Education & Family

Cambridge raises entry offer for science degrees

Cambridge University
Image caption Cambridge was one of the first universities to use the A* grade which was introduced in 2010

Students who hope to take up a place on a science degree course at Cambridge University will need to score higher grades in their A-levels from 2015.

The university has upped its standard entry offer so that anyone aiming for a science-based degree will need two A*s and an A at A-level or equivalent.

The current offer is one A* and two A grades.

For other subjects, the standard entrance offer will remain A*AA, the university said.

Cambridge insisted that the change was not "raising the bar" for would-be students, as more than nine in 10 (92%) successful science applicants had already scored A*A*A or better at A-level.

In a statement, the institution said: "The university believes that the revised offer gives applicants a clearer indication of the level of attainment realistically required to compete for a place, and to thrive on science courses.

"The university will continue to make non-standard offers where appropriate, based on consideration of relevant contextual data including any extenuating circumstances which may have adversely affected an applicant's academic attainment."

A* grade

The A* grade was first awarded in the summer of 2010 as part of a bid to distinguish between the best students.

To receive the grade, students must score at least 90% on their papers in the second year of their A-levels and obtain an A overall.

Figures published last summer show that 7.6% of exams were awarded an A* in 2013 compared with 7.9% in 2012.

Cambridge was among the first universities to adopt the A* grade - its standard conditional offer to students in 2010 was A*AA.

Oxford University did not use the A* grade for the first two years, but has used it as an admissions requirement since 2012.

The standard minimum entry requirement for Oxford varies by course - from AAA for history, to A*AA for medicine and A*A*A for mathematics. Most science courses require A*AA.

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