voltaxy
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Hi,

Currently I'm studying Maths, Econ, Chemistry, and Gov&P (politics) for A2.
During this half term break, I started to think about dropping chemistry and adding an EPQ along with the other 3. As I barely have any study periods, I would have a lot more time to study during the week. However, I'd only be taking one hard, facilitating subject (Maths) so I'm worried if I'd be disadvantaged...

I don't know whether I should go through with the 4 a levels (it'll be hard as I'm not that motivated to study chemistry anymore), or drop chemistry and continue with Maths, Econ, and Gov&P + EPQ. Also, knowing that Gov&P is regarded as an easy subject (in comparison to Oxfords recommended a level, history) makes me quite apprehensive when it comes to dropping chemistry.


Do you think:
Maths
Econ
Politics
+
EPQ

Would be a suitable a level choice for PPE at Oxford? Or should I keep Chemistry (and forget the EPQ)
Last edited by voltaxy; 1 year ago
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harrysbar
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(Original post by voltaxy)
Hi,

Currently I'm studying Maths, Econ, Chemistry, and Gov&P (politics) for A2.
During this half term break, I started to think about dropping chemistry and adding an EPQ along with the other 3. As I barely have any study periods, I would have a lot more time to study during the week. However, I'd only be taking one hard, facilitating subject (Maths) so I'm worried if I'd be disadvantaged...

I don't know whether I should go through with the 4 a levels (it'll be hard as I'm not that motivated to study chemistry anymore), or drop chemistry and continue with Maths, Econ, and Gov&P + EPQ. Also, knowing that Gov&P is regarded as an easy subject (in comparison the recommended history a level) makes me quite apprehensive when it comes to dropping chemistry.


Do you think:
Maths
Econ
Politics
+
EPQ

Would be a suitable a level choice for PPE at Oxford? Or should I keep Chemistry (and forget the EPQ)
The most important thing, even for Oxford, is doing really well in 3 A levels. So if Chemistry is not going well for you and is dragging down your other grades, I would drop it in order to concentrate on the other 3. And don't worry about some people saying that G & P is "easy" compared to History - it is perfectly respectable for PPE.
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voltaxy
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(Original post by harrysbar)
The most important thing, even for Oxford, is doing really well in 3 A levels. So if Chemistry is not going well for you and is dragging down your other grades, I would drop it in order to concentrate on the other 3. And don't worry about some people saying that G & P is "easy" compared to History - it is perfectly respectable for PPE.
Yeah I see where you're coming from, thanks I just think I should drop Chem now- before it's too late (before the mocks)
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giraaaaaffe
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Would definitely recommend dropping a 4th subject, especially if it's something that has nothing to do with PPE (i.e. chemistry). Not only are you effectively cutting your workload by 25%, but you get more time to study for your other three subjects.
From my own experience, three A-levels (history, maths, physics) were definitely enough to get an offer, and not having the fourth means I am a lot more likely to meet my target grades. If I had carried the fourth on (german), I'm pretty sure I would at this point be purposefully ignoring it for the sake of meeting my offer for the other three , and to me it feels pointless to do an A-level if I would get a bad grade anyway.
Definitely don't just pick up an EPQ because you feel like you have to if you're dropping an A-level - that's not necessary either! However it of course is a great opportunity to closely analyse something you're passionate about, and it can be a good thing to put on your personal statement.
Still, though, the most important things seem to be meeting the minimum grade requirements (so you can apply & do the TSA), then getting a good TSA section 1 score (so you can get an interview), and then really showing in interview that you are right for PPE/Oxford. At no point in this process is a fourth A-level necessary (or even helpful!), and an EPQ probably isn't too helpful either. As Oxford have an admissions test AND an interview to base their decision off of, the personal statement - with which you might have had masses of help - comes pretty low in their criteria. You might get a chance to talk about your EPQ in interview, but only if it's relevant - definitely don't just shoehorn it in because it's something you can talk about!. Interviews change from college to college and from year to year, but in mine, they asked everyone the same preset questions, and absolutely nothing about personal statements/own reading/EPQs/whatever.
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voltaxy
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(Original post by giraaaaaffe)
Would definitely recommend dropping a 4th subject, especially if it's something that has nothing to do with PPE (i.e. chemistry). Not only are you effectively cutting your workload by 25%, but you get more time to study for your other three subjects.
From my own experience, three A-levels (history, maths, physics) were definitely enough to get an offer, and not having the fourth means I am a lot more likely to meet my target grades. If I had carried the fourth on (german), I'm pretty sure I would at this point be purposefully ignoring it for the sake of meeting my offer for the other three , and to me it feels pointless to do an A-level if I would get a bad grade anyway.
Definitely don't just pick up an EPQ because you feel like you have to if you're dropping an A-level - that's not necessary either! However it of course is a great opportunity to closely analyse something you're passionate about, and it can be a good thing to put on your personal statement.
Still, though, the most important things seem to be meeting the minimum grade requirements (so you can apply & do the TSA), then getting a good TSA section 1 score (so you can get an interview), and then really showing in interview that you are right for PPE/Oxford. At no point in this process is a fourth A-level necessary (or even helpful!), and an EPQ probably isn't too helpful either. As Oxford have an admissions test AND an interview to base their decision off of, the personal statement - with which you might have had masses of help - comes pretty low in their criteria. You might get a chance to talk about your EPQ in interview, but only if it's relevant - definitely don't just shoehorn it in because it's something you can talk about!. Interviews change from college to college and from year to year, but in mine, they asked everyone the same preset questions, and absolutely nothing about personal statements/own reading/EPQs/whatever.
Thank you so much for the response! You make a lot of sense but for some reason, I can't see past the 'facilitating list of A levels'. You took History (which was recommended), Maths and Physics- they're all considered 'hard, facilitating' subjects... Whereas I would be taking Maths, Politics (which is considered as an easy subject) and Economics- having only one 'hard, facilitating' subject. Do you think it would make much of an impact, despite the stigma around Oxbridge applicants taking at least 3 facilitating subjects?

xx
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harrysbar
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Economics may not be "facilitating" but it is a highly respected subject by Unis.

G & P is not quite so highly respected generally, but it would be useful for PPE and fine for that subject, in my opinion. You know, you could always phone or email an Admissions Officer at Oxford to check directly with them - they're only human and perfectly happy to advise potential applicants on matters such as these.
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giraaaaaffe
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(Original post by voltaxy)
Thank you so much for the response! You make a lot of sense but for some reason, I can't see past the 'facilitating list of A levels'. You took History (which was recommended), Maths and Physics- they're all considered 'hard, facilitating' subjects... Whereas I would be taking Maths, Politics (which is considered as an easy subject) and Economics- having only one 'hard, facilitating' subject. Do you think it would make much of an impact, despite the stigma around Oxbridge applicants taking at least 3 facilitating subjects?

xx
Hahaha you've caught me - my intention choosing those subjects at the time was because I wanted to keep my options open and I thought they were 'facilitating'! However I really don't think you should get overly caught up on this. You're already taking maths, which is half of the 'recommended' subjects list, and, like harrysbar says, all your other subjects - 'facilitating' or not - show is that you're interested in stuff related to PPE!
I also know other people at my college got PPE offers with A-levels just like yours - and people who didn't get offers who had the same A-levels as me, but with a fourth 'facilitating' subject! There's a reason that Oxford's course has no 'required' subjects: people get it with all kinds of things.
Really what I'm saying is the subjects don't matter so much as the person doing them (i.e. how well you do in the TSA & interview), and the predicted grades for them. You mentioned you're coming up to the mocks (I assume the end of L6th ones), and I CANNOT stress how vital these mocks are for applying to uni. Don't think of them as "just mocks" (although I'm not implying you were): they determine your predicted grades, which determine what unis you're even eligible to apply to.
I'd like to think that just having the required grades is enough for unis to properly consider your offer, but on the chance that admissions tutors see higher predicted grades as evidence of a better candidate and base their decisions on that (which is not really fair in my opinion), it's worth trying to get your predicted grades as high as possible. The mocks aren't everything - my school did allow us to negotiate predicted grades at the beginning of U6th - but you'll still be in a MUCH stronger position if you work really hard for the L6th mocks (not the U6th January ones though, they're kind of pointless).
Anyway this is just my own experience with the admissions process, I'm sure other people (probably more qualified than me) would advise differently! Feel free to drop me a message if you have any more questions later down the line though. Good luck with everything
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jp2901
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Hi, sorry if I'm jumping on board a tiny bit late, but I would echo what some are saying that you are better off dropping chemistry and only doing 3, even without an EPQ, and getting good grades in maths, GnP, and economics. You are better off getting A*AA/A*A*A than getting AAAA. I went to a talk at Oxford with a PPE tutor and they explicitly said that having 4 is just a bonus and would not hugely improve your application and having 3 good a levels is not going to disadvantage your application. Three good a levels with a very good PS, reference and TSA score (one of the most important factors) would put you in a better position I would say

Also, don't get completely strung up on Oxford because the odds of getting in there are relatively hard and it can be disheartening if you don't get in, like me. I was the same as you and got caught up on Oxford and was really disappointed when I was marginally off an interview. There are lots of other great options that are also renowned like LSE, UCL, and Warwick
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voltaxy
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(Original post by giraaaaaffe)
Hahaha you've caught me - my intention choosing those subjects at the time was because I wanted to keep my options open and I thought they were 'facilitating'! However I really don't think you should get overly caught up on this. You're already taking maths, which is half of the 'recommended' subjects list, and, like harrysbar says, all your other subjects - 'facilitating' or not - show is that you're interested in stuff related to PPE!
I also know other people at my college got PPE offers with A-levels just like yours - and people who didn't get offers who had the same A-levels as me, but with a fourth 'facilitating' subject! There's a reason that Oxford's course has no 'required' subjects: people get it with all kinds of things.
Really what I'm saying is the subjects don't matter so much as the person doing them (i.e. how well you do in the TSA & interview), and the predicted grades for them. You mentioned you're coming up to the mocks (I assume the end of L6th ones), and I CANNOT stress how vital these mocks are for applying to uni. Don't think of them as "just mocks" (although I'm not implying you were): they determine your predicted grades, which determine what unis you're even eligible to apply to.
I'd like to think that just having the required grades is enough for unis to properly consider your offer, but on the chance that admissions tutors see higher predicted grades as evidence of a better candidate and base their decisions on that (which is not really fair in my opinion), it's worth trying to get your predicted grades as high as possible. The mocks aren't everything - my school did allow us to negotiate predicted grades at the beginning of U6th - but you'll still be in a MUCH stronger position if you work really hard for the L6th mocks (not the U6th January ones though, they're kind of pointless).
Anyway this is just my own experience with the admissions process, I'm sure other people (probably more qualified than me) would advise differently! Feel free to drop me a message if you have any more questions later down the line though. Good luck with everything
Thank you so much for your input! Will try my best for these mocks... Also, I'll definitely remember to ask when I need help! Hope you're having a great day.
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voltaxy
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(Original post by jp2901)
Hi, sorry if I'm jumping on board a tiny bit late, but I would echo what some are saying that you are better off dropping chemistry and only doing 3, even without an EPQ, and getting good grades in maths, GnP, and economics. You are better off getting A*AA/A*A*A than getting AAAA. I went to a talk at Oxford with a PPE tutor and they explicitly said that having 4 is just a bonus and would not hugely improve your application and having 3 good a levels is not going to disadvantage your application. Three good a levels with a very good PS, reference and TSA score (one of the most important factors) would put you in a better position I would say

Also, don't get completely strung up on Oxford because the odds of getting in there are relatively hard and it can be disheartening if you don't get in, like me. I was the same as you and got caught up on Oxford and was really disappointed when I was marginally off an interview. There are lots of other great options that are also renowned like LSE, UCL, and Warwick
No no worries, appreciate the input! Also,to Oxford not being everything- absolutely agree with you there!
Hope you found a place where you can thriveee ~
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Koalagate
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Hi there - also a bit late, but I just saw your request for my opinion in an old thread last week.

I entirely agree with the advice that's already been given on this thread i.e. to drop Chemistry so you can do as well as you can in your other 3 subjects, which all seem like perfectly reasonable choices for PPE. You don't need to do 4 A-Levels (or to add an EPQ unless you want to).

I took Chemistry at AS Level purely because I thought it would impress universities for being a 'hard' subject, but I didn't enjoy it and ended up dropping it for A2. Still got an offer, and as Chemistry has had 0 relevance to anything I did during (or have done since) my degree, there has literally never been a day where I've looked back and regretted that decision - in contrast to quite a few regrets for choosing the subject in the first place for such a silly reason!

I'll reiterate that the most important things for Oxford specifically are a) getting the highest grades and predictions you possibly can; b) doing well in the TSA; and c) doing well in interviews. Good luck if you do apply!
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voltaxy
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(Original post by Koalagate)
Hi there - also a bit late, but I just saw your request for my opinion in an old thread last week.

I entirely agree with the advice that's already been given on this thread i.e. to drop Chemistry so you can do as well as you can in your other 3 subjects, which all seem like perfectly reasonable choices for PPE. You don't need to do 4 A-Levels (or to add an EPQ unless you want to).

I took Chemistry at AS Level purely because I thought it would impress universities for being a 'hard' subject, but I didn't enjoy it and ended up dropping it for A2. Still got an offer, and as Chemistry has had 0 relevance to anything I did during (or have done since) my degree, there has literally never been a day where I've looked back and regretted that decision - in contrast to quite a few regrets for choosing the subject in the first place for such a silly reason!

I'll reiterate that the most important things for Oxford specifically are a) getting the highest grades and predictions you possibly can; b) doing well in the TSA; and c) doing well in interviews. Good luck if you do apply!
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond I think I'm leaning towards dropping chemistry- will talk to my teachers about it.
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