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Self-studying student. What A-level's and boards should I pick for Oxford/Cambridge

Hello,

I am hoping to study either Chemistry or Computer Science (undecided) at Oxford or Cambridge.

I was planning to study:
Chemistry
Mathematics
Computer Science

My question is:
1) As a private student I can pick my exam boards, should I pick all the same board and does it matter which boards? I will need it to be practical to actually take the exams ideally close to Plymouth.
2) Any recommendations on where/how to best sit the exams?
3) Does Mathematics, Chemistry, Computer Science appropriately cover studying either Chemistry or Comp Sci at the above uni's?

Any general advice from anyone who has done the same would be great.

Thanks in advance,
Original post by Boykes
Hello,

I am hoping to study either Chemistry or Computer Science (undecided) at Oxford or Cambridge.

I was planning to study:
Chemistry
Mathematics
Computer Science

My question is:
1) As a private student I can pick my exam boards, should I pick all the same board and does it matter which boards? I will need it to be practical to actually take the exams ideally close to Plymouth.
2) Any recommendations on where/how to best sit the exams?
3) Does Mathematics, Chemistry, Computer Science appropriately cover studying either Chemistry or Comp Sci at the above uni's?

Any general advice from anyone who has done the same would be great.

Thanks in advance,

Hi, for the first question - yes exam boards do matter because certain exam boards are easier than others depending on the subjects you take
Reply 2
For maths i would choose edexcel, purely because it is the one done by the most people and therefore has the most resources available, also has very good textbooks.
Didn't take the other two so can't really comment on what exam boards.

I would suggest trying to take further maths as a 4th or in place of computer science if you are aiming for oxbridge. For computer science specifically cambridge list it as strongly recommended whilst oxford as recommended. If you decide to go for chem it will still be very useful.

Note, you can't take chemistry at cambidge by itself, it falls under the natsci tripos so have a look into that and make sure it's something you want to do
Reply 3
For CS I would recommend Further Maths as well - or even instead of chemistry or CS A levels. (CS at degree level is very mathematical.)

For Chemistry be aware you would need to take the practical element of the A Level exam as well - is that possible for you as an independent candidate?
Reply 4
Original post by Skiwi
For maths i would choose edexcel, purely because it is the one done by the most people and therefore has the most resources available, also has very good textbooks.
Didn't take the other two so can't really comment on what exam boards.

I would suggest trying to take further maths as a 4th or in place of computer science if you are aiming for oxbridge. For computer science specifically cambridge list it as strongly recommended whilst oxford as recommended. If you decide to go for chem it will still be very useful.

Note, you can't take chemistry at cambidge by itself, it falls under the natsci tripos so have a look into that and make sure it's something you want to do

Ah thanks for the advice. Certainly will be looking in to Further Maths based on that information. I feel like doing well in 4 A-level's may be quite tough all things considered so I may drop Comp Sci to keep the option of Chemistry open since it looks to me that Comp Sci doesn't actually rely on A-level Comp Sci... Might be a super swap Comp Sci <> Further Mathematics I think...
Reply 5
Original post by ohope
For CS I would recommend Further Maths as well - or even instead of chemistry or CS A levels. (CS at degree level is very mathematical.)

For Chemistry be aware you would need to take the practical element of the A Level exam as well - is that possible for you as an independent candidate?

Honestly, that would be tough but there are places where it's possible to take the examination itself it's more the practice that will be difficult. Do you happen to know how extensive the required equipment and chemicals are because I could potentially have a home setup depending on scale, size and investment required.
Original post by Boykes
Hello,

I am hoping to study either Chemistry or Computer Science (undecided) at Oxford or Cambridge.

I was planning to study:
Chemistry
Mathematics
Computer Science

My question is:
1) As a private student I can pick my exam boards, should I pick all the same board and does it matter which boards? I will need it to be practical to actually take the exams ideally close to Plymouth.
2) Any recommendations on where/how to best sit the exams?
3) Does Mathematics, Chemistry, Computer Science appropriately cover studying either Chemistry or Comp Sci at the above uni's?

Any general advice from anyone who has done the same would be great.

Thanks in advance,

Heya!
For CS, Oxbridge also typically recommend you also have further maths alongside maths :h: Unis typically don't mind which exam board you do, typically there are certain exam boards easier than the others (there are some forums on TSR you can check out!). You can't really do a home set-up for a practical sadly, it needs to be in a safe area where you could get chemicals and do the practice in a safe environment (in case there is a spill). Otherwise, consider not doing the exam board with a practical (if possible).


I hope this helps!
Milena G.
UCL PFE
Study Mind
Original post by Boykes
Hello,

I am hoping to study either Chemistry or Computer Science (undecided) at Oxford or Cambridge.

I was planning to study:
Chemistry
Mathematics
Computer Science

My question is:
1) As a private student I can pick my exam boards, should I pick all the same board and does it matter which boards? I will need it to be practical to actually take the exams ideally close to Plymouth.
2) Any recommendations on where/how to best sit the exams?
3) Does Mathematics, Chemistry, Computer Science appropriately cover studying either Chemistry or Comp Sci at the above uni's?

Any general advice from anyone who has done the same would be great.

Thanks in advance,


Exam board doesn't matter.

A-level CS is neither necessary, assumed, nor desired specifically.

A-level Further Maths is much more desirable for CS at either uni, and fairly useful for chemistry.

For chemistry via natural sciences at Cambridge you'd most likely be expected to be taking a second experimental science (physics or biology - physics probably slightly more useful on the whole), with or without FM. It's probably useful background for Oxford chemistry as well.

I'd suggest dropping CS for either biology or chemistry, and strongly recommend you consider taking up FM as well.

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