Offering: Average GCSE's with Excellent A-levels Watch

High Stakes
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If the candidate was to attain mediocre GCSE's of 5A's and the rest B', but managed to achieve A*A*A*A (Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics & Economics) how severely disadvantaged would they be when applying to Oxbridge universities? I have in mind the PPE course on offer at Oxford - would performing highly on the TSA exam supplement my application or should I forget it completely?

Thank you.
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gsxrjunkie
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(Original post by High Stakes)
If the candidate was to attain mediocre GCSE's of 5A's and the rest B', but managed to achieve A*A*A*A (Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics & Economics) how severely disadvantaged would they be when applying to Oxbridge universities? I have in mind the PPE course on offer at Oxford - would performing highly on the TSA exam supplement my application or should I forget it completely?

Thank you.
I don't think there would be that much of a problem. Your expected A Level grades seem amazing! However, I think it would also depend on your interview and how you come across.

Don't forget about his! Take the opportunity and apply, you never know what may happen.
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High Stakes
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(Original post by gsxrjunkie)
I don't think there would be that much of a problem. Your expected A Level grades seem amazing! However, I think it would also depend on your interview and how you come across.

Don't forget about his! Take the opportunity and apply, you never know what may happen.
I hope so, I've unfortunately fallen to the paranoid feeling that my GCSE's will limit me from entering Oxbridge. I feel as if I'll probably need to make it up with my performance on the TSA as well.
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gsxrjunkie
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(Original post by High Stakes)
I hope so, I've unfortunately fallen to the paranoid feeling that my GCSE's will limit me from entering Oxbridge. I feel as if I'll probably need to make it up with my performance on the TSA as well.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with your GCSE's!

What year are you in??
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High Stakes
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(Original post by gsxrjunkie)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with your GCSE's!

What year are you in??
Currently at the end of year 12.
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MagicJigsaw
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I got 2A*s, 5As, 1B, 2Cs and 1D at GCSE with 90%+ in my AS levels, and I got an offer from Cambridge. I had extenuating circumstances though (I come from a deprived background and went to a bad school).

It's worth noting that Cambridge aren't too bothered about your GCSEs, so I'd apply there. Mind you, my friend got 2A*s and 2As at GCSE and excellent A levels and got an offer from Oxford.

Hope this helps
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gsxrjunkie
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(Original post by High Stakes)
Currently at the end of year 12.
Same!

Don't say no to this opportunity! Apply
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gsxrjunkie
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(Original post by MagicJigsaw)
I got 2A*s, 5As, 1B, 2Cs and 1D at GCSE with 90%+ in my AS levels, and I got an offer from Cambridge. I had extenuating circumstances though (I come from a deprived background and went to a bad school).

It's worth noting that Cambridge aren't too bothered about your GCSEs, so I'd apply there. Mind you, my friend got 2A*s and 2As at GCSE and excellent A levels and got an offer from Oxford.

Hope this helps
Hey, I hope you don't mind me asking, what are you currently studying??
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MagicJigsaw
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(Original post by gsxrjunkie)
Hey, I hope you don't mind me asking, what are you currently studying??
RS, English Lit and Psychology, and I applied to read Philosophy
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Doones
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(Original post by High Stakes)
If the candidate was to attain mediocre GCSE's of 5A's and the rest B', but managed to achieve A*A*A*A (Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics & Economics) how severely disadvantaged would they be when applying to Oxbridge universities? I have in mind the PPE course on offer at Oxford - would performing highly on the TSA exam supplement my application or should I forget it completely?

Thank you.
Cambridge might be a better opportunity for you than Oxford. Oxford tends to place more emphasis on GCSEs. Cambridge looks more closely at your ASs - specifically the module UMS.

Perhaps have a look at HSPS at Cambridge
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High Stakes
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(Original post by jneill)
Cambridge might be a better opportunity for you than Oxford. Oxford tends to place more emphasis on GCSEs. Cambridge looks more closely at your ASs - specifically the module UMS.

Perhaps have a look at HSPS at Cambridge
I'm leaning towards more of the Economics aspect of PPE. What would be a close Cambridge substitute to it?
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Doones
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(Original post by High Stakes)
I'm leaning towards more of the Economics aspect of PPE. What would be a close Cambridge substitute to it?
There's no direct equivalent of PPE - perhaps you could start on the Economics Tripos and then do Part II of HSPS. (NB. I don't know if this is actually possible, check with the departments directly!)

Or just do straight Economics.
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Noble.
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Those GCSEs won't necessarily stop you from getting into Oxford. If you're applying for a subject with an admissions test, doing very well on it is a good way of making up for poor (by Oxford standard) GCSEs. I have similar GCSEs to MagicJigsaw and those kind of grades aren't massively uncommon. However, it must be said that if you're applying to a subject without an admissions test, or a very competitive subject (PPE/E&M) they're going to be more of an issue than if you apply for a less competitive subject, or one with an admissions test. I think a lot of people overplay the whole "Good GCSEs, apply Oxford, good UMS, apply Cambridge" mentality.
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High Stakes
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(Original post by Noble.)
Those GCSEs won't necessarily stop you from getting into Oxford. If you're applying for a subject with an admissions test, doing very well on it is a good way of making up for poor (by Oxford standard) GCSEs. I have similar GCSEs to MagicJigsaw and those kind of grades aren't massively uncommon. However, it must be said that if you're applying to a subject without an admissions test, or a very competitive subject (PPE/E&M) they're going to be more of an issue than if you apply for a less competitive subject, or one with an admissions test. I think a lot of people overplay the whole "Good GCSEs, apply Oxford, good UMS, apply Cambridge" mentality.
If I had those A level grades, an excellent strong personal statement accompanied with a high score on the TSA and a well done interview, would you say my chances are still relatively low?
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Noble.
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(Original post by High Stakes)
If I had those A level grades, an excellent strong personal statement accompanied with a high score on the TSA and a well done interview, would you say my chances are still relatively low?
No, not low by any stretch, especially if you plan on applying post A-Level with those grades already in hand.
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High Stakes
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(Original post by Noble.)
No, not low by any stretch, especially if you plan on applying post A-Level with those grades already in hand.
So would I be at an advantage with grades already in hand? Hypothetically, supposing I don't get into Oxbridge but I take a gap year and choose to reapply would the universities look my favourably on me because I've already proven my ability to excel in these academic studies?

In addition, would universities still look at my A2's even once the A level reform takes place, as those students will be primarily applying with their GCSE's (which is what I wish to avoid).
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Choyster54
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(Original post by High Stakes)
So would I be at an advantage with grades already in hand? Hypothetically, supposing I don't get into Oxbridge but I take a gap year and choose to reapply would the universities look my favourably on me because I've already proven my ability to excel in these academic studies?

In addition, would universities still look at my A2's even once the A level reform takes place, as those students will be primarily applying with their GCSE's (which is what I wish to avoid).
At the end of the day, I believe the question of whether you have a low/medium/high chance of getting into oxbridge is pretty moot. Either way, you should still apply (you have a fighting chance, even if it is lower than otherwise) and so should put in all your effort regardless.

At risk of sounding too moralising, I would advise you to stop thinking about these things and just focus on what you can do. Train up TSA and in particular your AS UMS. At the end of the day, many schools over predict and the unis may not believe you can get 4A* even if you actually could. 95+ average UMS across top three AS will look extremely good (for most courses at Cambridge, you will even get auto-pooled).

May I ask why your gcses were so low (the lack of any A* is particularly worrying)? This is because if you have extentuating circumstances these will also play to your advatange.

But again, a good set of AS grades will solve almost all problems esp for cambridge.

With regards to reform, to my knowledge ASs aren't being "scrapped" but decoupled i.e. you may still have the option of doing them and attaining good grades, but these scores won't count towards the A level. I could be wrong though, as I do the iB so haven't researched too much.

With regards to gap year - yes, that will solve many problems. But this should be a backup plan and not something you really consider going for ofc!
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High Stakes
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(Original post by Choyster54)
At the end of the day, I believe the question of whether you have a low/medium/high chance of getting into oxbridge is pretty moot. Either way, you should still apply (you have a fighting chance, even if it is lower than otherwise) and so should put in all your effort regardless.

At risk of sounding too moralising, I would advise you to stop thinking about these things and just focus on what you can do. Train up TSA and in particular your AS UMS. At the end of the day, many schools over predict and the unis may not believe you can get 4A* even if you actually could. 95+ average UMS across top three AS will look extremely good (for most courses at Cambridge, you will even get auto-pooled).

A) May I ask why your gcses were so low (the lack of any A* is particularly worrying)? This is because if you have extentuating circumstances these will also play to your advatange.

But again, a good set of AS grades will solve almost all problems esp for cambridge.

With regards to reform, to my knowledge ASs aren't being "scrapped" but decoupled i.e. you may still have the option of doing them and attaining good grades, but these scores won't count towards the A level. I could be wrong though, as I do the iB so haven't researched too much.

With regards to gap year - yes, that will solve many problems. But this should be a backup plan and not something you really consider going for ofc!
A) My mother became critically ill and had to go to the hospital to be tested for cancer. Thankfully she was fine but I much of my time was retracted from revising and in my mind at that age I weighed my responsibilities with my family members more highly than my pursuit of education. Now that my mother's health is good, I came to the conclusion that I had a profound desire to pursue higher education and was drawn to economics in particular. I am disheartened by the fact that my past could potentially hold me back even if I perform better than my peers.

Does that mean if I'm applying with my A2's, they will look at my GCSE's to a lesser extent? (obviously, I'm sure it will still play a role but they previously used GCSE's to predict a person's performance in their A levels and so applying with my A2's renders that pursue moot).
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High Stakes
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BUMP.
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Choyster54
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(Original post by High Stakes)
A) My mother became critically ill and had to go to the hospital to be tested for cancer. Thankfully she was fine but I much of my time was retracted from revising and in my mind at that age I weighed my responsibilities with my family members more highly than my pursuit of education. Now that my mother's health is good, I came to the conclusion that I had a profound desire to pursue higher education and was drawn to economics in particular. I am disheartened by the fact that my past could potentially hold me back even if I perform better than my peers.

Does that mean if I'm applying with my A2's, they will look at my GCSE's to a lesser extent? (obviously, I'm sure it will still play a role but they previously used GCSE's to predict a person's performance in their A levels and so applying with my A2's renders that pursue moot).
I am sorry to hear about your mother.

If that is the truth then you should be excused to an extent (not sure how much).

If you apply with A2s then they will definitely take priority.

However, as I have said, you shouldn't be anywhere near assuming a gap year. Focus on smashing your AS levels. If you get really high UMS marks (95+ av in top three), at Cambridge especially, then I am pretty positive it will make up for you poor gcse grades to a large extent (coupled with your extenuating circumstances).

Also, what subjects are you doing? I you are taking further maths then that will be a huge asset. Otherwise make an effort to go on the free FM courses that are offered.

I am not actually an oxbridge economics offer holder (future med instead), but my close friend got a place there and we discuss it often.
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