Ox or Cam with poor GCSE's? Watch

kellywood_5
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#41
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#41
I got an offer from Cambridge with worse GCSE grades than yours (1 A*, 6 As and 3 Bs). Admittedly I applied for languages, which is nowhere near as competitive as law, but it just goes to show that grades aren't everything. I'm not sure whether one university places more emphasis on them than the other and they'll both take your school into account when assessing your grades relative to other applicants, but the only thing you might want to consider is that Cambridge interview pretty much everyone, whereas Oxford are a bit more selective. I think you should definitely go for it. You said yourself you think you'll regret not applying and all you have to lose is one space on your UCAS form.

Edit: Forgot to add that not cashing in AS grades will make no difference at all for Cambridge because you have to tell them all your UMS marks, and I think Oxford will see module grades from next year.
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Jigglypuff
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#42
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(Original post by kellywood_5)
I got an offer from Cambridge with worse GCSE grades than yours (1 A*, 6 As and 3 Bs). Admittedly I applied for languages, which is nowhere near as competitive as law, but it just goes to show that grades aren't everything. I'm not sure whether one university places more emphasis on them than the other and they'll both take your school into account when assessing your grades relative to other applicants, but the only thing you might want to consider is that Cambridge interview pretty much everyone, whereas Oxford are a bit more selective. I think you should definitely go for it. You said yourself you think you'll regret not applying and all you have to lose is one space on your UCAS form.

Edit: Forgot to add that not cashing in AS grades will make no difference at all for Cambridge because you have to tell them all your UMS marks, and I think Oxford will see module grades from next year.
Agree with everything you said. I achieved similar GCSE results to you: 2.5A*s, 6As, 1.5Bs, and I got an offer from Cambridge (for Philosophy). As for taking the school into account, I come from a selective state school, with good results every year. Even if you come from a good school and seem to have 'average' grades, I think Oxbridge understand that people peak at different times, and that GCSEs do not necessarily show potential and passion for your chosen subject. So I think the original poster should go for it, especially if their AS results turn out to be very good.
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Mustard-man
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#43
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#43
4A's, 2B's, 3C's here
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Mustard-man
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#44
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glad that put a stop to the 'got in with the lowest grade!'
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GordonP
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#45
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Had a look at VazzyBs grade analyser and youre still in the top 95% with those GCSEs.
I would guess that with that and the fact that your predicted AAAA makes you quite appealing to unis, and the worst that can happen if you apply to oxbridge is that they say no, and you go somewhere different.
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slk999
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#46
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#46
My school is currently preventing me from applying based on my GCSEs: A*AABBBBBC which aren't too impressive. However, my reference I've been told would be good relating to my subject and no one knows how the interviews going to go and I'm predicted AAAB for AS- although they're quite conservative with their estimates and would more likely say AABB- but with retakes and A2 it's likely I'd go up. Plus I'm taking AEA english as well as predicted an A (I want to do english). But they're still not really agreeing with me and saying I should apply because I'm not good all round even though I may be good in english. Tricky. I guess I have to get those grades at AS to prove them wrong? But I'm going to miss out on all the advice given

However, what I may do is not apply this year and wait to get AAA at A2 next summer, then apply after for Post A-level entry in 2008 as I wanna have a gap year anyway, so i'll just apply in it, and maybe once they see I got 3 As and interviews good and stuff they may be less likely to pay attention to GCSEs? Anyway, that's one option, and one that may work as I want to apply to Bristol too and they like you not to defer but to apply in your gap year.
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Robert602
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#47
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#47
rich_

My advice would be to apply anyway, for deferred entry if you want. With AABB predictions and your GCSEs it'd be an uphill struggle, you'd have to impress at interview and in other areas, but it's by no means impossible. You've got nothing to lose, and Oxbridge wont discriminate against you if you're rejected and decide to reapply post A level. If nothing else, applying this year would be a valuable learning experience. There's not a lot of point wasting the opportunity this year, unless your school's really going to make your life hell for doing so.

About that, the idea that your school would prevent you from applying is frankly ridiculous, it is your application. If necessary it's quite easy to apply independently if your school refuses to budge, though it's advisable to stay on the good side of whoever's writing your references.

Also, it sounds obvious, but do make an effort to get your ASs up to AAAA. It's not absolutely necessary (I got AAABBC) but it'll certainly help and might encourage your school to raise your A2 predictions. It really ought to be at least an achievable goal if you are of the right standard and knuckle down. Don't overload yourself with resits either though.

Lastly, about needing to be an all-rounder, I have to disagree with your school again. I applied for maths (twice) and I got a strong impression that they really didnt care about anything else. I know I'm pretty terrible at anything that doesnt involve pushing greek letters around a page. I would guess that they like to see evidence that you can work hard, handle pressure, and are generally pretty bright, but that's as far as I'd go.

Sorry for the ranty tone of this post. It annoys me when people are put off by their own schools, the people who should be helping and encouraging them. I'm not normally this bitter
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kellywood_5
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#48
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(Original post by rich_)
My school is currently preventing me from applying based on my GCSEs: A*AABBBBBC which aren't too impressive. However, my reference I've been told would be good relating to my subject and no one knows how the interviews going to go and I'm predicted AAAB for AS- although they're quite conservative with their estimates and would more likely say AABB- but with retakes and A2 it's likely I'd go up. Plus I'm taking AEA english as well as predicted an A (I want to do english). But they're still not really agreeing with me and saying I should apply because I'm not good all round even though I may be good in english. Tricky. I guess I have to get those grades at AS to prove them wrong? But I'm going to miss out on all the advice given
I have to agree with the above poster and say apply anyway! Your school can't actually stop you and I think it's disgusting that they're trying to discourage you. I applied to (and subsequently got an offer from) Cambridge with GCSEs not much better than yours (1 A*, 6 As, 3 Bs) AABB at AS and AAAA predictions and my school were 100% helpful and encouraging. It's certainly not true that you have to be an all-rounder either. Obviously you can't afford to be terrible at anything, but they're interested primarily in your chosen subject. One point is that Cambridge still interview pretty much all applicants, whereas Oxford don't, so unless you really prefer Oxford, you might have more of a chance at Cambridge because English is very competitive and low GCSEs could be a reason to reject you without interview. As for missing out on all the advice, you probably won't miss much. I went to a conference where they basically gave out the same information you can get from the prospectus and website and had a mock interview, which was actually pretty useful but you wouldn't be seriously disadvantaged by not having one. Don't forget there's always lots of people on TSR to help you and the Oxbridge Admissions site with profiles.
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sjuthani
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#49
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I don't think this will be very helpful, but:

I did well in exams. 5A*, 5As and a B at GCSE and 4 As at AS. My school fought to stop me applying. Actually they never said that directly to me, they called up my parents directly instead- as if I had broken a school rule for considering a university (ironically enough, this is a top grammer school we're talking about- oxbridge entrants of 20+ in every year). I got in, against their expectations.

In short, from what I've experienced, schools know far less about the process than applicants tend to (naturally, as its their future); if you want it, go for it.
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Mustard-man
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#50
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(Original post by recurring)
My school had 35 people apply to Oxbridge this year
our school had one!!!!! Wahhaaaay
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kellywood_5
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#51
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(Original post by Mustard-man)
our school had one!!!!! Wahhaaaay
My school had two, including me!
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Agrippina
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#52
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Mine has about ten each year but typically only two people are made offers (from Oxford not Cambridge over the last three years).
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slk999
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#53
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That all sounds good. But, I am pretty set in my ways about Oxford. I think risking getting AABB and those GCSEs and very conservative A2 predictions will prevent me from getting an interview. I asked Emma Smith at Hertford and she said unless you get AAAA at AS I'll be rejected before interview- and Hertford is a college not to take much notice of GCSE results. I think I'll give a much better impression if I apply after A2 let's say with AAA and a good mark at AEA english which I'd have by then- good reference because school can be sure that I got the results and backed up by strong interview. It all seems much more concrete this way. Also, school will give me a hard time whatever as being a Public school they don't want their reputation stained. However, if I do get AAAA or even AAAB then I may well apply this year. But at the moment I'm inclined to apply post A2. Partly I'll only just be 17 when I take my interview. I'll be 16 when I write my PS and I think having matured lots by oct 2007, I could come over a lot better. However, I've made it clear to my school that I'm not discounting it and I'm going to do it regardless, just after A2.

A few more things: if I apply this year- I won't be able to apply to Bristol as they won't accept deferred entry for english unless you apply in your gap year. I really want Bristol to be my insurance. Also, rejection this year will lower my confidence lots just before any retakes in January and school will be VERY hesitant about letting me do it again the year after.
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Robert602
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#54
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(Original post by rich_)
A few more things: if I apply this year- I won't be able to apply to Bristol as they won't accept deferred entry for english unless you apply in your gap year. I really want Bristol to be my insurance.
Surely if you get an offer from Oxford it won't matter whether you apply to Bristol or not? If you are unsuccessful or don't meet your offer, you can reapply in your gap year and include an application to Bristol then.
(Original post by rich_)
Also, rejection this year will lower my confidence lots just before any retakes in January and school will be VERY hesitant about letting me do it again the year after.
If you really think a rejection will do you harm in your exams then fair enough. Personally I felt my rejection on the first attempt helped me the second time round because I knew what to expect, it's the best preparation you can do (if you get an interview at least), but I understand if you think you'd react differently.

About your school not letting you reapply though, again I'd have to say that it really isn't up to them, especially once you've left. Would I be right in thinking you pay a fee to attend a school that tells you what you can't do with your life afterwards? To be blunt, it's not on.

However small the chance of getting in this year, and however much stronger your application could be next year, you still have an opportunity for two bites at the cherry, an opportunity you might regret passing up later. (Even with AAA+Dist you'll be competing against people better qualified, a long way from a certainty). The only reasons not to are psychological, and those are up to you to make your decision on. I'll leave it there, I've been banging on long enough. Good luck with whatever you decide.
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wanderer
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#55
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(Original post by sjuthani)
In short, from what I've experienced, schools know far less about the process than applicants tend to (naturally, as its their future); if you want it, go for it.
:dito:

3 of our 5 successful Cambridge applicants were told that their GCSEs meant they should reconsider applying. Luckily, they applied anyway.
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WokSz
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#56
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does Oxford have the capability of looking into our record and see if we've redone exams even though they're not mentioned on our UCAS application forms?
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sjuthani
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#57
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Nope. They can ask you about it at interview or whatever though, and you're not allowed to lie to them there.
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lyrical_maze
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#58
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#58
(Original post by nighthawk)
They’re not bad GCSEs, unless you come from a top private school or top grammar school where a string of A*s is routinely expected I don’t think you’d be disadvantaged. Although you’d probably be advised not to apply to a really prestigious college. You’ve got ages anyway.
ok.. now im extremely worried because.. i came from a very good grammar school where... yes... a few ppl did get a string of A*s but... most of us did get more or less what I did mostly because none of us revised as the teachers told us that unis dont look at gcses!! I want to apply for oxbridge.. but my teacher won't let me.. she said they wouldn't even "touch" me say if I did... are my gcse's going to pull me down?... plzzzzzz someone help i have so much pressure as both sides of my family went to oxbridge...
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WokSz
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#59
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I think it's a bit early to say mate, as you do not have any AS grades. However, I did get an email today from Pembroke College and they said that GCSE's are of value, however they judge people on individual merit, therefore everyone who thinks they deserve a place, should give it a shot.
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kellywood_5
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#60
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(Original post by lyrical_maze)
ok.. now im extremely worried because.. i came from a very good grammar school where... yes... a few ppl did get a string of A*s but... most of us did get more or less what I did mostly because none of us revised as the teachers told us that unis dont look at gcses!! I want to apply for oxbridge.. but my teacher won't let me.. she said they wouldn't even "touch" me say if I did... are my gcse's going to pull me down?... plzzzzzz someone help i have so much pressure as both sides of my family went to oxbridge...
Apply as long as it's because [I]you[I] want to and not just because your family are putting pressure on you. It's your life and you have to be happy wherever you end up. Don't let your teacher discourage you because she can't actually stop you from applying. Bear in mind that having below average GCSEs, especially from a very good grammar school, will go against you, but GCSEs are far from the most important thing admissions tutors look at and you have the chance to make up for them with A-levels, personal statement, reference, written work, written test and interviews. Which subject do you want to apply for? The more competitive it is, the more your GCSEs will matter. It might also be worth remembering that Cambridge interview virtually everyone who applies, whereas Oxford don't, and GCSEs could be a reason to reject you without interview.
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