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    Hi everyone,

    I'm in year 10, and I am very passionate about computer science. I am also very strong in maths and physics. However, I have not done many activities outside of my studies to show this, and I think it is something Oxford will look for. Does anyone have any ideas as to what I could do very this summer and in the next two years before I apply?

    Thanks.
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    lol.u shouldn't be worrying about that now.
    1)get good grades for gcse's
    2)get good a level results
    3)go to competitions?
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    (Original post by hamster27)
    Hi everyone,

    I'm in year 10, and I am very passionate about computer science. I am also very strong in maths and physics. However, I have not done many activities outside of my studies to show this, and I think it is something Oxford will look for. Does anyone have any ideas as to what I could do very this summer and in the next two years before I apply?

    Thanks.
    Learn a programming language, I recommend start with Python as it's easy to learn yet very powerful. After that you can create applications and stuff to demonstrate your interest as well as doing wider learning such as reading books
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    They tend to primarily look at your grades, then your personal statement, which needn't necessarily refer to specific extracurricular activity as long as you can demonstrate and interest in and commitment to the subject otherwise (e.g. by reading around and discussing this). After this, they may explore your motivations somewhat in the interview but as I understand it's primarily technical. Extensive extracurricular activity, either within or outside of your subject area, while appreciated, isn't expected as they understand not all students have the same facilities and privileges afforded to them in this regard (that said if you're at Eton and don't do anything except your exams and just get the minimum grades stated on their website they're likely to look down on that).

    You may wish to look to see if there are any outreach events offered by nearby universities or tech companies which are relevant that you could attend. Another thing to look into would be various Raspberry Pi events; they often try to forge links with schools and it's possible you may be able to form a Raspberry Pi club or similar and get experience in programming and resources from the manufacturers or other places (or even just buying them after doing some bake sale type fundraising or what have you ). There are also a lot of related but varied "hackathons" which are programming events where individuals or teams program various things as a contest or collaborative project.

    That said, they tend not to require much in this sense as they can teach anyone programming (and anyone can teach themselves, to a point). They are more interested in you being inquisitive about the subject area and can demonstrate an understanding of the requirements of a CS degree and what it may go on to. More than that however, as indicated, they are much more in your actual technical ability in mathematics to ensure you can cope with the demands of their course.

    This seems to be a common thread for Oxbridge applications; unlike their Ivy league cousins, Oxbridge (and all UK universities generally) are recruiting students to specific programmes and want them to be excellent in the relevant areas. They don't care if you play 6 instruments and are applying to maths; they care if you can do maths. Ivy league applications (actually all US colleges, with the occasional exception of some niche ones, and often engineering departments who try to recruit directly from high school so they can take all the required classes in time) however are just to the institution in general and they don't specialise in a specific subject until their second or third year of four. Thus they look for "well rounded" applicants who have excelled in a variety of areas so they can cope with anything they pick, as otherwise the university could be "stuck" with an student who is excellent in one area but refuses to major in it and struggles in another, who they would be obligated to support to a point.
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    (Original post by CraigBackner)
    Learn a programming language, I recommend start with Python as it's easy to learn yet very powerful. After that you can create applications and stuff to demonstrate your interest as well as doing wider learning such as reading books
    Hi Craig,

    Thanks for the reply! I am actually learning c++ and java as part of my CS GCSE, but I agree that Python may be a good language to learn as well. I'd be interested to know what you've done with Python, and if we're to create an application, should I put it online so that Oxford can see it? Also, would it be more benfitial to create applications in the languages I am learning, or do you think that learning Python would be more beneficial?
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    (Original post by artful_lounger)
    They tend to primarily look at your grades, then your personal statement, which needn't necessarily refer to specific extracurricular activity as long as you can demonstrate and interest in and commitment to the subject otherwise (e.g. by reading around and discussing this). After this, they may explore your motivations somewhat in the interview but as I understand it's primarily technical. Extensive extracurricular activity, either within or outside of your subject area, while appreciated, isn't expected as they understand not all students have the same facilities and privileges afforded to them in this regard (that said if you're at Eton and don't do anything except your exams and just get the minimum grades stated on their website they're likely to look down on that).

    You may wish to look to see if there are any outreach events offered by nearby universities or tech companies which are relevant that you could attend. Another thing to look into would be various Raspberry Pi events; they often try to forge links with schools and it's possible you may be able to form a Raspberry Pi club or similar and get experience in programming and resources from the manufacturers or other places (or even just buying them after doing some bake sale type fundraising or what have you ). There are also a lot of related but varied "hackathons" which are programming events where individuals or teams program various things acontest or collaborative project.

    That said, they tend not to require much in this sense as they can teach anyone programming (and anyone can teach themselves, to a point). They are more interested in you being inquisitive about the subject area and can demonstrate an understanding of the requirements of a CS degree and what it may go on to. More than that however, as indicated, they are much more in your actual technical ability in mathematics to ensure you can cope with the demands of their course.

    This seems to be a common thread for Oxbridge applications; unlike their Ivy league cousins, Oxbridge (and all UK universities generally) are recruiting students to specific programmes and want them to be excellent in the relevant areas. They don't care if you play 6 instruments and are applying to maths; they care if you can do maths. Ivy league applications (actually all US colleges, with the occasional exception of some niche ones, and often engineering departments who try to recruit directly from high school so they can take all the required classes in time) however are just to the institution in general and they don't specialise in a specific subject until their second or third year of four. Thus they look for "well rounded" applicants who have excelled in a variety of areas so they can cope with anything they pick, as otherwise the university could be "stuck" with an student who is excellent in one area but refuses to major in it and struggles in another, who they would be obligated to support to a point.
    Thanks for replying!
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    This is how Oxford shortlist their candidates for interview in Computer Science:
    Every applicant sits the MAT (Maths admission test).
    They combine your MAT score and the number of A*s you got at GCSE (may be number of 8+s for new GCSEs), with the MAT score weighted more than the GCSE score.
    Then, they pick a threshold combined score and interview everyone above that and they pick another threshold score and reject everyone (unless there are extenuating circumstances) below that. They use their own discretion for those between the 2 thresholds.
    After that, if you perform well in the interview (compared to everyone else), you should get a place. In the interview, you will mainly be asked mathematical and logic questions.
    A-level predictions may also be used to distinguish between shortlisted candidates.

    Extracurricular activities are not really taken into account so don't worry if you haven't played any instruments or built a supercomputer or the next Facebook. Mainly focus on your maths and further maths A-levels and practise for the MAT and practise interview questions.

    Having said that, other universities for CS (excluding Imperial and Cambridge) do not have additional admission tests for entry into their CS courses and most do not conduct interviews either. So they would place more emphasis on your personal statement and your passion for the subject. For these universities, it would be beneficial if you had some CS-related activities, such as reading CS books, programming apps, entering competitions, etc.
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    (Original post by JickDee)
    This is how Oxford shortlist their candidates for interview in Computer Science:
    Every applicant sits the MAT (Maths admission test).
    They combine your MAT score and the number of A*s you got at GCSE (may be number of 8+s for new GCSEs), with the MAT score weighted more than the GCSE score.
    Then, they pick the median score (give or take a few points) and interview everyone above that. They may interview people below that threshold if they are truly outstanding or had extenuating circumstances.
    After that, if you perform well in the interview (compared to everyone else), you should get a place. In the interview, you will mainly be asked mathematical and logic questions.
    A-level predictions may also be used to distinguish between shortlisted candidates.

    Extracurricular activities are not really taken into account so don't worry if you haven't played any instruments or built a supercomputer or the next Facebook. Mainly focus on your maths and further maths A-levels and practise for the MAT and practise interview questions.

    Having said that, other universities for CS (excluding Imperial and Cambridge) do not have additional admission tests for entry into their CS courses and most do not conduct interviews either. So they would place more emphasis on your personal statement and your passion for the subject. For these universities, it would be beneficial if you had some CS-related activities, such as reading CS books, programming apps, entering competitions, etc.
    Thanks for the help!
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    (Original post by hamster27)
    Hi Craig,

    Thanks for the reply! I am actually learning c++ and java as part of my CS GCSE, but I agree that Python may be a good language to learn as well. I'd be interested to know what you've done with Python, and if we're to create an application, should I put it online so that Oxford can see it? Also, would it be more benfitial to create applications in the languages I am learning, or do you think that learning Python would be more beneficial?
    That's a good start your already learning a relatively hard programming language. To improve your problem solving ability(needed for computer science at Oxford) I recommend spending your summer solving problems on https://projecteuler.net/, but be warned they are pretty hard! .
    In terms of creating programs and stuff, right now you can create a personal portfolio on your computer hard drive, otherwise if
    there good projects you can upload it and share it online such as on github. Also it doesn't matter what language you do it in, just as long as your comfortable with it
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    (Original post by JickDee)
    This is how Oxford shortlist their candidates for interview in Computer Science:
    Every applicant sits the MAT (Maths admission test).
    They combine your MAT score and the number of A*s you got at GCSE (may be number of 8+s for new GCSEs), with the MAT score weighted more than the GCSE score.
    Then, they pick the median score (give or take a few points) and interview everyone above that. They may interview people below that threshold if they are truly outstanding or had extenuating circumstances.
    After that, if you perform well in the interview (compared to everyone else), you should get a place. In the interview, you will mainly be asked mathematical and logic questions.
    A-level predictions may also be used to distinguish between shortlisted candidates.

    Extracurricular activities are not really taken into account so don't worry if you haven't played any instruments or built a supercomputer or the next Facebook. Mainly focus on your maths and further maths A-levels and practise for the MAT and practise interview questions.

    Having said that, other universities for CS (excluding Imperial and Cambridge) do not have additional admission tests for entry into their CS courses and most do not conduct interviews either. So they would place more emphasis on your personal statement and your passion for the subject. For these universities, it would be beneficial if you had some CS-related activities, such as reading CS books, programming apps, entering competitions, etc.
    Thanks for explaining how Oxford shortlist candidates. I may still perhaps persue extra curricular activities, but I agree that I should focus on my GCSE's
    However how would you go about revising the MAT? Do you think I should start now? What did you do?
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    (Original post by CraigBackner)
    That's a good start your already learning a relatively hard programming language. To improve your problem solving ability(needed for computer science at Oxford) I recommend spending your summer solving problems on https://projecteuler.net/, but be warned they are pretty hard! .
    In terms of creating programs and stuff, right now you can create a personal portfolio on your computer hard drive, otherwise if
    there good projects you can upload it and share it online such as on github. Also it doesn't matter what language you do it in, just as long as your comfortable with it
    Thanks a lot for the help!
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    (Original post by hamster27)
    Thanks for explaining how Oxford shortlist candidates. I may still perhaps persue extra curricular activities, but I agree that I should focus on my GCSE's
    However how would you go about revising the MAT? Do you think I should start now? What did you do?
    No, don't focus on MAT now, focus on your gcses as thats whats important now
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    (Original post by hamster27)
    Thanks for explaining how Oxford shortlist candidates. I may still perhaps persue extra curricular activities, but I agree that I should focus on my GCSE's
    However how would you go about revising the MAT? Do you think I should start now? What did you do?
    Dont properly start preparing for the MAT now as you first need to cover core AS maths. Howevee it wouldnt hurt to practise your mathematical problem solving on sites like nrich
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    Ok that makes sense, thanks for the help
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    Let me add a few things to this discussion.

    I don't think there's much point in learning multiple programming languages at this point. It's far better to learn one, and do some interesting things with it. Project Euler is certainly a good source of ideas. Or maybe try writing a program to solve a puzzle, e.g. sudoku.

    Concentrate on GCSEs for the moment. Questions 1-4 of the MAT tend to rely on material taught in the first year of Math A Level, so if you want to attempt those, you'll need to read ahead. Questions 5-7 tend to require less knowledge, though. At the end of year 12, you should make sure you're completely familiar with the topics on the published MAT syllabus, and start doing plenty of old questions.

    Extra-curriculars aren't very important for the application. But you should do them to have fun.

    Gavin
 
 
 
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