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Is the International Edexcel English Literature really that respected by top unis?

I have a problem as to what do about English Literature.
Here is the issue. It’s complicated.
I’m a thirty-something guy whose education was disrupted by severe, chronic illness, mental health issues, and autism.

In the UK, I’d be called a mature student. In the US, I’d be categorised as a non-traditional student.
I was a good student at school, despite my health problems. I earned AAA in History, Economics, and Politics. This was before they had the A* grades and it’s possible my History grade reached that threshold.

I matriculated at a top university, but I had to withdraw because of health problems.

I am trying to put my life back together. Unfortunately, because my exams are relatively old, I have to upgrade my qualifications by getting two new A-Levels. I’ve managed to make a plan for Mathematics but the English Literature is in a complete mess.

I’m limited to what universities I could apply to in the UK because there are only a couple that are realistically willing to grant me the various disability-related concessions. [part-time study for a transitional period, allowing me to live in university/college accommodation, etc].


Furthermore, I’m from Cyprus, and I may not be able to afford the tuition fees. And the Home Office may not let me enter the country as a sickly older student who needs to study part-time for a transitional period.

I’m also an American citizen, making me eligible for generous financial aid at several highly selective private liberal arts colleges and universities on the East Coast.

I need financial aid. In other words, if I can’t get near-total financial aid, I can’t go and study because I can’t afford student loans. I haven’t lived in America for a long time, so it would be hard to get a lender there to lend to me. As for Cyprus, my local bank didn’t want to lend me money to go to a top university in the UK the first time around, because they knew that my health made me a poor risk. It doesn’t matter that I’ve paid the loan back anyway. My credit rating is junk.

Unfortunately, only the top institutions offer the near-total financial aid. I’m really limited in my choices.

Actually, the Cypriot loan officer almost threw my application back at me when I told him what university I was attending. He either hadn’t heard of it, or he didn’t respect it because it doesn’t have a large Cypriot community. Alternatively, he may have believed that I wouldn’t make it because of my health.

Here is the problem with English Literature.

This is Cyprus. Unfortunately, English Literature isn’t rated highly in this country. There are too few parents who would let their children study the subject because they wrongly dismiss it as ‘soft’. They push their kids to the STEM subjects, or vocational A-Levels like Accounting. Another reason why there isn’t such a high demand for English Literature is that the students themselves are reluctant to take it.

I was educated at a good private school. My peers were generally expected to do at least four A-Levels and on AS. You see, it was almost mandatory for the students to study Modern Greek A-Level and have that exam done by Year Six. As it involves a lot of history, culture, etc, a lot of my peers had a ton of reading already and weren’t up for taking English Literature as a fifth A-Level.

I don’t have a Modern Greek A-Level because I couldn’t handle the Greek with all of my medical absences and my autism created difficulties.

It’s a good school, but I graduated before the A-Levels were overhauled. Even the best private schools and tutoring centers lack the resources needed to help students fulfill the coursework obligations with the new linear A-Levels from the two perceived ‘gold standard’ exam boards, the Home Edexcel and the OCR [Oxford Cambridge Royal Society of Arts].

Most schools, institutes, and tutoring centers follow Cambridge International, which is highly rated. A few follow the International Edexcel which isn’t so highly rated. I don’t know if any follow the AQA.





My problem boils down to these conundrums. I can’t find anyone willing to tutor a thirty-something male with health problems. There is a stigma against both physical and mental illness, and people look at me and think “if you didn’t succeed the first time, you will never make it, mate”.

It took me nine months to find a math tutor. I’m due to start lessons in June. It’s eleven months in, and I haven’t found an English Literature tutor.

The lack of a tutor is the first conundrum. The second conundrum is that if I do find somebody, they’d insist on the International Edexcel. Unfortunately, the top institutions I’m targeting don’t seem to respect it as much as they respect the other exam specifications. They don’t think it is rigorous and challenging enough. They think it’s suited for students whose first language isn’t English. True, other students probably apply to them with the International Edexcel in English Literature, but they are teenagers doing three or four exams, not thirty-somethings doing just two.

If they don’t like the International Edexcel, I may have to do another A-Level in addition to the Maths and English Literature to get in, and I will end up taking longer. Plus, I don’t have the money, and who says I can find anyone willing to tutor me in other subjects?


Is it true that the International Edexcel English Literature exam isn’t as respected as the Home Edexcel, OCR and Cambridge International?

I’m really depressed by this.
I've never heard of unis preferring one exam board over another - things may be different in Cyprus but in the UK no unis particularly care what exam board you do, just your results!

In terms of finding a tutor you may have better luck looking for online tutors who aren't necessarily from Cyprus, as a) they may be less likely to have preconceived biases about which students they take and b) you may find it easier to find someone able to tutor you for that particular exam board.

Although that said, I think English lit is somewhat less prone to differences between exam boards than something like maths, since the fundamental principles of literary analysis will hold throughout and it's less likely you'll be asked questions about particular topics in particular, differing ways - you'll just have similar style questions but on different texts as applicable to your exam board/syllabus (and any English lit tutor in principle should be able to tutor you for whatever texts are on the syllabus, if they're a decent tutor).
Reply 2
Original post by artful_lounger
I've never heard of unis preferring one exam board over another - things may be different in Cyprus but in the UK no unis particularly care what exam board you do, just your results!

In terms of finding a tutor you may have better luck looking for online tutors who aren't necessarily from Cyprus, as a) they may be less likely to have preconceived biases about which students they take and b) you may find it easier to find someone able to tutor you for that particular exam board.

Although that said, I think English lit is somewhat less prone to differences between exam boards than something like maths, since the fundamental principles of literary analysis will hold throughout and it's less likely you'll be asked questions about particular topics in particular, differing ways - you'll just have similar style questions but on different texts as applicable to your exam board/syllabus (and any English lit tutor in principle should be able to tutor you for whatever texts are on the syllabus, if they're a decent tutor).

Thanks for replying. I can't really do it online because it doesn't work with my autism. I also need to be affiliated with some school or institute to take the exam. And I've asked some US colleges I'm targeting if they would accept the International Edexcel. They didn't give a clear answer. They pointed to their policies which specifically said "Cambridge International", or OCR, or Home Edexcel. I take it as "if you can't find the right exam board, tough. You need to try harder because you are asking a lot from us should you apply and be admitted."
Original post by ElderYew
Thanks for replying. I can't really do it online because it doesn't work with my autism. I also need to be affiliated with some school or institute to take the exam. And I've asked some US colleges I'm targeting if they would accept the International Edexcel. They didn't give a clear answer. They pointed to their policies which specifically said "Cambridge International", or OCR, or Home Edexcel. I take it as "if you can't find the right exam board, tough. You need to try harder because you are asking a lot from us should you apply and be admitted."

I'm pretty sure US colleges will accept any A-level exam board, as UK students tend to take a mix of exam boards and very few would have only Edexcel or OCR exams.
Reply 4
Original post by artful_lounger
I'm pretty sure US colleges will accept any A-level exam board, as UK students tend to take a mix of exam boards and very few would have only Edexcel or OCR exams.

Only problem is that I'm not in the UK.
Original post by ElderYew
Only problem is that I'm not in the UK.

I realise that, my point being that the same principle will apply to you. I would be very surprised if they did not accept A-levels from any exam board, international or domestic. Unless your A-level certificate is obviously forged or something I can't imagine they wouldn't accept it.
Reply 6
Original post by artful_lounger
I realise that, my point being that the same principle will apply to you. I would be very surprised if they did not accept A-levels from any exam board, international or domestic. Unless your A-level certificate is obviously forged or something I can't imagine they wouldn't accept it.

I hope you are right. It's not that they may say outright that they won't accept it. It's that if I'm up against a candidate for admission who has their preferred board, I may get rejected.
Original post by ElderYew
I hope you are right. It's not that they may say outright that they won't accept it. It's that if I'm up against a candidate for admission who has their preferred board, I may get rejected.

Again, I'd be surprised if that was the case - I don't think that's really how admissions at any university works, in the US or elsewhere. Generally they tend to be fairly transparent and make it clear whether your qualifications are acceptable or not in terms of potentially meeting their requirements. If yes, then they will just consider your GPA/grades/etc equally with any other applicant. Splitting hairs like that isn't really productive or practical for admissions tutors, and also there are potentially legal ramifications for having opaque "preferences" in admissions that unis tend to like to avoid...

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