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    In August I finished my A2s and achieved 3 A*s, in Maths, Physics, and Chemistry. I previously held 5 offers for Computer Science at Russel Group Universities, but my results suggest holding out a year and applying to Oxbridge (preferably Oxford) as well as the other ~top 5-ish Universities.

    I come from a state school which although was excellent, didn't do much to motivate my younger self to try hard or do particularly well in my GCSEs (1 A* and 6 As) or AS exams (ABB), as well as starting Computing A-Level at the same time as my GCSEs and achieving a C. - I know that these aren't terrible results by a long shot, but they're definitely not up to the standard of what I can achieve when I put my mind to it. I feel that in the past year I've matured a lot, which I guess is demonstrated by my results.

    A few teachers from my school have advised me to drop Computer Science (as I did only receive a C in Computing, see above) and take up NatSci at Oxbridge instead. As much as a degree in NatSci from Oxbridge would be brilliant, I do have a real passion for CompSci, and it would feel wrong to disregard this.

    I've been told gavinlowe from St. Catz college is brilliant and should hopefully be able to help, but any other advice from anyone would be appreciated.
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    (Original post by zackdove)
    In August I finished my A2s and achieved 3 A*s, in Maths, Physics, and Chemistry. I previously held 5 offers for Computer Science at Russel Group Universities, but my results suggest holding out a year and applying to Oxbridge (preferably Oxford) as well as the other ~top 5-ish Universities.

    I come from a state school which although was excellent, didn't do much to motivate my younger self to try hard or do particularly well in my GCSEs (1 A* and 6 As) or AS exams (ABB), as well as starting Computing A-Level at the same time as my GCSEs and achieving a C. - I know that these aren't terrible results by a long shot, but they're definitely not up to the standard of what I can achieve when I put my mind to it. I feel that in the past year I've matured a lot, which I guess is demonstrated by my results.

    A few teachers from my school have advised me to drop Computer Science (as I did only receive a C in Computing, see above) and take up NatSci at Oxbridge instead. As much as a degree in NatSci from Oxbridge would be brilliant, I do have a real passion for CompSci, and it would feel wrong to disregard this.

    I've been told gavinlowe is brilliant and should hopefully be able to help, but any other advice from anyone would be appreciated.
    First of all, if Computer Science is your passion and you know what you're getting yourself into, i.e. you've looked into what Computer Science is actually like at university, then I'd recommend going for that. As you may be aware, it is possible to switch from Natural Sciences to Computer Science at Cambridge (note that only Cambridge offers Natural Sciences, Oxford doesn't) if you really enjoy the first year module but that's probably not an ideal pathway if you're confident that Computer Science is the subject for you. So I'm really not convinced by your teacher's recommendation unless you're indecisive about what subject to specialise in.

    Without knowing what universities you've already got offers for and your personal circumstances it's hard to say whether it's worth waiting for a year to reapply. Your grades are certainly very good (I don't think admissions tutors will be too bothered about an A Level you took absurdly early) so you probably would have a very decent chance at most Computer Science courses in the UK. Two points I'd make. Firstly, I would consider taking an A Level in Further Maths this year if you do reapply. Maths is probably the single most important subject for Computer Science and particularly at top institutions, a very large proportion of students admitted onto the course will have Further Maths. That doesn't mean that Further Maths is required, because it isn't and any maths you need will be taught as part of the course, but it does help a lot. Studying Further Maths would also give universities a guarantee that you're keeping up your maths skills because they can be lost notoriously quickly. Secondly, I would only recommend reapplying if (1) you've got something useful to fill your time with and (2) you wouldn't feel like you've wasted a year if you don't get into Oxbridge. Even with grades as good as yours, it's not a guarantee of success in terms of getting into Oxbridge because other factors like admissions tests and interviews are equally, if not more important.

    Hope that helps.
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    (Original post by zackdove)
    In August I finished my A2s and achieved 3 A*s, in Maths, Physics, and Chemistry. I previously held 5 offers for Computer Science at Russel Group Universities, but my results suggest holding out a year and applying to Oxbridge (preferably Oxford) as well as the other ~top 5-ish Universities.

    I come from a state school which although was excellent, didn't do much to motivate my younger self to try hard or do particularly well in my GCSEs (1 A* and 6 As) or AS exams (ABB), as well as starting Computing A-Level at the same time as my GCSEs and achieving a C. - I know that these aren't terrible results by a long shot, but they're definitely not up to the standard of what I can achieve when I put my mind to it. I feel that in the past year I've matured a lot, which I guess is demonstrated by my results.

    A few teachers from my school have advised me to drop Computer Science (as I did only receive a C in Computing, see above) and take up NatSci at Oxbridge instead. As much as a degree in NatSci from Oxbridge would be brilliant, I do have a real passion for CompSci, and it would feel wrong to disregard this.

    I've been told gavinlowe from St. Catz college is brilliant and should hopefully be able to help, but any other advice from anyone would be appreciated.


    First, congratulations on an excellent set of results. Those are very much the sort of results we hope to see.

    Your earlier less-good results are a bit of a black mark. You explain them pretty well above, so you should say something like that in your personal statement; I think tutors would then be willing to overlook them. In particular, the fact that you did less well in Computing A Level is likely to be overlooked: in the past, Computing A Level was not very similar to the style of degree-level Computer Science (there have been recent improvements to the A Level, but only after you took it).

    I would echo what Plagioclase says about Further Maths. Computer Science is a very mathematical subject, so the more mathematics you do, the easier it will become (and the better you will do in the MAT and interviews).

    Plagioclase also says lots of sensible things about what you should consider, to help you make up your mind.

    Good luck, which ever decision you make.

    Gavin
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    (Original post by Plagioclase)
    First of all, if Computer Science is your passion and you know what you're getting yourself into, i.e. you've looked into what Computer Science is actually like at university, then I'd recommend going for that. As you may be aware, it is possible to switch from Natural Sciences to Computer Science at Cambridge (note that only Cambridge offers Natural Sciences, Oxford doesn't) if you really enjoy the first year module but that's probably not an ideal pathway if you're confident that Computer Science is the subject for you. So I'm really not convinced by your teacher's recommendation unless you're indecisive about what subject to specialise in.

    Without knowing what universities you've already got offers for and your personal circumstances it's hard to say whether it's worth waiting for a year to reapply. Your grades are certainly very good (I don't think admissions tutors will be too bothered about an A Level you took absurdly early) so you probably would have a very decent chance at most Computer Science courses in the UK. Two points I'd make. Firstly, I would consider taking an A Level in Further Maths this year if you do reapply. Maths is probably the single most important subject for Computer Science and particularly at top institutions, a very large proportion of students admitted onto the course will have Further Maths. That doesn't mean that Further Maths is required, because it isn't and any maths you need will be taught as part of the course, but it does help a lot. Studying Further Maths would also give universities a guarantee that you're keeping up your maths skills because they can be lost notoriously quickly. Secondly, I would only recommend reapplying if (1) you've got something useful to fill your time with and (2) you wouldn't feel like you've wasted a year if you don't get into Oxbridge. Even with grades as good as yours, it's not a guarantee of success in terms of getting into Oxbridge because other factors like admissions tests and interviews are equally, if not more important.

    Hope that helps.
    (Original post by gavinlowe)


    First, congratulations on an excellent set of results. Those are very much the sort of results we hope to see.

    Your earlier less-good results are a bit of a black mark. You explain them pretty well above, so you should say something like that in your personal statement; I think tutors would then be willing to overlook them. In particular, the fact that you did less well in Computing A Level is likely to be overlooked: in the past, Computing A Level was not very similar to the style of degree-level Computer Science (there have been recent improvements to the A Level, but only after you took it).

    I would echo what Plagioclase says about Further Maths. Computer Science is a very mathematical subject, so the more mathematics you do, the easier it will become (and the better you will do in the MAT and interviews).

    Plagioclase also says lots of sensible things about what you should consider, to help you make up your mind.

    Good luck, which ever decision you make.

    Gavin
    Thanks both for the top advice.

    I definitely see what you mean about retaining maths skills so I'll definitely consider that; I had originally planned to work/volunteer at a local software company to save up some money and gain experience, while doing some online programming courses, and then take a maths refresher course next summer.

    Do you think that my application would be damaged if I don't take further maths? Would I be better with a years work experience, and then some kind of maths in my spare time like tutoring a student or helping out in classes?

    I've just checked with UCAS and I have up until the 22nd of September to decide, which gives me plenty of time to visit both the Oxford and Cambridge open days; so I should be able to make a suitable decision by then.
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    (Original post by zackdove)
    Do you think that my application would be damaged if I don't take further maths? Would I be better with a years work experience, and then some kind of maths in my spare time like tutoring a student or helping out in classes?
    I don't think your application would be damaged by not taking Further Maths; but it would be strengthened if you do take it (if you see the distinction).

    I think studying more Maths would be more useful to you than work experience, at this stage (although I see why you might like to do some work to earn money).

    If studying Further Maths A Level is difficult for you logistically, you might consider taking some Open University Maths modules, particularly the level-2 ones, as an alternative.

    Gavin
 
 
 
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