Are GCSEs really contextualised in Oxford? How important is the contextualisation?

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Anonymous #1
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Sorry for the poorly worded question, I don't know how to phrase it
Basically I know Oxford (and maybe Cambridge, I'm not sure?) look at GCSes in a contextualised manner (in relation to your school's performance). However, how important is this contextualization? Because by this measure, someone with 3-4A* in GCSE in a school that averages only a few A grades would be at more of an advantage than someone with 10-12A* in a school that averages good grades. My point being, a lot of people hype up how GCSEs are 'contextualised' in Oxford, but does this really matter?
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Sorry for the poorly worded question, I don't know how to phrase it
Basically I know Oxford (and maybe Cambridge, I'm not sure?) look at GCSes in a contextualised manner (in relation to your school's performance). However, how important is this contextualization? Because by this measure, someone with 3-4A* in GCSE in a school that averages only a few A grades would be at more of an advantage than someone with 10-12A* in a school that averages good grades. My point being, a lot of people hype up how GCSEs are 'contextualised' in Oxford, but does this really matter?
Hi there! I cannot speak comprehensively for Oxford, but I can explain what we do at Cambridge.

In the spreadsheets of all students applying for a particular course/college, we see three lots of data about GCSE results:

- raw A*, A and below that grades. We still use the lettered system because that's what students in Wales and NI get and we can't differentiate them into 8s and 9s. 8s and 9s = A*, 7 = A. We see a breakdown of actual grades (i.e. which subjects were exactly which grade) elsewhere, but not on the spreadsheet.
- GCSE grades adjusted for school performance. If a student from a school performing above average got 7A* (or equivalent) and 3A grades, then we would see an adjusted score of 7.0. If a student from a below-average performing school got 7A* and 3A grades, we would see a score of at least 7.3. Each A grade is multiplied by a coefficient which is calculated based on how schools perform, with higher coefficients for lower performing schools. No student will ever have an adjusted grade number that is lower than their raw grade number.
- which quintile (i.e.) 20% of your GCSE school cohort you performed in. At some schools, 3 A*s would put a student in the top 20% of their cohort. At others, it would put them in the bottom 40%.

We also have access to Department for Education data on school performance at GCSE.

One important thing to bear in mind is that a high number of top grades will always be impressive. The aim of contextualisation is to ensure that students who have achieved good grades at lower performing schools aren't overlooked when there are other students with higher grades and to make comparing students easier.

You can find information about Cambridge's approach here. Oxford are a little less forthcoming, but there information is here. I hope this helps.
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username4218074
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Sorry for the poorly worded question, I don't know how to phrase it
Basically I know Oxford (and maybe Cambridge, I'm not sure?) look at GCSes in a contextualised manner (in relation to your school's performance). However, how important is this contextualization? Because by this measure, someone with 3-4A* in GCSE in a school that averages only a few A grades would be at more of an advantage than someone with 10-12A* in a school that averages good grades. My point being, a lot of people hype up how GCSEs are 'contextualised' in Oxford, but does this really matter?
Depends on course as to how important they are but they're compared to the average of your school and adjusted from 0.00 to -3.5 (i think) to +3.5. Numbers themselves might be different but they go from 0 to negative to positive
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