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    Hi there,

    I’m in a situation which people have referred to as a paradoxical disadvantage for me in terms of my chances of getting an Oxbridge offer. So, naturally – I’m asking on TSR. :redface:

    To keep it short, I go to an independent school and have done for a few years. However, it is not a ‘good’ independent school, the selection is very low and the fees are low too. The standard isn’t much above national average and a state comp. a few miles away thrashes us in almost every way, including academically.

    As a result of my school’s mediocrity, they don’t offer any opportunities to do AEA’s, extended projects, Olympiads, maths challenges etc. It’s not that nobody is smart enough to do these, there are some super-intelligent people, however Oxbridge ambition is generally low since the school was born and not much has changed.

    Will Oxbridge have expected me to have taken part in these extra challenges as I go to an independent school? Or would participation in these have benefitted my application significantly as I’m sure I could have done quite well in more than one. My friend left and went to a big ‘proper’ independent school for sixth form (old, traditional – what you imagine when an 'independent school' is mentioned basically) and has taken part in all of these and says that they excuse state-school applicants from taking part, but not independent school applicants.

    Thanks.
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    no, listen to the podcasts.
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    i never mentioned maths challenges on mine... i dont think that kind of thing is worth anything.
    Come to mention it, i did the physics olympiad, and never told them that either...so dont worry too much, it really is about the interview and your grades.
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    Ah right, thanks for the replies.

    (Original post by paddy__power)
    no, listen to the podcasts.
    I'll certainly listen to the podcasts - I assume you're referring to the Oxford admission ones? They're the only ones I've come across.

    By the way, I want to apply for law but I know Oxbridge appreciates evidence of academic excellence in other disciplines too, where a gold maths challenge certificate may have helped, or a good physics Olympiad result or an AEA in history etc.! And I've asked but my school will not offer any of these extended qualifications as there is "too little demand" - a phrase I keep hearing over and over.
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    OP, they look at each application individually, and take a holistic approach on your application.

    Also, in the interview, everyone is on a level playing field when you can shine out to them.
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    (Original post by DJkG.1)
    Hi there,

    I’m in a situation which people have referred to as a paradoxical disadvantage for me in terms of my chances of getting an Oxbridge offer. So, naturally – I’m asking on TSR. :redface:

    To keep it short, I go to an independent school and have done for a few years. However, it is not a ‘good’ independent school, the selection is very low and the fees are low too. The standard isn’t much above national average and a state comp. a few miles away thrashes us in almost every way, including academically.

    As a result of my school’s mediocrity, they don’t offer any opportunities to do AEA’s, extended projects, Olympiads, maths challenges etc. It’s not that nobody is smart enough to do these, there are some super-intelligent people, however Oxbridge ambition is generally low since the school was born and not much has changed.

    Will Oxbridge have expected me to have taken part in these extra challenges as I go to an independent school? Or would participation in these have benefitted my application significantly as I’m sure I could have done quite well in more than one. My friend left and went to a big ‘proper’ independent school for sixth form (old, traditional – what you imagine when an 'independent school' is mentioned basically) and has taken part in all of these and says that they excuse state-school applicants from taking part, but not independent school applicants.

    Thanks.
    There is nothing wrong in applying. Nothing to loose and everything to gain. It is definitely worth a shot.
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    (Original post by wizz_kid)
    There is nothing wrong in applying. Nothing to loose and everything to gain. It is definitely worth a shot.
    Well, one uni space. :mmm:
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    (Original post by im so academic)
    Also, in the interview, everyone is on a level playing field.
    This just isn't true. I wish you'd stop giving out erroneous advice to people. You can get an interview with mediocre grades, but it is probable they will already have a very rough idea of who they want before they interview candidates, and those with poor grades have to redeem themselves by being especially outstanding at interview.
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    (Original post by DJkG.1)
    Ah right, thanks for the replies.


    I'll certainly listen to the podcasts - I assume you're referring to the Oxford admission ones? They're the only ones I've come across.

    By the way, I want to apply for law but I know Oxbridge appreciates evidence of academic excellence in other disciplines too, where a gold maths challenge certificate may have helped, or a good physics Olympiad result or an AEA in history etc.! And I've asked but my school will not offer any of these extended qualifications as there is "too little demand" - a phrase I keep hearing over and over.
    not everyone has the chance to these things: ergo the fact you have not will not matter. If there was an opportunity to do it and you didnt then that would matter . good luck

    This just isn't true. I wish you'd stop giving out erroneous advice to people. You can get an interview with mediocre grades, but it is probable they will already have a very rough idea of who they want before they interview candidates, and those with poor grades have to redeem themselves by being especially outstanding at interview.
    actually he/she was correct in terms of the fact that each persons interview score is independant of thier grades etc. Although I doubt thats what they meant so your point stands.

    meh
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    Thanks for all the replies. My only concern was their natural expectation that "oh here is an independent school applicant, I'm expecting some evidence of extra effort in his academic side!" However, I'm sure my grades will speak for themselves as I've been told, along with the A* predictions which we'll be going for.

    (Original post by wizz_kid)
    There is nothing wrong in applying. Nothing to loose and everything to gain. It is definitely worth a shot.
    Yeah, I had no intention of not applying mate! You may have misunderstood, this isn't another 'should or shouldn't I apply' thread; but thanks for the reassurance anyway.
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    (Original post by DJkG.1)
    And I've asked but my school will not offer any of these extended qualifications as there is "too little demand" - a phrase I keep hearing over and over.
    That's really bizarre - my state school let me take an AEA, and I was the only one taking one of those! Badger them, get your parents to write to them, get together with some other students and start a petition/protest? I think AEAs have now been removed due to the introduction of the A* grade - will you be marked with this grade? Because if you got 3A*s that would look good, despite the lack of extended project/other.
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    (Original post by LatinMachine)
    That's really bizarre - my state school let me take an AEA, and I was the only one taking one of those! Badger them, get your parents to write to them, get together with some other students and start a petition/protest? I think AEAs have now been removed due to the introduction of the A* grade - will you be marked with this grade? Because if you got 3A*s that would look good, despite the lack of extended project/other.
    If I went to that extent I'm sure they would reluctantly give in and allow me to take one, but the fault also lies with me in that I didn't even know about these awards or their use until recently, due to the fact they've never featured in my school!

    And you're precisely right, being predicted 2 or 3 A*s when the requirement at Cambridge is A*AA in most colleges, and only AAA in Oxford, should look impressive and show my ability well. These would only be predictions of course but should be well supported by AS marks and even GCSEs.
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    (Original post by DJkG.1)
    And you're precisely right, being predicted 2 or 3 A*s when the requirement at Cambridge is A*AA in most colleges, and only AAA in Oxford, should look impressive and show my ability well. These would only be predictions of course but should be well supported by AS marks and even GCSEs.
    As long as you meet the GCSE and A-Level requirements stated on the website, you should meet the 'cut-off' for interview. After that it's up to you!
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    (Original post by LatinMachine)
    As long as you meet the GCSE and A-Level requirements stated on the website, you should meet the 'cut-off' for interview. After that it's up to you!
    I'm not too sure about that - it's not just something you've suggested but a lot of people (even on this thread) are making comments along the lines of "grades + PS + reference gets you the interview, from there everybody is on an open playing field".

    I find that rather hard to believe as Cambridge wants to give everybody an interview providing they have a realistic chance of getting an offer. This is why they interview a huge 90%-95% of applicants! They cannot, surely, be considering all these applicants purely on the basis of the interview alone. :confused:
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    (Original post by DJkG.1)
    I'm not too sure about that - it's not just something you've suggested but a lot of people (even on this thread) are making comments along the lines of "grades + PS + reference gets you the interview, from there everybody is on an open playing field".

    They cannot, surely, be considering all these applicants purely on the basis of the interview alone. :confused:
    Grades + reference (+ admissions test) = interview.
    Several Oxford departments gave strong indications that they do not read PSs before interivew, so I wouldn't rely on it.

    With psychology, the way it works is that they give a score for "academics," a score for the test (although in my day the test was at the interview weekend, Psychology are now using a pre-interview test to help decide who to interview, as they realised they were interviewing too many!), and a score for the interview. Considering the range of grades is not very large (in the grand scheme of A*-fail!), and most people do 3-4 A Levels, only a few do 5/6, candidates' scores for academics are likely to be similar, therefore the interview is crucial.
    /end speculation.

    PS. My information comes from spending a couple of days with actual admissions tutors at my department open day. Although not claiming to be the ultimate authority on everything admissions-related (especially for other subjects), I did go to the place for three years.
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    (Original post by DJkG.1)
    Hi there,

    I’m in a situation which people have referred to as a paradoxical disadvantage for me in terms of my chances of getting an Oxbridge offer. So, naturally – I’m asking on TSR. :redface:

    To keep it short, I go to an independent school and have done for a few years. However, it is not a ‘good’ independent school, the selection is very low and the fees are low too. The standard isn’t much above national average and a state comp. a few miles away thrashes us in almost every way, including academically.

    As a result of my school’s mediocrity, they don’t offer any opportunities to do AEA’s, extended projects, Olympiads, maths challenges etc. It’s not that nobody is smart enough to do these, there are some super-intelligent people, however Oxbridge ambition is generally low since the school was born and not much has changed.

    Will Oxbridge have expected me to have taken part in these extra challenges as I go to an independent school? Or would participation in these have benefitted my application significantly as I’m sure I could have done quite well in more than one. My friend left and went to a big ‘proper’ independent school for sixth form (old, traditional – what you imagine when an 'independent school' is mentioned basically) and has taken part in all of these and says that they excuse state-school applicants from taking part, but not independent school applicants.

    Thanks.
    You're not from Wrekin College are you?
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    (Original post by LatinMachine)
    Grades + reference (+ admissions test) = interview.
    Several Oxford departments gave strong indications that they do not read PSs before interivew, so I wouldn't rely on it.

    With psychology, the way it works is that they give a score for "academics," a score for the test (although in my day the test was at the interview weekend, Psychology are now using a pre-interview test to help decide who to interview, as they realised they were interviewing too many!), and a score for the interview. Considering the range of grades is not very large (in the grand scheme of A*-fail!), and most people do 3-4 A Levels, only a few do 5/6, candidates' scores for academics are likely to be similar, therefore the interview is crucial.
    /end speculation.

    PS. My information comes from spending a couple of days with actual admissions tutors at my department open day. Although not claiming to be the ultimate authority on everything admissions-related (especially for other subjects), I did go to the place for three years.
    Thanks for the reply. Please don't think I was having a go at you or doubting the information you've posted - it's been very helpful and I'll +rep the post and personally thank you now too. :top:

    I had heard about the scoring method but I never thought about it properly. So the score is numerical then, I assume?

    And yes, I see your point about the importance of the interview as far more applicants apply with perfect grades than there are places available.

    Thanks again.

    (Original post by wrockite)
    You're not from Wrekin College are you?
    Nope. Does my school sound like Wrekin College then?!
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    (Original post by DJkG.1)
    Nope. Does my school sound like Wrekin College then?!
    Yer, a lot! It also says you're from the West Midlands so I thought it could be a possibility.

    Oxbridge will be aware about the degree of success which your school has with its applications. I really wouldn't worry about it, if you have sufficient grades you'll get an interview. From thereon in, almost everything is decided on the basis of the interview, regardless of the applicant's school etc.

    At my college (Homerton), there are people from a massive range of schools. I don't think the school has a massive effect on your chances of getting in at all.
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    (Original post by DJkG.1)
    Thanks for the reply. Please don't think I was having a go at you or doubting the information you've posted - it's been very helpful and I'll +rep the post and personally thank you now too. :top:
    Oh don't worry, the remark was just a general one in case anybody replied with any "and what do you know about it anyway?!" sort of responses! I don't know the ins and outs of the scoring system sadly, tutors don't like to give away ALL their secrets but just do the best you can at the interview
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    (Original post by Athena)
    Frankly, if the local comp is better, why are your parents wasting their money sending you to private school? :rolleyes: And it's all very well saying "Oh, I could have done quite well if I had done maths Olympiad/blargh?" You don't actually know that, and you can't put it on your application.

    What I don't get: if you want to do all these extra things so much, and clearly know they exist - why haven't you asked your school to let you do them? One of the things Oxford look for is a bit of initiative, showing the interest necessary in your subject to make opportunities for yourself. Eg. I asked my state comp to let me sit AEAs - they'd never heard of them, but they let me sit them, paid my late entry fees, etc. So perhaps getting up off your derriere, doing some research and organising these things yourself would solve the problem?
    I think you've misinterpreted my posts quite a bit, some of which may be due to my fault in not being clear enough...

    Anyway, I said that a state comp. a few miles away thrashes us in almost every way; the local comprehensive which would take me is absolutely terrible. Believe me, I tried to get admission in the good comprehensive and even for sixth-form entry, they said they were not taking any new pupils as they were already full. The private school was not out of much choice but a bit of a last resort, but thankfully the community grew on me and I quite like it there, but that's a different story.

    As for putting achievements on my application, I know I cannot pre-empt a good result in AEA/Olympiad/whatever but I did do practice exams and I'd never know unless I did them for real. And I am obviously aware that without the certified qualification I cannot start making claims about how well I did in any exam.

    Your second paragraph is a bit unfair as I did write in one of my posts: "And I've asked but my school will not offer any of these extended qualifications as there is "too little demand" - a phrase I keep hearing over and over." I have certainly gotten off my derriere to firstly find out about these awards most good applicants have, researched into them and even asked my school in a serious-minded way but the response has always been an unequivocal no. I don't want to give the impression that my school is just being lazy and wants to let me but cannot be bothered - they are stubborn as mules when it comes to the requests of single pupils and unless there is a mass movement, they will not take action.

    It is for this reason that I’ve had to resort to asking if they are reasonably important for an application from a person such as myself at an independent school, in which case I would ensure that my application went along with the information that I was not able to take any extended qualification beyond A-levels. I’m not at all here to seek sympathy (let alone online and anonymous), only distilled advice.

    Thanks.
 
 
 
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