A level from the perspective of Cambridge University

1. A LEVEL FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY Richard Partington Senior Tutor Churchill College Cambridge 2. Objectives in Cambridge admissions…
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  • 1. A LEVEL FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY Richard Partington Senior Tutor Churchill College Cambridge
  • 2. Objectives in Cambridge admissions <ul><li>To select ‘the brightest and best’ </li></ul><ul><li>To identify academic strength, weakness and potential </li></ul><ul><li>Defensibly to choose among applicants whose academic strengths and weaknesses are similar </li></ul><ul><li>Not to favour well-prepared applicants unwisely or unreasonably </li></ul><ul><li>Not to overburden applicants and their schools/colleges </li></ul>
  • 3. Defining potential <ul><li>Appropriate subject interest for courses that remain strongly academic, theoretical and specialised </li></ul><ul><li>Core knowledge and technical fluency </li></ul><ul><li>Logic, analysis and intellectual flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>Curiosity, capacity to absorb information, and ability and willingness to communicate fluently and clearly </li></ul><ul><li>Capability as independent learners </li></ul>
  • 4. Curricula <ul><li>Accordingly, we believe in curricula that involve: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Stretch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge and a conceptual core </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Independent learning and thinking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fluency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sensible combinations of subjects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Effective and reliable assessment providing considerable granularity </li></ul></ul>
  • 5. Does A Level do the job? <ul><li>Evidence of the Cambridge Multiple Regression Study (2011) </li></ul><ul><li>Research into how well performance at GCSE, A Level (UMS) and aptitude tests (BMAT, TSA) predicted performance in Cambridge exams </li></ul><ul><li>School/college background and gender also considered </li></ul><ul><li>Four years of Cambridge examination data (2006-9) </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis for all major Cambridge subjects </li></ul><ul><li>Ongoing study </li></ul>
  • 6. Does A Level do the job (cont.)? <ul><li>Main findings: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A Level UMS provide a good to verging on excellent indicator of potential for academic success at Cambridge, in every major subject except Mathematics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Given the same examination record at point of admission, students from the state and independent sectors, and from different schools and colleges, have been equally likely to perform well in Cambridge </li></ul></ul>
  • 7. Does A Level do the job (cont.)?
  • 8. Does A Level do the job (cont.)? <ul><li>Evidence of the inter-relationship between A* at A Level and Cambridge first-year examination performance </li></ul><ul><li>Preliminary results </li></ul><ul><li>Students who had achieved grades A*A*A* or better significantly outperformed students who had achieved grades A*A*A or worse </li></ul><ul><li>No ‘sector gap’ </li></ul><ul><li>Suggests that both the A* grade and ‘stretch and challenge’ are effective </li></ul>
  • 9. Does A Level do the job (cont.)? <ul><li>Evidence of steadily improving Cambridge examination results </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence of improving figures for state-sector entrance to Cambridge since the introduction of Curriculum 2000 </li></ul><ul><li>Critical role of Year 12 UMS results in Cambridge admissions process – vital data essentially ignored elsewhere </li></ul><ul><li>Cambridge effectively already operates ‘PQA’ via AS/A Level marks </li></ul>
  • 10. Potential improvements <ul><li>End-of-year examination and fewer re-sits </li></ul><ul><li>More explorative learning and more essay-writing in Year 12 (EP) </li></ul><ul><li>Greater focus upon effective combinations of subjects </li></ul><ul><li>Less compartmentalisation – and more Maths in Physics! </li></ul><ul><li>Renewed focus upon conceptual core and technical fluency – in consultation with teachers in universities </li></ul><ul><li>More reliable and consistent marking </li></ul>
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