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Is MathsFM French Alevels good for a CS degree at top uni (OX, UCL, Durham etc)

Need help, I’m ready to do an EPQ and computer science extracurricular but idk if not doing physics a level will make me less competitive
Original post by toomuchheaven
Need help, I’m ready to do an EPQ and computer science extracurricular but idk if not doing physics a level will make me less competitive

No it is perfect! They usually want further maths, not having physics wont make you less competitive!
Original post by StudyGirlGrammar
No it is perfect! They usually want further maths, not having physics wont make you less competitive!

Ah okay ty, would u know how i can use French to my advantage? Like what would that show , well rounded ness or does it show that I was lazy and didn’t pick a stem subject
Original post by toomuchheaven
Need help, I’m ready to do an EPQ and computer science extracurricular but idk if not doing physics a level will make me less competitive


sounds good! if you're good at and enjoy your maths definitely do that. for cs maths+fm will be more than enough, make sure your third subject is something you can realistically get an A/A* in, MFL a levels are some of the most difficult to get high grades in.
Reply 4
@t_revision @StudyGirlGrammar
Where do you even get your judgement from? These comments are so misleading. Do you have any idea how competitive CS admission are these years? especially OX, UCL and Durham? People with 4A stars getting rejected in insane amounts. And you are saying that 3 A levels and 1 of them is French is fine?
What exactly is the point of commenting on something you have no knowledge on?
And OP, do yourself a favor, go on reddit, r/6thForm, and search for computer science. You will very quickly understand the threshold you need to reach to be somewhat competitive.
I get you @nnotyan, but i have asked and talked to a lot of people and seen a lot of unis requirements and what i said is based on that 🙂 What year are you in?
Reply 6
Original post by t_revision
sounds good! if you're good at and enjoy your maths definitely do that. for cs maths+fm will be more than enough, make sure your third subject is something you can realistically get an A/A* in, MFL a levels are some of the most difficult to get high grades in.

Original post by StudyGirlGrammar
No it is perfect! They usually want further maths, not having physics wont make you less competitive!

I'm not sure where you are getting your information from but lemme give you my story. I applied for CS at Cambridge this year with 4 A*s in Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and CS + A* in EPQ predicted. GCSEs were 8 9s and 2 8s with the 8s in two unrelated subjects. I got rejected from Cambridge despite all of this (granted I messed up my admissions test because of a stupid admin error that meant I only got half of my answers down on the answer sheet even though I had finished the entire paper in the question paper but I know so many more people who have done similar A levels to myself, done well enough in the admissions test to secure an interview but have still been rejected). So you deffo need strong A levels that link really well to CS to get in. The people I know that have offers all have either Physics or Chemistry - some do 3 A levels, some do 4 so you don't need to do 4 A levels but make sure it links to the course @toomuchheaven . By all means, take French but if you are taking it, I would consider taking another A level with it because I don't think French will give you much credit.

So this is just Cambridge. I also got rejected from Durham because of "general competitiveness of the applicant pool". I'm not too sure what more I could have done other than achieving those two grade 9s I didn't get so it just goes to show how insanely competitive the CS courses are in this country.

I know someone who is doing Maths, Further Maths and Art in my year and they got rejected from Oxford, Imperial, Durham and have an offer from Sheffield (still waiting on UCL) so you do impact your chances if you do take an A level that doesn't really link well to your course.

Also, I know that you don't do CS A level and that it's not a req, but the fact that you don't do it and because you aren't doing an A level that links well with the course (French), it will severely impact your chances as you will be competing against other applicants who are doing 3 A levels and more that link well with the course.

As for doing an EPQ, that's going to add something but not much at the top unis to be completely honest. None of my offers have EPQ requirements attached to them and neither are there are grade reductions for it, should I get a certain grade in my EPQ. The only instance I'm aware of at a top uni that will reduce grade reqs is Bath (my friend has an offer that says that if they get an A in EPQ, they'll lower the grade reqs for their A levels by 1 grade). There may be many others that I'm not aware of but I'm sharing things from my own perspective so I can only tell you what I know.

Hope this was helpful.
Original post by vnayak
I'm not sure where you are getting your information from but lemme give you my story. I applied for CS at Cambridge this year with 4 A*s in Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and CS + A* in EPQ predicted. GCSEs were 8 9s and 2 8s with the 8s in two unrelated subjects. I got rejected from Cambridge despite all of this (granted I messed up my admissions test because of a stupid admin error that meant I only got half of my answers down on the answer sheet even though I had finished the entire paper in the question paper but I know so many more people who have done similar A levels to myself, done well enough in the admissions test to secure an interview but have still been rejected). So you deffo need strong A levels that link really well to CS to get in. The people I know that have offers all have either Physics or Chemistry - some do 3 A levels, some do 4 so you don't need to do 4 A levels but make sure it links to the course @toomuchheaven . By all means, take French but if you are taking it, I would consider taking another A level with it because I don't think French will give you much credit.
So this is just Cambridge. I also got rejected from Durham because of "general competitiveness of the applicant pool". I'm not too sure what more I could have done other than achieving those two grade 9s I didn't get so it just goes to show how insanely competitive the CS courses are in this country.
I know someone who is doing Maths, Further Maths and Art in my year and they got rejected from Oxford, Imperial, Durham and have an offer from Sheffield (still waiting on UCL) so you do impact your chances if you do take an A level that doesn't really link well to your course.
Also, I know that you don't do CS A level and that it's not a req, but the fact that you don't do it and because you aren't doing an A level that links well with the course (French), it will severely impact your chances as you will be competing against other applicants who are doing 3 A levels and more that link well with the course.
As for doing an EPQ, that's going to add something but not much at the top unis to be completely honest. None of my offers have EPQ requirements attached to them and neither are there are grade reductions for it, should I get a certain grade in my EPQ. The only instance I'm aware of at a top uni that will reduce grade reqs is Bath (my friend has an offer that says that if they get an A in EPQ, they'll lower the grade reqs for their A levels by 1 grade). There may be many others that I'm not aware of but I'm sharing things from my own perspective so I can only tell you what I know.
Hope this was helpful.

Hello, thank you for the info, is it okay if i ask you some questions? Which uni do you go now, and does not doing FM really impact uni rejections at like UCL, Kings etc..?
Reply 8
Original post by StudyGirlGrammar
Hello, thank you for the info, is it okay if i ask you some questions? Which uni do you go now, and does not doing FM really impact uni rejections at like UCL, Kings etc..?

I'm not at university at the moment! I'm doing my A levels but if all goes to plan with A levels and the STEP, I'll be at Imperial. Doing FM is not a requirement anywhere unless you are applying for JMC at Imperial (maybe?) or a Maths degree. That being said, all top unis for CS prefer Further Maths on your list of A levels because the course is naturally very Mathsy so if you don't do Further Maths, you'll not only have to get to grips with those basics but then also build upon that foundation on which the Maths in the CS course is taught. At university, they will never teach you as thoroughly as your school will now - a lot of your work will be self-study. My school's Computing teacher has done the very same and I'm so grateful for it. Essentially, in the past two years I've had him, he's maybe actually taught us for like a handful of lessons and then rest of the lessons, he's basically just let us work on the stuff ourselves.
Original post by vnayak
I'm not at university at the moment! I'm doing my A levels but if all goes to plan with A levels and the STEP, I'll be at Imperial. Doing FM is not a requirement anywhere unless you are applying for JMC at Imperial (maybe?) or a Maths degree. That being said, all top unis for CS prefer Further Maths on your list of A levels because the course is naturally very Mathsy so if you don't do Further Maths, you'll not only have to get to grips with those basics but then also build upon that foundation on which the Maths in the CS course is taught. At university, they will never teach you as thoroughly as your school will now - a lot of your work will be self-study. My school's Computing teacher has done the very same and I'm so grateful for it. Essentially, in the past two years I've had him, he's maybe actually taught us for like a handful of lessons and then rest of the lessons, he's basically just let us work on the stuff ourselves.

Thank you so much! Also, i thought cs at imperial doesnt require the STEP anymore? What super-curriculars would you suggest to have for computing that makes someone stand out? Like i know like personal projects e.g. making games and stuff and reading books in relation to your interests... But what other advice would you give?
Once again, thanks a lot!
Reply 10
Original post by StudyGirlGrammar
Thank you so much! Also, i thought cs at imperial doesnt require the STEP anymore? What super-curriculars would you suggest to have for computing that makes someone stand out? Like i know like personal projects e.g. making games and stuff and reading books in relation to your interests... But what other advice would you give?
Once again, thanks a lot!

This is the last year that they are doing the STEP. On the website, I know it says that typical offers will no longer have STEP requirements attached but this is for 2025 ENTRY. I'm part of the 2024 entry group because I applied in 2023, and if I meet my requirements, I'll be going to uni in 2024. You are part of the 2025 entry group because you are applying in 2024/early 2025, and if you meet your requirements, you'll be going to uni in 2025. They've swapped it for the TMUA, which is way, way easier than the STEP. They've swapped the "pre-interview admissions test" (I believe they don't do interviews for 2025 entry?), which was super easy, for the TMUA and then scrapped the STEP because you aren't really going to need that level of proofy maths in the CS course. Granted, there will be some complex Maths but it won't require thinking I don't think to the same level of abstraction. And to be honest, the new system is better for another reason: I think it must have been really hard to differentiate between applicants to interview and applicants not to interview because loads of people were scoring top, top marks in the test. Another reason they probably got rid of the STEP is that last year, 40% of the people that got in didn't actually meet their STEP requirements so if the % is that high, what's the point in having it if it's going to impact the number of people they accept by a massive chunk?

Reading books? Personally, I never touched a book - there wasn't a mention of a single book in my personal statement. There are 6 other CS applicants in my year and I reckon half mentioned books and the other half didn't (and the ones who didn't were applying for the top unis - not to say that mentioning books in your personal statement is only for applicants going for lower ranked unis, but it's just something I noticed in my own year group.). I can't really give you much advice on super-curricular to be honest because if there was a set formula, I too would have implemented this. I would say that you should tailor the super-curricular activities you do to what interests you and then build your personal statement around that. For instance, if programming interests you, do some activities related to programming and then have a programming focus on your personal statement. But the key thing I would say is to have a particular thing you are interested in because if you keep referring to this, your passion will come off. However, one thing I would be wary of is doing activities for the sake of mentioning it on your application, rather than looking to further your own passions etc. I know so many people that are doing things purely for their application and aren't particularly fascinated by things, which I think is just WRONG!
Original post by vnayak
This is the last year that they are doing the STEP. On the website, I know it says that typical offers will no longer have STEP requirements attached but this is for 2025 ENTRY. I'm part of the 2024 entry group because I applied in 2023, and if I meet my requirements, I'll be going to uni in 2024. You are part of the 2025 entry group because you are applying in 2024/early 2025, and if you meet your requirements, you'll be going to uni in 2025. They've swapped it for the TMUA, which is way, way easier than the STEP. They've swapped the "pre-interview admissions test" (I believe they don't do interviews for 2025 entry?), which was super easy, for the TMUA and then scrapped the STEP because you aren't really going to need that level of proofy maths in the CS course. Granted, there will be some complex Maths but it won't require thinking I don't think to the same level of abstraction. And to be honest, the new system is better for another reason: I think it must have been really hard to differentiate between applicants to interview and applicants not to interview because loads of people were scoring top, top marks in the test. Another reason they probably got rid of the STEP is that last year, 40% of the people that got in didn't actually meet their STEP requirements so if the % is that high, what's the point in having it if it's going to impact the number of people they accept by a massive chunk?
Reading books? Personally, I never touched a book - there wasn't a mention of a single book in my personal statement. There are 6 other CS applicants in my year and I reckon half mentioned books and the other half didn't (and the ones who didn't were applying for the top unis - not to say that mentioning books in your personal statement is only for applicants going for lower ranked unis, but it's just something I noticed in my own year group.). I can't really give you much advice on super-curricular to be honest because if there was a set formula, I too would have implemented this. I would say that you should tailor the super-curricular activities you do to what interests you and then build your personal statement around that. For instance, if programming interests you, do some activities related to programming and then have a programming focus on your personal statement. But the key thing I would say is to have a particular thing you are interested in because if you keep referring to this, your passion will come off. However, one thing I would be wary of is doing activities for the sake of mentioning it on your application, rather than looking to further your own passions etc. I know so many people that are doing things purely for their application and aren't particularly fascinated by things, which I think is just WRONG!

Thank you, you got unlucky with the years for STEP icl 😆 Thanks for the advice, did you do anything extraordinary that you put in your ps?
Also, i dont know if youve already mentioned this anywhere but which unis did you apply to, which did you get in/ not in for?
Reply 12
Original post by StudyGirlGrammar
Thank you, you got unlucky with the years for STEP icl 😆 Thanks for the advice, did you do anything extraordinary that you put in your ps?
Also, i dont know if youve already mentioned this anywhere but which unis did you apply to, which did you get in/ not in for?

It is what it is....I don't care about having to do the STEP. I only care about meeting my requirements so I'm tryna focus on that.

I did a couple of bits and pieces here and there but I don't really feel comfortable sharing them because I'm not really a show off person by nature.

Applied to Cambridge (rejection), Imperial (offer, much to my own and everyone else's surprise), Edinburgh (offer), Manchester (offer) and Durham (rejection but loads of home applicants have been rejected so not surprised tbh).

Something weird has happened at Durham this year. They've been accepting far more international students and have been rejecting people with perfect grades (I didn't get perfect grades but I wasn't too far off) and individuals who have gotten into far more competitive universities (for instance, someone in my year got into Cambridge and LSE Economics but got rejected from Durham. Offers from everywhere else and no one knows why she got rejected. She got the same reason I did: "General competitiveness of the course and strong applicant pool", which I agree, it is very competitive for Econ and CS, but when said individual gets into LSE AND Cambridge, these things don't happen by chance. LSE didn't even take an admissions test for our year so imagine how good her personal statement must be and I mean, Cambridge is, well, Cambridge).
Original post by vnayak
It is what it is....I don't care about having to do the STEP. I only care about meeting my requirements so I'm tryna focus on that.
I did a couple of bits and pieces here and there but I don't really feel comfortable sharing them because I'm not really a show off person by nature.
Applied to Cambridge (rejection), Imperial (offer, much to my own and everyone else's surprise), Edinburgh (offer), Manchester (offer) and Durham (rejection but loads of home applicants have been rejected so not surprised tbh).
Something weird has happened at Durham this year. They've been accepting far more international students and have been rejecting people with perfect grades (I didn't get perfect grades but I wasn't too far off) and individuals who have gotten into far more competitive universities (for instance, someone in my year got into Cambridge and LSE Economics but got rejected from Durham. Offers from everywhere else and no one knows why she got rejected. She got the same reason I did: "General competitiveness of the course and strong applicant pool", which I agree, it is very competitive for Econ and CS, but when said individual gets into LSE AND Cambridge, these things don't happen by chance. LSE didn't even take an admissions test for our year so imagine how good her personal statement must be and I mean, Cambridge is, well, Cambridge).

Hmm igu that is quite weird, i heard that Durham is very competitive but it does have a very low accpetance rate, but it is crazy how your friend got into Cambridge but not Durham.
Anyway thank you for replying and good luck for your a-levels!
Original post by toomuchheaven
Need help, I’m ready to do an EPQ and computer science extracurricular but idk if not doing physics a level will make me less competitive

I'd say that french might hold you down compared to other's as most people go with maths/fm physics or computer science. especially if you try to get into the top unis you should aim to have all subjects related to what you want to study later on. the best advice i could say is to do comp sci, but if you're doing it extracurricular you should definitely pick phyics or something similar for comptetitive placements
For the vast majority of COMPSCI programmes in the UK they’ll be looking for Maths and any other two subjects. The more competitive course you look at, the higher the grades and the more related super-curriculars they’ll want to see.

A handful of unis might specify preferred subjects, eg. sciences or quantitative subjects. But these will always be explicit on their admissions pages, IE not your teachers telling you or someone assuming it must be true because a course rejects a lot of people with good grades.

If you are in any doubt, go to the source and ask unis directly whether a language or other subject might be a disadvantage.

(I work in Russell Group admissions. We’ve got one of the most competitive COMPSCI programmes in the country.)
Hmmm let’s see - a degree that involves learning to use a variety of programming languages - which A level will be most relevant and helpful, a modern language (with one of the lowest pass rates) or physics (with one of the highest.

CS isn’t robotics. A language A level is very helpful to demonstrate a propensity for learning new languages.
Oh and the answer to “is physics helpful” is one of the FAQs on the oxford website https://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/FAQ/home.html

(Answer - the only thing that is key is maths maths and more maths)
Reply 18
Original post by toomuchheaven
Ah okay ty, would u know how i can use French to my advantage? Like what would that show , well rounded ness or does it show that I was lazy and didn’t pick a stem subject

you could try linking it to NLP

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