Join TSR now and get answers to all your questions about uniSign up now
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    I've read enough stories (designed to scare, I think) of people getting turned away from Oxbridge even while getting a clean sweep of A's?

    Does the UMS of you A matter?
    How much significance is placed on it?
    Say a person has 8-10 A*s at GCSE, achieved/predicted 4 A's AS (80-85 UMS each) would they get in?
    • PS Helper
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by NabRoh)
    I've read enough stories (designed to scare, I think) of people getting turned away from Oxbridge even while getting a clean sweep of A's?

    Does the UMS of you A matter?
    How much significance is placed on it?
    Say a person has 8-10 A*s at GCSE, achieved/predicted 4 A's AS (80-85 UMS each) would they get in?
    I'm afraid I'm going to have to (partially) confirm your suspicions!

    Oxford doesn't see UMS marks, only the AS grades, so there's not an issue there. That said, they will put more emphasis on GCSE grades and admissions tests to compensate for the lack of UMS.

    Cambridge does put a fair amount of emphasis on UMS (though it's not the only factor by any means), and on average, successful candidates have 94-96% in their three best subjects (for arts and social sciences) and in their three most relevant subjects (for maths and sciences). With the exceptions of maths and medicine, it seems to have quite strong correlation with future exam results.

    To give direct answers to your questions - yes, the UMS of your A does matter. Yes, they put an amount of significance on it - it's an important factor, but it's not the only factor by any means. And given the strength of the competition, it's not enough to have all As at AS and a good number of A* grades at GCSE - the UMS does matter and candidates with all As (even very high A grades!) can be rejected. But conversely, with a good interview, personal statement and admissions tests, it is possible to get a place even with "low" A grades (remember that 94-96% is just an average and therefore there will be candidates below it!), but you'd be on the weaker end of the candidates in terms of a place and therefore you would have to make up with it with other particularly strong factors.*

    Does that answer your question?

    *Unless there are extenuating circumstances, of course, in which case there's the potential for quite a bit more "slack".

    TL;DR: A clean sweep of As at AS is not enough to get a place, but conversely, you don't need 90/95/100% in every subject to be considered either.
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by lp386)

    Cambridge does put a fair amount of emphasis on UMS (though it's not the only factor by any means), and on average, successful candidates have 94-96% in their three best subjects (for arts and social sciences) and in their three most relevant subjects (for maths and sciences). With the exceptions of maths and medicine, it seems to have quite strong correlation with future exam results.


    TL;DR: A clean sweep of As at AS is not enough to get a place, but conversely, you don't need 90/95/100% in every subject to be considered either.
    I think the correlation is pretty good between UMS and medicine relative to other subjects actually (but I haven't checked, that's just from memory).
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by NabRoh)
    I've read enough stories (designed to scare, I think) of people getting turned away from Oxbridge even while getting a clean sweep of A's?
    Pretty much everyone who even applies to Oxford has "a clean sweep of As'. Its by no means sufficient no.

    Does the UMS of you A matter?
    How much significance is placed on it?
    Say a person has 8-10 A*s at GCSE, achieved/predicted 4 A's AS (80-85 UMS each) would they get in?
    Cambridge use UMS a lot. Oxford don't even see it, instead leaning more on admissions tests.

    Its impossible to say whether a particular case will get in. Some people will have lower grades than that and get in, others will have higher and get rejected.
    • PS Helper
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    I think the correlation is pretty good between UMS and medicine relative to other subjects actually (but I haven't checked, that's just from memory).
    I was taking it from the lack of auto-pooling for that subject, though I think when I wrote that I got it the wrong way round a little bit (I implied that UMS doesn't really matter and you shouldn't worry about it, as opposed to implying that UMS probably didn't matter much because almost everybody has very high UMS and there's not enough variation to effectively distinguish between them). Either way, my implication was incorrect.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by lp386)
    I'm afraid I'm going to have to (partially) confirm your suspicions!

    Oxford doesn't see UMS marks, only the AS grades, so there's not an issue there. That said, they will put more emphasis on GCSE grades and admissions tests to compensate for the lack of UMS.

    Cambridge does put a fair amount of emphasis on UMS (though it's not the only factor by any means), and on average, successful candidates have 94-96% in their three best subjects (for arts and social sciences) and in their three most relevant subjects (for maths and sciences). With the exceptions of maths and medicine, it seems to have quite strong correlation with future exam results.

    To give direct answers to your questions - yes, the UMS of your A does matter. Yes, they put an amount of significance on it - it's an important factor, but it's not the only factor by any means. And given the strength of the competition, it's not enough to have all As at AS and a good number of A* grades at GCSE - the UMS does matter and candidates with all As (even very high A grades!) can be rejected. But conversely, with a good interview, personal statement and admissions tests, it is possible to get a place even with "low" A grades (remember that 94-96% is just an average and therefore there will be candidates below it!), but you'd be on the weaker end of the candidates in terms of a place and therefore you would have to make up with it with other particularly strong factors.*

    Does that answer your question?

    *Unless there are extenuating circumstances, of course, in which case there's the potential for quite a bit more "slack".

    TL;DR: A clean sweep of As at AS is not enough to get a place, but conversely, you don't need 90/95/100% in every subject to be considered either.
    I am grateful for the in-depth responses even if you did all confirm my suspicions...

    - NR
    Offline

    9
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by NabRoh)
    I've read enough stories (designed to scare, I think) of people getting turned away from Oxbridge even while getting a clean sweep of A's?

    Does the UMS of you A matter?
    How much significance is placed on it?
    Say a person has 8-10 A*s at GCSE, achieved/predicted 4 A's AS (80-85 UMS each) would they get in?
    In a nutshell - if you apply to Oxford UMS don't matter at all, as long as you get the A/A*. As for Cambridge, they require a SAQ (Supplementary Application Questionnaire) on which you have to declare your UMS scores. So for Cambridge, UMS could make or break your application.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by NabRoh)
    I've read enough stories (designed to scare, I think) of people getting turned away from Oxbridge even while getting a clean sweep of A's?

    Does the UMS of you A matter?
    How much significance is placed on it?
    Say a person has 8-10 A*s at GCSE, achieved/predicted 4 A's AS (80-85 UMS each) would they get in?
    What all the above posters have said is definitely true BUT don't let comparatively low UMS (which outside of a Cam application are really good results) put you off applying to Cambridge, as it is definitely possible to get an offer with a UMS average under 90 without extenuating circumstances - trust me! A lot depends on your course, a level subjects and other factors. If you want to apply, then give it a go! The only way you definitely won't get an offer is if you don't apply.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Caitlin_dj)
    What all the above posters have said is definitely true BUT don't let comparatively low UMS (which outside of a Cam application are really good results) put you off applying to Cambridge, as it is definitely possible to get an offer with a UMS average under 90 without extenuating circumstances - trust me! A lot depends on your course, a level subjects and other factors. If you want to apply, then give it a go! The only way you definitely won't get an offer is if you don't apply.
    I hope these other factors aren't things like extra-curricular activities... The only reason I would have in not applying is the extra tests/preparation that I may have to book/revise for for the Cambridge place. And there is the fact that I have to send off my UCAS 3 months earlier...
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by NabRoh)
    I hope these other factors aren't things like extra-curricular activities... The only reason I would have in not applying is the extra tests/preparation that I may have to book/revise for for the Cambridge place. And there is the fact that I have to send off my UCAS 3 months earlier...
    Not at all. If they aren't relevant to your subject, Oxford or Cambridge couldn't care less about the extra-curricular activities you have or haven't done.

    Fair enough, but you'd have nothing to lose and a lot to gain from the extra effort. It would all be worth it if you got in and even if you didn't, the prep would all have been a good experience. And sending off your UCAS earlier is probably better anyway - it's a great feeling watching everyone else stress over their personal statements when yours is all done and dusted.
    • PS Helper
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by NabRoh)
    I hope these other factors aren't things like extra-curricular activities... The only reason I would have in not applying is the extra tests/preparation that I may have to book/revise for for the Cambridge place. And there is the fact that I have to send off my UCAS 3 months earlier...
    Out of curiosity, what subject are you thinking of doing?

    (Another thing: the only certainty is that if you don't apply, you won't get a place. Even if you think an offer might be a stretch, it may well still be worth a go.)
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    What if you got 1 ums of an A when it comes to meeting your offer? Would they reject you without even thinking about it?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by textbookloser)
    What if you got 1 ums of an A when it comes to meeting your offer? Would they reject you without even thinking about it?
    Not sure about Oxford, but Cambridge has the summer pool, so the people who have missed their grades by the narrowest margins might get put in another college. Also, I think the average applicant figure is more like 90% (I got 88% and got an offer this year, so there is hope!)
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by lp386)
    Out of curiosity, what subject are you thinking of doing?

    (Another thing: the only certainty is that if you don't apply, you won't get a place. Even if you think an offer might be a stretch, it may well still be worth a go.)
    Engineering hopefully. Cambridge has General Engineering for the first two years before you specialise so that's a plus.

    Yeah I'm hearing this more and more... it's all resting on my AS grades which paradoxically would be better if I wasn't sitting here worrying about this.
    • PS Helper
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by NabRoh)
    Engineering hopefully. Cambridge has General Engineering for the first two years before you specialise so that's a plus.

    Yeah I'm hearing this more and more... it's all resting on my AS grades which paradoxically would be better if I wasn't sitting here worrying about this.
    A little bit of industry experience (or plans for a gap year) might be helpful here. Other than that, it's just a case of getting the highest scores you can in Maths, Further Maths and Physics (past papers all the way!) Good luck.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by lp386)
    A little bit of industry experience (or plans for a gap year) might be helpful here. Other than that, it's just a case of getting the highest scores you can in Maths, Further Maths and Physics (past papers all the way!) Good luck.
    Definitely not considering a gap year...
    Do you think coming out of a 4 year intensive ChemEng degree at a top uni I would find it hard to get a job if I don't opt for industry experience?
    • PS Helper
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by NabRoh)
    Definitely not considering a gap year...
    Do you think coming out of a 4 year intensive ChemEng degree at a top uni I would find it hard to get a job if I don't opt for industry experience?
    I think there's some compulsory experience as part of the course, but perhaps an engineering student could speak to that, if there's any around!
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Firstly, almost everyone applying to Oxbridge has a clean sweep of As at AS-level and straight A*/As for GCSEs and A-level predictions.

    It's therefore perfectly acceptable that the majority of rejected applicants have top grades. You might be surprised that people with super-high grades are rejected when people with lower grades are accepted, but that just shows how grades aren't everything.

    Grades generally correlate with intelligence and suitability for tough degree programmes, but at the extreme right tail (i.e. Oxbridge applicants with straight A*s and 95%+ UMS) it's not longer the best of indicators as it comes down to how keen the student is.

    Let's say you took every successful Oxbridge applicant in a year, and ranked them by the amount of work they did for GCSEs. Then take the top 10% hard-workers, and consider what the remaining 90% would have achieved had they worked that hard, and I believe that they would have almost invariably achieved truly stellar grades.

    Someone with great (> 7 A*s) GCSEs and AAAA at AS-level at an 80% average would be perfect on paper for Oxford, but shoddy for Cambridge.

    Someone with relatively poor (2-3 A*s) GCSEs and AAAA at AS-level at an 100% average would be shoddy for Oxford but could stand a very good chance at Cambridge.

    The average successful applicant at Cambridge has 95% in their top 3 AS-level subjects.
    • PS Helper
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Upper Echelons)
    Firstly, almost everyone applying to Oxbridge has a clean sweep of As at AS-level and straight A*/As for GCSEs and A-level predictions.

    It's therefore perfectly acceptable that the majority of rejected applicants have top grades. You might be surprised that people with super-high grades are rejected when people with lower grades are accepted, but that just shows how grades aren't everything.

    Grades generally correlate with intelligence and suitability for tough degree programmes, but at the extreme right tail (i.e. Oxbridge applicants with straight A*s and 95%+ UMS) it's not longer the best of indicators as it comes down to how keen the student is.

    Let's say you took every successful Oxbridge applicant in a year, and ranked them by the amount of work they did for GCSEs. Then take the top 10% hard-workers, and consider what the remaining 90% would have achieved had they worked that hard, and I believe that they would have almost invariably achieved truly stellar grades.

    Someone with great (> 7 A*s) GCSEs and AAAA at AS-level at an 80% average would be perfect on paper for Oxford, but shoddy for Cambridge.

    Someone with relatively poor (2-3 A*s) GCSEs and AAAA at AS-level at an 100% average would be shoddy for Oxford but could stand a very good chance at Cambridge.

    The average successful applicant at Cambridge has 95% in their top 3 AS-level subjects.
    Indeed. I'd particularly stress the word "average" in the final line, since there is a tendency for some applicants here to interpret "average" to mean "get this grade level or Cambridge will reject you and leave you a voicemail where they laugh at you for having the temerity to reply." It's just not true at all.

    I'd also add on the keenness thing - no matter how good people have been at GCSE and AS, a Cambridge degree is a relatively joyless three year slog where you have to keep perspective and be particularly interested in your subject to get through it. It's much more difficult to skate through without hard work, and admissions tutors know this, so it is vital to demonstrate your interest, if only to show that you have the motivation to make it through a difficult three years.
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    To piggyback this thread, how would 92/93% look for an application to Cambridge? I know it won't 'break' my application, but how much of a disadvantage would it put me being out of that average range? If it makes any difference it's Natural Sciences I'm interested in, although I'm not yet discounting oxford physics, but my relatively low GCSEs (3A*, 5A, 2B) are putting me off there a little.
 
 
 
Poll
Which pet is the best?
Useful resources

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Quick reply
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.