Are 4 A Levels necessary? Watch

Eau
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#61
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#61
Taking more than necessary does not necessarily mean it's better. Taking 3 may mean more time to look outside the syllabus to broaden your knowledge before you go to uni.
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crazynutter
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#62
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#62
I took 4, but physics chemistry maths and further maths, to do engingeering.

Was offered AAAB (B in chemistry). i think like the letter said its not vital that i know A-level chemistry to do engineering, but they like to see it, hense they offered the B.

I have a friend with an offer to study physical nat sci at Queens, he took 5 A2, I think in maths, further maths, physics, chemistry and german. He was offered AAA in FURTHER maths, physics and one other (NOT MATHS). We don't sit the whole of maths A2 in year 12, we have 5 maths and 1 F.maths module.

I would think that if you're applying for a science or engineering or maths, and your 4th A2 is F.maths or an extra science etc, then go for it, if you are a linguist or an arts sudent don't bother and read more stuff that you are interested in!!!
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kizer
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#63
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(Original post by glitterybug21)
One of the admissions tutors I spoke to at Hertford, Oxford, was totally adament that 4 A2s weren't necessary. He recommended only doing 3 and said that AAA was better than AABB.


Well clearly. But AAAA is by definition better than AAA. And for Oxbridge applicants, you would expect them to get AAAA doing 4 A2s.
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sazll
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#64
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In short - no it doesn't matter. Just as they're looking to see that at Oxford you spend your time wisely, know your limits and don't spread yourself too thin- clubbing, or rowing or drama for example; they want to see you commit to your exams properly. 3 a's stands up better than 3 a's and a b. Or, of course, you can look at it technically - they can only expect you to get 3 a's and therefore cannot penalise you, although applying with 4 a levels will ENSURE that they offer you 4 a offer, so you'll have to do even more work. At the end of the day what the tutors say is right - almost every candidate that applies to oxford is intelligent enough to study there. That's not what they're worried about. They just want you to be sparkling and interesting at the interview so they don't have to teach chronically boring people.
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alispam
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(Original post by sazll)
although applying with 4 a levels will ENSURE that they offer you 4 a offer, so you'll have to do even more work.
??? not always true i know plenty of people (myself included) that have 4 alevels and only offers on 3 (AAA).
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HannahZ
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#66
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I agree that most offers are only for 3 A levels, even for those taking four or more. Occasionally they ask for an A in the fourth or they may be specific about which subjects so you may find them asking for an A in your least favourite.
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alispam
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#67
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wadham do seem to give out a lot of 4 alevel offers, it seems to vary with college.
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tenjon
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#68
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...but rather than being lots of AAAA offers, they've given out lots of AAAB ones.

Now in that fourth subject I was not going to get a C, so really all these offers do are to make sure you continue all four subjects as you said you would, which is fair enough really.
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El Stevo
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#69
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i did 6 and got an offer for 3 with no conditions on the other 3. i dropped one, and erm, buggered up another 2. so its quality over quantity, provided you do do 3.
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coffeehead
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(Original post by glitterybug21)
One of the admissions tutors I spoke to at Hertford, Oxford, was totally adament that 4 A2s weren't necessary. He recommended only doing 3 and said that AAA was better than AABB.
I know that it seems that everyone (well, mainly teachers and university tutors) say this, but do you guys actually agree? I'm probably totally biased as I actually did more than three, against the wishes of all my teachers (though they all insisted that I dropped another subject), but I think I learnt so much more than I would've done had I just done three, and think that I would totally be more qualified with AABBB then AAA. I hate results-based education! (Youthful idealism, I guess!) Any thoughts?
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kizer
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(Original post by sazll)
although applying with 4 a levels will ENSURE that they offer you 4 a offer, so you'll have to do even more work.

This is just completely factually wrong. The large majority of offers are AAA, with a much smaller amount of AAB and occasionally AAAB. AAAA is rare (although it happens).
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wanderer
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(Original post by kizer)
This is just completely factually wrong. The large majority of offers are AAA, with a much smaller amount of AAB and occasionally AAAB. AAAA is rare (although it happens).
Yup - our 6 offer-holders this year are all doing 4 A levels, and only 1 got an AAAA offer, which he reckons is because he applied for physical natural sciences without chemistry.
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CamSPSer
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#73
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(Original post by coffeehead)
I know that it seems that everyone (well, mainly teachers and university tutors) say this, but do you guys actually agree? I'm probably totally biased as I actually did more than three, against the wishes of all my teachers (though they all insisted that I dropped another subject), but I think I learnt so much more than I would've done had I just done three, and think that I would totally be more qualified with AABBB then AAA. I hate results-based education! (Youthful idealism, I guess!) Any thoughts?
YUou might have learnt more facts but the fact that despite all this extra knowledge you can't apply it to get AAA would suggest. Getting an A should suggest that you can apply knowledge better than with a B

Likewise this year I could have revised more topics and learnt more facts, but equally would have got a worse mark as I wouldn't have spent as much time learning how to apply the knowledge I had gained
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kellywood_5
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(Original post by HannahZ)
or they may be specific about which subjects so you may find them asking for an A in your least favourite.
Yep, that happened to me. I applied for MML at Sidney Sussex, Cambridge doing 4 A2s in French, English lit, history and sociology and my offer is AAA including French and English lit Not as bad as an AAAA offer, obviously, but worse than the standard AAA including French offer because then I would have had some flexibility over whether I screwed up in English or history!
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UpperLimit
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#75
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When i heard a talk from a Cambridge Admissions Tutor i heard the best explanation of an answer to this questions - he said "Three A-levels in themselves are both sufficient and not sufficient". Thoug obviously this is contradictary it is remarkably true. If you want to apply three A-levels is fine (3 A's of course would be expected) however it is not sufficient if that is all you have. You need to demonstrate a desire to learn, an excitement about your subject. Doing a fouth A-Level is a way of doing thism though it is not the only. Going out getting work experience, debating, sports, etc. are all ways of doing this.

So to finish- yes it is fine to do 3 A-Levels though it can't be the only cards that you hold in your hand.
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coffeehead
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#76
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(Original post by notyourpunk)
YUou might have learnt more facts but the fact that despite all this extra knowledge you can't apply it to get AAA would suggest. Getting an A should suggest that you can apply knowledge better than with a B

Likewise this year I could have revised more topics and learnt more facts, but equally would have got a worse mark as I wouldn't have spent as much time learning how to apply the knowledge I had gained
Really? I guess it depends rather a lot on the actual subjects in question, but to me the main difference between an A grade and a B grade in some of my subjects (RS, History and Politics) is not whether or not you can apply the knowledge, but how well you've memorised the textbook and can regurgitate stuff out in the exam. And I've come to think that as long as you do get to uni, that's really rather unimportant.

How do you LEARN TO APPLY knowledge, anyway? Sorry if I sound a bit churlish, but (with arts subjects), isn't that just something you do naturally without having to learn if you're an A grade candidate?
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UpperLimit
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(Original post by coffeehead)
Really? I guess it depends rather a lot on the actual subjects in question, but to me the main difference between an A grade and a B grade in some of my subjects (RS, History and Politics) is not whether or not you can apply the knowledge, but how well you've memorised the textbook and can regurgitate stuff out in the exam. And I've come to think that as long as you do get to uni, that's really rather unimportant.

How do you LEARN TO APPLY knowledge, anyway? Sorry if I sound a bit churlish, but (with arts subjects), isn't that just something you do naturally without having to learn if you're an A grade candidate?
Nah, i'm sorry but i think you are wrong. Knowledge is useless when you do not have the ability how to apply it. The skill of applying the knowledge is something that is very important, and I believe that it is something which can be taught. Having is great memory is not everything. You can be taught how to construct good essays, you can be taught how to apply the knowledge gained from reading books etc. Or am i wrong?
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kellywood_5
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(Original post by coffeehead)
Really? I guess it depends rather a lot on the actual subjects in question, but to me the main difference between an A grade and a B grade in some of my subjects (RS, History and Politics) is not whether or not you can apply the knowledge, but how well you've memorised the textbook and can regurgitate stuff out in the exam
I don't know about RS or politics, but for history I'd completely disagree with that. You can know everything there is to know about a certain topic and still get a rubbish grade if you can't analyse sources and apply your knowledge to the question, which is partly why it's such a difficult subject.
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coffeehead
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#79
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No, I totally agree with the fact that having analytical skills and all is just as important, if not more so than rote-learning, but my point was that if you're good at the subject, you won't have to learn how to write essays, because you would naturally be able to do it. For instance, I think that if you can write decent essays and are naturally analytical, you could go through an entire AS Religious Studies course without writing one essay, and get an A in the essay-based exam.

But hey, I'm wrong often (but I do rather love contention).
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kellywood_5
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(Original post by coffeehead)
No, I totally agree with the fact that having analytical skills and all is just as important, if not more so than rote-learning, but my point was that if you're good at the subject, you won't have to learn how to write essays, because you would naturally be able to do it. For instance, I think that if you can write decent essays and are naturally analytical, you could go through an entire AS Religious Studies course without writing one essay, and get an A in the essay-based exam.

But hey, I'm wrong often (but I do rather love contention).
Ah right, I see. Sorry, I misunderstood your point there. In that case, I agree. I think essay writing skills are a lot harder to teach than just factual content, and that's where a lot of people slip up because if they're not naturally good at essay writing, it's very difficult for them to learn how to strucutre a decent, analytical essay.
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