Can I use SAT Subject tests and the ACT instead of A levels? Watch

EphemeraliT
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Hi, I am a student from New Zealand, and am currently in my last year of high school, I have been following the Cambridge International Examinations pathway ever since year 11 here, and at IGCSE(1 year course) I received:

A* Mathematics
A Chemistry (1 mark off A*)
A English
A History
B Physics

I began to slack off during the succeeding year(year 12) due to a severe lack of motivation and a very screwed-up sleep schedule and as I result, developed insomnia and skipped quite a bit of school - however all my absences from school were justified, and I went to consult the doctor, and I was prescribed sleeping pills, but those sometimes did not help at all(could this be an extenuating circumstance?) so I got the grades I deserved in AS (I did complete A level maths 1 year earlier, however I resat my AS(non-modular, last June and went from a C grade to A grade):

A Mathematics (Full A level)
E English (AS Level)
E Chemistry (AS Level)
D Biology (AS level)
U Physics (AS level)

Now, I know those grades are, collectively speaking, absolutely atrocious, however, I have re-evaluated myself seriously and have since turned around and now I am taking A level Further Mathematics, Pre-U Mathematics(exam takes place in June), AS(resitting) and A level Chemistry, A level Chinese, AS English(resitting), and AS Computer Science. Now I also plan to take the SAT Subject exams in Chemistry, Physics, and Maths 2 + The ACT after that. I want to apply for CS at Oxford as an international student, and I am aware I have to take the MAT too. What I am worried about is Oxford seeing my bad year 12 grades, however I have 'mock exams' in the 3rd term of school, which takes place before Oxford begins their admissions process, and I believe if I do well in them, they could serve as my predicted grades (A* in Further Mathematics, D1-D2 (equivalent to A*/A at A level) in Pre-U Maths, and great grades everywhere else). So, if I do well in these(including the SATs) and declare it on my UCAS, will it overshadow my year 12 grades? Also will my SATs/ACT matter at all (if they're good) if I am applying from NZ?
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alleycat393
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(Original post by EphemeraliT)
Hi, I am a student from New Zealand, and am currently in my last year of high school, I have been following the Cambridge International Examinations pathway ever since year 11 here, and at IGCSE(1 year course) I received:

A* Mathematics
A Chemistry (1 mark off A*)
A English
A History
B Physics

I began to slack off during the succeeding year(year 12) due to a severe lack of motivation and a very screwed-up sleep schedule and as I result, developed insomnia and skipped quite a bit of school - however all my absences from school were justified, and I went to consult the doctor, and I was prescribed sleeping pills, but those sometimes did not help at all(could this be an extenuating circumstance?) so I got the grades I deserved in AS (I did complete A level maths 1 year earlier, however I resat my AS(non-modular, last June and went from a C grade to A grade):

A Mathematics (Full A level)
E English (AS Level)
E Chemistry (AS Level)
D Biology (AS level)
U Physics (AS level)

Now, I know those grades are, collectively speaking, absolutely atrocious, however, I have re-evaluated myself seriously and have since turned around and now I am taking A level Further Mathematics, Pre-U Mathematics(exam takes place in June), AS(resitting) and A level Chemistry, A level Chinese, AS English(resitting), and AS Computer Science. Now I also plan to take the SAT Subject exams in Chemistry, Physics, and Maths 2 + The ACT after that. I want to apply for CS at Oxford as an international student, and I am aware I have to take the MAT too. What I am worried about is Oxford seeing my bad year 12 grades, however I have 'mock exams' in the 3rd term of school, which takes place before Oxford begins their admissions process, and I believe if I do well in them, they could serve as my predicted grades (A* in Further Mathematics, D1-D2 (equivalent to A*/A at A level) in Pre-U Maths, and great grades everywhere else). So, if I do well in these(including the SATs) and declare it on my UCAS, will it overshadow my year 12 grades? Also will my SATs/ACT matter at all (if they're good) if I am applying from NZ?
You have to declare all your official grades and your predicted grades which will all be considered. You can't just pick and choose what you declare.
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EphemeraliT
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(Original post by alleycat393)
You have to declare all your official grades and your predicted grades which will all be considered. You can't just pick and choose what you declare.
Yes, I know that I will have to do that, but I am asking if a good last year + SAT/ACT and MAT will overshadow the bad grades.
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alleycat393
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(Original post by EphemeraliT)
Yes, I know that I will have to do that, but I am asking if a good last year + SAT/ACT and MAT will overshadow the bad grades.
Nothing will overshadow or make up for anything else. Unis will see your whole application. If their entry requirements/selection processes don't take certain grades into account they generally won't unless competition is so high that they need to. No one can predict that though. You have to apply and see.
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gavinlowe
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(Original post by EphemeraliT)
Hi, I am a student from New Zealand, and am currently in my last year of high school, I have been following the Cambridge International Examinations pathway ever since year 11 here, and at IGCSE(1 year course) I received:

A* Mathematics
A Chemistry (1 mark off A*)
A English
A History
B Physics

I began to slack off during the succeeding year(year 12) due to a severe lack of motivation and a very screwed-up sleep schedule and as I result, developed insomnia and skipped quite a bit of school - however all my absences from school were justified, and I went to consult the doctor, and I was prescribed sleeping pills, but those sometimes did not help at all(could this be an extenuating circumstance?) so I got the grades I deserved in AS (I did complete A level maths 1 year earlier, however I resat my AS(non-modular, last June and went from a C grade to A grade):

A Mathematics (Full A level)
E English (AS Level)
E Chemistry (AS Level)
D Biology (AS level)
U Physics (AS level)

Now, I know those grades are, collectively speaking, absolutely atrocious, however, I have re-evaluated myself seriously and have since turned around and now I am taking A level Further Mathematics, Pre-U Mathematics(exam takes place in June), AS(resitting) and A level Chemistry, A level Chinese, AS English(resitting), and AS Computer Science. Now I also plan to take the SAT Subject exams in Chemistry, Physics, and Maths 2 + The ACT after that. I want to apply for CS at Oxford as an international student, and I am aware I have to take the MAT too. What I am worried about is Oxford seeing my bad year 12 grades, however I have 'mock exams' in the 3rd term of school, which takes place before Oxford begins their admissions process, and I believe if I do well in them, they could serve as my predicted grades (A* in Further Mathematics, D1-D2 (equivalent to A*/A at A level) in Pre-U Maths, and great grades everywhere else). So, if I do well in these(including the SATs) and declare it on my UCAS, will it overshadow my year 12 grades? Also will my SATs/ACT matter at all (if they're good) if I am applying from NZ?
You would need to persuade us that you are better than your AS grades suggest. You should get your referee to mention any extenuating circumstances. You should also address this question in your personal statement, and give evidence that you've pulled yourself around. Certainly, good results in SATs and ACTs would be taken into account, and could provide some such evidence (but any offer would be based on A Levels/Pre-U). Good results in your mocks would also be necessary.

Gavin
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alleycat393
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(Original post by EphemeraliT)
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Please do not talk about your grades or address poor performance in a PS as that is not the appropriate place to do so. Your referee should mention it in your reference. Your PS should be about your academic interests in the subject, how you developed them and why you want to study it at uni.

(Original post by gavinlowe)
...
FYI above
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gavinlowe
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(Original post by alleycat393)
Please do not talk about your grades or address poor performance in a PS as that is not the appropriate place to do so.
I disagree with this. When I read a PS in such circumstances, I want to see some evidence that the candidate has taken steps to overcome previous shortcomings; otherwise, it gives the impression that the candidate doesn't care.

Your referee should mention it in your reference. Your PS should be about your academic interests in the subject, how you developed them and why you want to study it at uni.
Certainly the referee should describe extenuating circumstances. And most of the PS should be about academic interests.

Gavin
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alleycat393
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(Original post by gavinlowe)
I disagree with this. When I read a PS in such circumstances, I want to see some evidence that the candidate has taken steps to overcome previous shortcomings; otherwise, it gives the impression that the candidate doesn't care.

Certainly the referee should describe extenuating circumstances. And most of the PS should be about academic interests.

Gavin
Sorry you are an admissions tutor? I don't think we've been made aware of this. If so we maybe need to change the PS advice we give as this is not what we have been told in the past and is certainly not what we advise students to do.

Edit: Students shouldn't be making excuses for poor performance and shouldn't be talking about anything negative in the PS. They certainly cannot talk about how they have improved themselves and a referee is the best person to make that judgement.
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Indigo&Violet
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(Original post by alleycat393)
Sorry you are an admissions tutor? I don't think we've been made aware of this. If so we maybe need to change the PS advice we give as this is not what we have been told in the past and is certainly not what we advise students to do.

Edit: Students shouldn't be making excuses for poor performance and shouldn't be talking about anything negative in the PS. They certainly cannot talk about how they have improved themselves and a referee is the best person to make that judgement.
I'm going to wade in as a former Admissions bod and teacher, with due respect to the fact that I'm talking to two very experienced professionals.

I definitely see a difference between ex circs outside of a student's control (illness, family issues etc) that I would expect to be solely in the reference unless otherwise relevant (e.g. I want to be a social worker having seen the impact they made on my own life type-of-thing) and a "personal blip" in results arising from teenage angst like poor motivation, being too cool to try, that sort of thing. In the later example, I think a case can be made for a student to include a short reflective comment to show that they have learnt from the experience. For example, the student above might include a single sentence somewhere near the end along the lines of "my poor results last year have renewed my enthusiasm for serious academic study which I think will serve me well at university". I totally agree they shouldn't be making excuses and it definitely shouldn't be a large part of the statement, but it can be useful to show personal growth and reassure tutors/selectors that they've actually learnt from the experience. I would expect it to be backed up by a written comment in the reference about additional motivation (rather than them just predicting very high grades and expecting us not to notice the poor AS) but I can also see gavinlowe's point that the student actually mentioning this gives additional credence to the teacher's assertions that their work ethic has improved. It's a very delicate balance though.

EphemeraliT You've certainly given yourself a hill to climb. Be wary of the NZ tradition of doing okay in a lot of A levels rather than very well in the traditional 3 or 4. Also be aware that progression is generally viewed more positively than repetition - there's a lot of overlap between the A level Maths you've already done plus the pre-U Maths plus the SAT Maths 2 so don't expect to get full credit for all of them, same for the A level Chemistry and SAT 2 chem.

At the end of Year 13 you are expecting to have:
A-level Maths A/Pre-U Maths D1/D2 (resit)
A level FM (new)
A level Chem (new)
A level Chinese (new)
AS CompSci (new)
AS English (resit)

I'm not really sure I see the point in the English resit for a CS application, redoing the Physics would make more sense. A level Chinese is a lot to learn in a year if you don't already have a good level (beware some uni's won't accept the Chinese if it's your home language). I take it there's no opportunity to do full A level CompSci instead, being both relevant and a new subject?

As alleycat393 has said, the only way to find out how you get on is to make an application and see. For your non-Oxford courses, I'd be tempted to wait and add them later. Are you doing the November sitting to get your A level result in Jan 2019? If so, if you can, wait until you have the grades and apply. If, like this year, they come out annoyingly two days after the application deadline, apply close to the deadline and send your results in as soon as you have them. That way unis will be decided on your actual (hopefully higher) achieved grades rather than your weaker AS results.
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Realitysreflexx
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Might get you into a decent Russell group, New castle and the like....just send in everything, british unis are keen to offer places to international students which you will be.
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