Thinking of applying to Oxbridge: advice needed

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username5654042
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lunariumxo
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(Original post by mia097)
the thing i like about this app is that it’s brutally honest lol
i got these GCSE’s: 8888776655
i take A level English lit, Law, and Psychology
I think i could get 2 A’s at AS (english lit is linear)
I don’t know if my subjects are oxbridge’s level of academic, i was quite strategic in the fact that i tried to take ‘easy’ A levels so that i could do really well at A2 and guarantee a place there (if they accept me post-interview)
just wanted an opinion, from perhaps an older student, about whether these subjects put me at a disadvantage, for example if i applied for HSPS at cambridge, would they reject me on the premise that student B takes Maths, Further maths and chemistry (par example)
Also, what do you think the most important part of the application is - the quality of the personal statement, or the ability to be creative and unique in the interview?
Thanks for your time guys!
depends on what course you wanna do, the subject doesn't matter if it meets the entry requirements however oxbridge is oxbridge they are quite discriminative when it comes to choosing so they may discriminate and choose a stronger candidate even on based on harder subjects as its obvious a student whose taken a harder subject like Alevel maths has more likely worked under pressure then a Law alevel student so i would say think through it again maybe
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username5654042
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thanks for your response! the HSPS course doesn’t have any specific subject requirements, so when you say ‘think through it again’, do you mean my oxbridge application or the course i’m applying for?
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04MR17
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(Original post by mia097)
thanks for your response! the HSPS course doesn’t have any specific subject requirements, so when you say ‘think through it again’, do you mean my oxbridge application or the course i’m applying for?
I'd like to personally disagree rather strongly with the above advice. Firstly, "Oxbridge" isn't one mind. They are two different universities and you will be apply to one college (or an open application) and your application will likely be read by 1 admissions tutor. There is no one policy on which subjects are "hard" and which are not since that concept is really quite stupid in the first place.

My first question is where are you in the world? I'm not familiar with any UK nation that has some linear A Levels and some modular A Levels at this point in time. The phasing out of modular A Levels is complete in England so your ASs wouldn't count to your A Levels.

Your GCSEs look find to me. And as you should know by now, Cambridge don't specifically measure GCSE attainment as part of its admissions process. Oxford do, but you have stated HSPS as your preferred course which is offered by Cambridge and not Oxford. So either you're also considering Oxford (I assume for PPE) or you are already leaning toward Cambridge. The GCSE question will be settled by your choice of university so you need to speed that particular decision up.

To answer your other questions:
Interview is more valuable than personal statement. But you can't get to interview without a solid PS anyway. So both ought to be decent.

Aside from the A Levels issue which I can answer when you provide more info, is there anything else I can help you with?

P. S. There are no "easy" A Levels. :hand:
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username5654042
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Wow, that’s some incredibly helpful advice. Seriously, I live in England, and 2 of my AS’s guarantee a grade, whilst English Literature doesn’t! It’s odd, but the government did state that after this year, AS’s will be scrapped and all courses will be linear. Yes, I am leaning to Cambridge, because I understand the admissions process a little more in that GCSE’s and A levels don’t REALLY count, but that being said it certainly won’t be sufficiently easier to get in. I’ll bear in mind that the Personal Statement definitely needs to be effective, but obviously it’s that natural charm and radiating intelligence that the University ultimately select candidates on the basis of. Thanks again!
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04MR17
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(Original post by mia097)
Wow, that’s some incredibly helpful advice. Seriously, I live in England, and 2 of my AS’s guarantee a grade, whilst English Literature doesn’t! It’s odd, but the government did state that after this year, AS’s will be scrapped and all courses will be linear. Yes, I am leaning to Cambridge, because I understand the admissions process a little more in that GCSE’s and A levels don’t REALLY count, but that being said it certainly won’t be sufficiently easier to get in. I’ll bear in mind that the Personal Statement definitely needs to be effective, but obviously it’s that natural charm and radiating intelligence that the University ultimately select candidates on the basis of. Thanks again!
Which exam boards are you doing for Law and Psychology?

Natural charm and radiating intelligence have very little to do with it. The interview is designed to test your ability to think under pressure. They want to see and understand your thought process. It also is a test for whether the supervision system (or tutorial if you are Oxford) will be good for you. Some people will be extremely charming and incredibly intelligent but of that 1-2-1 or 2-2-1 style of teaching will be unsuitable for them then this will become apparent in the interview.
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username5654042
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Psychology exam board is AQA; law is OCR. That was insightful information, thank you, just out of curiosity, have you been enrolled/had an oxbridge interview before? If so, can I ask a few more questions into that? Thanks again
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(Original post by mia097)
the thing i like about this app is that it’s brutally honest lol
i got these GCSE’s: 8888776655
i take A level English lit, Law, and Psychology
I think i could get 2 A’s at AS (english lit is linear)
I don’t know if my subjects are oxbridge’s level of academic, i was quite strategic in the fact that i tried to take ‘easy’ A levels so that i could do really well at A2 and guarantee a place there (if they accept me post-interview)
just wanted an opinion, from perhaps an older student, about whether these subjects put me at a disadvantage, for example if i applied for HSPS at cambridge, would they reject me on the premise that student B takes Maths, Further maths and chemistry (par example)
Also, what do you think the most important part of the application is - the quality of the personal statement, or the ability to be creative and unique in the interview?
Thanks for your time guys!
The GCSEs are good enough I think. I'm not sure I'd call your options "strategic"; they'll see right through you if you don't have a genuine interest.

I think you have to be good all-round to be honest. Everyone applying should have good A-Level predictions, so it doesn't really make you special. You have to try to stand out in other ways. Read widely, and show genuine passion.
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All of your A Levels are linear. Your sixth form just makes you sit the AS exams for those two subjects (a separate qualification co-teachable with the A Level). It's a choice.

There are no 'strategic' subjects. There are only ones that are accepted and ones that aren't.
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You’re not going to get in (maybe if you’re contextual you will).

I’m sorry but I’ve seen my friends with all 8s and 9s get rejected for less competitive degrees like English Literature not being offered a place.

I’m not being bitter, just manning sure you don’t waste an option. From my experience this year I was lucky to get my top choice uni as so many brilliant students didn’t get a single offer this yr (for medicine and economics but still) and these people had all 9s or all 8s and 9s.

I suggest, if your heart is set on oxbridge, you achieve your grades and apply to Cambridge as this uni has specifically said that they don’t look at gcses post A level results.

This is your best way of getting in.


You can apply. But you won’t get in with predicted grades.


To answer your questions. It’s even worse since you have ‘easy A levels’ but English Lit and Psychology are highly academic so I wouldn’t worry actually, but since you have law you’re going to need to produce better grades than everyone else.

This may sound weird but Cambridge don’t put much emphasis on the personal statement at all. Contrary to what a few ppl believe they WILL look at your gcses and their no.1 priority is grades (this shld be obvious!) however they still invite a lot of pp to interview and this is important too.

Think wisely, hope this helped
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(Original post by Anonymous)
You’re not going to get in (maybe if you’re contextual you will).

I’m sorry but I’ve seen my friends with all 8s and 9s get rejected for less competitive degrees like English Literature not being offered a place.

I’m not being bitter, just manning sure you don’t waste an option. From my experience this year I was lucky to get my top choice uni as so many brilliant students didn’t get a single offer this yr (for medicine and economics but still) and these people had all 9s or all 8s and 9s.

I suggest, if your heart is set on oxbridge, you achieve your grades and apply to Cambridge as this uni has specifically said that they don’t look at gcses post A level results.

This is your best way of getting in.


You can apply. But you won’t get in with predicted grades.


To answer your questions. It’s even worse since you have ‘easy A levels’ but English Lit and Psychology are highly academic so I wouldn’t worry actually, but since you have law you’re going to need to produce better grades than everyone else.

This may sound weird but Cambridge don’t put much emphasis on the personal statement at all. Contrary to what a few ppl believe they WILL look at your gcses and their no.1 priority is grades (this shld be obvious!) however they still invite a lot of pp to interview and this is important too.

Think wisely, hope this helped
Admissions were more competitive this year anyway. Admissions tests, A-level and interview performance are more important than GCSEs anyway, because GCSEs aren't nearly as reliable as an indicator of future performance.
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username5654042
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I appreciate the transparency of this message, I am aware it’s really difficult to get a place if you’re not an outstanding student. Although it would be a dream of mine to get in, I think I would be happy at virtually any highly academic universities. None of them really call out to me, although I feel like UCL and St. Andrews could be a good way to go, do you have any suggestions on these based on the same information I provided. Again, thank you for your time and feedback, it’s extremely helpful!
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(Original post by Anonymous)
You’re not going to get in (maybe if you’re contextual you will).

I’m sorry but I’ve seen my friends with all 8s and 9s get rejected for less competitive degrees like English Literature not being offered a place.

I’m not being bitter, just manning sure you don’t waste an option. From my experience this year I was lucky to get my top choice uni as so many brilliant students didn’t get a single offer this yr (for medicine and economics but still) and these people had all 9s or all 8s and 9s.

I suggest, if your heart is set on oxbridge, you achieve your grades and apply to Cambridge as this uni has specifically said that they don’t look at gcses post A level results.

This is your best way of getting in.


You can apply. But you won’t get in with predicted grades.


To answer your questions. It’s even worse since you have ‘easy A levels’ but English Lit and Psychology are highly academic so I wouldn’t worry actually, but since you have law you’re going to need to produce better grades than everyone else.

This may sound weird but Cambridge don’t put much emphasis on the personal statement at all. Contrary to what a few ppl believe they WILL look at your gcses and their no.1 priority is grades (this shld be obvious!) however they still invite a lot of pp to interview and this is important too.

Think wisely, hope this helped
I appreciate the transparency of this message, I am aware it’s really difficult to get a place if you’re not an outstanding student. Although it would be a dream of mine to get in, I think I would be happy at virtually any highly academic universities. None of them really call out to me, although I feel like UCL and St. Andrews could be a good way to go, do you have any suggestions on these based on the same information I provided. Again, thank you for your time and feedback, it’s extremely helpful
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If you are considering Oxford, this might help:

In practice, GCSE grades correlate well with offers. According to a recent Freedom of Information response, for PPE, the average number of A*s at GCSE is 8 (for those offered an interview) or 8.5 (for those offered a place). However, this doesn't tell the whole story. Between 24% and 38% of those interviewed had just 5 A*s, and if you apply with achieved A Levels, your GCSE grades are much less important.

The subjects you've chosen for A level are fine. AS results are not regarded as a good indication of likely achievement; the ATs will take your teacher projections more seriously, and ofc, you must have at least the minimum entry requirement predicted or achieved.

The PS is of significantly lower importance than the academic components (including the TSA tests), but should focus on illustrating your enthusiasm for the subject and the super-curricular study you have done. Extra-curriculars like being Head Boy/Girl or tennis champion are irrelevant. As 04MR17 has already said, at both universities,your interview performance is about judging how far you are suited to tutorial teaching. Apparent intelligence, wit and charm is not really the thing; you need to show you can reason clearly and flexibly, and recognise the salient issues in a problem or argument.
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(Original post by Anonymous)
You’re not going to get in (maybe if you’re contextual you will).

I’m sorry but I’ve seen my friends with all 8s and 9s get rejected for less competitive degrees like English Literature not being offered a place.

I’m not being bitter, just manning sure you don’t waste an option. From my experience this year I was lucky to get my top choice uni as so many brilliant students didn’t get a single offer this yr (for medicine and economics but still) and these people had all 9s or all 8s and 9s.

I suggest, if your heart is set on oxbridge, you achieve your grades and apply to Cambridge as this uni has specifically said that they don’t look at gcses post A level results.

This is your best way of getting in.


You can apply. But you won’t get in with predicted grades.


To answer your questions. It’s even worse since you have ‘easy A levels’ but English Lit and Psychology are highly academic so I wouldn’t worry actually, but since you have law you’re going to need to produce better grades than everyone else.

This may sound weird but Cambridge don’t put much emphasis on the personal statement at all. Contrary to what a few ppl believe they WILL look at your gcses and their no.1 priority is grades (this shld be obvious!) however they still invite a lot of pp to interview and this is important too.

Think wisely, hope this helped
This is completely untrue. If your friends with all 8s and 9s were rejected, this will be a result of their interview or admission test scores. Grades are just one factor of the application, and you cannot say whether someone will get in solely on their GCSEs and A levels.

OP, ignore, if you want to go to Oxbridge just apply, you have four other choices.
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(Original post by mia097)
Psychology exam board is AQA; law is OCR. That was insightful information, thank you, just out of curiosity, have you been enrolled/had an oxbridge interview before? If so, can I ask a few more questions into that? Thanks again
All A levels by these boards are linear - your AS grades won'r be part of your A level grade.

Are your teachers encouraging you to apply? That will tell you if you are likely to have te right academics.
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username5654042
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OP here: I understand your point, but maybe your friends didn’t get in BECAUSE the only criteria they fit was getting good grades. I’m only saying this because you’ve also mentioned that they didn’t get into their 2nd and 3rd choice uni’s, which would make no sense if their grades were above par? Oxbridge use admission tests and interviews as part of their admission process, whereas other uni’s use grades to mainly determine if you’re fit for the course, so if people don’t get in to great uni’s despite having the right grades that suggests that there is more to the process than grades. I would also find it hard to believe that they wouldn’t get in on the basis of their personal statement. I’m more than sure that they’ve selected student A, who has worse gcses and A level results than student B, who is more academically competent, a number of times based on other aspects of the process. Again, your advice is very much appreciated, just trying to point some things out!
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ashtolga23
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(Original post by Anonymous)
You’re not going to get in (maybe if you’re contextual you will).

I’m sorry but I’ve seen my friends with all 8s and 9s get rejected for less competitive degrees like English Literature not being offered a place.

I’m not being bitter, just manning sure you don’t waste an option. From my experience this year I was lucky to get my top choice uni as so many brilliant students didn’t get a single offer this yr (for medicine and economics but still) and these people had all 9s or all 8s and 9s.

I suggest, if your heart is set on oxbridge, you achieve your grades and apply to Cambridge as this uni has specifically said that they don’t look at gcses post A level results.

This is your best way of getting in.


You can apply. But you won’t get in with predicted grades.


To answer your questions. It’s even worse since you have ‘easy A levels’ but English Lit and Psychology are highly academic so I wouldn’t worry actually, but since you have law you’re going to need to produce better grades than everyone else.

This may sound weird but Cambridge don’t put much emphasis on the personal statement at all. Contrary to what a few ppl believe they WILL look at your gcses and their no.1 priority is grades (this shld be obvious!) however they still invite a lot of pp to interview and this is important too.

Think wisely, hope this helped
Both medicine and this year's cohort are special cases. Medicine is the most competitive and GCSEs are considered much more, and there were less offers for a place made this year because of COVID and the exams debacle last year.

Cambridge in particular don't really prioritise GCSEs. They certainly aren't considered too much for English, so your friends probably fell down on their PS, written work, ELAT, or interviews. I got 58/60 on the ELAT and all 8s and 9s at GCSE, but my interview was only given 5/10 and my written work was fairly average; as I said as well, there were far less offers made this year. Others have got in with poorer grades than mine, but they're stronger in other areas and have that special factor that Oxbridge are looking for.

I don't see why this person shouldn't apply, because they still have 4 other choices. If there's a chance they'll make it they might as well take it, plus it means they have to stay organised because the application will be in earlier than most (October compared to January).
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username5654042
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(Original post by Muttley79)
All A levels by these boards are linear - your AS grades won'r be part of your A level grade.

Are your teachers encouraging you to apply? That will tell you if you are likely to have te right academics.
I can assure you that Psychology and Law are not linear for 2020/2021 AS students ONLY, but that could just be at my school because my friend who went to a different college doesn’t have any AS’s.
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(Original post by mia097)
I can assure you that Psychology and Law are not linear for 2020/2021 AS students ONLY, but that could just be at my school because my friend who went to a different college doesn’t have any AS’s.
They are linear. Your teacher just makes you sit the AS exams, which are a co-teachable separate qualification.
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