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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:20 pm 
It is not only about the grades. Yes, at cambridge they will expect you to have 3 A's, and a considerable number of rejected applicants will get them. Interview matters a great deal. My daughter was not considered by her school to be an obvious candidate and we were discouraged from letting her apply. She was not freaked out by rejection and went ahead. She was offered her first choice college whilst many of the schools high fliers, 4/5 A's were not. What I think I'm trying to say is they seem to know what they are looking for and it has much more to do with the individual than the school.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:26 pm 
btw.. she got offered all six of her choices, including Bristol ( big private school scare story about that at the time too) and there is a good mix of both state and private in her college. All clever gits.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 5:26 pm 
Oxford and Cambridge have the luxury of a relatively small number of candidates, pretty well all of whom will have made them their first choice destination. They are therefore able to interview and test them themselves. I doubt that any strong candidate would be denied an interview because of the school the attend.

When I applied (20 years ago!) we were up for 3 days so that any interested colleges could have a look at us. Even in those days, when A grades were less common and they could ask for the more challenging S levels, they placed more store on their own assessment than public exam results (although you were meant to be able to get top grades in those too). Individual tutors varied in approach and I think that the "stress test" tactics some of them used would be unacceptable today, although we just took it (and sometimes enjoyed the challenge). In general, however, I think that what they were, and still are, looking for is an academic mind. Someone who enjoys thinking, enjoys a debate, can assimilate new information and arguements quickly whilst having some confidence in their own judgement. Remember, there is a great deal of rivalry between many of the dons. They each select their own students and they want them to perform!

If you want to give your child the best chance of attending one of these universities (should he so choose) I would select the school which will challenge and stretch him the best over the next 7 years. Yes, if faced with two equally stong candidates one of whom went to a top private school and the other a failing comp. they will take the latter in recognition of the greater hurdles he has jumped to get there. As between a private and grammar school it may be different. So, the hard bit, which school WILL do the most for your child? In the absence of a crystal ball it can be impossible to tell I find.


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