Is ambition always a good thing?

Oxford and Cambridge are two of the most well-known universities in the world. These universities only accept students with very high academic qualifications and trying to get a place can be very competitive and very stressful.

English school pupils take exams at school when they are 18 years old. These exams are called A-levels (or Advanced Levels) and they are very important for students who want a place at the best universities. For Oxford and Cambridge, only the top grades are acceptable.

In a recent newspaper article a head teacher of a private English school said that girls in particular were working too hard to try to get a place at these prestigious universities. Oxford and Cambridge attract top students from all over the world. However, she said that young people who are not of the right academic level should be more realistic and apply to universities and colleges which are more suited to their abilities.

Students who don’t get a place at Oxford or Cambridge may feel very disappointed as they have failed to achieve their goal.   This pressure to succeed often comes from pupils’ families. According to the head teacher, parents should just want their children to grow up as happily as possible and encourage them to simply do the best that they can.


a pupil:    a student at primary or secondary school