How important is the 4th A level grade for Oxbridge?

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_shehryar_
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#1
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If I were to get a B in a subject (Physics) not related to my degree (Law), would it disadvantage me? My dad really wants me to take Physics in A levels for personal reasons but I’m worried I might not be able to get an A* or A in it and will likely end up with a B, that might hurt my chances of getting into Cambridge. I plan on taking a gap year after I achieve my A level grades since I’m gonna be working a bit with my dad etc - so I’ll have achieved grades. I’m pretty certain I’d get a B in physics though, but it would really make things easier at home if I take it and even get a B since it’s my family that’s paying for the whole thing anyway. So if I take it and then get a B how would this be viewed by Cambridge

I’m also gonna be taking History, Literature and Law at A level
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DataVenia
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My concern would not be the B in Physics, but that by taking an irrelevant 4th A level, you have less time available for the other 3 and jeopardise the grades for those as a result.

If having to focus on Physics too means one of those other grades drops slightly, then that would adversely impact your application.
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_shehryar_
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(Original post by DataVenia)
My concern would not be the B in Physics, but that by taking an irrelevant 4th A level, you have less time available for the other 3 and jeopardise the grades for those as a result.

If having to focus on Physics too means one of those other grades drops slightly, then that would adversely impact your application.
I wouldn’t be focusing too much on Physics - or atleast not enough to let my other 3 subjects slip. I actually enjoy all 3 subjects quite a lot and have been informally studying for them myself already, so my main concern is just the potential B in Physics
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DataVenia
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(Original post by _shehryar_)
I wouldn’t be focusing too much on Physics - or atleast not enough to let my other 3 subjects slip. I actually enjoy all 3 subjects quite a lot and have been informally studying for them myself already, so my main concern is just the potential B in Physics
Understood. So, assuming your other grades don't slip at all, then you're trying to compare a version of yourself who has "A*AA" (for example) and a version who has "A*AAB". I can't imagine any scenario where, as long as your other grades remain the same, that B would harm you application - in fact, quite the reverse.

Take a look at the Entry Information section for Law at Cambridge on DiscoverUni. It shows that there's a whole range of grade profiles for successful applicants. They provide this information in terms of UCAS tariff points, which is awkward, but we can see that 16% of people got in with between 176 and 191 points. A*A*A* gets you 168 points, so these applicants must have taken a 4th A level. The standard entry requirement is A*AA. If they'd have got an A in their 4th subject, they'd have been on 200 points. So these students must (I think!) have attained at least A*AA in their best three subjects and less than an A in their fourth. (Warning: Those stats show that a lot of students accepted to Law at Cambridge have a huge number of points.)

BTW, don't forget you'll need to study for the LNAT too.
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_shehryar_
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(Original post by DataVenia)
Understood. So, assuming your other grades don't slip at all, then you're trying to compare a version of yourself who has "A*AA" (for example) and a version who has "A*AAB". I can't imagine any scenario where, as long as your other grades remain the same, that B would harm you application - in fact, quite the reverse.

Take a look at the Entry Information section for Law at Cambridge on DiscoverUni. It shows that there's a whole range of grade profiles for successful applicants. They provide this information in terms of UCAS tariff points, which is awkward, but we can see that 16% of people got in with between 176 and 191 points. A*A*A* gets you 168 points, so these applicants must have taken a 4th A level. The standard entry requirement is A*AA. If they'd have got an A in their 4th subject, they'd have been on 200 points. So these students must (I think!) have attained at least A*AA in their best three subjects and less than an A in their fourth. (Warning: Those stats show that a lot of students accepted to Law at Cambridge have a huge number of points.)

BTW, don't forget you'll need to study for the LNAT too.
Thank you so much for the detailed analysis - I really can’t tell you how much it has helped. That’s a lot of data to analyse so I really appreciate it

I’ll focus primarily on my 3 core subjects and try to make sure I don’t let those slip, and hope for the best in Physics. As you’ve said, the main goal is to ensure I don’t sacrifice my 3 core subjs for the 4th additional one. Many many thanks once again
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_gcx
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How hard is this "wanting" to do physics. If you didn't take physics would he then be hesitant to support you, or just a bit annoyed? If the latter, I'd say just don't take physics. This really doesn't put you at a good start, not really wanting to do the subject in the first place.

I doubt it'd seriously impact your application at a B. Not even sure why they'd want you to take it considering Physics alone would be insufficient for most science degrees, [especially anywhere near oxbridge] including the bulk of physics ones because of the lack of maths.
Last edited by _gcx; 1 month ago
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Freefrom
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My son is doing 4 A'levels. His offer is 2a* and an a in maths for NatSci, so you don't need to do 4. He had to do maths to help with his application, but loves all the sciences and couldn't bring himself to drop one. His offer from York was 4 a's though.
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Theloniouss
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#8
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(Original post by DataVenia)
Understood. So, assuming your other grades don't slip at all, then you're trying to compare a version of yourself who has "A*AA" (for example) and a version who has "A*AAB". I can't imagine any scenario where, as long as your other grades remain the same, that B would harm you application - in fact, quite the reverse.

Take a look at the Entry Information section for Law at Cambridge on DiscoverUni. It shows that there's a whole range of grade profiles for successful applicants. They provide this information in terms of UCAS tariff points, which is awkward, but we can see that 16% of people got in with between 176 and 191 points. A*A*A* gets you 168 points, so these applicants must have taken a 4th A level. The standard entry requirement is A*AA. If they'd have got an A in their 4th subject, they'd have been on 200 points. So these students must (I think!) have attained at least A*AA in their best three subjects and less than an A in their fourth. (Warning: Those stats show that a lot of students accepted to Law at Cambridge have a huge number of points.)

BTW, don't forget you'll need to study for the LNAT too.
It's worth noting that UCAS points are not only for A levels (etc.) You get UCAS points for music grades 6 and above, as well as minor qualifications like AS levels and EPQs - you even get UCAS points for things like first aid and childline training! (you can find a full list here: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/w...ions-are-worth) So unfortunately it's a pretty awful indicator of achieved A levels.
Last edited by Theloniouss; 4 weeks ago
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threeportdrift
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#9
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#9
(Original post by _shehryar_)
If I were to get a B in a subject (Physics) not related to my degree (Law), would it disadvantage me? My dad really wants me to take Physics in A levels for personal reasons but I’m worried I might not be able to get an A* or A in it and will likely end up with a B, that might hurt my chances of getting into Cambridge. I plan on taking a gap year after I achieve my A level grades since I’m gonna be working a bit with my dad etc - so I’ll have achieved grades. I’m pretty certain I’d get a B in physics though, but it would really make things easier at home if I take it and even get a B since it’s my family that’s paying for the whole thing anyway. So if I take it and then get a B how would this be viewed by Cambridge

I’m also gonna be taking History, Literature and Law at A level
Cambridge don't negatively mark, so a B in Physics would have no effect. With History, Literature and Law, you won't be able to take forward anything Physics related, so it is very unlikely to be asked for as a 4th A level.

Your Dad needs to have a talk with himself and work out why he's burdening you with a completely useless 4th A level.
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