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UK Universities and AP tests


Replies to: UK Universities and AP tests

  • Twoin18Twoin18 Registered User Posts: 1,392 Senior Member
    Focus on the Olympiads. Getting to the international competition(s) is much more impressive than your AP courses and very highly regarded. Even getting to the AMO level would very probably be sufficient to at least get an interview for math, and likely an offer. But I would still do a bio course somewhere and try to take the BC exam in junior year, there's no reason why not if you are at Olympiad level.
  • LikesToRunLikesToRun Registered User Posts: 19 Junior Member
    Ok great. That's what I thought anyway. Yeah the only reason I was thinking BC my senior year is because my school has prereqs and I have to take calc AB course before the BC course. What I'll just do is take the BC test after learning calc AB. Maybe even both if it looks better. I may even take AP stats senior year if this is the case.

    I'll probably take an AP bio equivalent either this summer or next summer from my local community college then. I can still always take the AP bio test later on or even a bio subject test although I'm not in the course.

    How exactly would universities know of my placing in olympiads? Is there a spot on the UCAS to say this or would I just write that in my personal statement?
  • TigerleTigerle Registered User Posts: 367 Member
    edited April 21
    OP, have you checked out the relevant subject page on Oxford’s website? You need chemistry and either maths or a science. Maths is “recommended” (meaning every one else applying will have it) and biology (beyond GCSE) is “helpful”. I read that as a biology GCSE being expected. I can’t think of any other way to show the equivalent of GCSE biology mastery than either an AP test or a SAT subject test.

    So, you need a 5 in AP calc BC, and either a 5 or 700+ each, depending on exam taken, in chemistry, physics and biology, plus the minimum SAT or ACT score.

    And, as PPs have told you, forget about scores in design or languages, Oxford will. Not. Care.

    Additionally, UK students would have to submit at least an A* in either maths or a science. That’s what @Twoin18 is on about - you need to somehow prove that your competence in at least one of those subject is above and beyond the high school AP curriculum. A way to do that is competitions. I’m not familiar with the current UCAS forms but I assume talking about those in your statement works - it’s what the statement is for, talking about your competence, passion and depth in your subjects. Again, nothing else, unless it ties in with those somehow.

    Your problem with wanting to apply to both top UK universities and US universities is that UK universities take’em lopsided but want to see depth and US universities need breadth. So, you need to be top in both.

    One way of going about it would be to knock out the UK requirements before your senior year so you know whether there is even a point in applying, and if you do, have a chance at an unconditional acceptance. Then, take care of the breadth required for US universities in your senior year. No idea whether that works with your high school schedule at all, but remember UK universities don’t care about that, and they don’t care about whether you took the classes at your school, at a CC or didn’t take the class at all and self studied, you just need the scores.

    Additionally, you may want to check out posts by @VickiSoCal , whose daughter I understand is very happy doing chemistry at St. Andrews, that might be another good option for you.
  • Conformist1688Conformist1688 Registered User Posts: 1,084 Senior Member
    Is it possible to make a special appeal to your school to let you take AP biology on the grounds that it is essential for your college application plans?
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 6,310 Senior Member
    Do a summer CoCo course & take the Bio SATII.

    For biochem at Oxford what they will care about is how much you love biochem, that you understand what *this* specific course is about, and you have a reason for taking this path. They also want evidence that you are academically able for the rigor and intensity of the course (which, btw, is extreme).

    How do you know you want to study biochem? for most people, if they really love something, they spend a lot of time in it. They marinate in it. They find every excuse to stay longer in the lab, to solve problems on the side, to read around the subject at advanced levels, etc. Your school offers AP bio in grade 10: why didn't you take it then? is biochem a new interest?

    Don't think of Oxford as a famous school that would be really cool to go to. Think of it as a giant nerd camp where nerds of every stripe are collected in one place. Although many of them will put on 'too cool for school' faces, you will generally find that most Oxonians really do love their subject. Think Harry Potter fan nerd level of loving. Is that you & biochem?
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 12,682 Senior Member
    "Think of it as a giant nerd camp where nerds of every stripe are collected in one place." Good description, @collegemom3717. As I read somewhere once, Oxbridge wants students who love the subject(s) they picked to study more than they love Oxbridge.
    Quite the opposite from American elites, I would say, though it all makes sense when you realize that it's faculty doing the undergraduate admissions in the UK and adcoms doing so in the US.
  • Twoin18Twoin18 Registered User Posts: 1,392 Senior Member
    "Although many of them will put on 'too cool for school' faces, you will generally find that most Oxonians really do love their subject. Think Harry Potter fan nerd level of loving. Is that you & biochem?"

    Yes completely agree. By way of a personal anecdote, even though I'm nearly 30 years removed from doing any real math, I still found it really enjoyable when I came across a Putnam math paper last year to spend a long haul flight doing some of the questions on it for fun. If it wasn't a competition and was of no benefit to your college applications, would you still choose to do the Olympiad tests for fun?
  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal Registered User Posts: 3,382 Senior Member
    edited April 21
    @Twoin18 so guilty here. My second kid looked at the Cambridge NatSci entrance exam a couple of weeks ago to see how prepared she was and we were soon racing each other to see who could answer each question first.

    At St. Andrews biochem is centered in the Biology department and they are going to look for a 5 on AP Bio most importantly and a 5 on Chem or a good score on the subject test.
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