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Cambridge University to introduce written admissions tests Watch

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    (Original post by jneill)
    The fact is that it does happen (occasionally) that applicants with very high UMS fail to get a place. But you don't need to be a potential Nobel prize winner to get an offer at Cambridge. They accept over 3,000 undergraduates per year... mostly very normal smart people (although a few might go on to greater things!).

    And to your last para, Cambridge already have a lot of experience producing tests and exams (they own the Admissions Testing Service that runs STEP & BMAT etc and also administers the Oxford tests), so they should be able to develop a few more that meet their requirements AND without favouring "top private schools".
    STEP is built only off of core A level content, but I recall seeing admissions tests when I was in sixth form that presented content in a significantly different way to A levels or included material we wouldn't have covered by that point. I couldn't help but get the impression top schools would have curricula more in step with that style of exam, though I could be wrong.
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    (Original post by Unkempt_One)
    No, I completely agree and that's why I support the principle of these tests. However, before this was an issue AS UMS scores were used and found to correlate reasonably with degree success in all subjects except Maths. Under that climate I don't think it would've been justifiable to, say, reject a candidate with 100% UMS across the board.
    They probably wouldn't reject a 100% UMS candidate just like that - they had, and still will have, a college set maths test at interview. If those tests identify a problem the interview can be a helpful way to investigate the candidate further.

    Roughly 9 out of 10 applicants with UMS in the 95..100 range get an offer.

    And then they use STEP as the key filter for Maths.
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    (Original post by jneill)
    They probably wouldn't reject a 100% UMS candidate just like that - they had, and still will have, a college set maths test at interview. If those tests identify a problem the interview can be a helpful way to investigate the candidate further.

    Roughly 9 out of 10 applicants with UMS in the 95..100 range get an offer.

    And then they use STEP as the key filter for Maths.
    That surprises me, I thought it would be less than that.
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    (Original post by Unkempt_One)
    STEP is built only off of core A level content, but I recall seeing admissions tests when I was in sixth form that presented content in a significantly different way to A levels or included material we wouldn't have covered by that point. I couldn't help but get the impression top schools would have curricula more in step with that style of exam, though I could be wrong.
    STEP sits entirely within the A-level syllabus. But, for sure, not everyone does all the maths modules, so they have a large number of questions (13) and you only have to answer 6, per paper.
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    (Original post by Unkempt_One)
    That surprises me, I thought it would be less than that.
    I'm guesstimating, it might be nearer 8 out of 10, but the point holds:

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    Also note the chart is Best 3 SUMS, not just Maths UMS only. I'd expect a higher offer rate if it was analysing the 95..100 MUMS applicants.
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    (Original post by jneill)
    They probably wouldn't reject a 100% UMS candidate just like that - they had, and still will have, a college set maths test at interview. If those tests identify a problem the interview can be a helpful way to investigate the candidate further.

    Roughly 9 out of 10 applicants with UMS in the 95..100 range get an offer.

    And then they use STEP as the key filter for Maths.
    I don't know how to say this in a way that doesn't make me sound like a jerk, but for serious maths applicants, getting >95% SUMS isn't a particularly big deal.

    Having said that, a great benefit of the Oxbridge system is to identify people who are good at maths who haven't done as well as that in their AS levels. That's not something you can do unless you offer an admissions test or interviews.

    (Of course, I might be completely wrong and getting >95 SUMS might be rarer than I think. Having spent the last 10 years in the company of very clever people at uni and then work skews my perception a lot!)
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    (Original post by shamika)
    I don't know how to say this in a way that doesn't make me sound like a jerk, but for serious maths applicants, getting >95% SUMS isn't a particularly big deal.

    Having said that, a great benefit of the Oxbridge system is to identify people who are good at maths who haven't done as well as that in their AS levels. That's not something you can do unless you offer an admissions test or interviews.

    (Of course, I might be completely wrong and getting >95 SUMS might be rarer than I think. Having spent the last 10 years in the company of very clever people at uni and then work skews my perception a lot!)
    It's not the modal score that's for sure:

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    (Original post by jneill)
    It's not the modal score that's for sure:

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    Thanks, PRSOM. Do you have these graphs for all subjects? Now curious whether my speculation that maths students have the highest UMS is justified

    (Not because they're so clever, because the maths A-levels are too easy for maths degree applicants)
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    (Original post by shamika)
    Thanks, PRSOM. Do you have these graphs for all subjects? Now curious whether my speculation that maths students have the highest UMS is justified

    (Not because they're so clever, because the maths A-levels are too easy for maths degree applicants)
    Indeed:

    http://bit.ly/ApplicantUMS
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    Yeah I agree; I was speaking hypothetically.

    I even think "teachable" is a bit suspect though, I can't imagine you can accurately assess that in a couple of brief interviews. I mean, if someone has a string of A*s and near-perfect UMS, and the tutors say "Oh he doesn't seem teachable or to suit the supervision system", I personally would question their rationale.
    My problem is that in order to recognise the property "teachable" you must have some way to measure it. This gets you back to degree/tripos outcome and where is the evidence?

    We have properties here that are influencing application decisions and are understood in a completely anecdotal, finger in the air, arm-waving way with no scientific basis whatsoever and we keep saying they wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't right.

    And all the evidence that comes is in the form of "Well, look at the UMS averages of the people that got in. That proves that interviews are effective." If you use interview scores to over-ride UMS they must surely have a measurable effect in their own right. Otherwise, just use UMS.

    It just seems to me that the whole system is in denial. Imagine if this was a drug that all the GP's were insisting on using in the absence of any clinical evidence whatsoever. There would be a lot of complaints winging their way from Oxbridge.

    Of course, you could go back to days of "We interview to select the right blend of young gentle(wo)men to benefit from the all-round Oxbridge education. I don't really have a problem with that, although I wouldn't want any of my taxes spent on it. You just have to be up-front about it.
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    (Original post by Pars12)

    It just seems to me that the whole system is in denial. Imagine if this was a drug that all the GP's were insisting on using in the absence of any clinical evidence whatsoever. There would be a lot of complaints winging their way from Oxbridge.
    Yeah, exactly.

    Imagine a medical applicant suggesting to one of the medicine interviewers that a patient should take a drug without any formal evidence or trials, but just because it had been used for a long time and people thought it worked, without any evidence to back it up. :p: I think they might get rejected.
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    (Original post by Chief Wiggum)
    Yeah, exactly.

    Imagine a medical applicant suggesting to one of the medicine interviewers that a patient should take a drug without any formal evidence or trials, but just because it had been used for a long time and people thought it worked, without any evidence to back it up. :p: I think they might get rejected.

    I can only add my support for more standardisation, seems completely logical to me. I have 10 GCSE a*, 5 AS at A , 98% MUMs including further maths with M1 & M2, SUMS 96%, state schooled and was rejected by Peterhouse for engineering. Fair to say that the interview with the rudest DOS ever was my nemesis! So I cannot agree that Cambridge interviews are seen by many academics as just part of the process and not "the be all and end all". The introduction of standardised objective testing, in my humble opinion, is a move forward. Selecting "teachable" people plays into the hands of those people who undoubtedly spend months rehearsing and practising interview technique. Oh and I am a genuine engineering enthusiast with a very relevant hobby spanning ten years. Reason for rejection? Low interview score! Objective indeed! DOS had the final say in my case. I came away disillusioned by the experience. That said, I am certain there are many within the institution who do want see a move towards transparency and that many will have had a different and more positive experience than mine.
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    (Original post by 210555)
    I can only add my support for more standardisation, seems completely logical to me. I have 10 GCSE a*, 5 AS at A , 98% MUMs including further maths with M1 & M2, SUMS 96%, state schooled and was rejected by Peterhouse for engineering. Fair to say that the interview with the rudest DOS ever was my nemesis! So I cannot agree that Cambridge interviews are seen by many academics as just part of the process and not "the be all and end all". The introduction of standardised objective testing, in my humble opinion, is a move forward. Selecting "teachable" people plays into the hands of those people who undoubtedly spend months rehearsing and practising interview technique. Oh and I am a genuine engineering enthusiast with a very relevant hobby spanning ten years. Reason for rejection? Low interview score! Objective indeed! DOS had the final say in my case. I came away disillusioned by the experience. That said, I am certain there are many within the institution who do want see a move towards transparency and that many will have had a different and more positive experience than mine.
    What was ur interview score ? And tbh u dnt need much practicing and rehersing in an interview. Just problem solving skills.
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    (Original post by Duke Glacia)
    What was ur interview score ? And tbh u dnt need much practicing and rehersing in an interview. Just problem solving skills.
    Hi 5 was the score. I do have problem solving skills, just difficult to show them when the person opposite is sighing, tutting, eye rolling their way through the process. I guess I was unlucky! Just trying to help future engineering applicants really and hoping standardised testing steers Cambridge towards a more objective system.
    I suspect this person is just a **** but doesn't do any harm to forewarn people in case they apply to this college and are unlucky enough to draw a Monday morning slot which clearly didn't agree with this academic. As I say, I suspect rather unlucky! But I am an advocate of challenging standardised testing, can't really argue the outcome then. At the end of the day, Cambridge will be in charge of the style and content, let the best candidates win! Thank you😀
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    (Original post by 210555)
    Hi 5 was the score. I do have problem solving skills, just difficult to show them when the person opposite is sighing, tutting, eye rolling their way through the process. I guess I was unlucky! Just trying to help future engineering applicants really and hoping standardised testing steers Cambridge towards a more objective system.
    I suspect this person is just a **** but doesn't do any harm to forewarn people in case they apply to this college and are unlucky enough to draw a Monday morning slot which clearly didn't agree with this academic. As I say, I suspect rather unlucky! But I am an advocate of challenging standardised testing, can't really argue the outcome then. At the end of the day, Cambridge will be in charge of the style and content, let the best candidates win! Thank you😀
    Well i was rejected once and i reapplied and have an offer. My interview scores were 8877(last yr). But i think interviews are a great way to asses candidates. Well gud luck with ur future bruh !
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    (Original post by Revenants)
    I think this is a major step back for international application. I knew exactly one person who went to Cambridge when I applied (which explains how difficult the situation is in the first place), and she had mainly one advice: Apply to a college without any tests. She said that an international applicant could never be prepared for written exams both in terms of content and form as well as a British pupil, and I think she was certainly right about that. Dodged a bullet there, I think.
    So is this actually confirmed yet? Nobody seems to have any information about whether it will also affect international applicants.

    Also, there is a new course named 'History and Politics' in the list, does anyone have further reading about that?
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    (Original post by Revenants)
    So is this actually confirmed yet? Nobody seems to have any information about whether it will also affect international applicants.

    Also, there is a new course named 'History and Politics' in the list, does anyone have further reading about that?
    The admissions test will apply to everyone applying to the university, whether they be a home, EU or an international student. The tests will be done on the same day as the Oxford tests so to make it easier for schools/centres.
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    (Original post by Paralove)
    The admissions test will apply to everyone applying to the university, whether they be a home, EU or an international student. The tests will be done on the same day as the Oxford tests so to make it easier for schools/centres.
    Although it seems only UK will be free, EU and Overseas may have to pay. (Is that the same for Oxford?)

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    (Original post by jneill)
    Although it seems only UK will be free, EU and Overseas may have to pay. (Is that the same for Oxford?)

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    I have no idea if there are costs involved for non-UK students, with either these or Oxford's tests.
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    (Original post by Duke Glacia)
    Well i was rejected once and i reapplied and have an offer. My interview scores were 8877(last yr). But i think interviews are a great way to asses candidates. Well gud luck with ur future bruh !
    Best wishes to you and congrats on your offer. Takes a lot of determination to reapply! Not for me though, I don't want a gap year and am happy with my choices😀
 
 
 
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