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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:05 pm 
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Hi all, I read many good advices here on different topics. Please advice re. how many GCSEs are considered good enough for Russel Group unis? My DD is keen to go into medicine special interested in Oxbridge! She is doing good so far. But we're not sure whether she should go for 10/12/more than 12. If she does more does it give more credit while attending uni interview or it helps in getting more UCAS points? Thanks in advance.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:59 pm 
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Hi Hereitis

Welcome!

I'm not an expert by any means-my eldest is sitting his GCSE's next year and the impression I have been given is that it is quality rather than quantity that matters most. Obviously it is a new grading system at the moment 1-9 but my understanding is that is would be far better to obtain 10 8's than 12 7's. However I'm sure someone will come along with a lot more understanding and experiece than I have.

What school does your daughter currently attend? (You can PM me if you don't want to put it on here) What advice does her school give? Is she planning on staying on there or moving somewhere else for sixth form?

2 little boys x


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:11 pm 
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The majority of Universities look at your top 8 GCSEs - with the caveat that these include Maths, English x 2 and Science x 3, especially for something like Medicine. Most school's are looking to decrease the overall number to 10/11 as they have got significantly harder under the new 1-9 grades so I would be very wary if your school is suggesting 12+. It is certainly not necessary and could be counterproductive.

I would also tell your DD to broaden her ideas a little with regard to Universities. Oxbridge are not necessarily top of the tree with regards to Medicine and the style of the way the courses are taught varies tremendously and they will expect her to know this (as she should apply to the Unis that suit her style of learning.) She should also have robust back up plans - they will be expecting high grades at GCSE (as these will be the only external exams they can judge on when she puts in her UCAS form, as well as the UKCAT/BMAT), so if she does not basically get straight 9/8/7s (as a minimum) that could count against her. Make sure that Medicine is her idea, not yours, and that she does the research, not you doing it for her - it is very tough to get into and she will need to know what she is letting herself in for.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:17 pm 
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Hereitis wrote:
Hi all, I read many good advices here on different topics. Please advice re. how many GCSEs are considered good enough for Russel Group unis? My DD is keen to go into medicine special interested in Oxbridge! She is doing good so far. But we're not sure whether she should go for 10/12/more than 12. If she does more does it give more credit while attending uni interview or it helps in getting more UCAS points? Thanks in advance.

Oxbridge isn't the best for medicine ...

Fewer GCSEs with good grades are the best - a minimum of 8.

Look here for more detail: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/Medicine

It's a great collection of advice and information.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:50 pm 
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8 is plenty. 10 is pushing it. 12 is far too many. Presumably the school will have a policy anyway.

And assuming your daughter is currently under 14 how can she possibly know she wants to go to Oxford or Cambridge (VERY different courses) to do medicine? Unlikely such a young child would be able to make the necessary judgements on differing Medical course content I would suggest.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 2:07 pm 
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Just to add my support to the above comments.

It's totally unecessary and probably detrimental to take extra GCSEs.

At this point she should be starting to investigate what a career in medicine involves and really understand this before even looking at which course might suit her best.

She is still too young for many volunteering opportunities but she should look at anything available - St John's Ambulance is a good one, helping out in any way in a local hospital ( library trolley maybe), chatting to people in a care home - to develop interpersonal skills and and use the opportunity to learn about the kinds of environments and issues she will encounter as a medic.

Once she is older she can get work in care homes etc and take on more voluntary roles in hospitals.

Once she has a proper grasp of the career then it would be time to investigate the different courses and which would suit her best. It's unlikely she'd be in a position to make a decision on this before starting A level study as you need to understand how you learn best as well as the focus of different courses and indeed there differing approaches to admissions criteria.

My main concern would be having such a specific focus at this stage is liable to cause undue pressure, even if it is self applied! Choosing a good range of GCSEs and getting some life experience would be my priority. It's a very long road from year 9 ( presumably) to graduation from any course at any university.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 2:18 pm 
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We went through this anguish also.
Having been through it and having now done uni applications it is clear to me that our school’s advice was sound: take at most 9 or 10 GCSE but with good exam boards and in “facilitating subjects” (ie not including media studies/photography etc). Cambridge admissions were very specific at open days with us: They only take in to account 8 or 9 GCSE including the core.
I would concur with previous posters that quality is far more important than quality. I know the number of subjects has always historically been a focus with both OLevels and GCSE but this really is a marked change. And it is hard to overcome the temptation to pile on the number.
Our school said that you should only have Oxbridge in your sights if you have 8 top grade GCSE to offer [for medics]; for other subjects fewer top grade was ok but it is really dependant on the amount of competition for that particular degree course.
As long as they have their 8 GCSE far more important are predicted ALevel grades and what else they have done outside of school that directly relates to the subject being applied for.
Doing fewer subjects may free up time to pursue some of those?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 2:30 pm 
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avidskier wrote:
I know the number of subjects has always historically been a focus with both OLevels and GCSE but this really is a marked change. And it is hard to overcome the temptation to pile on the number.
Has it? I don't think it has actually. I did O levels and it was nearly always 8, occasionally 9 and rarely 10 in one go. Universities have only ever cared about the top 8 GCSEs so there has never been any real point doing any more; it is just that the number has gradually crept up so the average now is probably 10. I am not sure who exactly is finding it 'hard to overcome the temptation to pile on the number' but I don't think it is schools, nor pupils themselves (whoever could it be, then? :wink: ). Either way, one's autonomy to decide is likely to be restricted by school policy - you can't just unilaterally opt to take 12 if a school offers you 9. End of.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:36 pm 
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In more recent years ( but before the very recent changes) the most able pupils were able to cope pretty well with 12 or more GCSEs. It wasn't necessary for post A level applications but it did allow them to keep a broad base up to the end of year 11 and in some cases to look at less mainstream subjects. So for some pupils there were advantages.

However I absolutely agree that fewer subjects but top grades is virtually always preferable regarding Uni applications and under the current system one would hope that schools are adjusting accordingly.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 4:00 pm 
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Thank you each of you for so valuable information and insight. Regarding her medicine, it’s her choice. It was there since childhood. She is still talking about it! But yes you’re right I wouldn’t be surprised if she comes out with completely a different thing in A level! She does St John Ambulance. I’ll ask her to venture out the other volunteering options you mentioned about. Can she apply now for volunteering in a hospital or in a care home?


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