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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:32 pm 
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I wonder if anyone has any opinions on whether it is worthwhile for DD to do the extended project which her school seem intent on imposing on al the pupils?
She wants to apply to oxbridge to read history.She has GCSE A*s 10+ and is predicted A orA* in her 3 A-levels. She has done most of the usual extra curricular stuff and has also done 2 OU 30-point courses (not the usual 10 point YASS ones, in which she has so far got a first. My view is that the poor girl has done enough and if everyone and their dog are doing the extended project then it is not going to make her stand out.
DH's (teacher's hat on) view is that the marking of the extended project is so variable you cannot count on the top grade and without that the whole thing is a waste of time anyway for her.
What would anyone else recommend?
Thank you


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:04 pm 
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
First thought - if she has a topic that grabs her and she does a lot of initial research before she (hopefully) gets an Oxbridge interview, it would be a great starting point to demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for the subject outside the constraints of the curriculum, assuming she has time to do it justice. In that case the mark would be somewhat irrelevant, the important thing is to get the offer. However if it feels like a burden, she can't find a topic she's interested in, or there is pressure from the school to follow a particular area, it might be better to demonstrate her enthusiasm in other ways, to be able to talk about visits to historical sites, museums or whatever as inspiration in the all-important UCAS personal statement.

Would other extra-curricular stuff have to suffer which she would miss? (Oxbridge will not necessarily be impressed by this per se, except in as much as it demonstrates ability to cope with the intense "work hard, play hard" crammed-into-short-terms atmosphere that is life in Oxford or Cambridge) Would her ordinary A level work suffer? Will it affect the school's UCAS reference if she is seen as the bolshy one who refused to do the project? Is there time built-in to the school week for this?

Entrance for popular subjects like History is extremely competitive anyway, and there are no guarantees with even the most glowing academic credentials. Can she go along with it for a few months and see if it grabs her? Who would her mentor at the school be - is it a teacher she gets on well with?

Lots of points to consider - good luck to your DD whatever she decides


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:34 pm 
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.


Last edited by Belinda on Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:44 pm 
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Location: East Kent
it seems to me that you have already made up your minds!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:28 pm 
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
Yes I wasn't trying to suggest collecting extra work just for the sake of appealing to admissions tutors. If it is genuinely something interesting to do, and is manageable within the current workload/ other interests, then go ahead, use it to discover if history is really something she wants to spend 3 years studying at a higher level, and make the most of it. If it is a "tick-box" initiative by the school to make them look good, and will involve more pointless form-filling then give it a wide berth and spend the time learning to drive/speak Russian/ play the didgeridoo instead.

And I think you're right Belinda, Oxbridge admissions tutors are looking for something indefinable as well as (or in some cases instead of) a near-perfect academic record, and no amount of pretending to be fascinated with a subject will wash if the genuine spark isn't there. But it is bound to be an imperfect process, and places are limited, and many other excellent universities are available!


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:45 am 
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Location: Rugby
Magwich, Following extract is from From Times Online May 13, 2008 in which Prof Niall Ferguson Professor of History at Harvard University in the US and a senior research fellow at Oxford University said that teenagers in England were handicapped by an over-emphasis on timed examinations and by being forced to chose between arts and science subjects too early.

He welcomed the introduction of a new qualification called the Extended Project (EP), worth the equivalent of an AS (or half an A level), which enters the national curriculum from September as a compulsory part of the new diplomas and also as a stand alone qualification which can be taken alongside A levels. The EP, which comprises an individual research project rather than an exam, requires students to produce a 6,000 word dissertation or scientific investigation, or to manufacture an artefact or stage a performance. They must give a ten minute presentation on their research to two teachers and a group of fellow students and take questions at the end.

Professor Ferguson was speaking at a conference yesterday on the EP at Rugby School in Warwickshire, which has pioneered a science-based version of the EP called Perspectives on Science. John Taylor, head of physics at Rugby and chief EP examiner for the Edexcel exam board, said that the EP would help students develop research skills and enhance their thinking skills.


Jess Paul, 20, a second year history student at Cambridge University, who was one of the first students to trial the Perspectives on Science EP course at Rugby, said: “No matter how good your teachers are and how much they want you to have your own ideas, anything you do for A levels comes from them.

"The Extended Project allowed me to research my own project and to own my own ideas because it made me explore the steps that were leading me to my conclusions".


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:16 am 
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My DD is doing the AQA Bacc, which is very similar in many ways.

She has to do a 5000 word extended essay, plus at least 100 hours voluntary work.

It is a lot to do on top of 4 A2's, and she already has 6 AS's, but for her, I do believe that it has real benefits.

The voluntary work aspect was, it seems, a bit too much for many of her classmates, but DD clocked up 538 hours between July 2009 and the February half term. As much of this work is directly related to her university interests I believe that it was a hugely useful exercise to understand what work in this area involves.

The essay aspect of the qualification is again, directly related to the course she wishs to study at uni, and she has had to get to used to doing university standard library research.

She wants to study Marine Environmental Science which is an area that has great (and relatively well paid) employment opportunities and has seen, at some universities, a 50% increase in applications over the last year.

In one of DD's classes at school last week the teacher asked what sort of offers the girls had been getting from universities.

AAA, AAB, BBB, etc. A girl applying to the same uni, but for a slightly different course was offered ABB. My DD has been offered EEE.

This is just part of making her a candidates that stands out from the crowd, but it is an important part, so worth all the hard work it entails.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 10:50 am 
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A lot of what Belinda says makes sense. Not that every body else doesn't of course! My DS had a friend who joined the 6th form of DD's school with a very good set of GCSEs but which included a couple of Bs. She did no extra things at all on top of her A levels. No music, sport, D of E or voluntary work. She just read and read and read . Anything and everything to to with her subjects and not just the one she was applying to Oxford for.
My poor all singing and dancing DD was astonished when the girl was offered a place at Oxford.I wasn't. She was clearly in love with learning and it showed. It's a lottery in some ways . Of course, doing loads of extras will never harm you as they enrich your life but they shouldn't be seen as a means to an end. Places will be offered to candidates with everything under the sun going for them and some who appear to do no extras at all. I bet what they all have in common though ,is real passion for what ever they have applied to study. Even so, there will always be some excellent candidates who don't get what they want and it's hard for a parent who has encouraged their child to work hard play hard to watch them receive rejections when they have set their heart on something. I think I'm setting myself up for exactly this very soon...Oh dear.


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