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    • Thread Starter

    who has ever done an access to higher education course in humanities/ social science?
    i have an interview at the end of this week. what do they usually ask and what do maths/ english tests look like?

    thanks in advance

    Hello there!

    I have just finished an Access to HE course in Humanities and Social Science at City & Islington College. My core/mandatory subject was Psychology, with Economics and Sociology as my two extra modules. Overall, I have to say this has been a very enjoyable and fulfilling experience and I am very sad to finish this course and be going to university, despite it opening up a new [and very exciting] chapter of my life. I shall try to describe as best I can the Access course using headers to highlight different key points.


    Sitting a Maths or English test is not always necessary as it depends on what qualifications you already hold. My class-mates who took the tests described them as easy and straightforward, with little/no need for revision. For myself I already held GCSE grade C or above in English Language and Maths, however I did have to take another test like everyone else where I was given 45 minutes to provide a series of written answers to some debatable topics.

    This proved useful because a core requirement in assignment essays is the ability to analyse something from multiple perspectives before coming to your own conclusion. Classmates of mine who did not hold GCSE Maths or English were accepted onto the Access Course, however also had to attend Maths and English equivalence classes.

    Deciding Whether to do GCSE's or Equivalents

    I decided to enrol on a GCSE Maths class to boost my grade higher than my pre-existing C and often compared my work with classmates who were doing the equivalence instead. If you are provided with the opportunity to sit equivalence or traditional GCSE's, I strongly recommend GCSE's.

    Some people may tell you that the equivalence modules are easier to complete and take less time than traditional GCSE's. There are a host of problems with this. Firstly you must understand how the Access course is graded in order to achieve the diploma. (If you already know all of this forgive me and just skip on to the next bit.)

    Diploma Credits

    Assignments from classes are normally worth 3 credits each (in rare cases 6). Grades can be given as either Level 2 (GCSE level work) or Level 3 (A-Level standard).

    For Level 3 grades, they can be given a:
    Distinction (equivalent to an A),
    Merit (equivalent to a B),
    Pass (equivalent to a C).

    Achieving D, M or P will not change the credit value, you still achieve 3 credits per Level 3 unit.

    To achieve the diploma, you must obtain 60 credits (approx 20 assignments), 45 of those credits must be at Level 3 (D, M or P), with the rest at least at level 2.
    A minimum of 15 credits must be achieved in Study Skills, with 9 at level 3.
    At least 36 credits must be obtained across 3 subject modules, 27 of those credits must be at Level 3.

    I know some students who were only enrolled on 2 subjects and were doing the Maths/English equivalents, don't let them do this, it will make your life very confusing.

    As you can see, the diploma is not just about having 60 credits, it is about having the right balance across all your subjects. Apart from Study Skills assignments, you ned to have 36 credits (12 assignments) spread across 3 Social Science subjects.

    So Here's Where it Gets Tricky

    1. If you decide to do the Maths equivalence, you need an extra unit which counts as a Level 3 credit, which counts as a third social science subject. This requires you to have completed and achieved Level 3 in all your other units (that is a lot of pressure!). Classmates of mine who were doing the equivalent had to do an extra assignment that was rushed and they were given little to no preparation for; this was very stressful for them. Also, the highest grade you can obtain in equivalence is a C.

    2. If you already hold a Level 3 Maths qualification, this counts as a credit in a third subject so you only need to have credits across 2 units with up to 60 credits with the Study Skills (easy peasy).

    3. If you have a GCSE in Maths grade C or above then you need to get 36 credits (12 assignments) across the three units. (This is very manageable.) If you decide to enrol on traditional GCSE's, then you will have the opportunity to achieve above a grade C (desirable).

    The Interview

    Firstly, it is nothing like a job interview and you are not there to be judged, so relax. Normally you will be required to bring in some filled forms and paperwork (boring stuff) that you will have been asked to fill out earlier or on the day. You will discuss your availability with a teacher and what subjects you wish to be enrolled on; this shall all be subject to the College's limited spaces. Try to have all necessary forms/paperwork/exam certificates/bank details/proof of address/etc. in a neat folder with a pen to help speed up the process.

    If you want the interview to go as smoothly as possible, first of all be patient and polite at all times. It is common for admin errors/missing paperwork/exhausted staff rushed off their feet and very long queues as this is a very busy time for Colleges. Be prepared to wait a very long time and possibly be asked to come back another day for an interview if they are particularly busy. I recommend taking a packed lunch and a book (no joke).

    It is important to listen to the teacher carefully about what spaces the college has available on it's timetable. If they don't have a specific class you had your heart set on, don't fret. Ask them if it would still allow you to apply for your chosen subject at university. As long as the answer is yes, be grateful for what you have been given and seize the opportunity. There were students in my course who wanted to take Business as their core subject, not Psychology, but they still got accepted to study Business at university.

    Remember if they ask you to do a Maths/English equivalence, ask if they have any spaces for GCSE enrolment instead. Once you have come to agreement about what subjects you shall be enrolled on, your timetable shall be given to you as well as enrolment paperwork to take to admissions staff. Once that process is completed you shall then be given your student ID and be all set.

    If you like, I can ask some of my classmates for more details about the entrance exams. Let me know if you would like me to ask them.

    All the best,
    • Thread Starter

    Thank you very much for the explanation
    I'm going to the enrolment day at chelsea and kensington college tomorrow.
    i have a german abitur and mittlere reife ( equivalent of alevels and gcse in England) so i'm not sure what they will ask me tomorrow.
    im also a bit nervous because im bad at maths and i'll have to do the maths test , i think.
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