Polish Matura vs English A-Levels Watch

Amadea
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Basically, I'm setting this thread up partially to vent and to compare experiences. I'm looking to apply to some British universities, having already obtained a first class degree from one of them.

What I find annoying is - what seems to me - an unfair comparison between the qualifications. The better unis in the UK have the entry criteria of AAA or AAB. Cambridge, for one, has this requirement. On their "international equivalents" page they translate this to 90% (!) on the Polish Matura.

I have a slight issue with that. You see in Poland it is an extremely rare student who gets into 80% + type grades, and I know no-one who received 90% in anything - and my school was one of the top ones in the district.

This includes students who took part in national competitions in particular subjects and often had a life-long interest in them.

If you don't believe me, you can check out the once-infamous distribution curve for Matura grades in Poland (of course everyone decided to focus on the fact that examiners "bump up" some students from 29% to 30%, with 30% being a pass, but very few paid any attention that the curve shows how few students get into the marks over 85%) Meanwhile in the UK, very recently I've read an article on the BBC stating that 26% (one in every four!!) students get an A or A*. If you compare and adjust, it would seem that an A at A-level should be equivalent to about 70%+ at Polish Matura and not bloody 90% !

It annoys me, because I feel with my marks ranging from 70% to 85% I am still frowned upon by unis, who all think that UK A-level equals 90% at Matura. Arghhhhhh

Not trying to make this into a competition between the two education systems, but apart from studying the subjects that one actually takes at Matura in Poland we take a total of 15 subjects to A-Level level (studying for three years, up utill the age of 19) and get graded on them to receive a certificate of secondary education. This doesn't get a look-in by UK unis, because it is not considered an "A-level equivalent" - even though up until very recently when more linear examination was introduced in the UK, the certificate of higher education was actually more like an A-Level than Matura (graded over a period of time via several examinations, rather than by one external exam at the end of secondary education.) So it seems like we are putting it the extra effort of learning 15 subjects, are still expected to perform at Matura and in the end, we are compared as like-for-like to students with 25% chance each of getting an A or A* in 3-4 subjects they study towards their A-Level exams.

I'm just curious if anyone else had similar thoughts re: your country's education system vs. UK and if I'm missing some crucial bit of info here that would justify good unis in imposing unfair (in comparison) entry standards on foreign students.
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mrscheesecake
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(Original post by Amadea)
Basically, I'm setting this thread up partially to vent and to compare experiences. I'm looking to apply to some British universities, having already obtained a first class degree from one of them.

What I find annoying is - what seems to me - an unfair comparison between the qualifications. The better unis in the UK have the entry criteria of AAA or AAB. Cambridge, for one, has this requirement. On their "international equivalents" page they translate this to 90% (!) on the Polish Matura.

I have a slight issue with that. You see in Poland it is an extremely rare student who gets into 80% + type grades, and I know no-one who received 90% in anything - and my school was one of the top ones in the district.

This includes students who took part in national competitions in particular subjects and often had a life-long interest in them.

If you don't believe me, you can check out the once-infamous distribution curve for Matura grades in Poland (of course everyone decided to focus on the fact that examiners "bump up" some students from 29% to 30%, with 30% being a pass, but very few paid any attention that the curve shows how few students get into the marks over 85%) Meanwhile in the UK, very recently I've read an article on the BBC stating that 26% (one in every four!!) students get an A or A*. If you compare and adjust, it would seem that an A at A-level should be equivalent to about 70%+ at Polish Matura and not bloody 90% !

It annoys me, because I feel with my marks ranging from 70% to 85% I am still frowned upon by unis, who all think that UK A-level equals 90% at Matura. Arghhhhhh

Not trying to make this into a competition between the two education systems, but apart from studying the subjects that one actually takes at Matura in Poland we take a total of 15 subjects to A-Level level (studying for three years, up utill the age of 19) and get graded on them to receive a certificate of secondary education. This doesn't get a look-in by UK unis, because it is not considered an "A-level equivalent" - even though up until very recently when more linear examination was introduced in the UK, the certificate of higher education was actually more like an A-Level than Matura (graded over a period of time via several examinations, rather than by one external exam at the end of secondary education.) So it seems like we are putting it the extra effort of learning 15 subjects, are still expected to perform at Matura and in the end, we are compared as like-for-like to students with 25% chance each of getting an A or A* in 3-4 subjects they study towards their A-Level exams.

I'm just curious if anyone else had similar thoughts re: your country's education system vs. UK and if I'm missing some crucial bit of info here that would justify good unis in imposing unfair (in comparison) entry standards on foreign students.
It's even worse because it's 90% of the UMS marks which are not the same as raw marks. For example you don't have to get 90/100... It can be 80/100 if the grade boundaries are low. And about the 15 subjects... I don't think that's true (bo sama bylam w liceum, ale co ja wiem) because in year 2 and 3 you choose to do the advanced level in the subject + the standard compulsory examinations. Yeah you do 15 subjects in year 1 but you don't take a matura from them... You only do Polish, Maths, a second language and then between 1-5 higher leveled ones.

In order to get into most British Unis you'll require an IB exam, so basically international matura and some language certificates like IELTS. And the costs. My pockets. Before Brexit it was £9250 a year (45000 zl A YEAR) and after Brexit.... well Poland could have an international status so it can be as much as £10 000 - £35 000 a year without any financial help, out of your own pocket (50 000 - 170 000 zl A YEAR). And I'm not joking. So good luck but unless you have a ton of money and go to a private school that can help you with all the international qualifications it's gonna be hard.
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PsychDoctor
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Thats just not true. The Matura is accepted in nearly all universities, certainly the ones of any use. Take a look at their websites and you will see that. For instance, where universities ask for BBB this will be translated to a percentage for the matura. There will be conditions on many degrees though, for psychology at a reputable university you will be asked to show that you have at least a certain score on basic maths. This will be the case for some other subjects too who have specific entry requirements. You dont need the IB, you need a decent score on the matura.. end of.. People who tell you otherwise are simply not telling you the truth
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Markhel
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I think you did not understand what the author of this post wanted to say. The problem with application to UK universities with Polish Matura is that the universities require scores in percents, and not in percentiles. The level of difficulty of Matura fluctuates. In fact, this year the Matura exam on further maths was the most difficult in the last 20 years. Therefore, everyone who took this test this year is going to receive fewer points than his or her friends who took this test before 2018.
Let's have a look at statistics. To get into UCL for computer science you had to have a score of minimum 90% on matura. This score translates to 100 percentile on the exam!!! It means that there is less than ONE person among 100 students who took this test and received this score or higher. If we look at "Cambridge International A Level candidate grades in November 2017", we can see that 14.6% of students achieved A* score! It translates to the raw score of 54% on Matura 2018!!!
So, as you can see, the comparison between A-levels and Polish Matura is VERY unfair.
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Alex Al
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Are 2 A-levels enough to be admitted to Uni of lodz, Poland?
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DCBV
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I've had a similar thought, even though my example would be comparing my education (Portuguese secondary school) to the English A levels. I've lived in the UK for 13 years- even done my higher education here- and I must agree with what you've shared. I, personally, have not done my A levels in the UK but I know people who did. Curiously however, I have asked said people to have a look at their studying materials for various subjects (e.g. maths, physics, chemistry, etc.), and though we're not competing here, I should state that the English A levels can be compared to our 9ano (or GCSEs if you like). Basically, the A Levels curriculum is far behind our 12ano ensino secundario (secundary education or A Levels).
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