Predicted grades are ‘next to useless’
We might be waving goodbye to AS-levels
The University of Cambridge will consider bringing back their own entrance exams after 29 years.
A paper presented at a senior tutors’ committee in March suggest that the university is “being forced” into changing its “well-tried system” of using AS-levels to assess which applicants get invited for an interview.
It also states that GCSEs “will not give us a reliable measure” because of their ongoing reforms and that “schools’ predictions of grades will be next to useless”.
Departments will be asked for their views and possibly reintroduce the exams in the 2016-17 admissions.
Director of Admissions Mike Sewell said: “In the light of the recent A-level reforms, the university is in the process of considering all options available so that we may continue meeting our goal of admitting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds.
“We are clear that the best way of achieving this is for the Government to retain public examinations at the end of year 12.”
Other options will be considered including increasing its standard offer grades and upping the significance of interviews.
Currently, the university uses unified mark scheme scores calculated from students’ performance in their AS-levels to decide which applicants to consider for interviews.
Mike is still urging sixth forms to enter pupils into AS-levels, but according to the paper their results will be of very limited use.
AS exams will be optional starting this September and scores will no longer contribute to the overall A-level.
This leaves Cambridge without an effective way of comparing applicants.
The Labour party has pledged to halt the changes and retain AS-levels.
When contacted by Schools Week, the university refused to respond as to whether they would drop the proposals should Labour win the upcoming election.
Principal of Newham Sixth Form College Eddie Playfair said: “The question now, is who will follow?
“If this is a trend, then we could end up with all types of different exams with different criteria. It starts to undermine A-levels as a university entrance requirement.”
And you thought it was hard enough to get in already.