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    So, I want to apply to Cambridge (and KCL, Exeter, Leeds and York) to read French and Italian (or Russian, depending on the uni.) ab initio.

    I didn't attend secondary school until I was 13. I attended a grammar school for a year and a half and then left when I was 15. I taught myself my IGCSEs and two AS levels in history and maths. I have suffered with mental illness throughout most of my adolescence, but now, with help from the Maudsley in London, I'm well on my way to recovery and I want to apply to uni. I started sixth form college last September and my attendance went from 0% to 30%. I am very proud of this! Towards the end of the year, I was attending all my lessons. But it has meant that my grades have suffered slightly.

    I have 8 A*s at IGCSE/GCSE.

    Biology - B
    Chemistry - B
    French - A - 99%
    History - A 82%
    Maths - A - 86%

    So, AAABB. But I'm getting the B's remarked because they were both only one mark off an A! Argh!

    Next year I'm taking:
    English literature AS/A2
    EPQ on Stalinist repression/Russia in the 20th century

    I have done lots of wider reading and I am also interested in music (I have grade 8 piano and violin).

    I have also won first prize in French essay competitions and medals in science olympiads.

    Basically, do you think I have a good chance if I apply to Cambridge with AAABB and a ums average of about 89%? Even though my history is pretty low...

    How do I explain all this? What will they think about this kind of story?

    I just feel really confused about the whole process. Teachers at college are telling me to go for it but friends and others are telling me that Cambridge need to see >90 ums in all applicants...what is true?

    The average Cambridge offer-holder has over 90% UMS in their 3 most relevant A levels. However, when I say average, I really mean average. There are offer-holders who don't have that. I applied and got in with a UMS average of about 87% over all my AS. If I took out my soft subject, my average over 3 was closer to about 85%. That was quite a few years ago now but the same rumour, that everyone had to have over 90, was going around then to.

    You can also use CSAS to explain your school history/illness, though your grades aren't especially terrible. So yeah, if you feel like it, may as well give it a shot. We obviously don't know if you'd get in or not but what's the worst that could happen?

    Definitely apply - you have nothing to lose, Cambridge is only one place on UCAS and with your AS grades you'll definitely get a place at one of your other choices. Your UMS isn't awful, and I know people that have worse UMS scores who got into Cambridge (and a lower GCSE profile). 99% in a language will look especially good seeing as you're applying for MML.

    The Extenuating Circumstances form is specifically for cases like yours, so you'll be able to let the Admissions Tutors know your circumstances without it having to use up space in your personal statement. Your UMS are probably good enough for you to be called to interview, so why not go for it?
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