Should I drop a fourth subject?

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dlyyds
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#1
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Hi, I am currently in Y12 studying A Levels and will be doing my mocks soon in 7 days. I am studying English Literature, Business, Economics and Maths, with current predicted grades of A*A*AB respectively. I was also doing EPQ, but I think I kind of messed it up, as the internal assessor at our school gave me 39/54.

Is it still worth dropping Business now, even though I am predicted an A*? ´Cause I am pretty insecure about my grades and I might mess up in the mocks too.

Would taking three subjects and a weak EPQ make me less competitive when applying to prestigious uni eg UCL?
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DryTowel
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What course are you planning on applying to? Different courses will have different levels of competition.
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dlyyds
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#3
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(Original post by DryTowel)
What course are you planning on applying to? Different courses will have different levels of competition.
I want to apply for PPE, though I know they would require an A* in Maths. Currently working towards it.
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DryTowel
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If u you need to reduce your workload in order to up your Maths grade, its definitely the right choice imo- but obvs 4 would look better considering how competitive PPE is.
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dlyyds
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#5
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(Original post by DryTowel)
If u you need to reduce your workload in order to up your Maths grade, its definitely the right choice imo- but obvs 4 would look better considering how competitive PPE is.
Yeah, though the only thing is whether a weaker EPQ alongside 3 A Levels would make them not consider my application at all.
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DryTowel
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Nah, icl EPQs really don't matter a great deal. They're really helpful for having something else to talk about in your personal statement as a demonstration of your interest in the subject you're applying for, but not much beyond that. Having the right grades and a strong PS is 10x more important.
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artful_lounger
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Four subjects is unnecessary and not helpful in admissions, and I would note the combination of business studies and economics is frequently not considered as two separate subjects anyway - so most unis would likely be making a 3 A-level offer excluding one of those two subjects anyway. Therefore I'd suggest dropping one of those two.

EPQ won't be considered unless you get the grade required for a lowered offer, and many unis don't even have such schemes anyway (in which case they generally just don't consider it outside of what you discuss about it in your personal statement).
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dlyyds
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#8
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Ohhh, that's a relief! Thanks!

(Original post by DryTowel)
Nah, icl EPQs really don't matter a great deal. They're really helpful for having something else to talk about in your personal statement as a demonstration of your interest in the subject you're applying for, but not much beyond that. Having the right grades and a strong PS is 10x more important.
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dlyyds
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#9
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Got that. Thanks!

(Original post by artful_lounger)
Four subjects is unnecessary and not helpful in admissions, and I would note the combination of business studies and economics is frequently not considered as two separate subjects anyway - so most unis would likely be making a 3 A-level offer excluding one of those two subjects anyway. Therefore I'd suggest dropping one of those two.

EPQ won't be considered unless you get the grade required for a lowered offer, and many unis don't even have such schemes anyway (in which case they generally just don't consider it outside of what you discuss about it in your personal statement).
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DryTowel
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Four subjects is unnecessary and not helpful in admissions, and I would note the combination of business studies and economics is frequently not considered as two separate subjects anyway - so most unis would likely be making a 3 A-level offer excluding one of those two subjects anyway. Therefore I'd suggest dropping one of those two.

EPQ won't be considered unless you get the grade required for a lowered offer, and many unis don't even have such schemes anyway (in which case they generally just don't consider it outside of what you discuss about it in your personal statement).
Really? Of course, for most unis and most courses it doesn't matter, However, I've heard that some select courses like Natural Sciences at Cambridge prefer both maths, FM, and 2 sciences. There's a few people in my year with 4 A levels in their offers, including one with 4 A*s in his engineering offer (rip), which would suggest that unis expect some of their applicants to do 4 A levels, or at least that they care about it in some way.
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ajj2000
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#11
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(Original post by DryTowel)
Really? Of course, for most unis and most courses it doesn't matter, However, I've heard that some select courses like Natural Sciences at Cambridge prefer both maths, FM, and 2 sciences. There's a few people in my year with 4 A levels in their offers, including one with 4 A*s in his engineering offer (rip), which would suggest that unis expect some of their applicants to do 4 A levels, or at least that they care about it in some way.
FM as a fourth for STEM courses is the exception.
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by DryTowel)
Really? Of course, for most unis and most courses it doesn't matter, However, I've heard that some select courses like Natural Sciences at Cambridge prefer both maths, FM, and 2 sciences. There's a few people in my year with 4 A levels in their offers, including one with 4 A*s in his engineering offer (rip), which would suggest that unis expect some of their applicants to do 4 A levels, or at least that they care about it in some way.
Not all schools are able to offer four A-levels, and those that don't tend to be underperforming ones (and/or underfunded ones) and Oxford and Cambridge are extremely concerned with making sure they are not implicitly biasing against strong applicants who may be going to such schools since those same applicants also tend to be from underrepresented groups in higher education. Therefore, there is not a "preference" for it, outside of recognising that maths and further maths are good preparation for engineering and physical sciences subjects, and for natural sciences at Cambridge students with two experimental sciences will have a wider range of options in first year.

So no, they do not "prefer it" and are quite clear about that. Also more to the point, they're very clear they much prefer 3 very strong results to 4 more mediocre ones - A*A*A >> A*ABB as far as they are concerned. Additionally, normally they make offers on the basis of 3 A-levels unless all four are relevant subjects, which in the OPs case wouldn't be anyway. Finally in the OPs specific case, as noted most universities comparable to Oxbridge (no idea if they themselves still have this stance) strongly do not prefer the combination of business studies and economics and usually do not consider both as part of a 3 A-level offer anyway.
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DryTowel
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Not all schools are able to offer four A-levels, and those that don't tend to be underperforming ones (and/or underfunded ones) and Oxford and Cambridge are extremely concerned with making sure they are not implicitly biasing against strong applicants who may be going to such schools since those same applicants also tend to be from underrepresented groups in higher education. Therefore, there is not a "preference" for it, outside of recognising that maths and further maths are good preparation for engineering and physical sciences subjects, and for natural sciences at Cambridge students with two experimental sciences will have a wider range of options in first year.

So no, they do not "prefer it" and are quite clear about that. Also more to the point, they're very clear they much prefer 3 very strong results to 4 more mediocre ones - A*A*A >> A*ABB as far as they are concerned. Additionally, normally they make offers on the basis of 3 A-levels unless all four are relevant subjects, which in the OPs case wouldn't be anyway. Finally in the OPs specific case, as noted most universities comparable to Oxbridge (no idea if they themselves still have this stance) strongly do not prefer the combination of business studies and economics and usually do not consider both as part of a 3 A-level offer anyway.
Sorry for being unclear, I was talking about unis in general- I've been persuaded and think you're right that its not important for OP's specific case. However, doing 4 still helps in exceptional circumstances, like at my school virtually everyone does 4 so given the resources available to us, it would be reasonable for unis to expect us to do 4.
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by DryTowel)
Sorry for being unclear, I was talking about unis in general- I've been persuaded and think you're right that its not important for OP's specific case. However, doing 4 still helps in exceptional circumstances, like at my school virtually everyone does 4 so given the resources available to us, it would be reasonable for unis to expect us to do 4.
Yes but unis will not privilege those students who are afforded the chance to do 4 A-levels over those who are not, because doing so would necessarily disadvantage other applicants by no fault of their own. So they simply don't afford any benefit to doing four A-levels.

The only benefit is not from an admissions perspective but a preparation perspective - for some unis the breadth afforded by four A-levels, or the higher workload, may be useful preparation for the course. But as far as actually getting into the course in the first place, unis are pretty strongly moving away from benefiting those doing extra subjects (there are a few exceptions such as one or two medical schools, but more unis are very clear they only make 3 A-level offers normally).
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