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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camfess
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I talked to Cambridge University at your age and they wanted straight As including at least 4A1s at leaving cert. I was also told I’d need to take a supplementary chemistry course. This was back in 1994 though 😀

I found that a bit rich as with those grades I’d have received a full scholarship to Trinity College Dublin.

I did go to TCD in Dublin to read Natural Sciences and found it to be an excellent education. The first two years were more general and the final two years of specialisation (moderatorship) are very Cambridge like with small group supervisions and small classes with experts who push you.

I ended up getting a first at TCD and then doing my PhD at Cambridge. With this knowledge, I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed an intense three year course. I really flourished in 4th year at TCD and grew to love my subject.

It’s all about personal preference but Ireland has some excellent universities for undergrad. Why not consider looking at Cambridge for a PhD in the future instead?
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TardigradeTyrant
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(Original post by camfess)
I talked to Cambridge University at your age and they wanted straight As including at least 4A1s at leaving cert. I was also told I’d need to take a supplementary chemistry course. This was back in 1994 though 😀

I found that a bit rich as with those grades I’d have received a full scholarship to Trinity College Dublin.

I did go to TCD in Dublin to read Natural Sciences and found it to be an excellent education. The first two years were more general and the final two years of specialisation (moderatorship) are very Cambridge like with small group supervisions and small classes with experts who push you.

I ended up getting a first at TCD and then doing my PhD at Cambridge. I now teach at Cambridge and am a DoS at a college. With this knowledge, I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed an intense three year course. I really flourished in 4th year at TCD and grew to love my subject.

It’s all about personal preference but Ireland has some excellent universities for undergrad. Why not consider looking at Cambridge for a PhD in the future instead?
Thank you for your response - yes trinity is an excellent institution, I will definitely apply there. It's just a more of a personal longing for cambridge that has me drawn to it. I remember ages ago reading some of Stephen hawkings books and I just idolised him. I thought he was just as humourous as he was fascinating and you could really see the passion he had for physics and I just found it really inspiring. He had mentioned he had gone to cambridge - I admittedly didn't even know it existed until then - and of course as a child I wanted to be just like him so cambridge was the goal.

Now that I'm older, I know more about the work ethic and it is ideal for me. After years of the slow and steady pace of the Irish education system I just really really want a challenge and a place where I can fully submerge myself in physics and to meet others who will do the same. Of course with the coronavirus restrictions, I'm not sure if moving countries is the best thing to do at the moment, but I'd be willing to do it if I get accepted. Do you mind if I ask what subject you specialised in?
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camfess
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(Original post by TardigradeTyrant)
Thank you for your response - yes trinity is an excellent institution, I will definitely apply there. It's just a more of a personal longing for cambridge that has me drawn to it. I remember ages ago reading some of Stephen hawkings books and I just idolised him. I thought he was just as humourous as he was fascinating and you could really see the passion he had for physics and I just found it really inspiring. He had mentioned he had gone to cambridge - I admittedly didn't even know it existed until then - and of course as a child I wanted to be just like him so cambridge was the goal.

Now that I'm older, I know more about the work ethic and it is ideal for me. After years of the slow and steady pace of the Irish education system I just really really want a challenge and a place where I can fully submerge myself in physics and to meet others who will do the same. Of course with the coronavirus restrictions, I'm not sure if moving countries is the best thing to do at the moment, but I'd be willing to do it if I get accepted. Do you mind if I ask what subject you specialised in?
You should go for it if it means a lot to you!

Having a passion for a subject is hard to fake at interview and it sounds like you genuinely love the subject. When interviewing candidates you frequently feel like they are reading off a script. It is so nice to see a candidate's eyes light up when they discuss something they love with passion and enthusiasm.

I'd recommend visiting for an open day. A flight to Stanstead from Ireland is inexpensive and it's 40 mins from Cambridge.

I just found the Irish Leaving Cert was overly general for someone who loved the sciences. Had I done A-levels, I'd have been able to focus on STEM and I think I'd have done very very well. With leaving cert, I got Bs in English and German so it didn't matter that I had A1s across the sciences and maths. I suspect they are still requiring 6A grades meaning at least some would need to be languages, but I'm not 100% sure.

I specialised in Genetics at TCD and came up to Cambridge for a Ph.D. working on the human genome project. I had a passion for the subject and Cambridge was the place to come at that time for molecular biology and the beginning of genomics. My department at Trinity had me very well set up for a Ph.D. interview and my undergraduate project work in Dublin really helped.
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TardigradeTyrant
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(Original post by camfess)
You should go for it if it means a lot to you!

Having a passion for a subject is hard to fake at interview and it sounds like you genuinely love the subject. When interviewing candidates you frequently feel like they are reading off a script. It is so nice to see a candidate's eyes light up when they discuss something they love with passion and enthusiasm.

I'd recommend visiting for an open day. A flight to Stanstead from Ireland is inexpensive and it's 40 mins from Cambridge.

I just found the Irish Leaving Cert was overly general for someone who loved the sciences. Had I done A-levels, I'd have been able to focus on STEM and I think I'd have done very very well. With leaving cert, I got Bs in English and German so it didn't matter that I had A1s across the sciences and maths. I suspect they are still requiring 6A grades meaning at least some would need to be languages, but I'm not 100% sure.

I specialised in Genetics at TCD and came up to Cambridge for a Ph.D. working on the human genome project. I had a passion for the subject and Cambridge was the place to come at that time for molecular biology and the beginning of genomics. My department at Trinity had me very well set up for a Ph.D. interview and my undergraduate project work in Dublin really helped.
I completely agree with you on how the Irish education system works. I think it's great for students who don't know what areas they want to pursue but for people like you and I that know exactly where we want to work, it's a bit of a shame really. Honestly, I love learning new things, I think having an education is the ultimate goal for anyone but I would much rather learn the sciences in depth than having to do languages too.

That's very impressive. I will admit I'm not too familiar in the field of genetics but to have taken part in a project like that is a huge accomplishment. You should be really proud.

Once again, thank you so much for your insight - it's really appreciated. No one in my family has ever gone to college and the guidance counselor can't pronounce my name so he just avoids me altogether, so it's really great to get some advice.
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FMR96
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(Original post by camfess)
You should go for it if it means a lot to you!

Having a passion for a subject is hard to fake at interview and it sounds like you genuinely love the subject. When interviewing candidates you frequently feel like they are reading off a script. It is so nice to see a candidate's eyes light up when they discuss something they love with passion and enthusiasm.

I'd recommend visiting for an open day. A flight to Stanstead from Ireland is inexpensive and it's 40 mins from Cambridge.

I just found the Irish Leaving Cert was overly general for someone who loved the sciences. Had I done A-levels, I'd have been able to focus on STEM and I think I'd have done very very well. With leaving cert, I got Bs in English and German so it didn't matter that I had A1s across the sciences and maths. I suspect they are still requiring 6A grades meaning at least some would need to be languages, but I'm not 100% sure.

I specialised in Genetics at TCD and came up to Cambridge for a Ph.D. working on the human genome project. I had a passion for the subject and Cambridge was the place to come at that time for molecular biology and the beginning of genomics. My department at Trinity had me very well set up for a Ph.D. interview and my undergraduate project work in Dublin really helped.
I'm an Irish student who finished my undergrad in UCD this year. I am moving to London in September to start my masters at Kings College.
Out of curiosity, does Cambridge require a first in undergrad to do a Ph.D there? I have a 2.1.
I'm sure I want to do a Ph.D after my masters and was wondering if it was worth my while applying to Cambridge.
For context my undergrad was in biomedical science so perhaps you would know what the medical science related departments look for in a PH.D applicant.

Also I personally enjoyed the breadth of the LC curriculum as I had interests in both humanities and sciences so it was a nice mix for me to explore all those subjects I enjoyed.
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camfess
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(Original post by FMR96)
I'm an Irish student who finished my undergrad in UCD this year. I am moving to London in September to start my masters at Kings College.
Out of curiosity, does Cambridge require a first in undergrad to do a Ph.D there? I have a 2.1.
I'm sure I want to do a Ph.D after my masters and was wondering if it was worth my while applying to Cambridge.
For context my undergrad was in biomedical science so perhaps you would know what the medical science related departments look for in a PH.D applicant.

Also I personally enjoyed the breadth of the LC curriculum as I had interests in both humanities and sciences so it was a nice mix for me to explore all those subjects I enjoyed.
Nice one, congrats, you will enjoy London.

Cambridge requires a 2.1. or higher. I’ve seen a lot of Irish grads come to Cambridge for a Ph.D. and do well. Absolutely worth coming for a PhD, especially if it’s a project and a supervisor you really like. A PhD project is definitely more about who you are working with and what you are doing than about where you are doing it. However, Cambridge has a very broad spectrum.

I always expected more Irish grads to apply over here, we seem a bit under represented in Cambridge. Edinburgh was always popular but never Cambridge so much, not sure why!

Cambridge had/has a snooty reputation but to be honest I saw more of that in TCD than I ever did here!
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FMR96
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(Original post by camfess)
Nice one, congrats, you will enjoy London.

Cambridge requires a 2.1. or higher. I’ve seen a lot of Irish grads come to Cambridge for a Ph.D. and do well. Absolutely worth coming for a PhD, especially if it’s a project and a supervisor you really like. A PhD project is definitely more about who you are working with and what you are doing than about where you are doing it. However, Cambridge has a very broad spectrum.

I always expected more Irish grads to apply over here, we seem a bit under represented in Cambridge. Edinburgh was always popular but never Cambridge so much, not sure why!

Cambridge had/has a snooty reputation but to be honest I saw more of that in TCD than I ever did here!
Thank you for the information!
I'll definitely be looking into Cambridge and figuring out if there are any projects I like.
I think some people are wary of the traditions in Cambridge(also Oxford) and perceive them as alienating/snobby. I personally think I'd enjoy the atmosphere but have friends who would never consider applying.
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Scuagaire
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(Original post by TardigradeTyrant)
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.
Hi. Another Irish student here. Just wondering if you applied to Cambridge in the end and whether you've been offered an interview?
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Rittergo
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