Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free

Is Oxford easier to get into than Cambridge for Modern Languages Watch

    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    I'm thinking of applying for modern languages at either Oxford or Cambridge. My personal preference would be Cambridge, due to the emphasis on language over literature, however I'm aware that Cambridge state A*AA for entry, whereas Oxford state AAA. Has anybody had an offer from Cambridge, and can you confirm that it was on A*AA or is this more to ward people off a possibly more attractive sounding course. An offer on an A* would put a great lot of pressure on, and so I'm thinking of applying to Oxford to avoid this, but then if I did manage an A* at a level, I'd be gutted. Any advice guys? Thanks
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Alex2424)
    Any advice guys? Thanks
    You prefer Cambridge, so apply there. The standard of applicant will be the same at both, so even if the Cambridge offer is a little higher, it won't mean the competition is any more or less intense. Remember, a very large majority of those who get an offer of A*AA from Cambridge meets that offer and gets in; the A* is not intended to present a particular challenge to the candidates who make it past interview.
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    The answer to your thread title would be 'it depends on the candidate'.

    I'd apply to Cambridge unless you believe there is a significant chance of you not getting an A*, but that's a decision only you can make.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by nexttime)
    The answer to your thread title would be 'it depends on the candidate'.

    I'd apply to Cambridge unless you believe there is a significant chance of you not getting an A*, but that's a decision only you can make.
    Would it therefore be wise to wait for my as results, and see how high the ums marks are before making a decision? If I somehow achieved full marks in one subject then an a* next year wouldn't be too much pressure


    Posted from TSR Mobile
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Alex2424)
    Would it therefore be wise to wait for my as results, and see how high the ums marks are before making a decision? If I somehow achieved full marks in one subject then an a* next year wouldn't be too much pressure


    Posted from TSR Mobile
    Well obviously yes. Its not like you can apply before then!
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Alex2424)
    I'm thinking of applying for modern languages at either Oxford or Cambridge. My personal preference would be Cambridge, due to the emphasis on language over literature, however I'm aware that Cambridge state A*AA for entry, whereas Oxford state AAA. Has anybody had an offer from Cambridge, and can you confirm that it was on A*AA or is this more to ward people off a possibly more attractive sounding course. An offer on an A* would put a great lot of pressure on, and so I'm thinking of applying to Oxford to avoid this, but then if I did manage an A* at a level, I'd be gutted. Any advice guys? Thanks
    I'd go for Cambridge if you prefer the course. As I said in my PM, most people who get accepted to Oxford will go on to achieve at least one A* anyway, so actually the difference in the standard offer doesn't constitute a a significant difference in entrance difficulty because at both institutions all the previous steps have already identified good candidates for whom A*AA probably won't be too much of a challenge.

    That said, if you personally feel it's unlikely you'll get an A* but possible you could shine at interview/admissions tests then it's more difficult to judge. You'll have to wait for your AS results.
    Offline

    14
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Alex2424)
    Would it therefore be wise to wait for my as results, and see how high the ums marks are before making a decision? If I somehow achieved full marks in one subject then an a* next year wouldn't be too much pressure


    Posted from TSR Mobile
    One thing I will say though is to take AS UMS with a pinch of salt. AS performance is a good indicator of A2 performance but not exactly perfect. For example I averaged around 88% at AS but at A2 I am getting between 95-100% UMS (God knows how). Others however can see a drop in performance so just take AS results with a pinch of salt. :awesome:

    If you prefer the Cambridge course then I would say Cambridge may be a better bet. Though do look around both and their courses as some people (myself included) can jump from one to the other.

    If an A* at A2 seems very unlikely then Cambridge is probably not the best idea. Also Cambridge are fussy on AS UMS, Oxford on percentage of A*s at GCSE, so play to your strengths :yep:
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    The two are probably about the same difficulty to receive an offer from in principle, however once you've got your grades then they will *not* be:

    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.

    Cambridge will be more difficult than Oxford to get into (as in, meet the offer) as the A* (which is often demanded in a specific subject, in this case a language) is obviously more difficult.

    Oxford's course is completely different to Cambridge's. Oxford's is very literature, history and culture based, with the option of doing just one language. With Cambridge, you have to do two languages, but there's a lot more flexibility and the option to switch to different courses.

    This is just from briefly looking over the course descriptions for you, and from general knowledge of Cambridge admissions from when I was there, so look into it yourself.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Upper Echelons)
    The two are probably about the same difficulty to receive an offer from in principle, however once you've got your grades then they will *not* be:

    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.

    Cambridge will be more difficult than Oxford to get into (as in, meet the offer) as the A* (which is often demanded in a specific subject, in this case a language) is obviously more difficult.

    Oxford's course is completely different to Cambridge's. Oxford's is very literature, history and culture based, with the option of doing just one language. With Cambridge, you have to do two languages, but there's a lot more flexibility and the option to switch to different courses.

    This is just from briefly looking over the course descriptions for you, and from general knowledge of Cambridge admissions from when I was there, so look into it yourself.
    You see I think I fit the Oxford pattern in this way, I achieved 8 A*s 1A 1B at gcse, and am not too sure if I can make the 90's for ums. Everything points to Oxford except perhaps the fact that I may not enjoy the course as much, but then again I may love it, as we don't start literature until next year, just the idea isn't very appealing. I'm swaying towards Oxford at the moment, at Oriel college, but it's difficult


    Posted from TSR Mobile
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Alex2424)
    You see I think I fit the Oxford pattern in this way, I achieved 8 A*s 1A 1B at gcse, and am not too sure if I can make the 90's for ums. Everything points to Oxford except perhaps the fact that I may not enjoy the course as much, but then again I may love it, as we don't start literature until next year, just the idea isn't very appealing. I'm swaying towards Oxford at the moment, at Oriel college, but it's difficult
    Posted from TSR Mobile
    After your AS-level exams, start looking a the A2 course, reading some literature, watching some films and investigating whether history is also your thing. Then you'll have your UMS scores in August too, and you can make a more informed decision. If you don't get at least 90+ (on average, not in every module) then I'd go with Oxford, just because I think you'd be happier studying the Oxford course than being rejected by Cambridge and going to Durham/UCL for languages.
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Alex2424)
    I'm thinking of applying for modern languages at either Oxford or Cambridge. My personal preference would be Cambridge, due to the emphasis on language over literature, however I'm aware that Cambridge state A*AA for entry, whereas Oxford state AAA. Has anybody had an offer from Cambridge, and can you confirm that it was on A*AA or is this more to ward people off a possibly more attractive sounding course. An offer on an A* would put a great lot of pressure on, and so I'm thinking of applying to Oxford to avoid this, but then if I did manage an A* at a level, I'd be gutted. Any advice guys? Thanks
    It really depends on your grade profile i.e. your AS UMS and GCSE grades, however Oxford has an entrance test based on complex grammar and translation which you have to sit before interview which they use to weed a lot of people out, whereas Cambridge don't have a test (some colleges make you write a short essay and/or submit some essays you've already written that are good) so you are more likely to get an interview and shine from there. Really, I'd just apply for the one that you prefer! I have got an offer for MML at Cambridge to start this October and yes the offer is A*AA. However most successful applicants usually end up getting 1 or more A*s (I think my predictions are A*A*A*A :nothing:) - you might surprise yourself! Wait til you get your AS grades and then you'll know
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Etoile)
    It really depends on your grade profile i.e. your AS UMS and GCSE grades, however Oxford has an entrance test based on complex grammar and translation which you have to sit before interview which they use to weed a lot of people out, whereas Cambridge don't have a test (some colleges make you write a short essay and/or submit some essays you've already written that are good) so you are more likely to get an interview and shine from there. Really, I'd just apply for the one that you prefer! I have got an offer for MML at Cambridge to start this October and yes the offer is A*AA. However most successful applicants usually end up getting 1 or more A*s (I think my predictions are A*A*A*A :nothing:) - you might surprise yourself! Wait til you get your AS grades and then you'll know
    The Oxford MLAT looks really easy to be honest. In comparison, I know that at Cambridge you could have to submit essays in your language and in English, then sit admissions tests which test you on formal comprehension and more complex essay writing. Other colleges might give you a text to read and then translate/analyse which in my opinion is much harder both generally and in linguistic difficulty.

    That said, it seems like the MLAT is more of a filter to see who could cope on the course, rather than a tough selection criterion.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Upper Echelons)
    The Oxford MLAT looks really easy to be honest. In comparison, I know that at Cambridge you could have to submit essays in your language and in English, then sit admissions tests which test you on formal comprehension and more complex essay writing. Other colleges might give you a text to read and then translate/analyse which in my opinion is much harder both generally and in linguistic difficulty.

    That said, it seems like the MLAT is more of a filter to see who could cope on the course, rather than a tough selection criterion.
    Yes the MLAT is not meant to be that hard, it's just to verify that the fundamental grammatical skills are there, targeting specific grammar points which a student with an A at AS might still not know. I know at several colleges you are asked to translate (either after preparation or on the spot) the passage/poem you are given in the interview, which I guess is similar to the Cambridge exercise but only done orally.

    At Oxford submitted essays in the foreign language(s) and in English are compulsory.

    To be honest I don't think there's much difference in the actual competitiveness/difficulty of getting an offer - the main factor is whether the OP personally feels he can get an A* or not if he gets an offer. (Though OP if you get to this stage at either institution, statistically you are pretty damn likely to get at least one A*)

    I would also like to add for the benefit of any potential applicant who might be put off by the literature focus at Oxford that after first year there are many optional language papers available such as Advanced Translation and linguistics papers, so it doesn't have to be all literature. (Indeed I am doing more language/linguistics papers than literature for Finals)
    Offline

    8
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Alex2424)
    You see I think I fit the Oxford pattern in this way, I achieved 8 A*s 1A 1B at gcse, and am not too sure if I can make the 90's for ums. Everything points to Oxford except perhaps the fact that I may not enjoy the course as much, but then again I may love it, as we don't start literature until next year, just the idea isn't very appealing. I'm swaying towards Oxford at the moment, at Oriel college, but it's difficult
    I'm in EXACTLY the same situation as you, in that I like the Cambridge course but I doubt I'll hit the whole 90% UMS across the board thing (at least in German, I only started in Year 10). It might be worth going to the MFL open day at Oxford and Cambridge to help you decide, or at least whether the Oxford course appeals to you. (I'm going to the Oxford one in a couple of weeks, hopefully I'll like it)

    And just out of curiosity, which languages are you thinking of?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by qwertyuiop1993)
    Yes the MLAT is not meant to be that hard, it's just to verify that the fundamental grammatical skills are there, targeting specific grammar points which a student with an A at AS might still not know. I know at several colleges you are asked to translate (either after preparation or on the spot) the passage/poem you are given in the interview, which I guess is similar to the Cambridge exercise but only done orally.

    At Oxford submitted essays in the foreign language(s) and in English are compulsory.

    To be honest I don't think there's much difference in the actual competitiveness/difficulty of getting an offer - the main factor is whether the OP personally feels he can get an A* or not if he gets an offer. (Though OP if you get to this stage at either institution, statistically you are pretty damn likely to get at least one A*)

    I would also like to add for the benefit of any potential applicant who might be put off by the literature focus at Oxford that after first year there are many optional language papers available such as Advanced Translation and linguistics papers, so it doesn't have to be all literature. (Indeed I am doing more language/linguistics papers than literature for Finals)
    I agree, they're both of the same difficulty to get an offer from, but not to meet the offer. I expanded on this in my earlier post ^ regarding how it could be more difficult to get an offer from one than the other once you have your AS results.

    The problem with the Cambridge A* is that increasingly, they ask for it in a specific subject, and an A* in a language is very very difficult. I believe that Oxford trialled the language A* and were promptly met with criticism from a number of leading schools due to the difficulty of it, after which they went back to AAA.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Upper Echelons)
    I agree, they're both of the same difficulty to get an offer from, but not to meet the offer. I expanded on this in my earlier post ^ regarding how it could be more difficult to get an offer from one than the other once you have your AS results.

    The problem with the Cambridge A* is that increasingly, they ask for it in a specific subject, and an A* in a language is very very difficult. I believe that Oxford trialled the language A* and were promptly met with criticism from a number of leading schools due to the difficulty of it, after which they went back to AAA.
    Yes, it's one thing to get an A*, it's another thing to have to get one...
    I've actually noticed that getting an A* in a language A level seems uncommonly difficult. A lot of my year went to elite grammars/top public schools and whenever it's come up it would seem that a ridiculously high proportion of their school year would get A*s in Maths/English/Science A levels but for some reason it's always a much lower proportion for languages. I'm assuming that says something about the difficulty of the course and not the quality of the teachers!
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by qwertyuiop1993)
    Yes, it's one thing to get an A*, it's another thing to have to get one...
    I've actually noticed that getting an A* in a language A level seems uncommonly difficult. A lot of my year went to elite grammars/top public schools and whenever it's come up it would seem that a ridiculously high proportion of the year would A*s in Maths/English/Science A levels but that for some reason it's always a much lower proportion for languages. I'm assuming that says something about the difficulty of the course and not the quality of the teachers!
    An A* in a language is indeed uncommonly difficult, as there are lots of native speakers to compete with, and grade boundaries are much, much higher than GCSE. It's certainly a lot easier to get an A* in Maths, as you said, than it is in a language.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Stanners95)
    I'm in EXACTLY the same situation as you, in that I like the Cambridge course but I doubt I'll hit the whole 90% UMS across the board thing (at least in German, I only started in Year 10). It might be worth going to the MFL open day at Oxford and Cambridge to help you decide, or at least whether the Oxford course appeals to you. (I'm going to the Oxford one in a couple of weeks, hopefully I'll like it)

    And just out of curiosity, which languages are you thinking of?
    It's a really difficult one isn't it mate? I'm thinking of French and Spanish at Oriel college Oxford. I love the area, the look and size and facilities of the college, and I suppose I will be able to adapt to the course. I may have a look at going to the mfl days but I live in Yorkshire, and already going to the general open days in June with college.


    Posted from TSR Mobile
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Upper Echelons)
    I agree, they're both of the same difficulty to get an offer from, but not to meet the offer. I expanded on this in my earlier post ^ regarding how it could be more difficult to get an offer from one than the other once you have your AS results.

    The problem with the Cambridge A* is that increasingly, they ask for it in a specific subject, and an A* in a language is very very difficult. I believe that Oxford trialled the language A* and were promptly met with criticism from a number of leading schools due to the difficulty of it, after which they went back to AAA.
    I have heard the same about the difficulty of an A*. Inevitably under such pressure that a Cambridge offer could bring, mistakes may be made in the speaking for example. It's not that I don't feel capable of the A*, it's just, I know it'll sound bad but I am not one of those people who can lock themselves away for whole days revising. If I did this, then yes I may well achieve an A* but that just isn't in my nature. I did hardly any revision for gcse and I'm struggling to for as levels. All credit to the students who work themselves sick to get straight A*s at a level from As at gcse, but that simply won't work for me. Thanks for all your help guys, it's much appreciated, and I'm definitely leaning more towards Oxford now )


    Posted from TSR Mobile
    Offline

    8
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Alex2424)
    It's a really difficult one isn't it mate? I'm thinking of French and Spanish at Oriel college Oxford. I love the area, the look and size and facilities of the college, and I suppose I will be able to adapt to the course. I may have a look at going to the mfl days but I live in Yorkshire, and already going to the general open days in June with college.


    Posted from TSR Mobile
    Ah, we have a Hispanist... rejoice! :P yeah, the one thing that i really like about Cambridge is that, if i wanted, I could just drop to Spanish later on as I find it miles more interesting than German. Plus, at Oxford it seems that German is taken much more seriously in Spanish. It's a general impression so I could be wrong, but I'm defo leaning towards Cambridge
 
 
 
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • Poll
    Brussels sprouts
    Useful resources
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • 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.