Tj1120
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Hi I’m a y12 student studying maths, further maths, physics and philosophy for A level and I’d really like to study PhysPhil at Oxford. I was wondering how likely it is I’d get in to manage expectations. I see it’s a competitive course and I’m not a maths/ physics prodigy but I enjoy them. I’m applying with 10 A*s (8 9’s) and some work experience and summer courses. Any responses wld be helpful. Also the PAT seems near impossible so if anyone has any tips that’d be amazing.i do go to a private boarding school and it seems as if that might disadvantage me in the application process
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Sinnoh
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You're not going to be disadvantaged based on your background. Sure they look at your GCSEs within the context of the school you attained them at but it's literally impossible to improve on what you got. You don't need to be a prodigy, you just need to be good.
All you can do now is write a decent personal statement (doesn't have to be amazing, but the better the better obviously) and prepare for the PAT. People usually don't finish the whole thing in time so one thing to work on is being able to answer as many questions as possible. The better your base knowledge, the more you do it, the quicker you'll become. Skip questions if you're taking too long.
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queenkerry
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(Original post by Tj1120)
Hi I’m a y12 student studying maths, further maths, physics and philosophy for A level and I’d really like to study PhysPhil at Oxford. I was wondering how likely it is I’d get in to manage expectations. I see it’s a competitive course and I’m not a maths/ physics prodigy but I enjoy them. I’m applying with 10 A*s (8 9’s) and some work experience and summer courses. Any responses wld be helpful. Also the PAT seems near impossible so if anyone has any tips that’d be amazing.i do go to a private boarding school and it seems as if that might disadvantage me in the application process
wow you're brillant. I've read that, how to explain, going to any special school like boarding or attending seminars won't help you get into a college. you need to give them a wow factor... if you see what I'm saying. they won't care whether you've been home schooled or went to a prestigious school. show them the reasons why they must accept you
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Tj1120
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(Original post by Sinnoh)
You're not going to be disadvantaged based on your background. Sure they look at your GCSEs within the context of the school you attained them at but it's literally impossible to improve on what you got. You don't need to be a prodigy, you just need to be good.
All you can do now is write a decent personal statement (doesn't have to be amazing, but the better the better obviously) and prepare for the PAT. People usually don't finish the whole thing in time so one thing to work on is being able to answer as many questions as possible. The better your base knowledge, the more you do it, the quicker you'll become. Skip questions if you're taking too long.
Thanks for replying! Yeah its just the acceptance rate is around 10% and most applicants probably have same and more achievements than me. About the PAT... if you don’t mind me asking, did you sit it yourself ? If so then do you think it’s worth going through textbooks and year 2 maths before past papers ? Or is the best route to do all PAT papers.
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Sinnoh
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(Original post by Tj1120)
Thanks for replying! Yeah its just the acceptance rate is around 10% and most applicants probably have same and more achievements than me. About the PAT... if you don’t mind me asking, did you sit it yourself ? If so then do you think it’s worth going through textbooks and year 2 maths before past papers ? Or is the best route to do all PAT papers.
Ah yeah that's lower than I expected, the intake is very small. I did the NSAA for Cambridge and one thing I learnt - the hard way - is not to ignore A-level content. The best position to be doing these tests from is once you've mastered the content you've studied so far in A-level, albeit what's actually in the specification (if the PAT specification is available). Then do the past papers.
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hmmm101
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I like the physphil course too!

I think they have a lower PAT cutoff score, but then they make up for that lower score with a hard interview. Physics and Philosophy are known as two of the hardest subjects out there(apparently the average person's IQ who studies them is ~130ish and thats high). You also need two different skill sets for this course, the ability to argue and defend your view, and the ability to solve math problems with ease. Both these skills are hard to build up, so...
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by Tj1120)
Thanks for replying! Yeah its just the acceptance rate is around 10% and most applicants probably have same and more achievements than me. About the PAT... if you don’t mind me asking, did you sit it yourself ? If so then do you think it’s worth going through textbooks and year 2 maths before past papers ? Or is the best route to do all PAT papers.
(Original post by Sinnoh)
Ah yeah that's lower than I expected, the intake is very small. I did the NSAA for Cambridge and one thing I learnt - the hard way - is not to ignore A-level content. The best position to be doing these tests from is once you've mastered the content you've studied so far in A-level, albeit what's actually in the specification (if the PAT specification is available). Then do the past papers.
Something to bear in mind for PhysPhil is that most colleges consider applicants to PhysPhil for the core physics course as well - so if they feel you aren't able to cope with the philosophy element but are a good physicist, you may get an offer for the main physics course. This might explain to an extent the lower success rate for that course (i.e. they don't get into PhysPhil but do get into Oxford, just for physics).
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Tj1120
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(Original post by hmmm101)
I like the physphil course too!

I think they have a lower PAT cutoff score, but then they make up for that lower score with a hard interview. Physics and Philosophy are known as two of the hardest subjects out there(apparently the average person's IQ who studies them is ~130ish and thats high). You also need two different skill sets for this course, the ability to argue and defend your view, and the ability to solve math problems with ease. Both these skills are hard to build up, so...
Oh really? That’s quite interesting about the PAT score, and for sure it’s a high iq course the philsci modules look so interesting. You applying for next years entry as well?
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Tj1120
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Something to bear in mind for PhysPhil is that most colleges consider applicants to PhysPhil for the core physics course as well - so if they feel you aren't able to cope with the philosophy element but are a good physicist, you may get an offer for the main physics course. This might explain to an extent the lower success rate for that course (i.e. they don't get into PhysPhil but do get into Oxford, just for physics).
Ah ok thanks for replying. Although I feel that most people on the straight physics course are probably physics prodigies in some sense
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Tj1120
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(Original post by Sinnoh)
Ah yeah that's lower than I expected, the intake is very small. I did the NSAA for Cambridge and one thing I learnt - the hard way - is not to ignore A-level content. The best position to be doing these tests from is once you've mastered the content you've studied so far in A-level, albeit what's actually in the specification (if the PAT specification is available). Then do the past papers.
Thanks for the advice. Du think a 3A* and 1 A prediction is good enough (A in further) or should I not bother
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Sinnoh
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(Original post by Tj1120)
Thanks for the advice. Du think a 3A* and 1 A prediction is good enough (A in further) or should I not bother
Question - have you looked at their entry requirements at all?
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Tj1120
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(Original post by Sinnoh)
Question - have you looked at their entry requirements at all?
Yeh but I’m concerned about the perception of not being a strong student. Many applicants will reach the minimum requirements and not get in, and most that get in will probably have a 4A* prediction
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Sinnoh
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(Original post by Tj1120)
Yeh but I’m concerned about the perception of not being a strong student. Many applicants will reach the minimum requirements and not get in, and most that get in will probably have a 4A* prediction
If 4 A* were a requirement then they'd make it a requirement. There are many factors besides your A-level predictions anyway. The admissions test and interview is likely much more important for shortlisting applicants than just predicted grades, since the admissions staff know that predicted grades tend to be overestimates.
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