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    (Original post by CocoPop)
    You're right that only those who are good at maths will take it at A-Level. However, it's the same for IB maths Higher Level - our school only allows students who achieve A* in IGCSE to take HL maths. And in the last 3 years at my school, 3 people have gotten 7s (out of the 40+ people who got A*s at IGCSE).

    It's compulsory for everyone to take maths at IB, but those who are bad at it will take maths studies or maths methods SL. All people in my school taking maths HL have applied for engineering/maths/physics or other maths intensive courses, so it's expected that they're as good at the subject as their A Level counterparts.
    Oh, OK. So it's really the equivalent of Further Maths, then?
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    (Original post by CocoPop)
    Nevertheless, it's still a bit unfair from the perspective of us IB students, who have to go through 6 months of stress between the time we get our offer and our IB results. On the other hand, those asked for 3 As can take the next few months with relative calm.
    That was still a stressful time for me; even though I was predicted four As and did get them quite comfortably in the end, it didn't mean that I was at all certain of getting them.
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    (Original post by Bezzler)
    That was still a stressful time for me; even though I was predicted four As and did get them quite comfortably in the end, it didn't mean that I was at all certain of getting them.
    I imagine that it's stressful for everyone. However, you would have at least had your AS grades to give you some confidence. In addition to that, A levels are modular, so you've completed a bunch of it by January and can even retake from what I understand.

    IB comes down to 1-3 papers at the end of two years. You could've worked your ass of and done amazingly for those two years, but it all comes down to about 25 exams crammed into one week. There are days when you'll have 5-6 hours of exams. Have a bad day and it screws up your entire IB grade - not just one subject.
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    (Original post by CocoPop)
    Nevertheless, it's still a bit unfair from the perspective of us IB students, who have to go through 6 months of stress between the time we get our offer and our IB results.
    I can see that would be irritating, yes. But you can console yourself with the fact that IB offer-holders are more likely to have their conditions relaxed should they narrowly miss them. A-level candidates who get AAB are more usually rejected than e.g. someone getting 39 on a 40 point offer. There was someone on here last year who got AAB with the B only two marks off an A, and they didn't let her in.

    Edit: What you said before about A*s and prestige: You might be interested to know that Oxford was the only Russell Group university which didn't raise its offer levels this year. Everything stuck at AAA, whereas competitor institutions either made use of the A* or brought their AAB/ABB offers up a notch or two.
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    (Original post by pf1)
    If Oxford had said yes, we'll start using the A* straight away, fine, but all the colleges and departments have agreed a common policy not to go beyond AAA until 2012 entry. There wasn't a single offer this year including an A* grade.
    I find it interesting how the admissions website stated, until yesterday (retrieved from Google cache):
    The University will not use the A* grade when making offers for 2010 or 2011 entry. A review of this policy will take place in time to advise those applying entry in the 2011/12 admissions cycle, utilising information gained from applicant performance and in the light of developments with other universities who have competitive courses.
    So they left the door open to use A*s in the next cycle. However, the page was updated yesterday, and now states (as you said):
    Oxford University will not use the A* grade when making offers for entry in 2011 or for deferred entry in 2012.
    To be honest I'm quite disappointed that they opted not to use the A*. Also note the absence of a mention regarding a review of the policy for 2012/13 entry.

    I don't really understand why they couldn't just adopt the A*AA offer and if too many of the offer holders fail to meet it, take them in anyway. It would provide far more useful statistics in the coming years (for instance comparing how A*AA and AAA students do at Oxford when everyone has been asked to get A*AA).
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    (Original post by Roundabout)
    I find it interesting
    It's not that interesting. The new Prospectus is coming out next week so presumably the website is being updated to echo that.

    (Original post by Roundabout)
    To be honest I'm quite disappointed that they opted not to use the A*.
    What was there previously wasn't very well worded: Oxford committed to ignoring the A* grade for its first two years, not one. I think what was written there before meant that they would review it during the 2011/2012 cycle, not for entry in it.

    (Original post by Roundabout)
    I don't really understand why they couldn't just adopt the A*AA offer and if too many of the offer holders fail to meet it, take them in anyway.
    Because that would look pretty foolish if far more students failed their offers. Imagine if they'd offered everyone A*AA, over-offering by 10% according to places, and then 25% of applicants had missed their conditions. It'd be a nightmare; the University would be criticised and rightly so.

    There will already be an inevitable media storm when the thousands of applicants who were rejected go on to achieve A*A*A / A*A*A* ++ complain about perceived inequities in the system. That would be so much worse if Oxford were having to take in hundreds rather than tens of students who'd failed their offers.

    Why are you "disappointed", anyway?
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    (Original post by pf1)
    Why are you "disappointed", anyway?
    Hmm, I think some people on TSR would quite like Oxford to ask for A*s because it would allow them to gloat a bit more in the usual 'my university is better than yours because it has higher entry requirements' contests... Whereas now, Cambridge is evidently 'better' because they ask for A*AA, which means that anybody who applies to Oxford must be second-rate by definition and only applied there because he was too thick to achieve A*AA like the really clever kids, etc. etc.

    (Obviously this isn't directed against Roundabout in particular, it's just something I've come across a few times in GUD threads, and his post just reminded me of that).
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    (Original post by pf1)
    What was there previously wasn't very well worded: Oxford committed to ignoring the A* grade for its first two years, not one. I think what was written there before meant that they would review it during the 2011/2012 cycle, not for entry in it.
    Nope, it clearly says "A review of this policy will take place in time to advise those applying entry in the 2011/12 admissions cycle". If what they meant was different, fair enough, but the information on the website really wasn't ambiguous at all.

    (Original post by pf1)
    Because that would look pretty foolish if far more students failed their offers. Imagine if they'd offered everyone A*AA, over-offering by 10% according to places, and then 25% of applicants had missed their conditions. It'd be a nightmare; the University would be criticised and rightly so.
    So, they could just over-offer by 20%? Or, use it as an easy excuse to cut student numbers to cope with funding cuts? In any case it'll be very interesting to see how Cambridge deals with the issues you mentioned.

    (Original post by hobnob)
    (Original post by pf1)
    Why are you "disappointed", anyway?
    Hmm, I think some people on TSR would quite like Oxford to ask for A*s because it would allow them to gloat a bit more in the usual 'my university is better than yours because it has higher entry requirements' contests... Whereas now, Cambridge is evidently 'better' because they ask for A*AA, which means that anybody who applies to Oxford must be second-rate by definition and only applied there because he was too thick to achieve A*AA like the really clever kids, etc. etc.

    (Obviously this isn't directed against Roundabout in particular, it's just something I've come across a few times in GUD threads, and his post just reminded me of that).
    Nope, I'm disappointed because they ask some IB students to achieve multiple 7s (which are awarded to 3-10% of students), whereas A-level A-grades are awarded in most cases to over 30% of students. More often than not, an IB HL grade 6 puts you at a higher percentile than an A-level A, and mathematics deserves a special note (2009 data):
    Percentage of A-level students awarded grade A: 45.2%
    Percentage of IB HL students awarded grade 5, 6 or 7: 47% (grade 5: 23%, grade 6: 16%, grade 7: 8%)

    Equating IB HL 7 with A-level A is horribly unjust in this case, and when the A* grade was introduced, I was excited and hopeful of it finally rectifying this issue. Now I see it go unused.
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    (Original post by Roundabout)
    Nope, it clearly says "A review of this policy will take place in time to advise those applying entry in the 2011/12 admissions cycle". If what they meant was different, fair enough, but the information on the website really wasn't ambiguous at all.
    If that's what it said, it was wrong. The University definitely committed not to using the A* in its first two years.

    (Original post by Roundabout)
    So, they could just over-offer by 20%?
    ... and risk having far more students than they have places, and being fined by the government for going over quota.

    (Original post by Roundabout)
    In any case it'll be very interesting to see how Cambridge deals with the issues you mentioned.
    Indeed. I'm looking forward to it. To be honest, I hope they get a rude awakening, not just because they're Cambridge and I went to Oxford but because they jumped in feet-first, having had hardly any consultation amongst tutors before their admissions spokesperson just announced that their standard offer would be A*AA. Oxford sat back and thought about it through various committees, and in my opinion have adopted entirely the correct stance, and yet in some people's eyes Cambridge are doing the right thing.

    (Original post by Roundabout)
    Equating IB HL 7 with A-level A is horribly unjust in this case, and when the A* grade was introduced, I was excited and hopeful of it finally rectifying this issue. Now I see it go unused.
    As I said earlier, I agree with the argument that HL 7 is harder than A-level A, but the reality is that no-one really knows what the A* actually means, in context, until some students have actually achieved that grade. Given the very accurate statistics you often quote in your posts, I'd have thought you, like me, would also prefer the University to have some hard evidence for upping its standard offer before just diving in.
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    (Original post by Roundabout)
    Nope, I'm disappointed because they ask some IB students to achieve multiple 7s (which are awarded to 3-10% of students), whereas A-level A-grades are awarded in most cases to over 30% of students. More often than not, an IB HL grade 6 puts you at a higher percentile than an A-level A, and mathematics deserves a special note (2009 data):
    Percentage of A-level students awarded grade A: 45.2%
    Percentage of IB HL students awarded grade 5, 6 or 7: 47% (grade 5: 23%, grade 6: 16%, grade 7: 8%)

    Equating IB HL 7 with A-level A is horribly unjust in this case, and when the A* grade was introduced, I was excited and hopeful of it finally rectifying this issue. Now I see it go unused.
    I couldn't have put this better myself. In this case, numbers speak louder than words.
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    (Original post by pf1)
    As I said earlier, I agree with the argument that HL 7 is harder than A-level A, but the reality is that no-one really knows what the A* actually means, in context, until some students have actually achieved that grade. Given the very accurate statistics you often quote in your posts, I'd have thought you, like me, would also prefer the University to have some hard evidence for upping its standard offer before just diving in.
    Fair enough, you're right in saying that no one really knows what the A* means. The first batch of statistics will be available after A-level results are published in mid-August. At first I thought that this would be early enough for them to change entry requirements for 2011/12 entry, but given that the prospectus is due to come out very soon, it would be unplausible to change their main entry requirements so late in the game and hence is the reason why the A* can't be used for 2011/12 entry. Right?
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    (Original post by Roundabout)
    Nope, it clearly says "A review of this policy will take place in time to advise those applying entry in the 2011/12 admissions cycle". If what they meant was different, fair enough, but the information on the website really wasn't ambiguous at all.
    The 2011/12 admissions cycle not the 2011/12 academic year. I.e. those applying at the end of 2011 and starting in 2012, surely?
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    (Original post by Roundabout)
    The first batch of statistics will be available after A-level results are published in mid-August. At first I thought that this would be early enough for them to change entry requirements for 2011/12 entry, but given that the prospectus is due to come out very soon, it would be unplausible to change their main entry requirements so late in the game and hence is the reason why the A* can't be used for 2011/12 entry. Right?
    That is true. The prospectus publication was probably in their minds when they committed to two years of not using the A*. All UK university prospectuses go to print in early February so they'll be ready for the season of HE Fairs / school visits etc.

    (Original post by Bekaboo)
    The 2011/12 admissions cycle not the 2011/12 academic year. I.e. those applying at the end of 2011 and starting in 2012, surely?
    That's definitely what it was supposed to mean but I agree with Roundabout that it was poorly worded. Applicants can't really be expected to know the difference in terminology.
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    (Original post by Bekaboo)
    The 2011/12 admissions cycle not the 2011/12 academic year. I.e. those applying at the end of 2011 and starting in 2012, surely?
    I thought the name of the admissions cycle came from the year in which entry is sought? But apparently you're right, for instance the 2008/09 cycle included those applying in late '08 for entry in 2009/10.

    http://www.offa.org.uk/agreements/Ox...2012.08.08.pdf
    (c) For the 2008/09 undergraduate admissions cycle relevant contextual information on applicants will be made available across Oxford.
    Since this was published in mid '08, it must mean the applicants of late '08.



    Off-topic, but after skimming through the above document, I noticed an intriguing bit:

    Milestones
    35. The University will monitor progress towards achieving benchmarks in terms of the representation of its undergraduate student population. The benchmarks will be internally-developed, taking account of existing external data such as HESA PIs, and will be established with regard to the following groups:
    (a) State school students.
    (b) Students from NS-SEC groups 4-7.
    (c) Students from black and minority ethnic groups.
    36. The University will also monitor the admission and progress of care leavers.
    37. In each case, the benchmarks will be adjusted to take into account the specific academic requirements for entry to Oxford (i.e., normally 3 A grades at A-level, in subjects appropriate for our courses, excluding General Studies).
    38. Progress will be measured against the operational plans which are being developed with respect of each of these objectives.
    39. Work is proceeding internally on developing benchmarks to track progress against these operations plans. In order to support this work an Access and Admissions Subgroup for the EPSC will be set up. In the meantime, the University will continue to use its existing milestone of increasing applications from the state sector by an average of 270 (4.25%) per year, over a five-year period (with 2005 as the base year). In addition, the University will continue to monitor the number of students from low income households in its full-time undergraduate student population, and will look for year-on-year increases in this number.
    Compare it with this:
    We are not looking to do any social engineering.
    I call ********. Trying to attract more applications from state schools and URMs is fine, but according to this, they're actively seeking to modify their student population. Increasing the number of state school applicants would naturally increase the number of admitted state school students without sparking debates about unfairness. However, the use of artificial benchmarks and targets make me fear that Oxford is moving towards the wishy-washy US admissions system (in which it is near-impossible for applicants to know what it is that universities want from them, resulting in a system resembling a lottery) and further from admitting its students purely on the basis of academic aptitude and ability.
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    (Original post by pf1)
    I can see that would be irritating, yes. But you can console yourself with the fact that IB offer-holders are more likely to have their conditions relaxed should they narrowly miss them.
    This isn't always the case.

    My sister got an offer from Imperial of 38 points with 6's in biology and chemistry HL. She ended up with 37 with 7 in biology and 6 in chemistry and was flat out rejected. You'd think they would be quite lenient considering that she exceeded her subject requirements. That year, 4% of students achieved 7's in biology HL and 10% in chemistry HL. Yet, she was equated in ability to her A level counterparts who may have been in the 65th percentile in the same subjects and achieved A's. It's fine if you can't raise the offer of A level students above an A. However, it's indisputably wrong to reject an IB student when they are likely to have placed in a higher percentile than others who were accepted. If she took A levels, she would've pretty easily gotten A's in bio, chem and one other subject. With her IB, she was rejected because of subjects unrelated to her course like French and geography - subjects that A level students wouldn't be forced to take.

    But perhaps fate has restored itself: she say's that she's probably happier at UCL than she would be at Imperial.

    Today I got an offer from Imperial for aeronautical engineering. 39 points, 7 in maths and physics HL. When they're asking for A*AA, then why in the word would they ask me for 7s in both maths and physics? The point of the A* is to make A level offers correspond to IB offers. A*AA should be 38 points with 6s in higher level subjects. But for some reason they decided to raise their IB offer without even updating UCAS about it, so I was given the impression that I'd get a lower offer when I applied!

    /end rant
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    (Original post by CocoPop)
    This isn't always the case.
    :dontknow: This is just speculation based upon the personal experiences of friends and fellow students, but other universities seem for more clinical in culling offer-holders who don't get the grades, however narrow the margin. That's not to say that Oxford are guaranteed to be sympathetic (they aren't) but I get the strong sense that tutors here give out fewer offers per actual place available than most other universities and as such have greater flexibility to assess each case on its own merits. Bear in mind that universities have strict quotas for the number of students they can admit; if they exceed the numbers stipulated then they receive no government support for the excess students.

    In other words, this discussion is particularly concerned with IB offers at Oxford, not in general. What applies at Oxford won't necessarily apply at other universities, and vice versa. There aren't any prescribed rules for this kind of thing.
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    (Original post by Mook)
    :dontknow: This is just speculation based upon the personal experiences of friends and fellow students, but other universities seem for more clinical in culling offer-holders who don't get the grades, however narrow the margin. That's not to say that Oxford are guaranteed to be sympathetic (they aren't) but I get the strong sense that tutors here give out fewer offers per actual place available than most other universities and as such have greater flexibility to assess each case on its own merits. Bear in mind that universities have strict quotas for the number of students they can admit; if they exceed the numbers stipulated then they receive no government support for the excess students.

    In other words, this discussion is particularly concerned with IB offers at Oxford, not in general. What applies at Oxford won't necessarily apply at other universities, and vice versa. There aren't any prescribed rules for this kind of thing.
    Yeah it's true. There are only something like 1.1 offers per place at Oxford, whereas this number is much higher for other universities. I suppose that Imperial may have been oversubscribed that year and simply couldn't take in more people. Oxford probably tend to be more lenient because you've had to go through the entire interview process and have already proved yourself once.
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    (Original post by CocoPop)
    Today I got an offer from Imperial for aeronautical engineering. 39 points, 7 in maths and physics HL. When they're asking for A*AA, then why in the word would they ask me for 7s in both maths and physics? The point of the A* is to make A level offers correspond to IB offers. A*AA should be 38 points with 6s in higher level subjects. But for some reason they decided to raise their IB offer without even updating UCAS about it, so I was given the impression that I'd get a lower offer when I applied!
    Erm, no, it isn't. The point of introducing the A* grade was to counter grade inflation a bit by allowing a distinction between As and very high As. The comparability of IB-points to A-level grades is a separate issue.
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    (Original post by CocoPop)
    This isn't always the case.

    My sister got an offer from Imperial of 38 points with 6's in biology and chemistry HL. She ended up with 37 with 7 in biology and 6 in chemistry and was flat out rejected. You'd think they would be quite lenient considering that she exceeded her subject requirements.
    Why? Imperial over offer something like 4 or 5 times the number of places they have. There's no way of telling who will or won't accept: hypothetically they could have more than double the number of people accept as they have places, and they would have to reject everyone who missed their offer.

    It's not really relevant to Oxford anyway where there's only 10% over-offering, and most of those could be squeezed in somewhere if necessary.
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    (Original post by CocoPop)
    This isn't always the case.
    Well no, which is why I said 'more likely'. Furthermore I was only talking about Oxford, which is totally different to London universities for the reasons Bekaboo outlines.

    Edit: yes, your subsequent post is more on the mark.
 
 
 
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