TardigradeTyrant
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Hello, I'm a 16 year old Irish student about to face their final year of school and have to decide on colleges within the next few weeks. I was thinking of Cambridge because of their reputation in the physics department. However, the grade systems here are quite different and I know they are quite eager about 'AS Levels' - something we do not have here. The only state exam I've taken is the Junior Cert (GCSEs) where I got 3 A's ,((85-100%) - there is no A*), in subjects relative to the course I want to do and B's (75-85%) in everything else. I know these grades are nowhere near Cambridge standard but I took them quite young and had no idea what college I wanted to go to, which resulted in me not caring enough to do well in them (the B's). I also went to quite a small school in the middle of nowhere, which does poor academically in general. To put in perspective I was the only one in my year (100 people) to receive an A grade in higher level maths. Once again, I'm the only one to blame at the end of the day but I just wanted to come on here to ask if my chances of going to Cambridge are ruined? Are these grades outrageous for a school like this? For the leaving cert I am doing all subjects I enjoy, Maths, Applied Maths, Physics, Chemistry, DCG and French, and have gotten straight A's in class exams, so I know I can do well in the leaving cert but the application is due October so I dont think they will have the chance to see that. I've also done self study in maths and physics outside of the curriculum (for pure enjoyment) and read numerous books by accomplished people in the field.
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Sinnoh
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You kind of cut off mid-sentence, did you hit 'post' too early?
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TardigradeTyrant
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(Original post by Sinnoh)
You kind of cut off mid-sentence, did you hit 'post' too early?
My apologies, a glitch occured and it deleted half of what I had to say but I think it's fixed now.
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GabiAbi84
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Are you doing the higher leaving cert or the ordinary leaving cert?
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TardigradeTyrant
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(Original post by GabiAbi84)
Are you doing the higher leaving cert or the ordinary leaving cert?
Thank you for replying! Yes, I did all higher level subjects for the Junior Cert and am currently doing all higher level for the Leaving cert.
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artful_lounger
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I'd suggest contacting Cambridge directly to clarify with them about Irish qualifications and meeting their requirements, but generally I think the issue here isn't grades but potentially the level of the qualification. I'm not really that familiar with Irish qualifications though, I'd recommend you speak with your school/teachers about what the equivalent university preparatory study would be.

Generally Cambridge doesn't care whether applicants do A-levels, IB, or some other equivalent qualification, but they do expect applicants to have done some kind of 6th form level university preparatory course of study (sometimes with specified subjects; for physical natural sciences they would generally expect this to include physics, maths, and either something similar to A-level Further Maths or biology/chemistry, with the latter likely being more relevant). If you only have qualifications up to the equivalent of GCSE level you will not meet their requirements and your application will automatically be unsuccessful.

If there is no suitable qualification under the Irish school system you could look into the possibility of e.g. taking distance learning A-levels (bearing in mind though Cambridge will expect you to take the science endorsement/practicals for any science A-level subjects offered) or something along those lines.
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GabiAbi84
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(Original post by TardigradeTyrant)
Thank you for replying! Yes, I did all higher level subjects for the Junior Cert and am currently doing all higher level for the Leaving cert.
So your leaving cert is what you will be applying with and be given offers on.
Your 6 subjects are equal to 3 Alevels.
Courses with typical entry options of A*AA would require H1,H1,H1,H2,H2,H2.
And courses with entry requirements of A*A*A would require H1,H1,H1,H1,H2,H2
I assume you will be given predicted grades when applying before you sit the leaving cert.
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GabiAbi84
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https://www.undergraduate.study.cam....e-requirements
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TardigradeTyrant
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(Original post by GabiAbi84)
So your leaving cert is what you will be applying with and be given offers on.
Your 6 subjects are equal to 3 Alevels.
Courses with typical entry options of A*AA would require H1,H1,H1,H2,H2,H2.
And courses with entry requirements of A*A*A would require H1,H1,H1,H1,H2,H2
I assume you will be given predicted grades when applying before you sit the leaving cert.
Thank you, that makes a lot more sense. The only part I was confused about was predicted grades because It's not a very common thing done over here but I'm sure I'll have no problem getting them. It's such a relief to know that 14 year old me hasn't COMPLETELY destroyed my chances haha.
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TardigradeTyrant
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
I'd suggest contacting Cambridge directly to clarify with them about Irish qualifications and meeting their requirements, but generally I think the issue here isn't grades but potentially the level of the qualification. I'm not really that familiar with Irish qualifications though, I'd recommend you speak with your school/teachers about what the equivalent university preparatory study would be.

Generally Cambridge doesn't care whether applicants do A-levels, IB, or some other equivalent qualification, but they do expect applicants to have done some kind of 6th form level university preparatory course of study (sometimes with specified subjects; for physical natural sciences they would generally expect this to include physics, maths, and either something similar to A-level Further Maths or biology/chemistry, with the latter likely being more relevant). If you only have qualifications up to the equivalent of GCSE level you will not meet their requirements and your application will automatically be unsuccessful.

If there is no suitable qualification under the Irish school system you could look into the possibility of e.g. taking distance learning A-levels (bearing in mind though Cambridge will expect you to take the science endorsement/practicals for any science A-level subjects offered) or something along those lines.
Thank you so much, I think the leaving cert is the equivelant to A levels apart from the grading system and the amount of subjects you must do (minimum of 6 over here). I think my biggest concern really was that they would see the B's on my junior cert results and immediately discard my application.
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by TardigradeTyrant)
Thank you so much, I think the leaving cert is the equivelant to A levels apart from the grading system and the amount of subjects you must do (minimum of 6 over here). I think my biggest concern really was that they would see the B's on my junior cert results and immediately discard my application.
Well for UK students Cambridge doesn't really care much about GCSEs generally (the same is not true of Oxford who do in general use GCSEs for domestic students to shortlist for interview), and for natural sciences the NSAA will have far more weight than GCSEs. Cambridge also generally view an "upward trajectory" in grades favourably, even if you apply to a course without a pre-interview admissions assessment that would generally take precedence over GCSE results (e.g. the maths with physics option for maths). Both Oxford and Cambridge also will always consider grades in the context of your school's performance relative to national averages, although as you're applying from Ireland they may need this to be addressed in your academic reference since they won't have access to the same data they do for UK schools to contextualise things.
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