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Help!: Will my A levels make up for my poor GCSEs upon applying to these universities

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    Hey

    I am currently in Y11 studying my GCSEs. Anyway, my school is a terrible school and therefore I am only going to end up with 6 (or more-than-likely 5) GCSEs. There are two reasons for this;

    1. They muddled my science results up with another kid and I was placed into the BTEC Applied Science group. That's why I haven't got the standard "8 GCSEs" and this is why I will have to "re-do" GCSE Science in my AS year...
    2. I applied for ICT as a subject at GCSE, but found out when I started the course it was a BTEC. It was too late then - again, another reason I don't have "8 GCSEs"...


    The GCSEs I will end up with, upon completion of secondary school, are;

    • GCSE English Language - A
    • GCSE English Literature - A
    • GCSE Food Technology - B/A
    • GCSE French - D (The exam went horribly wrong - I guarantee I will get a 'D')
    • GCSE History - C
    • GCSE Mathematics - Foundation Tier - C
    • BTEC Applied Science - Distinction* (Teacher hasn't marked my c/w ever, although I am the only one officially finished to 'Distinction' standard.)
    • BTEC ICT - Distinction*


    I am taking these AS/A levels;

    • AS/A level Drama & Theatre Studies
    • AS/A level English Literature
    • AS/A level Government & Politics
    • AS/A level Music


    I am also taking some GCSEs during my AS and A2 years to get up to 8 GCSEs (or maybe 9, so I can say I passed 8 if I failed French);

    • GCSE Mathematics - Higher Tier - B (I have predicted this myself - I think it's possible.)
    • GCSE Science - B (This is Core Science)
    • GCSE Spanish - C (Will be taken during my A2 year)
    • GCSE Astronomy - C (Will be taken during A2 year, only if I fail my French GCSE)


    I want to study a BA in English Literature (or BA English). I have chosen two lists: an "unrealistic" list and a "unrealistic-but-realistic" list for universities I wish to study at;

    UNREALISTIC
    • KCL
    • Leeds
    • Bristol
    • Southampton
    • Sheffield


    UNREALISTIC-BUT-REALISTIC
    • Exeter (still pretty unrealistic)
    • UEA
    • Sussex
    • Kent
    • Leicester


    So providing I get AABb/AAAb AS levels (I am prepared to work a lot harder) would I get into the universities mentioned. I am attending one of the best colleges in the country and I think AAAa is achievable. If I got AAAa at A level and had those GCSEs what universities would I get into?

    Sorry for the long passage
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    Uni's rarely bother with GCSEs from what I gather bar things such as medicine. A general rule of thumb is that once you've got a qualification, no one bothers with the previous one. You'll be fine, just visit the uni's and know which courses you want to do then work hard and apply.
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    Don't want to critisise your groupings but i'd say that the only unrealistic options are KCL and Bristol. Sheffield, Leeds and Southampton are not significantly harder to get into than Sussex or UEA.
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    (Original post by Alistair Whitham)
    Hey

    I am currently in Y11 studying my GCSEs. Anyway, my school is a terrible school and therefore I am only going to end up with 6 (or more-than-likely 5) GCSEs. There are two reasons for this;

    1. They muddled my science results up with another kid and I was placed into the BTEC Applied Science group. That's why I haven't got the standard "8 GCSEs" and this is why I will have to "re-do" GCSE Science in my AS year...
    2. I applied for ICT as a subject at GCSE, but found out when I started the course it was a BTEC. It was too late then - again, another reason I don't have "8 GCSEs"...


    The GCSEs I will end up with, upon completion of secondary school, are;

    • GCSE English Language - A
    • GCSE English Literature - A
    • GCSE Food Technology - B/A
    • GCSE French - D (The exam went horribly wrong - I guarantee I will get a 'D')
    • GCSE History - C
    • GCSE Mathematics - Foundation Tier - C
    • BTEC Applied Science - Distinction* (Teacher hasn't marked my c/w ever, although I am the only one officially finished to 'Distinction' standard.)
    • BTEC ICT - Distinction*


    I am taking these AS/A levels;

    • AS/A level Drama & Theatre Studies
    • AS/A level English Literature
    • AS/A level Government & Politics
    • AS/A level Music


    I am also taking some GCSEs during my AS and A2 years to get up to 8 GCSEs (or maybe 9, so I can say I passed 8 if I failed French);

    • GCSE Mathematics - Higher Tier - B (I have predicted this myself - I think it's possible.)
    • GCSE Science - B (This is Core Science)
    • GCSE Spanish - C (Will be taken during my A2 year)
    • GCSE Astronomy - C (Will be taken during A2 year, only if I fail my French GCSE)


    I want to study a BA in English Literature (or BA English). I have chosen two lists: an "unrealistic" list and a "unrealistic-but-realistic" list for universities I wish to study at;

    UNREALISTIC
    • KCL
    • Leeds
    • Bristol
    • Southampton
    • Sheffield


    UNREALISTIC-BUT-REALISTIC
    • Exeter (still pretty unrealistic)
    • UEA
    • Sussex
    • Kent
    • Leicester


    So providing I get AABb/AAAb AS levels (I am prepared to work a lot harder) would I get into the universities mentioned. I am attending one of the best colleges in the country and I think AAAa is achievable. If I got AAAa at A level and had those GCSEs what universities would I get into?

    Sorry for the long passage
    Right, I'm going to have to break this up

    Your school
    Awful that they mixed the results up. I had to read that twice but I finally gathered that you meant before you started GCSEs they muddled things up and placed you in a Btec group when you should have been capable of doing the GCSE? Correct me if wrong, it's not relevant really I was just wondering

    Your results
    5 or 6 GCSEs is not a total failure. True, most people who go on to college tend to have a couple more than that but requirements are different to actually get in. e.g. at my college we had to have 6 GCSEs but at a local one apparently you only need 3. i.e. my point is that if you can get into your college (and presumably you can/have) then the college is confident that you can get into university too, I'm sure.

    Doing more GCSEs
    I can't stop you from doing this, nobody on TSR can . However, I know someone who started GCSE German in year 11 and planned to take the exam at the end of his AS year. Now that he's started year 12, GCSEs feel like a blast from the past. He cannot be bothered to complete it (although I think he has forced himself to). I couldn't imagine doing more GCSEs now. They feel like they're just over, and everyone seems to just accept that you need to pick up your results sheet, file it away, and move on with A levels because at the end of the day GCSEs are relatively unimportant to A levels, and I feel there is not much point in trying to take more exams next year when you have A levels to concentrate on. One or two is bad enough, but taking another four is so much. Now, I have to be completely honest, and seeing as you've asked us on TSR of, essentially, our opinions, I will have to give you mine. Retaking Maths higher tier seems absurd to me. Your teachers will have entered you for foundation for a reason. A C is a pass, and when it comes to it, universities wouldn't probably see much different in a B or a C. It's probably important to note that some universities ask for a minimum grade B for their courses (in Maths). Judging by your A level choices and science/maths GCSE predictions, it probably sounds like you won't do something Sciency, and so this probably won't apply for your course. But if it does, I'd say this is the only justification for retaking Maths to try and get a B. Otherwise, I'm afraid I have to advise you to not do it and to just forget about it. Your aim is to get more GCSEs, and that is a big enough aim. Having a second aim of getting a higher grade in one of the ones you've already passed is something I really think you will regret.
    As for Science, I do actually think, despite what I've said, that this might be a good one to retake. A GCSE in science might make life a little bit easier for you? I don't know this for sure, but it just makes sense that a GCSE in Maths, English and Science might be a good thing.
    Forget the other two. Concentrate on passing French this year. It's the most logical thing to do. Then, if you do all of that you'll have 7 (if I've added it up correctly). That is good enough.

    Your predicted A level results
    I don't mean to be rude, I really don't. But you will have to work unbelievably hard to get AABb or AAAb. The step up is immense and, without sounding patronising because I know how annoying that is, you don't know what you are letting yourself in for taking on all these AS/A levels plus all those GCSEs. Your predicted results at GCSE indicate to me that you struggle with certain things, whether it is workload or grasping some subjects, or something completely different. While the predicted grades are good, it isn't a set of straight As and A*s. My sister gained 9 GCSEs grades A* and A (all of them), and went on to get AABc. That's just for you to get an idea of how hard those grades will be to achieve, let alone with the added work of GCSEs. You don't need the extra work, A levels are more important!

    Your universities
    To sum up, any of them are currently possible. You haven't got your results yet and haven't started A levels. Anything can happen. Providing you took my advice with the GCSEs and gained those sorts of results at A level. Then yes, to answer your question, your A levels will make up for GCSEs and you can get into any of those universities (although I am a bit sceptical about Bristol and maybe KCL, as others have pointed out).

    Sorry to waffle. I understand how long and boring that was.
    Hope I helped in some sort of way.
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    ditto the above.. i wouldn't start trying to think what you will *hopefully* get until you start taking the courses. I know plenty of people who finished their GCSE year with decent GCSEs and said 'it'll be ok..i'll make up for it at a level' and then bang.. they get whacked in the face with a U in their jan modules. Basically, yes AAAB would certainly make up for any sets of GCSE results, but it's very hard to get.
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    You'll need excellent ASes and maybe a Gap year - the unis might not believe that you can actually get your predictions due to your GCSEs being lower, but your teacher's reference should help in that respect
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    (Original post by lou_100)
    Right, I'm going to have to break this up

    Your school
    Awful that they mixed the results up. I had to read that twice but I finally gathered that you meant before you started GCSEs they muddled things up and placed you in a Btec group when you should have been capable of doing the GCSE? Correct me if wrong, it's not relevant really I was just wondering

    Your results
    5 or 6 GCSEs is not a total failure. True, most people who go on to college tend to have a couple more than that but requirements are different to actually get in. e.g. at my college we had to have 6 GCSEs but at a local one apparently you only need 3. i.e. my point is that if you can get into your college (and presumably you can/have) then the college is confident that you can get into university too, I'm sure.

    Doing more GCSEs
    I can't stop you from doing this, nobody on TSR can . However, I know someone who started GCSE German in year 11 and planned to take the exam at the end of his AS year. Now that he's started year 12, GCSEs feel like a blast from the past. He cannot be bothered to complete it (although I think he has forced himself to). I couldn't imagine doing more GCSEs now. They feel like they're just over, and everyone seems to just accept that you need to pick up your results sheet, file it away, and move on with A levels because at the end of the day GCSEs are relatively unimportant to A levels, and I feel there is not much point in trying to take more exams next year when you have A levels to concentrate on. One or two is bad enough, but taking another four is so much. Now, I have to be completely honest, and seeing as you've asked us on TSR of, essentially, our opinions, I will have to give you mine. Retaking Maths higher tier seems absurd to me. Your teachers will have entered you for foundation for a reason. A C is a pass, and when it comes to it, universities wouldn't probably see much different in a B or a C. It's probably important to note that some universities ask for a minimum grade B for their courses (in Maths). Judging by your A level choices and science/maths GCSE predictions, it probably sounds like you won't do something Sciency, and so this probably won't apply for your course. But if it does, I'd say this is the only justification for retaking Maths to try and get a B. Otherwise, I'm afraid I have to advise you to not do it and to just forget about it. Your aim is to get more GCSEs, and that is a big enough aim. Having a second aim of getting a higher grade in one of the ones you've already passed is something I really think you will regret.
    As for Science, I do actually think, despite what I've said, that this might be a good one to retake. A GCSE in science might make life a little bit easier for you? I don't know this for sure, but it just makes sense that a GCSE in Maths, English and Science might be a good thing.
    Forget the other two. Concentrate on passing French this year. It's the most logical thing to do. Then, if you do all of that you'll have 7 (if I've added it up correctly). That is good enough.

    Your predicted A level results
    I don't mean to be rude, I really don't. But you will have to work unbelievably hard to get AABb or AAAb. The step up is immense and, without sounding patronising because I know how annoying that is, you don't know what you are letting yourself in for taking on all these AS/A levels plus all those GCSEs. Your predicted results at GCSE indicate to me that you struggle with certain things, whether it is workload or grasping some subjects, or something completely different. While the predicted grades are good, it isn't a set of straight As and A*s. My sister gained 9 GCSEs grades A* and A (all of them), and went on to get AABc. That's just for you to get an idea of how hard those grades will be to achieve, let alone with the added work of GCSEs. You don't need the extra work, A levels are more important!

    Your universities
    To sum up, any of them are currently possible. You haven't got your results yet and haven't started A levels. Anything can happen. Providing you took my advice with the GCSEs and gained those sorts of results at A level. Then yes, to answer your question, your A levels will make up for GCSEs and you can get into any of those universities (although I am a bit sceptical about Bristol and maybe KCL, as others have pointed out).

    Sorry to waffle. I understand how long and boring that was.
    Hope I helped in some sort of way.
    Thank you very much

    What you say makes a lot of sense. I don't think I am capable of AAAa or AABb. However, I think I may be able to get ABBc in AS and AAB in A2. I am considering taking a year out to rack up GCSEs as the bottom line is I won't get into the universities mentioned with 5 GCSEs. It's the bare minimum. Some sixth forms ask for 6 GCSEs so that just shows that.

    One more question: If I applied for a AAB course would I be accepted with ABBc providing I could get up to AAB?
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    I came from a bad school, did 6 GCSEs and 3 Btecs. Just sitting my A2 exams now. I have offers from Warwick, Bath and Bristol. Had an interview at Cambridge. I've never been to a good school/ private school. My secondary school got 34% 5 A* - C GCSE results. Universities take this into account. If your AS results are good enough you can do anything. I doubt many universities will place much weight on GCSEs if you have good AS's. I'm sure if you get the AS's you can be considered anyway. Look at the entry requirements for where you want to go and aim for that in A level. If you pass maths and English that's all universities want for GCSE.

    And for lou_100. Although there are people who do get 9 A*s at GCSE then find A level harder. There are others who do much better in A level. For instance I got 5 A*s and an A at GCSE (All my GCSEs) and got 4As and a B in AS and predicted A*A*A at A2. So really Alistair, anything is still possible.
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    (Original post by Alistair Whitham)
    Thank you very much

    What you say makes a lot of sense. I don't think I am capable of AAAa or AABb. However, I think I may be able to get ABBc in AS and AAB in A2. I am considering taking a year out to rack up GCSEs as the bottom line is I won't get into the universities mentioned with 5 GCSEs. It's the bare minimum. Some sixth forms ask for 6 GCSEs so that just shows that.

    One more question: If I applied for a AAB course would I be accepted with ABBc providing I could get up to AAB?
    Not guaranteed acceptance of course, as with any application. But I think it's perfectly possible, yes. Someone I know got aabb as her AS grades, dropped the subject she got one of the bs in and continued with aab and has an offer from Oxford for A*AA. She needs to turn that b into an A and one of the as into an A*. Tricky stuff, but she has the offer nevertheless. She just needs the grades.

    So yes, but maybe things like predicted grades/ums marks get looked at? Not sure how it works but maybe if one of the Bs was a high B and your teacher thought you could get it up, the university would trust the A prediction and give you an offer. If it was a low B, they may not think you can reach the offer. I don't know this for sure though, but my point is yes its possible to be accepted with an offer higher in requirement to your achieved AS grades.

    Good luck

    Edit: starting to doubt myself and wonder if her offer is actually A*A*A, not A*AA. It's one of the two :P
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    (Original post by Tomcrease)
    I came from a bad school, did 6 GCSEs and 3 Btecs. Just sitting my A2 exams now. I have offers from Warwick, Bath and Bristol. Had an interview at Cambridge. I've never been to a good school/ private school. My secondary school got 34% 5 A* - C GCSE results. Universities take this into account. If your AS results are good enough you can do anything. I doubt many universities will place much weight on GCSEs if you have good AS's. I'm sure if you get the AS's you can be considered anyway. Look at the entry requirements for where you want to go and aim for that in A level. If you pass maths and English that's all universities want for GCSE.

    And for lou_100. Although there are people who do get 9 A*s at GCSE then find A level harder. There are others who do much better in A level. For instance I got 5 A*s and an A at GCSE (All my GCSEs) and got 4As and a B in AS and predicted A*A*A at A2. So really Alistair, anything is still possible.
    Oh yes, I do agree that anything is still possible. Things are subjective I suppose. There are many reasons why someone would do better at A level e.g. more motivation to work after mediocre GCSEs, better at A levels due to more interest /better skills in the subjects you actually chose to do etc. I just meant, on the whole, it seems logical to assume if someone carries on at the same level of effort at A level as with GCSEs, you might not do as great. Of course there are exceptions. I was just trying to communicate that the difficulty level increases so taking on lots of work might create problems.

    Good luck for getting those results, that's brilliant
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    Thanks. This is what my UCAS form would look like? (A levels guessed):

    BTEC Applied Science - Distinction*
    BTEC Information Technology - Distinction*
    GCSE English Language - A
    GCSE English Literature - A
    GCSE Food Technology - B
    GCSE French - C
    GCSE History - C
    GCSE Mathematics - Foundation Tier - C

    Distinction*, Distinction*

    A, A, B, C, C, C

    AS/A level English Literature - A
    AS/A level Government & Politics - B
    AS/A level Music - A
    AS level Drama & Theatre Studies - B

    A, A, B, B

    It doesn't look bad at all

    I am not taking any extra GCSEs Just gunna do A levels.

    Thanks everyone
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    (Original post by lou_100)
    Oh yes, I do agree that anything is still possible. Things are subjective I suppose. There are many reasons why someone would do better at A level e.g. more motivation to work after mediocre GCSEs, better at A levels due to more interest /better skills in the subjects you actually chose to do etc. I just meant, on the whole, it seems logical to assume if someone carries on at the same level of effort at A level as with GCSEs, you might not do as great. Of course there are exceptions. I was just trying to communicate that the difficulty level increases so taking on lots of work might create problems.

    Good luck for getting those results, that's brilliant
    Thank you

    I completely agree with everything you say. For the subjects he is looking to take I believe the work load does increase massively. Something I have not experienced (all maths subjects for me).

    Good luck to you too if you're currently doing exams.
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    Unis won't be too fussed about your gcses especially if your reference mentions the mess up.

    BUT you're going for really good A-level grades. I think that even if you were capable of more gcses, because of what you did in year 10/11 the jump might be too much for you as doing so few subjects won't have prepared you in the slightest for the workload. But good luck.
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    To be honest I think the only problem you'd have applying to would be Oxbridge, UCL, Imperial...maybe Edinburgh/St. Andrews. I know Bristol is really difficult to get into anyway, but I honestly don't think you'd be at a loss applying there - especially if your A2 predictions are good. Leeds I think you'll be alright, as with Southampton and definitely Sheffield.

    They mainly care about your A2 predictions so I'm sure you'll be alright as long as you do well at AS and write a good personal statement.

    Also it is a total myth that you have to have 10 A*s at GCSE to apply to Oxbridge. My cousin studied English Literature at Oxford with 2 A*s, 5 As, 2 Bs and a C at GCSE, but she did very well at AS and A2. So that just shows how important your AS/A2s are!

    Good luck though, I'm sure you'll do well, you seem very motivated
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    Seriously, don't worry about it. The vast majority of TSR are aspiring doctors, so obviously they're going to be worrying about their GCSE results as there is emphasis on them in medicine. Other university courses probably aren't that bothered, seen as the mistakes you make when you're 14-16 are often overridden by how you do when you're 16-18, seen as you're more mature and know yourself better.
    I don't decide who goes into university, and I don't know what universities are looking for exactly. But, I've seen so many people go to university with GCSE grades a lot worse than yours. You'll be fine!

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