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    I am currently in Year 11 and I want to study Computer Science at either Cambridge or Oxford (I am still undecided). However, I would like to know if these GCSEs (my target grades - provided I achieved them) would be good enough for Oxford's admissions.

    Maths - A*
    English Language - B
    English Literature - B
    iGCSE ICT - A*
    ECDL ICT - A*
    Biology - A*
    Chemistry - A*
    Physics - A*
    Computing - A*
    Religious Studies - B
    Sociology - B
    PE - C
    German - A/B

    I've got pretty much all A*s in relevant GCSEs, but I'm a little worried about the others...will they look at these or just care about the A*s I've got, and more importantly, are they enough or do I have to get more A*s?

    I will be taking Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Computing at college.

    Thanks
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    Cambridge put less weight on GCSE so if you do really well at AS it might be better to apply there However, don't put too much weight on grades; the only way to guarantee you won't get in is not to try. I only got three A*s at GCSE (admittedly all the rest were As though) and AABC at AS! And I've got an offer. So you really never know.


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    I really can't emphasise this enough, Oxford place SO much more importance on the interview than GCSEs, there's really no need to be worrying about them especially with A*s in all the relevant subjects. They'll interview pretty much everyone with the appropriate AS grades and then accept people based on the interview. GCSEs only really come into it if they have two candidates they can't decide between.
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    (Original post by tiddlyoo)
    Cambridge put less weight on GCSE so if you do really well at AS it might be better to apply there However, don't put too much weight on grades; the only way to guarantee you won't get in is not to try. I only got three A*s at GCSE (admittedly all the rest were As though) and AABC at AS! And I've got an offer. So you really never know.


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    Thats amazing!!! if you don't mind me asking, what subject? and any advice? hoping to apply but my AS levels aren't going very well at the moment
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    (Original post by robitussin)
    Thats amazing!!! if you don't mind me asking, what subject? and any advice? hoping to apply but my AS levels aren't going very well at the moment
    Archaeology and Anthropology - it's got a relatively high acceptance rate, which I'm sure helped.

    I guess I'd just really emphasise the importance of the interview. I applied to one college, and had an interview there and another at Magdalen. The interview at the original college was mediocre, but I really enjoyed the interview at Magdalen and I thought the interviewers did too - and obviously they did, because I was actually reassigned to Magdalen! As for how I did well in that interview - I just really love the subject. Love it. And that definitely came through in the way I talked.

    Make everything as strong as you can so the overall application is good: I reworked my personal statement over and over, and I've seen my reference and it was glowing to a ridiculous degree. But if you submit written work, make sure it's realistic - tutors pay attention if they think marking is overly generous, etc.

    Good luck!


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    (Original post by NattiiiP)
    I am currently in Year 11 and I want to study Computer Science at either Cambridge or Oxford (I am still undecided). However, I would like to know if these GCSEs (my target grades - provided I achieved them) would be good enough for Oxford's admissions.

    Maths - A*
    English Language - B
    English Literature - B
    iGCSE ICT - A*
    ECDL ICT - A*
    Biology - A*
    Chemistry - A*
    Physics - A*
    Computing - A*
    Religious Studies - B
    Sociology - B
    PE - C
    German - A/B

    I've got pretty much all A*s in relevant GCSEs, but I'm a little worried about the others...will they look at these or just care about the A*s I've got, and more importantly, are they enough or do I have to get more A*s?

    I will be taking Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Computing at college.

    Thanks
    Yes, those grades are absolutely fine. They're pretty typical of grades for successful candidates for Computer Science. And you have a good choice of A Levels. Contrary to the urban myth, we really don't put much weight on GCSE grades: the MAT and interviews are more important.

    Gavin
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    (Original post by gavinlowe)
    Yes, those grades are absolutely fine. They're pretty typical of grades for successful candidates for Computer Science. And you have a good choice of A Levels. Contrary to the urban myth, we really don't put much weight on GCSE grades: the MAT and interviews are more important.

    Gavin
    Do you work at Oxford ? The use of 'we' makes it seem that you do. If you don't mind, I wanted to know if these grades would be good enough for PPE at Oxford. Thanks. I'm hoping to get 7 A stars and 3 As but we'll see how things pan out. Out of curiosity, would 4 or 5 a stars still be enough ?
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    (Original post by gavinlowe)
    Yes, those grades are absolutely fine. They're pretty typical of grades for successful candidates for Computer Science. And you have a good choice of A Levels. Contrary to the urban myth, we really don't put much weight on GCSE grades: the MAT and interviews are more important.

    Gavin
    Dear Mr. Lowe,

    From looking at your profile I can see that you do indeed work for Oxford in the Computer Science department. I understand that it would be difficult for you to give me answer an due to this. Do you know any people in the PPE department that are on this forum ?Thanks, most appreciated.


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    They look good enough. All about the interview and the MAT. Have a look at spires tutors they helped my son get an offer.
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    I know someone in my (state) school - who got 12A*s GCSEs and 5As AS level and didn't even get an interview at Oxford for Computer Science and Philosophy. It is about luck
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    (Original post by tiddlyoo)
    Archaeology and Anthropology - it's got a relatively high acceptance rate, which I'm sure helped.

    I guess I'd just really emphasise the importance of the interview. I applied to one college, and had an interview there and another at Magdalen. The interview at the original college was mediocre, but I really enjoyed the interview at Magdalen and I thought the interviewers did too - and obviously they did, because I was actually reassigned to Magdalen! As for how I did well in that interview - I just really love the subject. Love it. And that definitely came through in the way I talked.

    Make everything as strong as you can so the overall application is good: I reworked my personal statement over and over, and I've seen my reference and it was glowing to a ridiculous degree. But if you submit written work, make sure it's realistic - tutors pay attention if they think marking is overly generous, etc.

    Good luck!


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    I'd lovee to study arch and anth! Did you apply for the HSPS course? If you dont mind me asking, what A levels did you take? I have to finalise my decisions asap, and im worried they may not be suitably varied enough-I want to take English lit, History and Classical Civilisation also aware that my gcses may not be oxbridge material-4 a*s, 5 as and 2 bs..do you have any tips to boost my chances in my personal statement? Any help or advice would be appreciated!
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    (Original post by Maliaohio)
    I'd lovee to study arch and anth! Did you apply for the HSPS course? If you dont mind me asking, what A levels did you take? I have to finalise my decisions asap, and im worried they may not be suitably varied enough-I want to take English lit, History and Classical Civilisation also aware that my gcses may not be oxbridge material-4 a*s, 5 as and 2 bs..do you have any tips to boost my chances in my personal statement? Any help or advice would be appreciated!
    I, uh, actually missed my grades (A*A*B instead of AAA - Oxford are tough) but I'd love to help I think HSPS is at Cambridge, isn't it? I preferred what seemed to be the more humanitarian approach at Ox.

    I think your subjects are "better" than mine were, actually: I did English Literature and Classics as well, plus Art, and Physics to AS. And I have heard that Oxford look at percentage of A*s with GCSEs more than anything, in which case you're also at an advantage to where I was when I applied: I had 2 A*s and 8.5 As (the half being a short course in ICT).

    However, my predicted grades were high, and I think my application really shone in the personal statement and reference...

    I tried very hard to attach a meaning to everything I put into my PS: for instance, I not only wrote that I had been to Pompeii and various sites in Turkey, I drew a comparison between the humble holes in the ground I saw at a Turkish rescue dig and the large necropolis at Pompeii. I mentioned a couple of books, but more importantly I said what I had gained from them: "Victoria Finlay's book 'Color' began my interest in material culture as an anthropological source; Nigel Spivey’s ‘Greek Art’ made me appreciate its archaeological value in the case of ancient peoples we cannot experience first-hand and meant I could look at the Greek ruins I often see in Turkey from a more informed perspective." The course prospectus specifies an interest in material culture, so I used that as a sort of buzzword.

    The most useful advice I got for the PS - have a focus, some kind of interest you have which relates to arch and anth. It will pull the whole thing together and make it more cohesive. A friend focused his PS on the Ancient Persians when he applied the year before me, talking about how he first got interested in them, how he wrote an essay about them for a competition, etc. But it doesn't need to be that obvious; my focus was the way different societies can be completely different but spring from the same framework (if you think that's interesting you might want to research anthropological structuralism): I talked about the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford (bit of sucking up maybe) since that's organised into purpose across different societies rather than place/time; talked about how people in Turkey deal with all the ancient stuff that keeps cropping up every time they're trying to build something as a mild nuisance vs. how a particular Aboriginal group in Australia (that I had met members of) sustain their ancient culture and merge it with modernisation/Westernisation.

    I have three passports and have grown up in the Middle East; I played on my identity as a "third culture kid" to show how I am already used to moving through different societies as both an outsider and a participant, which is pretty much what an anthropologist does. If you have something like this, use it to your advantage!

    Last thing: if you get to interview stage, they will give you objects and ask you to talk about them. Might be an idea to go to a museum and practise on the stuff there. Try to guess what it's made of, what it's for, etc.

    Good luck! It really does look like an amazing course. I'm very happy with the place I got in the end (at SOAS) and think I will enjoy London more than Oxford, but am a little wistful that I won't get to study under one of the professors I met at interview who I absolutely loved.
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    (Original post by tiddlyoo)
    I, uh, actually missed my grades (A*A*B instead of AAA - Oxford are tough) but I'd love to help I think HSPS is at Cambridge, isn't it? I preferred what seemed to be the more humanitarian approach at Ox.

    I think your subjects are "better" than mine were, actually: I did English Literature and Classics as well, plus Art, and Physics to AS. And I have heard that Oxford look at percentage of A*s with GCSEs more than anything, in which case you're also at an advantage to where I was when I applied: I had 2 A*s and 8.5 As (the half being a short course in ICT).

    However, my predicted grades were high, and I think my application really shone in the personal statement and reference...

    I tried very hard to attach a meaning to everything I put into my PS: for instance, I not only wrote that I had been to Pompeii and various sites in Turkey, I drew a comparison between the humble holes in the ground I saw at a Turkish rescue dig and the large necropolis at Pompeii. I mentioned a couple of books, but more importantly I said what I had gained from them: "Victoria Finlay's book 'Color' began my interest in material culture as an anthropological source; Nigel Spivey’s ‘Greek Art’ made me appreciate its archaeological value in the case of ancient peoples we cannot experience first-hand and meant I could look at the Greek ruins I often see in Turkey from a more informed perspective." The course prospectus specifies an interest in material culture, so I used that as a sort of buzzword.

    The most useful advice I got for the PS - have a focus, some kind of interest you have which relates to arch and anth. It will pull the whole thing together and make it more cohesive. A friend focused his PS on the Ancient Persians when he applied the year before me, talking about how he first got interested in them, how he wrote an essay about them for a competition, etc. But it doesn't need to be that obvious; my focus was the way different societies can be completely different but spring from the same framework (if you think that's interesting you might want to research anthropological structuralism): I talked about the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford (bit of sucking up maybe) since that's organised into purpose across different societies rather than place/time; talked about how people in Turkey deal with all the ancient stuff that keeps cropping up every time they're trying to build something as a mild nuisance vs. how a particular Aboriginal group in Australia (that I had met members of) sustain their ancient culture and merge it with modernisation/Westernisation.

    I have three passports and have grown up in the Middle East; I played on my identity as a "third culture kid" to show how I am already used to moving through different societies as both an outsider and a participant, which is pretty much what an anthropologist does. If you have something like this, use it to your advantage!

    Last thing: if you get to interview stage, they will give you objects and ask you to talk about them. Might be an idea to go to a museum and practise on the stuff there. Try to guess what it's made of, what it's for, etc.

    Good luck! It really does look like an amazing course. I'm very happy with the place I got in the end (at SOAS) and think I will enjoy London more than Oxford, but am a little wistful that I won't get to study under one of the professors I met at interview who I absolutely loved.
    Thank you soo much for replying so soon, this is so helpful! I agree, I prefer the course description at Oxford, I've just heard that GCSEs are more important in terms of application, which scared me a bit I actually went to Pompeii and Herculaneum this summer, which I planned to mention as I've always been fascinated by the sites and thanks so much for mentioning the phrase anthropological structuralism, that's what I've always loved about the subject but never had a name for it! I especially like the idea of that in relation to language and religion Your personal statement sounds amazing, and thank you for the book recommendations aha x Did you get any work experience/know of anywhere I could get some? I was very doubtful of applying, but you've now reassured me, even if I was unsure of the whole Oxford atmosphere-and pretty certain that I wouldn't get in... And SOAS seems great! I'd probably apply there if I didn't already live in London-I'm keen to explore elsewhere. It's a shame Oxford were so strict on your offer, but I'm sure soon enough you won't dream of being anywhere but SOAS where else did you apply? And were English lit and Classics difficult/did they get easier? I'm worried the essays will get on top of me thanks again, sorry if I ask too much, it's just nice to have someone I can talk to to answer all these questions!! x
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    (Original post by Maliaohio)
    Thank you soo much for replying so soon, this is so helpful! I agree, I prefer the course description at Oxford, I've just heard that GCSEs are more important in terms of application, which scared me a bit I actually went to Pompeii and Herculaneum this summer, which I planned to mention as I've always been fascinated by the sites and thanks so much for mentioning the phrase anthropological structuralism, that's what I've always loved about the subject but never had a name for it! I especially like the idea of that in relation to language and religion Your personal statement sounds amazing, and thank you for the book recommendations aha x Did you get any work experience/know of anywhere I could get some? I was very doubtful of applying, but you've now reassured me, even if I was unsure of the whole Oxford atmosphere-and pretty certain that I wouldn't get in... And SOAS seems great! I'd probably apply there if I didn't already live in London-I'm keen to explore elsewhere. It's a shame Oxford were so strict on your offer, but I'm sure soon enough you won't dream of being anywhere but SOAS where else did you apply? And were English lit and Classics difficult/did they get easier? I'm worried the essays will get on top of me thanks again, sorry if I ask too much, it's just nice to have someone I can talk to to answer all these questions!! x
    No worries, I remember how grateful I was to everyone who helped me - and the person who gave me the best advice was a guy who'd applied to the course the year before, so I'm happy to pay on the favour.

    I think it's more important to think about where you'd be happiest, honestly; I didn't apply to Oxford purely for the prestige or because I thought it'd be easier, and I don't regret that I got an offer from a college with a zero-tolerance policy for missed grades because going to the college and meeting the professors really showed me that it was the one I would have been happiest at. But it's obviously up to you in the end.

    Great, I went to Pompeii and Herculaneum as well and mentioned them in the PS! However, in one of the interviews the archaeology tutor actually disparaged my Classical background a bit - make sure you're aware of the importance of archaeology as a source of information about more humble societies too.

    And I didn't have any work experience at all! I did go see a rescue dig near my family's house in Turkey, so I mentioned that as "a valuable insight into the unromanticised reality of the work". I also talked about an internship I'd done at a local community arts and theatre centre, and sort of related that back to anthropology and local/developing culture. I'd imagine that as you live in the UK it'd be possible for you to volunteer at a National Trust site or something, or could you approach one of the many London museums?

    I originally applied to Oxford (aspirational), SOAS, Durham, Exeter and UEA (safety). I think it must be quite an undersubscribed course, as I got offers from all of them - AAA from Oxford, SOAS and Durham, AAB from Exeter and ABB from UEA.

    Finally, English Lit and Classics! I have a natural talent for writing in a way that is pleasant to read (also modesty, obviously), but I found out at the end of AS that this did not translate to doing well in exam essays. I got an E in the English Lit AS exam (full UMS in the coursework pulled the overall grade up to a C, but still not great). I spent year 13 working on my exam technique, doing what one of my English teachers called "playing the game" to check the horrible, limiting boxes on the AQA mark schemes. If I re-read an essay and cringed at the constant, clunky repetition of the key terms, I knew I was doing it right. I re-took that exam I got the E on, and got full UMS in that and everything else, so actually came out with 400/400 in my English A level. A little motivational tale for you. Just know what you need to improve and work on, and accept that exams are all about the mark scheme. And do as well as you can on coursework, so you have as many marks as possible in the bag before even starting exams.

    As for Classics, I'd imagine it's the same but that's the A level I got a B in - I did quite badly in one of the exams. I think that's more because we got a new teacher for A2 who I absolutely despised and who couldn't teach for ****, though. I don't really feel qualified to give advice about that, since I didn't do so well myself.
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    (Original post by tiddlyoo)
    No worries, I remember how grateful I was to everyone who helped me - and the person who gave me the best advice was a guy who'd applied to the course the year before, so I'm happy to pay on the favour.

    I think it's more important to think about where you'd be happiest, honestly; I didn't apply to Oxford purely for the prestige or because I thought it'd be easier, and I don't regret that I got an offer from a college with a zero-tolerance policy for missed grades because going to the college and meeting the professors really showed me that it was the one I would have been happiest at. But it's obviously up to you in the end.

    Great, I went to Pompeii and Herculaneum as well and mentioned them in the PS! However, in one of the interviews the archaeology tutor actually disparaged my Classical background a bit - make sure you're aware of the importance of archaeology as a source of information about more humble societies too.

    And I didn't have any work experience at all! I did go see a rescue dig near my family's house in Turkey, so I mentioned that as "a valuable insight into the unromanticised reality of the work". I also talked about an internship I'd done at a local community arts and theatre centre, and sort of related that back to anthropology and local/developing culture. I'd imagine that as you live in the UK it'd be possible for you to volunteer at a National Trust site or something, or could you approach one of the many London museums?

    I originally applied to Oxford (aspirational), SOAS, Durham, Exeter and UEA (safety). I think it must be quite an undersubscribed course, as I got offers from all of them - AAA from Oxford, SOAS and Durham, AAB from Exeter and ABB from UEA.

    Finally, English Lit and Classics! I have a natural talent for writing in a way that is pleasant to read (also modesty, obviously), but I found out at the end of AS that this did not translate to doing well in exam essays. I got an E in the English Lit AS exam (full UMS in the coursework pulled the overall grade up to a C, but still not great). I spent year 13 working on my exam technique, doing what one of my English teachers called "playing the game" to check the horrible, limiting boxes on the AQA mark schemes. If I re-read an essay and cringed at the constant, clunky repetition of the key terms, I knew I was doing it right. I re-took that exam I got the E on, and got full UMS in that and everything else, so actually came out with 400/400 in my English A level. A little motivational tale for you. Just know what you need to improve and work on, and accept that exams are all about the mark scheme. And do as well as you can on coursework, so you have as many marks as possible in the bag before even starting exams.

    As for Classics, I'd imagine it's the same but that's the A level I got a B in - I did quite badly in one of the exams. I think that's more because we got a new teacher for A2 who I absolutely despised and who couldn't teach for ****, though. I don't really feel qualified to give advice about that, since I didn't do so well myself.
    Thanks again for the reply! Looking into the course, I would really like to apply for Durham I'm jealous of your experience in Turkey, it sounds great! I applied for work exp at the Natural History Museum last year and didn't get it, but I'll try again next year in Museums and small digs.

    Your A level story is so inspirational! I was especially worried for English as I'm not so good at articulating my points, but better at learning specific terminology learnt in class. It's a shame your classics teacher changed for A2, but a B is still a great grade Thank you and good luck at SOAS!
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    (Original post by tiddlyoo)
    No worries, I remember how grateful I was to everyone who helped me - and the person who gave me the best advice was a guy who'd applied to the course the year before, so I'm happy to pay on the favour.

    I think it's more important to think about where you'd be happiest, honestly; I didn't apply to Oxford purely for the prestige or because I thought it'd be easier, and I don't regret that I got an offer from a college with a zero-tolerance policy for missed grades because going to the college and meeting the professors really showed me that it was the one I would have been happiest at. But it's obviously up to you in the end.

    Great, I went to Pompeii and Herculaneum as well and mentioned them in the PS! However, in one of the interviews the archaeology tutor actually disparaged my Classical background a bit - make sure you're aware of the importance of archaeology as a source of information about more humble societies too.

    And I didn't have any work experience at all! I did go see a rescue dig near my family's house in Turkey, so I mentioned that as "a valuable insight into the unromanticised reality of the work". I also talked about an internship I'd done at a local community arts and theatre centre, and sort of related that back to anthropology and local/developing culture. I'd imagine that as you live in the UK it'd be possible for you to volunteer at a National Trust site or something, or could you approach one of the many London museums?

    I originally applied to Oxford (aspirational), SOAS, Durham, Exeter and UEA (safety). I think it must be quite an undersubscribed course, as I got offers from all of them - AAA from Oxford, SOAS and Durham, AAB from Exeter and ABB from UEA.

    Finally, English Lit and Classics! I have a natural talent for writing in a way that is pleasant to read (also modesty, obviously), but I found out at the end of AS that this did not translate to doing well in exam essays. I got an E in the English Lit AS exam (full UMS in the coursework pulled the overall grade up to a C, but still not great). I spent year 13 working on my exam technique, doing what one of my English teachers called "playing the game" to check the horrible, limiting boxes on the AQA mark schemes. If I re-read an essay and cringed at the constant, clunky repetition of the key terms, I knew I was doing it right. I re-took that exam I got the E on, and got full UMS in that and everything else, so actually came out with 400/400 in my English A level. A little motivational tale for you. Just know what you need to improve and work on, and accept that exams are all about the mark scheme. And do as well as you can on coursework, so you have as many marks as possible in the bag before even starting exams.

    As for Classics, I'd imagine it's the same but that's the A level I got a B in - I did quite badly in one of the exams. I think that's more because we got a new teacher for A2 who I absolutely despised and who couldn't teach for ****, though. I don't really feel qualified to give advice about that, since I didn't do so well myself.
    Thanks again for the reply! Looking into the course, I would really like to apply for Durham I'm jealous of your experience in Turkey, it sounds great! I applied for work exp at the Natural History Museum last year and didn't get it, but I'll try again next year in Museums and small digs.

    Your A level story is so inspirational! I was especially worried for English as I'm not so good at articulating my points, but better at learning specific terminology learnt in class. It's a shame your classics teacher changed for A2, but a B is still a great grade
    Your advice is soo helpful, I now feel a bit more positive with a headstart into A levels and applying to uni-thank you and good luck at SOAS!
 
 
 
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