TiernanW
Badges: 15
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 5 years ago
#1
Hello fellow students!

I am currently sitting my GCSE examinations, and when I get my results, I will be moving schools to do my A-Levels. I am hoping to get 7A*s (absolute minimum of 5), 2As, a B/C (I am not really sure; it will be a low B or a C), and 2 Distinctions in my BTEC IT Extended Cert - which I think means its 1 Distinction*. I'm not 100% sure on how that BTEC grading system works. Anyone able to explain it?

That was all just so you could get background information on me. I believe I could have got straight A*s, if I had actually applied myself in the first year of GCSEs, and I don't mean that arrogantly; the grades I am going for in my summer exams, while actually revising, are higher than what I was achieving with no revision in 4th year. In short, I do not really have any trouble managing my time, and I am extremely motivated, now that I want to go to Cambridge to study Computer Science.

My main question is, would doing 5 A-Levels actually advantage me a lot more than doing 4? I am hoping to do CEA Software & Systems Development, Mathematics, Physics, Further Maths and Biology. I am going for an A* in my GCSE Maths, but I do not have Additional Maths at GCSE, so I am aware, especially doing Further Maths too, A-Level Maths will be difficult. However, I was talking to my Maths teacher in school about it, and she seems really positive about it. The school I am wanting to go to only has 4 option blocks, but I was possibly hoping that considering Further Maths is entirely exams, I could do it during my study periods and just go into the exams, but I couldn't do that with the Software (which is my real strong point) as it has internal assessments (practicals as part of the the A-Level), and it is in the same option block as the Further Maths.

So in summary, will doing 5 A-Levels give me a greater advantage over my competitors in getting to Cambridge Computer Science? It would maybe help to see what current people studying it at Cambridge got.

NB: Sorry if there is a thread like this, I did a search and I couldn't find one.
0
reply
TVIO
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#2
Report 5 years ago
#2
(Original post by TiernanW)
Hello fellow students!

I am currently sitting my GCSE examinations, and when I get my results, I will be moving schools to do my A-Levels. I am hoping to get 7A*s (absolute minimum of 5), 2As, a B/C (I am not really sure; it will be a low B or a C), and 2 Distinctions in my BTEC IT Extended Cert - which I think means its 1 Distinction*. I'm not 100% sure on how that BTEC grading system works. Anyone able to explain it?

That was all just so you could get background information on me. I believe I could have got straight A*s, if I had actually applied myself in the first year of GCSEs, and I don't mean that arrogantly; the grades I am going for in my summer exams, while actually revising, are higher than what I was achieving with no revision in 4th year. In short, I do not really have any trouble managing my time, and I am extremely motivated, now that I want to go to Cambridge to study Computer Science.

My main question is, would doing 5 A-Levels actually advantage me a lot more than doing 4? I am hoping to do CEA Software & Systems Development, Mathematics, Physics, Further Maths and Biology. I am going for an A* in my GCSE Maths, but I do not have Additional Maths at GCSE, so I am aware, especially doing Further Maths too, A-Level Maths will be difficult. However, I was talking to my Maths teacher in school about it, and she seems really positive about it. The school I am wanting to go to only has 4 option blocks, but I was possibly hoping that considering Further Maths is entirely exams, I could do it during my study periods and just go into the exams, but I couldn't do that with the Software (which is my real strong point) as it has internal assessments (practicals as part of the the A-Level), and it is in the same option block as the Further Maths.

So in summary, will doing 5 A-Levels give me a greater advantage over my competitors in getting to Cambridge Computer Science? It would maybe help to see what current people studying it at Cambridge got.

NB: Sorry if there is a thread like this, I did a search and I couldn't find one.
M+FM and physics are your most important subjects here, the other two aren't really relevant (even the software). 5 A levels won't really be any real advantage over anyone else. Interviews and AS UMS are waaay more important. I'd be happy to answer any more questions on the process (firmed Churchill, Cambridge for CS w/maths). If you look on university connect on tsr you can see what people this year got. The cambridge course is highly mathematical and theoretical so really maths should be a definite strong point for you. I personally wouldn't recommend self studying maths unless you're very proficient, I find it pretty tough even with 8 lessons/week.
0
reply
lyranew
Badges: 1
Rep:
?
#3
Report 5 years ago
#3
Hey, I am taking 5 A levels and have a Natural Sciences offer from Cambridge, but I would advise you to stick to just 4 A levels. I say this for two reasons: (i) from what I understand Cambridge really could not care less about the number of A levels you are sitting just as long as you're studying the core subjects for your course (Maths, Further Maths and Physics for Computer Science); and (ii) any time spent working on the extra subject could be better spent either revising your other A levels or extending yourself using undergraduate textbooks / online courses, etc... Personally, I have found the workload for 5 A levels very heavy and think I could probably have spent my time more productively if I didn't have my hands tied by the commitment to the extra subject.

Ultimately, I think there is a reason that Cambridge make offers based on three or (at most) four subjects - anything more doesn't influence their decision one way or the other. This is particularly true for subjects such as Software & Systems Development (which I'd never heard of until now) which are not regarded as very useful by Cambridge admissions (see http://www.trin.cam.ac.uk/admissions...l-combinations).

One more thing to point out is that Mathematics is essential for Computer Science, so it would probably be in your interest to attend lessons and really learn the Maths and Further Maths courses as well as you can. Although I know many people find Maths a breeze at GCSE and even AS level, Further Maths at A2 really is quite difficult. This is particularly true given that you might be given a STEP offer for Comp Sci.

(Edit: 100% agree with TVIO)
0
reply
TiernanW
Badges: 15
Rep:
?
#4
Report Thread starter 5 years ago
#4
(Original post by TVIO)
M+FM and physics are your most important subjects here, the other two aren't really relevant (even the software). 5 A levels won't really be any real advantage over anyone else. Interviews and AS UMS are waaay more important. I'd be happy to answer any more questions on the process (firmed Churchill, Cambridge for CS w/maths). If you look on university connect on tsr you can see what people this year got. The cambridge course is highly mathematical and theoretical so really maths should be a definite strong point for you. I personally wouldn't recommend self studying maths unless you're very proficient, I find it pretty tough even with 8 lessons/week.
Thanks for letting me know about the University Connect. I checked and someone with 5 A-Levels got 4As and a D. They were rejected. Would I be correct in say in saying that having no A*s in their AS was their downfall or was it the D? Obviously, other factors would contribute, but say there is a candidate with 4As (obviously you need A*s, but just hypothetically), and another with 4As and a D. Are they equal, or does the D drag the one with 5 down?

I can gather that it is safe to say that GCSEs matter not too much as another person had: 3A*, 5A and a B, and they got an interview.

(Original post by lyranew)
Hey, I am taking 5 A levels and have a Natural Sciences offer from Cambridge, but I would advise you to stick to just 4 A levels. I say this for two reasons: (i) from what I understand Cambridge really could not care less about the number of A levels you are sitting just as long as you're studying the core subjects for your course (Maths, Further Maths and Physics for Computer Science); and (ii) any time spent working on the extra subject could be better spent either revising your other A levels or extending yourself using undergraduate textbooks / online courses, etc... Personally, I have found the workload for 5 A levels very heavy and think I could probably have spent my time more productively if I didn't have my hands tied by the commitment to the extra subject.

Ultimately, I think there is a reason that Cambridge make offers based on three or (at most) four subjects - anything more doesn't influence their decision one way or the other. This is particularly true for subjects such as Software & Systems Development (which I'd never heard of until now) which are not regarded as very useful by Cambridge admissions (see http://www.trin.cam.ac.uk/admissions/ug/apply/a-level-combinations).

One more thing to point out is that Mathematics is essential for Computer Science, so it would probably be in your interest to attend lessons and really learn the Maths and Further Maths courses as well as you can. Although I know many people find Maths a breeze at GCSE and even AS level, Further Maths at A2 really is quite difficult. This is particularly true given that you might be given a STEP offer for Comp Sci.

(Edit: 100% agree with TVIO)



EDIT: Thanks also for the reply lyranew. I could compromise and do 4 A2 levels, and a 1 AS, perhaps even just try for the first term, and drop it if it is not doing me any good. I am very good at understanding mathematics, especially since our KS3 Maths was a mess - we came to GCSE knowing nothing, and I managed to get an A (AQA Linear) in 4th year. I am resitting for the A* in a few days.
0
reply
Danz0r123
Badges: 8
Rep:
?
#5
Report 5 years ago
#5
(Original post by TiernanW)
Thanks for letting me know about the University Connect. I checked and someone with 5 A-Levels got 4As and a D. They were rejected. Would I be correct in say in saying that having no A*s in their AS was their downfall or was it the D? Obviously, other factors would contribute, but say there is a candidate with 4As (obviously you need A*s, but just hypothetically), and another with 4As and a D. Are they equal, or does the D drag the one with 5 down?

I can gather that it is safe to say that GCSEs matter not too much as another person had: 3A*, 5A and a B, and they got an interview.
There is no A* in AS level, only A. Also about the D I believe you can choose not to disclose any extra grades, not 100% sure but I believe anything above the required (like a 4th a level when 3 are required) can be chosen to not be disclosed to the university.
0
reply
TVIO
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#6
Report 5 years ago
#6
(Original post by TiernanW)
Thanks for letting me know about the University Connect. I checked and someone with 5 A-Levels got 4As and a D. They were rejected. Would I be correct in say in saying that having no A*s in their AS was their downfall or was it the D? Obviously, other factors would contribute, but say there is a candidate with 4As (obviously you need A*s, but just hypothetically), and another with 4As and a D. Are they equal, or does the D drag the one with 5 down?

I can gather that it is safe to say that GCSEs matter not too much as another person had: 3A*, 5A and a B, and they got an interview.
If the D is in a relevant subject then it would be worse, yes. GCSEs don't matter that much, but they're not *entirely* irrelevant. 5 A levels isn't better than 4. Most people with Cambridge offers have 4 I believe (though they state 3 is enough). You can't get A*s at AS, and no you can't really judge what their downfall was, the interview is a very large and varied part of the process.
0
reply
TiernanW
Badges: 15
Rep:
?
#7
Report Thread starter 5 years ago
#7
(Original post by TVIO)
If the D is in a relevant subject then it would be worse, yes. GCSEs don't matter that much, but they're not *entirely* irrelevant. 5 A levels isn't better than 4. Most people with Cambridge offers have 4 I believe (though they state 3 is enough). You can't get A*s at AS, and no you can't really judge what their downfall was, the interview is a very large and varied part of the process.
Whoops. Forgot about that. xD Sorry. In that case, they did extremely well in their AS, bar the other subject; it really shows you how competitive it is.

I think I'll stick with 4, instead of making things awkward and difficult. I'll drop the Software, as I do it in my own time, and do Further Maths instead.

Another question, if you don't mind. I had stated I wanted to do Biology, as I find it, at least at GCSE extremely easy. As I have the preferred subject choice already, would it make a difference if my fourth was something stronger like Chemistry?
0
reply
TVIO
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#8
Report 5 years ago
#8
(Original post by TiernanW)
Whoops. Forgot about that. xD Sorry. In that case, they did extremely well in their AS, bar the other subject; it really shows you how competitive it is.

I think I'll stick with 4, instead of making things awkward and difficult. I'll drop the Software, as I do it in my own time, and do Further Maths instead.

Another question, if you don't mind. I had stated I wanted to do Biology, as I find it, at least at GCSE extremely easy. As I have the preferred subject choice already, would it make a difference if my fourth was something stronger like Chemistry?
Nah not really. Go for bio if you want to. The only subject that would be slightly better is Computing, but even that isn't important, they only asked for an A from me. Do software if you want, it just wouldn't be nearly as important as FM though by no means would it be irrelevant. I'm not familiar with the qualification. Don't mind the questions at all, keep 'em coming if you want.
0
reply
TiernanW
Badges: 15
Rep:
?
#9
Report Thread starter 5 years ago
#9
(Original post by TVIO)
Nah not really. Go for bio if you want to. The only subject that would be slightly better is Computing, but even that isn't important, they only asked for an A from me. Do software if you want, it just wouldn't be nearly as important as FM though by no means would it be irrelevant. I'm not familiar with the qualification. Don't mind the questions at all, keep 'em coming if you want.
My post was declined by moderation, probably because I had a hyperlink in it, but anyway. That's why I haven't replied until to day.

Software & Systems Development is like CEA's version of Computer Science, BUT it is straight programming, with no computing theory or anything about hardware. I find that quite unusual to be honest, and since Cambridge's CS course is very theoretical and mathematical, compared to the OCR Computing, would it be safe to say its more irrelevant? Its a strange course... Its important to learn about hardware and memory, etc if you are going to be a programmer.

Its such a pity there is internal assessments to Software. I could have just went into the exams without doing the classes. :/ There would have been my 4 A-Levels and an easy 5th. I just can't do FM and CS as they are in the same block. Since FM is more relevant, I will do it, if the school lets me (as I didn't do FM at GCSE). Maybe telling them I want to go to Cambridge will be persuasive; they are a grammar school, so grades and stats count.

Thanks for all your help! I can't think of anything else to ask right now. If I do, I'll come back.
0
reply
TVIO
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#10
Report 5 years ago
#10
(Original post by TiernanW)
My post was declined by moderation, probably because I had a hyperlink in it, but anyway. That's why I haven't replied until to day.

Software & Systems Development is like CEA's version of Computer Science, BUT it is straight programming, with no computing theory or anything about hardware. I find that quite unusual to be honest, and since Cambridge's CS course is very theoretical and mathematical, compared to the OCR Computing, would it be safe to say its more irrelevant? Its a strange course... Its important to learn about hardware and memory, etc if you are going to be a programmer.

Its such a pity there is internal assessments to Software. I could have just went into the exams without doing the classes. :/ There would have been my 4 A-Levels and an easy 5th. I just can't do FM and CS as they are in the same block. Since FM is more relevant, I will do it, if the school lets me (as I didn't do FM at GCSE). Maybe telling them I want to go to Cambridge will be persuasive; they are a grammar school, so grades and stats count.

Thanks for all your help! I can't think of anything else to ask right now. If I do, I'll come back.
I didnt do FM at GCSE either and was not disadvantaged in any way so definitely go for it.
1
reply
Colmans
Badges: 11
Rep:
?
#11
Report 5 years ago
#11
(Original post by TiernanW)
Hello fellow students!

I am currently sitting my GCSE examinations, and when I get my results, I will be moving schools to do my A-Levels. I am hoping to get 7A*s (absolute minimum of 5), 2As, a B/C (I am not really sure; it will be a low B or a C), and 2 Distinctions in my BTEC IT Extended Cert - which I think means its 1 Distinction*. I'm not 100% sure on how that BTEC grading system works. Anyone able to explain it?

That was all just so you could get background information on me. I believe I could have got straight A*s, if I had actually applied myself in the first year of GCSEs, and I don't mean that arrogantly; the grades I am going for in my summer exams, while actually revising, are higher than what I was achieving with no revision in 4th year. In short, I do not really have any trouble managing my time, and I am extremely motivated, now that I want to go to Cambridge to study Computer Science.

My main question is, would doing 5 A-Levels actually advantage me a lot more than doing 4? I am hoping to do CEA Software & Systems Development, Mathematics, Physics, Further Maths and Biology. I am going for an A* in my GCSE Maths, but I do not have Additional Maths at GCSE, so I am aware, especially doing Further Maths too, A-Level Maths will be difficult. However, I was talking to my Maths teacher in school about it, and she seems really positive about it. The school I am wanting to go to only has 4 option blocks, but I was possibly hoping that considering Further Maths is entirely exams, I could do it during my study periods and just go into the exams, but I couldn't do that with the Software (which is my real strong point) as it has internal assessments (practicals as part of the the A-Level), and it is in the same option block as the Further Maths.

So in summary, will doing 5 A-Levels give me a greater advantage over my competitors in getting to Cambridge Computer Science? It would maybe help to see what current people studying it at Cambridge got.

NB: Sorry if there is a thread like this, I did a search and I couldn't find one.
As everybody else has said do Maths, FM, Physics and one other (because Maths & FM is not regarded as two full subjects by most schools and so most science applicants have 4. Biology is likely to be a distraction in time and so might disadvantage you by pulling down your UMS in the Maths/Physics.
If you can do another science I would say do Chemistry which then leaves open the NatSci route to a greater extent, especially if FM didn't go so well and you became worried about STEP..
0
reply
TiernanW
Badges: 15
Rep:
?
#12
Report Thread starter 5 years ago
#12
(Original post by Colmans)
As everybody else has said do Maths, FM, Physics and one other (because Maths & FM is not regarded as two full subjects by most schools and so most science applicants have 4. Biology is likely to be a distraction in time and so might disadvantage you by pulling down your UMS in the Maths/Physics.
If you can do another science I would say do Chemistry which then leaves open the NatSci route to a greater extent, especially if FM didn't go so well and you became worried about STEP..
I understand the reason for doing Chemistry, it just simply that I find Biology extremely easy. Although Biology is harder at A-Level, so is Chemistry, and as I am not wanting to go into Medicine, I think it may be better to do Biology and get a higher UMS mark. I could do History or Religious Studies instead of Biology.

Are there any exams boards that do a pure exam Computing A-Level?
0
reply
Daxen
Badges: 9
Rep:
?
#13
Report 5 years ago
#13
Personally, I don't believe that doing 5 AS levels particularly benefits you - I think concentrating your efforts on four will see you far more successful. Not to dishearten you, but I really cannot emphasise enough how much of a jump there is between GCSEs and A-Levels, so perhaps it's easier to theorise on taking 5 AS compared to the reality of it.
In admissions to Cambridge, I don't think it makes much difference. The only girl who took 5 AS levels at my school, (Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry, Physics and French) passed with 5 high As, but got rejected from Cambridge after interview for Maths. I only took 4 AS levels, and continued on with 3 at A2, and I was given an offer (albeit for a slightly less competitive subject than Maths), and the only other girl who got accepted at my school was at the time of interview taking 4 A2s - however, she was made an offer based on 3 specified A2 levels (Biology, Chemistry, Maths specified), so subsequently dropped the fourth subject, Geography, as they weren't interested in her taking it. I would say from experience that the quantity of A-Levels taken is not as important, but the quality (how high your UMS scores are per subject) - is extremely important.
Good luck keep aiming high.
0
reply
Daxen
Badges: 9
Rep:
?
#14
Report 5 years ago
#14
* I also don't think a Computing A-Level will be particularly advantageous, perhaps similarly to how Law A-Level is considered disadvantageous to Law degree applications. I'd aim for relevant STEM subjects if I were you, although a core humanity subject like History shouldn't do you any harm and may even boost your application by providing you with variations on your skill set.
0
reply
Good bloke
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#15
Report 5 years ago
#15
(Original post by Danz0r123)
you can choose not to disclose any extra grades, not 100% sure but I believe anything above the required (like a 4th a level when 3 are required) can be chosen to not be disclosed to the university.
This is not true.
1
reply
username1865079
Badges: 14
Rep:
?
#16
Report 5 years ago
#16
(Original post by TiernanW)
.......I could do History or Religious Studies instead of Biology.

Are there any exams boards that do a pure exam Computing A-Level?
Doing History or RS won't help you at all for your application to Cambridge's science courses even if you get very high marks because they're irrelevant to the courses. They're only interested in how you do in three relevant A-levels = maths and sciences for science courses.
0
reply
TiernanW
Badges: 15
Rep:
?
#17
Report Thread starter 5 years ago
#17
(Original post by Daxen)
Personally, I don't believe that doing 5 AS levels particularly benefits you - I think concentrating your efforts on four will see you far more successful. Not to dishearten you, but I really cannot emphasise enough how much of a jump there is between GCSEs and A-Levels, so perhaps it's easier to theorise on taking 5 AS compared to the reality of it.
In admissions to Cambridge, I don't think it makes much difference. The only girl who took 5 AS levels at my school, (Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry, Physics and French) passed with 5 high As, but got rejected from Cambridge after interview for Maths. I only took 4 AS levels, and continued on with 3 at A2, and I was given an offer (albeit for a slightly less competitive subject than Maths), and the only other girl who got accepted at my school was at the time of interview taking 4 A2s - however, she was made an offer based on 3 specified A2 levels (Biology, Chemistry, Maths specified), so subsequently dropped the fourth subject, Geography, as they weren't interested in her taking it. I would say from experience that the quantity of A-Levels taken is not as important, but the quality (how high your UMS scores are per subject) - is extremely important.
Good luck keep aiming high.
Thanks for the advice! I have been talking to one of my teachers about it, and she thinks I would be perfectly capable of 5 A-Levels, but since it is not really an advantage, I have been swayed from that and am willing to just do 4. I will focus on getting UMS in the 90% range.

(Original post by Daxen)
* I also don't think a Computing A-Level will be particularly advantageous, perhaps similarly to how Law A-Level is considered disadvantageous to Law degree applications. I'd aim for relevant STEM subjects if I were you, although a core humanity subject like History shouldn't do you any harm and may even boost your application by providing you with variations on your skill set.
(Original post by vincrows)
Doing History or RS won't help you at all for your application to Cambridge's science courses even if you get very high marks because they're irrelevant to the courses. They're only interested in how you do in three relevant A-levels = maths and sciences for science courses.
Two opposite opinions on the History and RS. I was thinking of it as a way to show that I can do more, and be well-rounded, but I guess that is similar to how they don't care too much about extra-curricular activities. I think I will stick with Biology. I have until the 20th of August to decide.
0
reply
Good bloke
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#18
Report 5 years ago
#18
(Original post by TiernanW)
I think I will stick with Biology. I have until the 20th of August to decide.
Four A levels is a good option when taking maths and FM; five is pointless. However, I have known people drop out of biology on the basis of the amount of work involved rather than the difficulty of understanding the subject, so be warned.
0
reply
TVIO
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#19
Report 5 years ago
#19
(Original post by Daxen)
* I also don't think a Computing A-Level will be particularly advantageous, perhaps similarly to how Law A-Level is considered disadvantageous to Law degree applications. I'd aim for relevant STEM subjects if I were you, although a core humanity subject like History shouldn't do you any harm and may even boost your application by providing you with variations on your skill set.
Not at all true. Computing is not as good as physics maths or further maths but equal or better than any other subject. A humanity would be a huge waste and would be straight up ignored by Cambridge as it isn't relevant whatsoever.
0
reply
Daxen
Badges: 9
Rep:
?
#20
Report 5 years ago
#20
(Original post by Good bloke)
Four A levels is a good option when taking maths and FM; five is pointless. However, I have known people drop out of biology on the basis of the amount of work involved rather than the difficulty of understanding the subject, so be warned.
I would second that. Biology AS/A2 isn't necessarily difficult, but there is a LOT of ground to cover which can render it tiresome. Having said that, it is a BIG step up from GCSE.

* about my previous point: I'm not necessarily an expert, so could be wrong. That's my opinion only, and I don't know Cambridge's official stance.
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

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.

Personalise

What factors affect your mental health the most right now?

Anxiousness about lockdown easing (63)
4.58%
Uncertainty around my education (214)
15.54%
Uncertainty around my future career prospects (152)
11.04%
Lack of purpose or motivation (195)
14.16%
Lack of support system (eg. teachers, counsellors, delays in care) (59)
4.28%
Impact of lockdown on physical health (80)
5.81%
Loneliness (123)
8.93%
Financial worries (47)
3.41%
Concern about myself or my loves ones getting/having been ill (63)
4.58%
Exposure to negative news/social media (65)
4.72%
Lack of real life entertainment (72)
5.23%
Lack of confidence in making big life decisions (118)
8.57%
Worry about missed opportunities during the pandemic (126)
9.15%

Watched Threads

View All
Latest
My Feed