If you’re applying to study Economics at Cambridge, you’ll soon be sitting the ECAA, or Economics Admissions Assessment. But what exactly is a good score on the ECAA?
As one of the most competitive courses at Cambridge, with only 16.3% of applicants receiving an offer in 2019, you’ll want to make sure that you get a score that gives you a serious chance of receiving an offer.
The specification for the ECAA has changed slightly this year, with more time given to the essay, and the addition of five extra Advanced Maths questions. You can read more about these changes, and how best to prepare for the test, in our detailed article on the ECAA.
Although the test itself has changed, the skills and aptitudes that admissions tutors are looking for have not, so looking at what scores were achieved by successful applicants in recent years can still be very useful.
So, what is a good score on the ECAA?
In 2019, the ECAA was made up of three parts, a Problem-Solving section, an Advanced Maths section, and an Essay section.
The average score for the Problem Solving section among all applicants in 2019 was 4.1, which equates to just over 12/20 in the raw marking scale. You can see the distribution of these scores below.
The average score in the Advanced Maths section was 4.0, which again using the conversion table below, equates to 8/15. These averages demonstrate just what a difficult test this is – the average applicant for Economics at Cambridge had GCSE scores of 7 A*s and 2 As, and yet they are only scoring just over 60% in the Problem Solving, and 53% on this test.
Scores in the Essay section of the exam are stronger through, with the average applicant scoring 5.3/9.
The distribution of scores is much narrower here, with much less variance in the quality of essay writing:
If you’re interested, here’s the score conversion table for 2019:
|Part A Raw Score||Part A Grade|
|Part B Raw Score||Part B Grade|
So how much does your ECAA score impact your success rate?
But what about applicants who get offers?
How different are their scores?
In 2019, there was a big gap between the average applicant and the average offer holder, with the average offer holder scoring 5.7 in the Problem Solving section, 5.9 in the Advanced Maths section, and 6.3 in the Essay section.
To give an even clearer picture, we’ve presented these averages including students who didn’t receive an offer, to make the gap clearer.
As mentioned above, these numbers are based on scaled scores, as Cambridge does not release raw scores for these tests at the moment.
If you’re using these numbers to compare against your own performance on Past Papers, you can convert your raw scores to the scaled scores used here using the table below.
How much does the ECAA matter to my application?
We don’t know for certain how the different parts of the test are weighted by admissions tutors when making their decisions, or how big a part your test performance plays in whether or not your receive an offer.
However, using the information available to us, we can make a few claims that are backed up by the evidence.
44 applicants scored 9.0 on the Problem Solving section, the highest possible score, and of these, 28 received offers.
At 63.6%, compared with the 16.3% average chance of receiving an offer, this shows a big boost to your chances.
Numbers are very similar for the Advanced Maths section, with 28 of 46 students who achieved the top score receiving offers.
10 of these students scored 9.0 in both sections, so do bear in mind we’re talking about 16 applicants scoring 9.0 in both, of whom 10 received offers.
When it comes to the Essay, again things are a little tighter. Only 12 students were awarded a 9.0 on the essay, with 6 of these receiving offers.
3 of these applicants performed particularly poorly on the Problem Solving and Advanced Maths sections, scoring an average of 1.4, showing that essay writing alone won’t get you a place at Cambridge for Economics.
A further 90 applicants scored an 8.0 on the essay section, with 32 of them receiving offers. The table below sets out the relationship between Essay scores and the number of offers made at each.
|Essay Score||% of Applicants with this Score who Received an Offer in 2019|
Of course, students who excel in the tests are likely to also be those who excel in the interview, so these figures are only indicative. Only one student in 2019 scored 9s in all three sections of the test, and they didn’t go on to receive an offer, so take these probabilities with a pinch of salt.
Also bear in mind that everything we’ve written about above can be accused of confusing correlation with causation. There’s nothing you can do in the test that you can’t undo in the interview, and vice versa. Our goal is to give applicants the best and most complete information possible to help guide their decision making.
Where does our data come from?
Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act 2000, it’s possible to look at fairly detailed data on Cambridge admissions assessments, which is what we’ve used here. If you’d like to see the data for yourself, you can access it here.
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