Cambridge to Take Only Those with at Least 90% in One A Level

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Byline: TIM ROSS Education Correspondent

PUPILS hoping to win a place at Cambridge face a tougher task in future after the university announced tighter entry rules today.

Candidates will be required to achieve the new A* grade in at least one A-level subject from 2010 under the reforms.

The A* will be awarded for the first time next year to students who achieve 90 per cent of the available marks in their final A-level exams.

Ministers introduced the new "super grade" amid concerns that the soaring numbers of sixth-formers achieving straight As made it impossible for highly selective universities to identify the brightest students.

Last year Cambridge was forced to reject more than 5,000 candidates who went on to score three As. But researchers have warned that the new grade is likely to be dominated by privately educated candidates and could disadvantage state comprehensive pupils.

Cambridge University's director of admissions, Dr Geoff Parks, said the new rules will be fair. "It's important to recognise that the usual checks and balances will be in place to ensure that all Cambridge applicants will be given careful, detailed consideration and that this decision won't disadvantage students from any one given background over another," he said.

"Colleges continue to have the discretion to make non-standard offers where appropriate. …