't registered with collegeboard yet, should I do that soon?

How hard are the SATs? Will I have to revise? Will I have a chance at doing well? As I don't have much extra-curricular stuff to talk about, so my SATs will have to be impressive

Sorry for all the questions
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Jean-Paul Sartre
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(Original post by εїз pinga εїз)
I'm very envious

I take it it is quite a rare thing though? That happens through family (like in your case) or maybe through a kind of scholarship thing?

Well I am a little lost, I haven't sat any SATs yet - do I have time? And when do the applications have to be in? How long is the personal statement essay thing? I haven't registered with collegeboard yet, should I do that soon?

How hard are the SATs? Will I have to revise? Will I have a chance at doing well? As I don't have much extra-curricular stuff to talk about, so my SATs will have to be impressive

Sorry for all the questions

Register with the Collegeboard and sit the SATs in October, Harvard also requires 3 SAT IIs which you can take in November. If you don't do as well on any of your exams, the last time you'll be able to sit them and make the deadline for the application is December. So SATs in October, if you spend a month or so studying for that in the summer you'll be fine. I recommend buying a few books full of practice tests and doing at least 10, and you'll do well. The SAT IIs are a little bit trickier, you can take up to 3 in one day and they usually have to be related to your major (course). So for example, if I was an engineering student I'd take my SATs, then SAT IIs in Physics, Math II, and something of my own choosing like History, Literature, Bio, etc. The application deadline is January 1st so you'll have three chances to take the 4 exams. The best way to study, in my opinion, is practice tests just do loads of them and you'll be fine for test day.

As for extra-curriculars, talk about any sports you play or any outside of school activities that show that you have time management skills and have interests that are not purely academic. For my application to US colleges I'll be putting down varsity wrestling, hospital volunteer, maths and sciences tutor, radio dj, and research experience. I'm sure you do some sort of extra curricular activity

The essay is not like a personal statement at all so make sure you don't write it like one. It's more creative and length doesn't matter so much. Search online for some sample essays.

Good Luck and don't worry about the questions, I've gotten so much help about Oxford and UCL from people on TSR that I'm glad that I can help in some way.
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nk9230
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also too, some of the Ivy leagues, like Columbia only require 2 SAT II's.

Maybe you should also look at the other Ivies first before your dead set on Harvard.
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SouthernFreerider
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#28
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soooooo many misconceptions about harvard.

tip to anyone taking this seriously

don't.
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SouthernFreerider
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#29
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(Original post by j.caesar)
Harvard is very much American--many students get over 90% (As) in coursework, and some have even argued that it overinflates grades (see www.gradeinflation.com--it's something useful now [that you should browse], but that site used to end up on the Harvard homepage ). A 70% is nothing to boast about at Harvard, but I've heard that that is not the case at Oxbridge.

And, as has been mentioned, Harvard also desires students that "contribute to the diversity of the student body." That means racial, socioeconomic, and experiential diversity: There are poor kids working demanding jobs during high school who have gotten in with 1800/2400 on the SAT, and there are middle class kids with 2400s on the SAT and publications in academic journals that have been rejected. It's possibly the most arbitrary admissions processes in existence, so a lot of top students apply to a myriad of schools: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, Caltech, Penn, Cornell, etc. etc. etc. and only get into one (or none).

[Just as a note, if you got only one wrong on the bio and math SAT IIs, you've basically gotten yourself 800s. On the math portion of the SAT I, however, one missed question is death: I got a 770 by missing a medium-level, algebra multiple choice question.]
very true.

hence you see ALOT of 800s in the SAT2s, but in the SAT1, especially in maths, its very rare. i know many many people get 800 in maths level 2 SAT2, then only get mid or low 700s in SAT1 maths section, or in my case, a 690 :P
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Lothar Warlock
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(Original post by jew unit)
They seem to go for a number of intabgible qualities. Getting into Oxbridge is much harder academically, but Harvard seems to pick an interesting range of candiadates so guys who are academically gifted (sometimes published) may not get in.
Nope, disagree. What evidence do you have to suggest Oxbridge is harder to get into than Harvard, academically? Additionally, many academically gifted individuals are rejected from Oxbridge as well, I do hope you're aware of that. I know quite a few year 13s who were rejected by Yale, Harvard and Stanford but have got offers at Oxbridge. (one of them is a prospective Mathematics undergrad). To be fair, I think the level of academia in entrance is similar between Harvard and Oxbridge.
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nk9230
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(Original post by SouthernFreerider)
very true.

hence you see ALOT of 800s in the SAT2s, but in the SAT1, especially in maths, its very rare. i know many many people get 800 in maths level 2 SAT2, then only get mid or low 700s in SAT1 maths section, or in my case, a 690 :P
Is the math Level 2 extremely Difficult? I was thinking about taking it after AP Calculus, or should I take it after Math Methods?
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j.caesar
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(Original post by nk9230)
Is the math Level 2 extremely Difficult? I was thinking about taking it after AP Calculus, or should I take it after Math Methods?
Take it after Math Mathods [provided that's precalc in IB language?]. It's based on precalculus material, and calculus won't help you. In fact, if you wait a year, you may forget the Math Methods stuff necessary for the test. Make sure you know how to use your calculator REALLY well, though--you don't have time to solve everything (e.g. determinant of a matrice, etc.] by hand.
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Davetherave
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The sheer size of the applicant pool, the fact that you have to have excelled at every single extra-curricular activity there is on this planet to at least a regional competition level, and of course to have graduated in the top 2 or 3 of your high school.

That might be a bit exaggerated but I would say the basic difference is that good grades and a good interview get you into Oxbridge, whereas a much wider spectrum of qualities is required at Harvard.
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Jean-Paul Sartre
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(Original post by nk9230)
Is the math Level 2 extremely Difficult? I was thinking about taking it after AP Calculus, or should I take it after Math Methods?
Like was stated above, take it after pre-calc, and the curve is good, I think I got 3 wrong and I still got an 800. Math I, however, is really easy but 1 wrong and you're down to 770ish.
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jew unit
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(Original post by Lothar Warlock)
Oxbridge is not necessarily harder academically. Where did you get that from.
Applications to both. Academically gifted applicants get rejected from Harvard because of the rest of ther application. If you are not up there acadmeically, you will not get into Oxbridge whereas you can compensate with Harvard by having an application which is strong to both. Using the SATs and IB, oxbridge is significantly harder to get into. The scores required on both are much stiffer at Cambridg than Harvard, although we have to take into acount that the US permutation of the IB is rather simpler than the English version due to schooling differences.
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nk9230
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I wanna Apply to the university of London- If i meet their USA requirements and their IB requirements, will that make my Application look better?
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Lothar Warlock
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(Original post by jew unit)
Applications to both. Academically gifted applicants get rejected from Harvard because of the rest of ther application. If you are not up there acadmeically, you will not get into Oxbridge whereas you can compensate with Harvard by having an application which is strong to both. Using the SATs and IB, oxbridge is significantly harder to get into. The scores required on both are much stiffer at Cambridg than Harvard, although we have to take into acount that the US permutation of the IB is rather simpler than the English version due to schooling differences.
You haven't answered the question: where did you get that from. From my school, a lot more students get into Oxbridge than Harvard/Yale/Stanford despite the similar number of applicants. And only those who score 40+ get into Harvard, Stanford and Yale. Loads of peeps from my school who score 38 get offers from Oxbridge. You get lots of 40-45 point candidates being rejected from Oxbridge.

Your misconception is that Oxbridge is based purely on academia. If that were the case, why are SO many high achieving applicants turned away? Why are many AAAAA scoring Candidates rejected, and AAAe applicants are given offers?. :cool:

If you aren't up there academically, you won't get into Harvard either. I can send you the e-mail that Harvard sent back to me. They expect a score of 40 points for any of their courses, whereas Oxbridge expect a 38.
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jew unit
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Admission to Oxbridge is based almost entirely on percieved academic potential as seen in the interview and through grades. The exception to this is medicine, where they would expect to see a rounded personality on top of academic potential. Admission to Harvard is based on a number of factors, one of which is academic grades. The reason you see a grade difference is because Oxbridge (mostly) uses grades to select for interview, after which they mostly take into account your interview performance in isolation. As Harvard does not interview, and therefore cannot distinguish between those who are genuinely talented and those who just work hard, they are forced to distinguish by requiring slightly higher grades and a more in-depth set of references.

At Oxbridge, the 45 candidates get rejected and the 38 candidates get accepted, because the latter are brighter and more intellectually flexible. This is shown by the interview. At my college, one guy has 45 and did very badly this year (slipped through teh net at interview I guess). This proves that IB grades are not completely indicative of academic ability, but the Ivy League are unable to make any sort of distinction and must therefore work on the rough correlation between grades and ability. Therefore, higher grades are needed for Harvard, but you have to be brighter to get into Oxbridge. This is why I say that admission to Oxbridge is more challenging academically. This is, of course, only if you want to get into Harvard on academic grounds. If you are not a stunning academic but are a particularly talented musician or athlete then you still stand a chance at Harvard; you do not at Oxford or Cambridge.

My knowledge of this comes from direct conversations with admissions staff at Harvard, and those in the athletics department involved in recruitment. They accept the weakness of their application procedure, but they do the best they can given that they can't really interview applacants due to their class sizes. My Oxbridge side of the story comes from discussion of admissions criteria with my Supervisors.
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Lothar Warlock
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#39
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(Original post by jew unit)
Admission to Oxbridge is based almost entirely on percieved academic potential as seen in the interview and through grades. The exception to this is medicine, where they would expect to see a rounded personality on top of academic potential. Admission to Harvard is based on a number of factors, one of which is academic grades. The reason you see a grade difference is because Oxbridge (mostly) uses grades to select for interview, after which they mostly take into account your interview performance in isolation. As Harvard does not interview, and therefore cannot distinguish between those who are genuinely talented and those who just work hard, they are forced to distinguish by requiring slightly higher grades and a more in-depth set of references.

At Oxbridge, the 45 candidates get rejected and the 38 candidates get accepted, because the latter are brighter and more intellectually flexible. This is shown by the interview. At my college, one guy has 45 and did very badly this year (slipped through teh net at interview I guess). This proves that IB grades are not completely indicative of academic ability, but the Ivy League are unable to make any sort of distinction and must therefore work on the rough correlation between grades and ability. Therefore, higher grades are needed for Harvard, but you have to be brighter to get into Oxbridge. This is why I say that admission to Oxbridge is more challenging academically. This is, of course, only if you want to get into Harvard on academic grounds. If you are not a stunning academic but are a particularly talented musician or athlete then you still stand a chance at Harvard; you do not at Oxford or Cambridge.

My knowledge of this comes from direct conversations with admissions staff at Harvard, and those in the athletics department involved in recruitment. They accept the weakness of their application procedure, but they do the best they can given that they can't really interview applacants due to their class sizes. My Oxbridge side of the story comes from discussion of admissions criteria with my Supervisors.
My aunt is a member of the Oxford admissions team, and she says the level of academia between Harvard and Oxbridge students is equivalent.
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jew unit
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Given that you have been arguing that admissions at Harvard is harder, this seems something of a step back. Is this your second line of defence to argue equivalence having failed to prove superiority of the US?

I reiterate that I have spoken to people involved in admissions at both systems who agree that the interview at Oxbridge means that the brighter students can be distinguished, allowing for a more academically gifted entering class.
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