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Is getting only 7 A *'s a problem in O Level

Discussion in 'CIE' started by ArifKhan, Oct 7, 2015.

  1. ArifKhan

    ArifKhan

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    Here's the problem: my cousin has 7 A *s in O Level and is predicted to get 4 A *s in A Level. I wanted to try to obtain some insight into this, which is why I came here.

    He only took 7 subjects and got A*s in all of them. Someone told him that having 7 A*s in O Level isn't enough for the Ivy Leagues or universities like Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford or University of Chicago. Most people take 8 subjects, or even 9 in O Level. He isn't sure if he is in a disadvantage. Is 7 A*s the minimum that universities need? I've heard having taken just 6 subjects or 5 and getting A's in those isn't enough. I've heard mixed opinions about 7 A's.

    Is getting 7 A*s in O Level enough for applying to these universities? Has there been any student who got into these universities above with just 7 A*s in O Level and the other pre-requisites like good AS/A2 Level scores, SAT I and II scores, etc?
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
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  3. AreebaKausar

    AreebaKausar

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    I got 3 A* and 3A in O level but I am gonna apply for Harvard this year and next year. I am kinda hopeful cause what i have learn, Harvard isn't grade oriented. They are talented oriented. My grades were earned without any Cambridge base as i studied in a Trust School and Without any teacher or tutor or school (completely self study). Plus I had to work to afford my studies too. So despite that the grades are just 6 a, they are heavy..

    Moreover.

    How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League, by a Harvard Alum:

    All top schools like Harvard, UPenn, and Duke are nonprofits, which means unlike companies like Starbucks, they don’t exist to create profits for shareholders.


    But they do something similar – they aim to create as much value as they can in the world. Value can come in a lot of forms. A common one you hear about often is research. Through research by faculty members, schools push the boundaries of human knowledge and contribute toward new inventions and theories that can dramatically improve human lives. If you’ve ever heard a news story that says, “A team at Stanford today reported that they found a new treatment for pancreatic cancer,” you can bet that Stanford's darn proud of that team.


    Another one is through services. Universities often organize programs to consult with national governments or assist nonprofits. Another way of creating value is publishing books and disseminating research information. And the list goes on and on.


    There’s another huge way schools create value – by educating its students, who then individually go on to do great things in the world.


    Do you know where Bill Gates went to college? You likely know that it was Harvard (even though he dropped out). Don’t you think Harvard is thrilled to be associated with Bill Gates so publicly, and to be a part of his lore?


    To get into a top school, you need to demonstrate the ability to succeed in the future by achieving great things now.


    This idea might not be new to you. “Duh, Allen - of course Harvard wants to admit students who accomplish great things.”


    But most likely you’re making a mistake in how you demonstrate that you’re world-class and capable of accomplishing great things. Most students tackle this in entirely the wrong way. They try to be “well-rounded,” thinking this is the best thing colleges want to see.


    This is a big mistake



    Here’s the problem – well-rounded students don’t do anything particularly well. They’re not team captain of a national-ranking soccer team, or the head of a new state-wide nonprofit, or concertmaster of a leading orchestra. This means NONE of what they do is TRULY impressive.

    To put it bluntly, “well-rounded” means “mediocre at everything.” Jack of all trades, master of none.


    Forget well-rounded. What you’re looking to develop is a huge spike.



    [​IMG]

    This is really important, and it's my biggest point in this entire guide.


    That spike is what sets you apart from the other applicants. This spike goes AGAINST the spirit of simply being well-rounded. By nature of being unique, you don't fit in with all the other well-rounded applicants. You do something that truly stands out in a meaningful way.


    This spike requires consistent effort, focus, discipline, and passion to grow. Ideally, this spike is what makes you world-class and makes colleges think you’re going to accomplish great things in your lifetime.


    This spike comes in a lot of forms, depending on your field of interest. If you’re a scientist, it may mean doing compelling original research at your local college. If you’re a writer, it may mean publishing a book. If you’re an athlete, it may mean competing at the national level. If you’re a programmer, it may mean creating a successful app.

    If you're a science whiz, you do NOT have to be an amazing writer. Heck, you don't even have to take AP English. MIT won't care that you didn't.

    Well-rounded is boring. You have nothing special about you and nothing that sets you apart from other well-rounded people.

    If you’re looking at a bargain bin of basketballs at Walmart, they’ll look identical. They’re all very round and seem to be equivalent to each other. Some might have slightly higher dimples than others. That's it.

    [​IMG]

    A bunch of well-rounded applicants, grouped together. How do you tell them apart?



    This is what well-rounded does to you. You won’t stand out from other students. Everyone’s doing the same stuff as everyone else – taking a decent number of AP classes, doing a set of uninspiring extracurriculars like Key Club, volunteering at the hospital, etc.

    And because of the vast numbers of well-rounded people out there who don’t have anything remarkably special, you have a tiny chance of getting in.

    Here’s another painful fact about being well-rounded: the school doesn’t really care if YOU get in or not, compared to the next comparable applicant. This is what I mean by the “marginal acceptance.”



    What does this mean for the rest of your application?


    Aside from extracurriculars, you also have to worry about GPA, SAT/ACT, letters of recommendation, and personal statements.


    Your application’s job is to support the story around this spike. Every piece of your application should be consistent with this story.


    This leads to my second biggest rule: you do not need a perfect application all around.


    You should focus on your strength – your spike – even at the expense of other aspects of your application.


    Are you a science geek? Then you need to show that you’re super strong in math and science, but it’s ok to be weaker in English.


    Are you a writer? Show that you have great talent and achievement in your writing, but you don’t have to ace calculus.


    Are you being recruited for a sport? Then you don’t need to be great at academics at all – just good enough to get through college. Focus the rest of the time on getting better at your sport.


    Remember – no one cares that Tom Brady isn’t a mathematician, and no one cares that Mark Zuckerberg isn’t a gymnast.





    Now, you can't totally fail in the rest of the application. There are some things you can never do, like show a serious ethical lapse or have a terrible personality. No amount of achievement will overcome the perception that you’re a huge jerk that no one likes to be around. (Remember, colleges want to admit students who will be positive additions to the community.)


    You also need generally strong academics. Academics at top schools isn’t trivial, and colleges want to make sure you can survive comfortably without too much trouble. You usually can't apply successfully with a 20 ACT, unless you do something truly groundbreaking. (I talk more about academic requirements in the FAQ, so make sure you read to the end).


    So you should look generally competent in the rest of your application, and you should take challenging classes in your area of interest. But overall colleges don’t care that much about things that aren’t your single strength. Once again, your ability in your passion contributes more to your success – not being well-rounded.



    SO...
    People who focus on something specific, especially something they’re passionate about, end up making the greatest impact. In turn, this means that focusing on something specific right now illustrates your potential for achieving even greater things later.

     
  4. AreebaKausar

    AreebaKausar

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    SPECIFICALLY:


    How Your Application is Considered
    In our admissions process, we give careful, individual attention to each applicant. We seek to identify students who will be the best educators of one another and their professors—individuals who will inspire those around them during their College years and beyond.

    As we read and discuss your application, many questions will be on our minds. Some things we consider:

    Growth and potential
    • Have you reached your maximum academic and personal potential?
    • Have you been stretching yourself?
    • Have you been working to capacity in your academic pursuits, your full-time or part-time employment, or other areas?
    • Do you have reserve power to do more?
    • How have you used your time?
    • Do you have initiative? Are you a self-starter? What motivates you?
    • Do you have a direction yet? What is it? If not, are you exploring many things?
    • Where will you be in one, five, or 25 years? Will you contribute something to those around you?
    • What sort of human being are you now? What sort of human being will you be in the future?
    Interests and activities
    • Do you care deeply about anything—intellectual? Extracurricular? Personal?
    • What have you learned from your interests? What have you done with your interests? How have you achieved results? With what success or failure? What have you learned as a result?
    • In terms of extracurricular, athletic, community, or family commitments, have you taken full advantage of opportunities?
    • What is the quality of your activities? Do you appear to have a genuine commitment or leadership role?
    • If you have not had much time in high school for extracurricular pursuits due to familial, work, or other obligations, what do you hope to explore at Harvard with your additional free time?
    Character and personality
    • What choices have you made for yourself? Why?
    • Are you a late bloomer?
    • How open are you to new ideas and people?
    • What about your maturity, character, leadership, self-confidence, warmth of personality, sense of humor, energy, concern for others, and grace under pressure?
    Contribution to the Harvard community
    • Will you be able to stand up to the pressures and freedoms of College life?
    • Will you contribute something to Harvard and to your classmates? Will you benefit from your Harvard experience?
    • Would other students want to room with you, share a meal, be in a seminar together, be teammates, or collaborate in a closely knit extracurricular group?
    Our admissions process strives to be deliberate, meticulous, and fair. It is also labor intensive. But it permits extraordinary flexibility and the possibility of changing decisions virtually until the day the Admissions Committee mails them. This is especially important since we are always receiving new information about applicants.

    Of course, no process is perfect. Inevitably, some students who are not admitted will see great success, and even with a 97 to 98 percent graduation rate, some admitted students might have been better served at another institution. However, we do everything possible to make the best admissions decisions for each student.

    Two additional resources you may wish to review:

     
  5. ArifKhan

    ArifKhan

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    Thanks, AreebaKausar. What you gave to not just me, but to everyone here is surely invaluable.

    I'm just worried about my cousin. I don't know many people who got into Princeton with just 7A *s in O Level - and even with 4A*s in AS Level/A Level, he's still worried. His grades seem fine, but he's still worried.

    Are there any examples of people who went to the top schools who also had just 7A *s in O Level along with the pre-requisites? If someone can tell me, this will surely cheer up my cousin and not demoralize him anymore. Do you know anyone who went to Columbia, University of Chicago, Princeton who only took 7 exams at O Level and got A's/A*s in them? Did they need 8 or 9 subjects/A's or were the 7 A's/subjects they had were just fine?

    I guess what I'm getting at is whether or not its okay for my cuz to stick to his 7A*s in O Level? Should he worry and get more subjects or be okay with what he has?
     
    AreebaKausar likes this.
  6. AreebaKausar

    AreebaKausar

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    Dude the whole point is that putting subjects upon subjects is useless. What does your cousin wish to pursue? It will be much better to build meaningful career in that specific spikey field, that can later be shown as a passion and stronghold...

    Secondly, American Universities care so little about A Level results.. The CUT OFF Grades that your cousin is afraid of lie in SATS... He can try to score >2200 and Half of unis will pay no heed to his 7A*


    Thirdly, u need to tell this to your cousin on MY behalf that, he has got 7A*.... THAT IS SEVEN FREAKING A*.... WHY ISN'T HE CONFIDENT AND BURSTING WITH PRIDE FOR HIMSELF?

    FROM WHAT I HAVE LEARN, HARVARD, YALE, PRESTON, IVY LEAGUE WANTS PERFECT 4 GPA.. AND SEARCH A LEVEL TO GPA ON GOOGLE.. YOU WILL LEARN THAT IF YOU GAVE 3 SUBJECTS AND GOT A IN ALL 3, THAT COUNTS AS 4.. REST OF ADDITIONAL A LEVELS DECOR THE CV.. So your cousin seems good to go.. He should work on other parts of his application, as high school transcript, essay, recommendations, personality dynamics .. THOSE WILL DECIDE WHETHER HE GETS ADMITTED OR NOT TO IVY LEAGUE

    I DEFINITELY KNOW SOMEONE WITH 30 A* in O+A who wasn't accepted anywhere in IVY LEAGUE..
     
  7. ArifKhan

    ArifKhan

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    Hmmm, Areeba, you said: "Thirdly, u need to tell this to your cousin on MY behalf that, he has got 7A*.... THAT IS SEVEN FREAKING A*.... WHY ISN'T HE CONFIDENT AND BURSTING WITH PRIDE FOR HIMSELF?"

    Well, that's because there are people who have 8 A*s or 9 A*s or even 10 A *s in O level; compared with those stats, he thinks his success in O Levels doesn't matter, and now that worries him. Those people who got those extra A*s might also want to go to prestigious American universities - he's wondering why on earth an American university would want him compared to those guys. Obviously, I thought he was being silly, but I, alone, can't convince him. He wants to pursue science and hopefully medicine in America

    My cousin doesn't know anyone who got into good American universities like the Ivy Leagues/University of Chicago/Stanford who got in with just 7A *s out of 7 subjects he took in O Level: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Math, English, Islamiat, Pakistan Studies. He doesn't have a precedent of people before him who did get into IVY's with just 7A's in O Level. Admissions officers might punish him for not taking more subjects as the standard in Pakistan seems to be at least 8 subjects. Maybe the admission officers might not take his application seriously.

    He's gotten 4 A*s in AS Level/A Level in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Math and he still doesn't think he can make the cut. The SATS are his next goal, but now he wonders if it is worth it to even bother applying since he believes that he made one minor mistake by not adding more O Level subjects. I want him to focus on his SATs, but now he's concerned. He doesn't want to make a mistake, and how he thinks he blew it.
     
  8. Dark Destination

    Dark Destination

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    I personally know a guy who got into 3 Ivy league universities with 7 A's in O-Level. But that doesn't mean every other guy with 7 A's will get in. Neither will those with 30 A's get a straight ticket to top universities. Grades are only a small, very small part of the application process.
    Even a 100 A's won't guarantee an admission to the Ivy-league. Not even 10 distinctions. Neither will a 2400 SAT score.
    People with perfect SAT scores are rejected all the time.
    The entire application as a whole is what matters.
    US universities operate on a system called the 'Holistic' approach.
     
    Muzammil ahmad and AreebaKausar like this.

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