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how much of a disadvantage would i be applying for cambridge engineering?

hello,

i’m currently in year 12 studying fm, maths and physics. i was wondering at how much of a disadvantage i’d be for only taking 3 when applying for camb eng? for context, i got 6 9s and 4 8s at gcse (10 A*s) and i moved from a low performing school to a grammar school for sixth form. i was looking at reqs for engineering and noticed that camb noted that they don’t like the fm, maths, phys combo alone because of the synergy between the subject. i only take those 3 so i’m not sure what to do as i was considering applying. should i try to pick alevel chem? or should i look into oxford instead? is there much difference between the two courses? i’m quite worried as i’ve put myself at a disadvantage and only learned of it so late into the year. any responses would be great :smile:. also i don’t have any olympiads or the likes so my ps might just be average. i appreciate any sort of advice.
Reply 1
In most unis, fm and maths are considered as one subject and yes, you would be at a disadvantage compared to other applicants who take 3 separate subjects. Doesn’t matter if it’s Oxford or Cambridge or imperial, choosing just maths fm and physics greatly lower your chance of getting in. Do chem as well
Reply 2
Maybe ask the Cambridge administration team first to see if it’s still viable as an option.
Reply 3
Original post by Anonymous
In most unis, fm and maths are considered as one subject and yes, you would be at a disadvantage compared to other applicants who take 3 separate subjects. Doesn’t matter if it’s Oxford or Cambridge or imperial, choosing just maths fm and physics greatly lower your chance of getting in. Do chem as well


But Cambridge see them as two subjects, so this is wrong
Original post by Anonymous
In most unis, fm and maths are considered as one subject and yes, you would be at a disadvantage compared to other applicants who take 3 separate subjects. Doesn’t matter if it’s Oxford or Cambridge or imperial, choosing just maths fm and physics greatly lower your chance of getting in. Do chem as well

This is incorrect. It's not even true for most unis, and certainly not true for engineering at any uni I'm aware of.

The only unis or courses where this is the case is for many medical schools and some courses at LSE (specifically the more essay based/humanities aligned ones - they are more than happy to consider applicants with 3 including maths and FM for the more mathematical courses there). I'm not aware of any other course or uni having issues with it offhand, and as noted certainly not for engineering and related courses.

Original post by easten
hello,

i’m currently in year 12 studying fm, maths and physics. i was wondering at how much of a disadvantage i’d be for only taking 3 when applying for camb eng? for context, i got 6 9s and 4 8s at gcse (10 A*s) and i moved from a low performing school to a grammar school for sixth form. i was looking at reqs for engineering and noticed that camb noted that they don’t like the fm, maths, phys combo alone because of the synergy between the subject. i only take those 3 so i’m not sure what to do as i was considering applying. should i try to pick alevel chem? or should i look into oxford instead? is there much difference between the two courses? i’m quite worried as i’ve put myself at a disadvantage and only learned of it so late into the year. any responses would be great :smile:. also i don’t have any olympiads or the likes so my ps might just be average. i appreciate any sort of advice.

Where do you see Cambridge specifying that maths, physics, and further maths is something they "don't like"?

This may have been the case 15 odd years ago when the entire format of A-levels were different and it was pretty standard for applicants to offer an additional A-level and the syllabus for A-level Maths and A-level FM were different, but I'm not aware of this being the case since the 2017 syllabus changes to the maths courses at A-level at the very least?

It's pretty much the standard combination for entry to engineering there as far as I'm aware, a good chunk will also be taking chemistry but it's not absolutely essential (particularly if you aren't taking it because your school doesn't offer four A-levels to students).

@Peterhouse Admissions may be able to give some more insight into this but I'm not aware of the university having any qualms with the combination for courses where it's relevant (e.g. engineering, physical nat sci if intending to focus on physics, maths, etc), or even in general.
Reply 5
https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/best-universities/best-universities-engineering-degrees-uk

Yes I think chemistry would be a good choice if you want to keep your options open and do engineering which involves engineering. However I you okay about the University requiring A* A-level in Chemistry. I would personally go for an essay subject because think that would be useful being able to write academic essays and future papers and pass written exams. I would select something with no coursework (NEA) like A-level Philosophy, Economics etc. Perhaps Computer Science

I would decide by looking at the course outline and do the that was preferred and suited my skill set more.

Day in the life of a Cambridge Engineering Student
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVWH8yAhP1I

Oxford University Engineering Interview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8M9ruZ-Ry0
Example Cambridge Engineering Interview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3lYdO0XYL4

All the best...
:hello:
Reply 6
Original post by artful_lounger
This is incorrect. It's not even true for most unis, and certainly not true for engineering at any uni I'm aware of.

The only unis or courses where this is the case is for many medical schools and some courses at LSE (specifically the more essay based/humanities aligned ones - they are more than happy to consider applicants with 3 including maths and FM for the more mathematical courses there). I'm not aware of any other course or uni having issues with it offhand, and as noted certainly not for engineering and related courses.


Where do you see Cambridge specifying that maths, physics, and further maths is something they "don't like"?

This may have been the case 15 odd years ago when the entire format of A-levels were different and it was pretty standard for applicants to offer an additional A-level and the syllabus for A-level Maths and A-level FM were different, but I'm not aware of this being the case since the 2017 syllabus changes to the maths courses at A-level at the very least?

It's pretty much the standard combination for entry to engineering there as far as I'm aware, a good chunk will also be taking chemistry but it's not absolutely essential (particularly if you aren't taking it because your school doesn't offer four A-levels to students).

@Peterhouse Admissions may be able to give some more insight into this but I'm not aware of the university having any qualms with the combination for courses where it's relevant (e.g. engineering, physical nat sci if intending to focus on physics, maths, etc), or even in general.

it’s stated on their FAQ for engineering (link > https://www.admissions.eng.cam.ac.uk/faqs)
and in their engineering admissions guide (link > https://www.admissions.eng.cam.ac.uk/guide/requirements). more than dislike, they encourage a fourth as it shows that a student will be able to handle workload and that a strong mathematician will be able to take these 3 a-levels with ease. i hadn’t considered taking a 4th before this but looking through the admission statistics for the past 3 cycles, a great majority of students had taken 4, if not over 80%.

and thank you!
Original post by easten
it’s stated on their FAQ for engineering (link > https://www.admissions.eng.cam.ac.uk/faqs)
and in their engineering admissions guide (link > https://www.admissions.eng.cam.ac.uk/guide/requirements). more than dislike, they encourage a fourth as it shows that a student will be able to handle workload and that a strong mathematician will be able to take these 3 a-levels with ease. i hadn’t considered taking a 4th before this but looking through the admission statistics for the past 3 cycles, a great majority of students had taken 4, if not over 80%.

and thank you!


Encourage doesn't mean the same thing as "dislike", and encouraging A does not imply they dislike B. Note that the first link is with reference to students already taking 4 subjects and considering dropping one. So I don't think you can necessarily draw the conclusion this means that those not taking 4 subjects are already disadvantaged - merely that if they are taking 4 subjects to start with including those 3 subjects in combination, Cambridge would prefer the applicant continue with all 4. Also in the second link they specifically say they strongly encourage taking FM as the 3rd subject...

Cambridge in general seem fairly keen to avoid inadvertently discriminating against applicants because they happen to go to a school that have the capacity to offer 4 subjects, so I would be surprised if that would be held against you if that is the case for you. Now, if you are going to a school offering 4 subjects but are only taking 3 then, it's harder to say - based on the above it does seem they prefer a 4th subject in that case. But they are also fairly clear it's not required so...I think it's rather unlikely to be an issue since you didn't start with 4 then drop one as far as we are aware from your information provided in this thread.
(edited 12 months ago)
Reply 8
Original post by easten
hello,

i’m currently in year 12 studying fm, maths and physics. i was wondering at how much of a disadvantage i’d be for only taking 3 when applying for camb eng? for context, i got 6 9s and 4 8s at gcse (10 A*s) and i moved from a low performing school to a grammar school for sixth form. i was looking at reqs for engineering and noticed that camb noted that they don’t like the fm, maths, phys combo alone because of the synergy between the subject. i only take those 3 so i’m not sure what to do as i was considering applying. should i try to pick alevel chem? or should i look into oxford instead? is there much difference between the two courses? i’m quite worried as i’ve put myself at a disadvantage and only learned of it so late into the year. any responses would be great :smile:. also i don’t have any olympiads or the likes so my ps might just be average. i appreciate any sort of advice.

I'm currently a Cambridge offer holder for Engineering and do Maths, FM and Physics. Doing a 4th subject could be advantageous but it is not at all required. Performance in the ENGAA and interview are way more important imo.
Reply 9
Original post by Anonymous
I'm currently a Cambridge offer holder for Engineering and do Maths, FM and Physics. Doing a 4th subject could be advantageous but it is not at all required. Performance in the ENGAA and interview are way more important imo.

i know it’s a possibility but it feels very slim since the competition is high and the results will be skewed as there is a high proportion of people applying for 4 which will override the ones who are taking 3 with the same aptitude and talents. they may question why i didn’t take 4 in the first place. also, congrats on the offer! that’s amazing. may i know what your stats were and what kind of things you had in your ps? if you don’t mind me asking.
Reply 10
Original post by artful_lounger
Encourage doesn't mean the same thing as "dislike", and encouraging A does not imply they dislike B. Note that the first link is with reference to students already taking 4 subjects and considering dropping one. So I don't think you can necessarily draw the conclusion this means that those not taking 4 subjects are already disadvantaged - merely that if they are taking 4 subjects to start with including those 3 subjects in combination, Cambridge would prefer the applicant continue with all 4. Also in the second link they specifically say they strongly encourage taking FM as the 3rd subject...

Cambridge in general seem fairly keen to avoid inadvertently discriminating against applicants because they happen to go to a school that have the capacity to offer 4 subjects, so I would be surprised if that would be held against you if that is the case for you. Now, if you are going to a school offering 4 subjects but are only taking 3 then, it's harder to say - based on the above it does seem they prefer a 4th subject in that case. But they are also fairly clear it's not required so...I think it's rather unlikely to be an issue since you didn't start with 4 then drop one as far as we are aware from your information provided in this thread.


would they be able to know if a student had dropped a fourth? afaik they won’t know and that’s why i view it as taking 3 from the get go. and thank you so much. my issue is that a very small proportion of students with 3 alevels are offered a place as the proportion of students with the same talent and skills applying with 4 alevels will be high, which is natural, skewing the offers. and those that have 3 noted down, most likely did alevel maths a year early (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/934245/response/2223796/attach/3/FOI%202023%2033%20Bagavatula%20data.pdf?cookie_passthrough=1). i have a bit of regret that i didn’t take 4th but i’ll do my best to maximise my chances with 3!
Original post by easten
i know it’s a possibility but it feels very slim since the competition is high and the results will be skewed as there is a high proportion of people applying for 4 which will override the ones who are taking 3 with the same aptitude and talents. they may question why i didn’t take 4 in the first place. also, congrats on the offer! that’s amazing. may i know what your stats were and what kind of things you had in your ps? if you don’t mind me asking.

GCSEs: 8 Grade 9s + 3 Grade 8s
Predicted A*A*A* (Maths, FM, Physics) - State School
Did an Internship at a Telecommunications research centre and designed antennas. (mentioned the technical details of what I did and the skills I gained in my PS). Talked about research I did into rollercoasters, specifically LSMs (Linear Synchronous Motors) and touched on how loops are designed using PDEs. Also had my referee elaborate on other stuff I did that wasn't on my PS such as talks I attended and my participation in electronics classes.

I did A Level Computer Science in Yr1 but dropped it due to staffing issues but this was never mentioned at all to the Uni. There's a YouTuber called Oxcentric that got into Oxford Engineering with the same combo of A Levels, so trust me when I say that it doesn't matter all too much. Doing 3 or 4 is rarely a deciding factor especially when they have the ENGAA and interview to differentiate candidates.
Original post by easten
would they be able to know if a student had dropped a fourth? afaik they won’t know and that’s why i view it as taking 3 from the get go. and thank you so much. my issue is that a very small proportion of students with 3 alevels are offered a place as the proportion of students with the same talent and skills applying with 4 alevels will be high, which is natural, skewing the offers. and those that have 3 noted down, most likely did alevel maths a year early (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/934245/response/2223796/attach/3/FOI%202023%2033%20Bagavatula%20data.pdf?cookie_passthrough=1). i have a bit of regret that i didn’t take 4th but i’ll do my best to maximise my chances with 3!

It would normally be mentioned in the reference I would assume.

Also that FOIA doesn't look to show who applied with 3 vs 4 A-levels so it may simply be a matter that more applied with 4 A-levels in the first place (which may be due to self selection).

At the end of the day it's 1 choice out of 5. You are spending way too much time on this, particularly as it's something you have zero control over.

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