Help appreciated (re: GCSE, AS, etc.) Watch

stevoz
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Dear all,

I am an applicant from Hong Kong who is planning to study law in the UK. As I have AAAs for my GCE predicted grades (History, Geography, Business) I had originally planned to apply to the more "prestigious" universities, yet after reading threads in this forum I have found the entry requirements to be more complex than i thought; the tarriff system and sometimes the need for an additional subject (for example: KCL: AS - General Studies excluded and 4 AS required. For the required extra AS level, below grade B considered in exceptional cases) have significantly reduced my options.

To make matters worse (for me), it seems like everybody who is applying has a basketful of A*s and As in GCSE. In HK we have in its stead the HKCEE (it is arguably tougher than the GCSE but I think it counts the same) with which we are not even allowed to take over 10 subjects (10 and sometimes 9 are even discouraged). My results are as follows: A in English Literature and History; B in English Language (A-ed but in a different sitting) and Economics; C in Geography and Religious Studies; D in Mathematics; E in Chinese and Chinese History. It is considered as okay back in HK but in comparison it seems like I am not even worthy for an university degree!

Yet when I was about to abandon my dream to study law in the UK, someone with more or less the same qualifications from my school has received an conditional offer from the U of Manchester, Faculty of Law already! It seems to be making no sense. Another thing is that I called up UCL Law Dpt the other day and they say that as long as I have the 3As it is okay I don't have a B for GCSE mathematics.

So my questions are:

1) Am I exempted from the whole GCSE / AS thing as an overseas applicant? (or do I have to check with the universities by calling them up one by one?)

2) If not, how important are the GCSE / AS grades?

3) If an applicant could be exempted from the GCSE requirements then why set them at all? or is it again because of my...special circumstances?

and a few more (not related to the stuffs above):

4) Do I have to finish applying through UCAS to become eligible for LNAT? I can't seem to find the 9-digit application number required for registration.

5) My school is quite flexible in letting us choose our referee. I am planning to ask my History teacher (who happens to be the head of the History Department) to be mine but would that reduce the credibility of my predicted grades? I mean would the remaining two subjects be considered as.. unrepresented? Can anyone please let me know how does the system work in the UK?

Anyway, the schools I am applying to are UCL, LSE, KCL, Queen Mary, Warwick, and Durham. Chances are very high that I am changing half of the list. As to what, does anyone has any suggestions?

Your help is very, very much appreciated. Actually I am not quite sure if this is allowed here as no one else is doing this (see I am so very desperate). Dear moderators please remove this message if it is not. =P
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*soph*
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I think your best bet is to phone the Unis you're interested in, explain the situation and see if they're willing to consider your application. If you're worried about your GCSE/equivalent grades, get your referee to explain in your reference, but the chances are the admissions tutors will understand and have dealt with a similar situation before.
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kellywood_5
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Since you're taking A-levels, I think the 4th AS requirement still applies to you, but you should phone/email the unis you're considering that require it to make sure. You could try picking up an extra AS now and any offers you got might include that, but it's a bit late, so your school might not let you, and you'd have loads of work to catch up on. GCSE grades are very important for law because it's one of the most competitive courses, but admissions tutors will have dealt with applicants from Hong Kong before, so if the exams you took are harder than GCSEs, they'll take that into account. You might as well apply anyway and see what happens. Usually in the UK, we get mini-references from each of our subject teachers and then our form tutor combined them all into one reference and includes comments about attendance, punctuality, extra-curricular stuff etc.
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stevoz
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thank you dear soph and kellywood you are so nice! i thought i was going to be ignored! :rolleyes:

Actually I will take AS Use of English in the HKALs but I'm not sure if they would recognize that (though the AL subjects are acceptable as GCE equivalent). I will call them up first thing tomorrow.

Ah so that is how it works in the UK. You see our references are normally done by our career office which would usually give us.. mass-produced reference letters. I know this sounds REALLY weird but can anyone please cite an example of the mini-reference for me to see how detailed it is? You see if I ask my referee nicely he may actually help me ask around for them =P

thanks again!
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kellywood_5
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If I remember rightly, the sort of things mentioned on the mini-references were suitability to your chosen course, dedication to the subject (meeting deadlines, wider reading etc), ability to write clearly and concisely, powers of analysis and personality (whether you're polite, reliable, work hard etc). These are then combined and something is added about your attendance, puntuality and any contributions you've made to school life, such as being on the council or organising charity events.
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alessandra
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I think you should apply....AAA is goooddd!!!!!!!
And universities love international students with their high fees =)
Maybe just apply to one insurance place, that is less 'prestigious'
Good luck!
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baldsoup
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(Original post by stevoz)
So my questions are:

1) Am I exempted from the whole GCSE / AS thing as an overseas applicant? (or do I have to check with the universities by calling them up one by one?)

2) If not, how important are the GCSE / AS grades?

3) If an applicant could be exempted from the GCSE requirements then why set them at all? or is it again because of my...special circumstances?
I'm no expert, but I think you shouldn't compare the HK system with the UK system - although there are some similarities, they're still different. Admissions tutors should know about the differences and should be comparing your grades with what is considered "normal" or "good" in HK.

However, to be on the safe side, you should contact the tutors just to make sure.

(Original post by stevoz)
Anyway, the schools I am applying to are UCL, LSE, KCL, Queen Mary, Warwick, and Durham. Chances are very high that I am changing half of the list. As to what, does anyone has any suggestions?
Remember that you should only apply for a uni that you actually want to go to!!
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Happy1
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LSE DEFINITELY blacklists business i'm afraid so i doubt youd get in. sorry dont mean to be negative. Warwick WANTS at LEAST a C in a 4th AS as well as AAA at A2. THe others... well Kings, as you quoted.. will want AS levels, and I'm pretty sure that UCL will to. Maybe your should rethink a couple of choices.
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baldsoup
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(Original post by LawHopeful)
LSE DEFINITELY blacklists business i'm afraid so i doubt youd get in. sorry dont mean to be negative. Warwick WANTS at LEAST a C in a 4th AS as well as AAA at A2. THe others... well Kings, as you quoted.. will want AS levels, and I'm pretty sure that UCL will to. Maybe your should rethink a couple of choices.
Although Business Studies is on the LSE blacklist, you're allowed two "proper" subjects. People do get in with Business + 2 other subjects, so it's not impossible to get in without it (that's what the admissions tutor said at the LSE Open Day). I'm not sure about the 4 AS thing though...
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stevoz
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(Original post by kellywood_5)
If I remember rightly, the sort of things mentioned on the mini-references were suitability to your chosen course, dedication to the subject (meeting deadlines, wider reading etc), ability to write clearly and concisely, powers of analysis and personality (whether you're polite, reliable, work hard etc). These are then combined and something is added about your attendance, puntuality and any contributions you've made to school life, such as being on the council or organising charity events.
Dear Kelly Wood thank you for helping me out here! It will appear on my referee's desk tomorrow Anyway please let me know if anyone has anything else to add
(Original post by LawHopeful)
LSE DEFINITELY blacklists business i'm afraid so i doubt youd get in. sorry dont mean to be negative. Warwick WANTS at LEAST a C in a 4th AS as well as AAA at A2. THe others... well Kings, as you quoted.. will want AS levels, and I'm pretty sure that UCL will to. Maybe your should rethink a couple of choices.
That is why I am thinking if i should take Chinese instead (though I am not sure if they would recognize the subject). Also as I really like Warwick and Kings I will probably take AS Econ too as I know most of the stuff but I would have to discuss this with my counselor. UCL.. ah I guess there's no point wasting one of the six precious boxes so farewell my beloved.

And oh I have been trying to call up Warwick for the past few days but nobody has bothered to pick up the phone (or reply my email) yet.

One more thing (though it is kind of off topic). I guess I (on behalf of all HK ppl) have to say thank you to the British Government for leaving behind such a safe place for us to live in :rolleyes: . All those mugging and head bashing in London sound scary! You see I really wanted to experience the British culture (not just the beer-drinking part ) but now I guess I have to modify my plans a bit. Maybe I should take up martial arts or something :eek:
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Happy1
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(Original post by stevoz)
One more thing (though it is kind of off topic). I guess I (on behalf of all HK ppl) have to say thank you to the British Government for leaving behind such a safe place for us to live in :rolleyes: . All those mugging and head bashing in London sound scary! You see I really wanted to experience the British culture (not just the beer-drinking part ) but now I guess I have to modify my plans a bit. Maybe I should take up martial arts or something :eek:
the UK isnt ALL like that! Most of it isnt! Only the big cities really have to deal with things like that.
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baldsoup
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(Original post by stevoz)
That is why I am thinking if i should take Chinese instead (though I am not sure if they would recognize the subject).
It says on the LSE website:
'An A level or equivalent in your first language may not be counted. However, if we make you a conditional offer and you don't quite achieve the grades we have asked for, we might then take a good grade in such a subject into account.'
http://www.lse.ac.uk/resources/under...howToApply.htm
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stevoz
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So I guess LSE has to go if I'm taking Chinese..

Anyway, just called up Bristol and they say its okay. Cannot reach Warwick as usual and the rest seem to be accepting Chinese as an AL.

However I am not too sure about this because some universities want 18 (some even 21) units for GCE while the Language ALs only counts for..2? I presume that is for the AS but can anyone confirm this?
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kellywood_5
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(Original post by stevoz)
So I guess LSE has to go if I'm taking Chinese..

Anyway, just called up Bristol and they say its okay. Cannot reach Warwick as usual and the rest seem to be accepting Chinese as an AL.

However I am not too sure about this because some universities want 18 (some even 21) units for GCE while the Language ALs only counts for..2? I presume that is for the AS but can anyone confirm this?
An AS is 3 units and a full A-level is 6, so 18 units is 3 full A-levels and 21 is 3 full A-levels and an AS.
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stevoz
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Ah. So is an AL Language (Chinese) counted as 6 units despite it only has 2 units (3 hours each)?

Oh by the way, my friend who's aiming at linguistics called up Nottingham and they say they can let us substitute an AL with 2 AS. Could that possibly be true ._. because that would give us a serious advantage!
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kellywood_5
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(Original post by stevoz)
Ah. So is an AL Language (Chinese) is counted as 6 units despite it only has 2 units (3 hours each)?

Oh by the way, my friend who's aiming at linguistics called up Nottingham and they say they can let us substitute an AL with 2 AS. Could that possibly be true ._. because that would give us a serious advantage!
Are you doing standard British A-levels? If so, it's the same for all subjects and all exam boards. An A-level is 6 units and an AS is 3. I don't know if it's the same for international students though.

Yes, some universities do let you use 2 ASs in place of a third A-level for some courses as long as the grades are the same, eg if the typical offer was BBB, you might also be able to have BBbb.
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stevoz
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(Original post by kellywood_5)
Are you doing standard British A-levels? If so, it's the same for all subjects and all exam boards. An A-level is 6 units and an AS is 3. I don't know if it's the same for international students though.

Yes, some universities do let you use 2 ASs in place of a third A-level for some courses as long as the grades are the same, eg if the typical offer was BBB, you might also be able to have BBbb.
Yes I am doing the GCE A-Levels. *Relieved*

But would I be at a disadvantage? I mean you guys have all taken the AS in year 12 wouldn't that be unfair? Well at first I thought it's just acceptable at the..less "prestigious" (sorry can't think of another word) universities but seeing that Nottingham is okay with it too it kind of refuted my theory..

Sorry for having soooo many questions.

Dear Mr Cheng

Thank you for your email. We would be able to consider an application from you if you are only studying three A-levels, you should be aware however that the minimum Mathematics requirement is Grade B and any application you might make would be at a disadvantage in the competition for places.

Thank you for your interest in Warwick.
Yours sincerely
Lesley Martin (Mrs)
In case anyone's interested.
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kellywood_5
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(Original post by stevoz)
Yes I am doing the GCE A-Levels. *Relieved*

But would I be at a disadvantage? I mean you guys have all taken the AS in year 12 wouldn't that be unfair? Well at first I thought it's just acceptable at the..less "prestigious" (sorry can't think of another word) universities but seeing that Nottingham is okay with it too it kind of refuted my theory..

Sorry for having soooo many questions.
Some schools in the UK, including mine, have a policy of not certificating AS results at the end of Year 12, meaning we don't put our grades on our UCAS forms. I got AABB at AS, but apart from Cambridge, none of the other unis I've applied to know that- they only know I've been predicted AAAA at A-level. So you won't be disadvantaged, unis will just base their decision on your A-level predictions and results of any previous qualifications you've taken, like the GCSE equivalents.
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