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    I'm currently a year 11 student in a private school in the UK. I'm foreign, and I want to study music in Oxford University. I am expecting at least 8 out of 12 A* grades in a mixture of GCSEs and IGCSEs this summer. For A Level, would maths, physics, psychology and music be a good combination, or do I need an actual essay subject like English Literature or History? I am expecting an A or A* in both of them, but I don't think I would get an A in A-Level.

    Also, are four subjects too much? My teachers are advising me to cut down to three (and we're not doing AS Levels due to the reform) because they want me to concentrate on building my musical skills. I don't want to give up any of the subjects (other than music which I have to do anyway), but I do realise it makes sense to concentrate on three and get the best results possible. I need AAA which I think I can achieve with reasonable effort during the next two years.. What do you think I should do?
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    (Original post by shewritesmusic)
    I'm currently a year 11 student in a private school in the UK. I'm foreign, and I want to study music in Oxford University. I am expecting at least 8 out of 12 A* grades in a mixture of GCSEs and IGCSEs this summer. For A Level, would maths, physics, psychology and music be a good combination, or do I need an actual essay subject like English Literature or History? I am expecting an A or A* in both of them, but I don't think I would get an A in A-Level.

    Also, are four subjects too much? My teachers are advising me to cut down to three (and we're not doing AS Levels due to the reform) because they want me to concentrate on building my musical skills. I don't want to give up any of the subjects (other than music which I have to do anyway), but I do realise it makes sense to concentrate on three and get the best results possible. I need AAA which I think I can achieve with reasonable effort during the next two years.. What do you think I should do?
    I don't believe you need to an essay-based subject, no, although being used to writing essays will help make the transition from school into university easier. Taking four subjects won't increase your chances of getting into Oxford so I think your teachers are right, it makes sense to focus on three subjects and building up your musical skill.

    What do you think? The_Lonely_Goatherd
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    (Original post by shewritesmusic)
    I'm currently a year 11 student in a private school in the UK. I'm foreign, and I want to study music in Oxford University. I am expecting at least 8 out of 12 A* grades in a mixture of GCSEs and IGCSEs this summer. For A Level, would maths, physics, psychology and music be a good combination, or do I need an actual essay subject like English Literature or History? I am expecting an A or A* in both of them, but I don't think I would get an A in A-Level.

    Also, are four subjects too much? My teachers are advising me to cut down to three (and we're not doing AS Levels due to the reform) because they want me to concentrate on building my musical skills. I don't want to give up any of the subjects (other than music which I have to do anyway), but I do realise it makes sense to concentrate on three and get the best results possible. I need AAA which I think I can achieve with reasonable effort during the next two years.. What do you think I should do?
    I basically agree with most of the advice given above, in that there is no right/expected combination of A Level subjects for admissions to music at Oxford, but that essay subjects can make the transition easier than it would otherwise be. If you're not confident of getting an A at A Level in an essay subject though, it's not worth the risk :nah:

    What is your main instrument and what level are you on it in terms of examination grades/diplomas, etc? How is your music theory? My advice about whether to cut down to three subjects (I usually recommend this to all applicants) depends on your answer to these questions. I'm trying to get a context of what "building [your] musical skills" would look like/entail
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    (Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd)

    What is your main instrument and what level are you on it in terms of examination grades/diplomas, etc? How is your music theory? My advice about whether to cut down to three subjects (I usually recommend this to all applicants) depends on your answer to these questions. I'm trying to get a context of what "building [your] musical skills" would look like/entail
    Thanks for the advice. I am in a 'specialist' music school, and my first instrument is piano, which I just got a high distinction in Grade 8. And to be fair, it wasn't that hard, but there are plenty of people here who are better than me. My actual strength is composition which is my first study. My teacher is quite satisfied with my progress and I think he is assured of my ability to get into London conservatoires, e.g. RAM, RCM or Guildhall (at least I hope). I got a distinction in Grade 6 theory and a merit in 5 (due to lack of effort), and probably will take grade 8 sometime in the next 2 years.

    Building my musical skills would be practising on the piano for 1-3 hours a day and spending quite a lot of time in composition, while jamming in academic work. But this only applies if my aim is to get into a conservatoire, and I would spend less time on piano if my aim was a university.




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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    I don't believe you need to an essay-based subject, no, although being used to writing essays will help make the transition from school into university easier.
    That makes my life easier I'm alright at essays in GCSE level, with the language coursework scoring high enough marks and my teacher recommended doing English Literature in A Level. I did struggle with the literature coursework, which put me off from choosing it. Do you think the amount of writing in Psychology would help the transition, or is it completely irrelevant?



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    (Original post by shewritesmusic)
    That makes my life easier I'm alright at essays in GCSE level, with the language coursework scoring high enough marks and my teacher recommended doing English Literature in A Level. I did struggle with the literature coursework, which put me off from choosing it. Do you think the amount of writing in Psychology would help the transition, or is it completely irrelevant?



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    I'm afraid I have no idea, I've never studied psychology.
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    (Original post by shewritesmusic)
    Thanks for the advice. I am in a 'specialist' music school, and my first instrument is piano, which I just got a high distinction in Grade 8. And to be fair, it wasn't that hard, but there are plenty of people here who are better than me. My actual strength is composition which is my first study. My teacher is quite satisfied with my progress and I think he is assured of my ability to get into London conservatoires, e.g. RAM, RCM or Guildhall (at least I hope). I got a distinction in Grade 6 theory and a merit in 5 (due to lack of effort), and probably will take grade 8 sometime in the next 2 years.

    Building my musical skills would be practising on the piano for 1-3 hours a day and spending quite a lot of time in composition, while jamming in academic work. But this only applies if my aim is to get into a conservatoire, and I would spend less time on piano if my aim was a university.




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    Yeah, Oxford don't really care about practical musicianship tbh, so I wouldn't worry too much about building skills to impress them. Obviously if you're applying to conservatoires, then yes, you should probably cut down to three subjects and focus more on building a practice routine :yes:

    I didn't do psychology A Level but I don't think it's the same type of essay writing tbh. To give you an idea: I did English Lit A Level and excelled in it, and still found the jump from that type of writing to Oxford essay standards huge :eek:
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    (Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd)
    I didn't do psychology A Level but I don't think it's the same type of essay writing tbh. To give you an idea: I did English Lit A Level and excelled in it, and still found the jump from that type of writing to Oxford essay standards huge :eek:
    Woah. Do you know just about how much essay writing is involved providing you did the bare minimum compulsory papers in the undergraduate music course? If not, tell me which course in Oxford are you referring to?

    Is music considered an essay subject? Surely the intensity of writing would be less than courses like languages, History, English etc if you put emphasis on the practical elements? I really have no idea what's it like, although the details about the course on the official website were appealing to me.


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    (Original post by shewritesmusic)
    Woah. Do you know just about how much essay writing is involved providing you did the bare minimum compulsory papers in the undergraduate music course? If not, tell me which course in Oxford are you referring to?

    Is music considered an essay subject? Surely the intensity of writing would be less than courses like languages, History, English etc if you put emphasis on the practical elements? I really have no idea what's it like, although the details about the course on the official website were appealing to me.


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    Think of it this way: the music course at Oxford is essentially a History of Art course, but with music rather than art. You can go through the whole thing without doing performance at all (examined or otherwise). There is very little interest in performance, in terms of the modules you can take in it. Same with composition tbh. There's lot of extra-curricular performance but if you don't like writing essays, it's best avoided

    The structure has changed since I started there but I believe in first year, out of 6 papers only one is optional. At least 3 (if not 4) of the first year compulsory papers are essay-based. In third year (no exams in second year) there are two compulsory essay-based modules. Then you have to do at LEAST one more essay-based module. Performance can count to up to 25% maximum, with composition being only one of 8 papers :fyi:
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    (Original post by The_Lonely_Goatherd)
    Think of it this way: the music course at Oxford is essentially a History of Art course, but with music rather than art. You can go through the whole thing without doing performance at all (examined or otherwise). There is very little interest in performance, in terms of the modules you can take in it. Same with composition tbh. There's lot of extra-curricular performance but if you don't like writing essays, it's best avoided

    The structure has changed since I started there but I believe in first year, out of 6 papers only one is optional. At least 3 (if not 4) of the first year compulsory papers are essay-based. In third year (no exams in second year) there are two compulsory essay-based modules. Then you have to do at LEAST one more essay-based module. Performance can count to up to 25% maximum, with composition being only one of 8 papers :fyi:
    Thank you! That's really helpful in making my decisions... I might just do English Literature A Level and start reading books tbh if it helps


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    (Original post by shewritesmusic)
    Thank you! That's really helpful in making my decisions... I might just do English Literature A Level and start reading books tbh if it helps


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    It's also worth mentioning that at Oxford, you can't (afaik) be examined in solo performance AND composition: it would have to be one or the other :fyi:

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