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Would I be wasting my time applying to Oxbridge? watch

  • View Poll Results: Do I have a chance of going to Oxbridge?
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    Disregard all the advice you receive from the this thread, unless the advice comes from someone who goes/has gone to Oxbridge
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    (Original post by GradeA*UnderA)
    I'd also like to add that the average SUCCESSFUL applicant has 8.3A* too.
    Averages are not requirements.

    That said here's a bit more data specifically for HSPS at Cambridge.
    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque...and%20data.pdf


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    (Original post by Abstract_Prism)
    It should be pointed out that going to decent/good schools is a disadvantage. If you went to a good school universities expect more from you than if you went to a terrible one.
    Good point
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    (Original post by StudentRobbie)
    I would've posted this in one of those "are my grades good enough for Oxbridge" posts but I want to go into quite a lot of detail and this is not by any means about my grades exclusively.

    I'm in year 12 and I want to go to Oxbridge because I have intense political ambition. Looking over the politicians of today and the past, a hugely disproportionate chunk of them went to Oxbridge, especially Oxford. Most of those who went to Oxford have the PPE degree too. This is not at all healthy for society but it is what it is and I want to play the game.

    Doing PPE at Oxford seemed realistic to me until about six months ago when I got my GCSE results. I was attending a somewhat decent comprehensive catholic school at the time and got the following grades: AAAABBBBBB. The As were in English lit, lang, RE and History. Obviously, I don't need telling that this isn't even close to Oxbridge standard.

    Luckily, for Sixth Form I'd got into a seriously good school. One of the best in the country. I got in on interview as it's highly selective. I wanted to study History, Maths, Politics and Economics. However, they told me that since I got a B in maths they didn't want me to study it there (they expect all their students to at least get As and essentially told me it was impossible that I'd do that). I really wanted to take maths because 90% of those who do PPE had a maths A-Level but, they weren't budging on the issue so I took English instead to save me a headache.

    I began to look further into the PPE course and found that (and I actually find this to be mind-numbingly stupid), they look a whole lot a GCSE results. Added to the fact that I didn't take maths I began to realise that PPE isn't going to happen, but I don't think I would've passed the poshness test to do such a course that entrenches the status quo in our society anyway.

    So I've thought about Human, Social and Political sciences at Cambridge. They seem to look at GCSEs a lot less and obviously are a lot less maths-focused for this course. Also, my A-Levels very much could end out being something like A*AA or at least AAA, which makes sense because the school I'm at is hugely better than the last and I'm working a lot harder.

    There's a notice going round for people who want to go on an Oxbridge conference, do I sign it to go?

    Many Thanks
    Oxford hugely focus on GCSEs. The average successful applicant has 8A*s! In addition, they dint seem to give much importance tonAS Levels. The average successful Cambridge applicant has less. Now most people who apply for Oxbridge and think they have low GCSEs are talking about somewhere between 2-6 A*s for Oxford and maybe 2-4A* for Cambridge. People do get in with lower grades so it's almost always worth applying if you get AAA+ for Oxford and A*AA+ for Cambridge.

    For PPE, I think it must be like less than 2% of successful applicants got similar GCSEs to you, HSPS at Cambridge is less competitive and there is clearly lower focus on GCSEs. If I were you, I'd apply to Cambridge for HSPS after getting your A2s. If you get A*AA apply. If you get A*A*A+ they will definitely forgive your GCSEs. If you were to get all A*s at A Level, well, that would make you a strong applicant.

    Another thing to note isn't that our current prime minister has a geography degree. And boris Johnson had Classics. So if you find yourself falling for English or History then don't be scared to explore those avenues. And I think the director general of MI5 has a Bristol degree actually, in Classics. Plus each year the success rates of Oxbridge candidates gets less and less each year for the Civil Service Fast stream. So don't worry about Oxbridge anyway, it's amazing no denying, but if you work hard at another uni and are just good at your job, it will override the prestige factor, which is only there for a head start. ( Jeremy Corbin doesn't have a degree, from what I remember).

    So just focus on doing as well as you can in your A Levels, and Cambridge isn't closed to you. Neither is Oxford, but PPE may be even more difficult to get into without A Level Maths and 4A*+ GCSEs.
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    I am in a very similar situation to you, at GCSEs I got A*AAABBBBBCC. I am doing Maths, Economics and Government&Politics at A level. Doing maths isn't necessary they just say that History and maths are preferred and I'm not doing History. They also take into consideration the school you took your GCSEs at, so if you did well compared to their average and the other students results then it may not matter as much.

    Definitely make the most of the conference and ask questions. I think it also depends on location. Personally, when I looked round Cambridge I didn't really like it but when I went to Oxford I loved it. So go on open days for both and get a feel of the town as well as the different colleges.

    I too want to apply for PPE but am really unsure. The Oxbridge co-coordinator at my school still seems keen on me applying and I also applied to the Oxford Summer school this year. I definitely feel that if I do go there then I may have a better chance of getting into politics and being more respected in a way. But I do also think that there needs to be some sort of variety in the future in order to remove the elitism of the current government.

    However, do not be disheartened. There are so many other Universities that offer PPE and don't look so much at GCSEs eg. Durham, UCL, LSE, Kings etc.And if you don't like the look of them or they ask for A level maths then look at courses which are just politics and economics(unless you particularly wanted to do philosophy). There are so many other alternatives to Oxbridge PPE, you just need to do some research. Quite a few Unis also offer work placements with the House of Commons or a year abroad on a study exchange which would look really go on your CV as you'd have the opportunity to experience and understand politics and international relations from multiple perspectives in different countries.

    So what I'm trying to say is Go For It! Don't let anyone tell you that you can't because only you know your full potential. If you're prepared to work hard then you have as good chance as many others in a similar position to ourselves. But even if you don't get a place don't think that that's the end of the road because you obviously have a passion and drive for it so just try somewhere else.

    P.S let me know if you do end up applying and how it goes
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    (Original post by jneill)
    Averages are not requirements.

    That said here's a bit more data specifically for HSPS at Cambridge.
    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque...and%20data.pdf


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    Intriguing document....
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    (Original post by Lockra)
    Intriguing document....
    Wolfson is a mature college. For applicants who will be 21+ at the time they start at Cambridge. They typically don't have the same GCSE profile as "standard" colleges.

    Also Lucy Cavendish, St Edmunds and Hughes Hall

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    (Original post by Abstract_Prism)
    It should be pointed out that going to decent/good schools is a disadvantage. If you went to a good school universities expect more from you than if you went to a terrible one.
    The school I went to years 7-11 was a lot worse than the one I'm at for my A-Levels. As in at A-Level the A*-A rate is double what it is at my new school than it was at my old one. Thanks for the insight
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    (Original post by SteamboatMickey)
    Honestly just go for it. I was in a similiar position last year. I was asking frantic questions on here because I hate the thought of wasting my time. I have pretty bad GCSE grades but I'm sitting here with a Cambridge History offer. Just work your butt off
    That's a great story to hear, thank you. May I ask when you say "pretty bad" what you mean more specifically? I'll definitely take the advice though.
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    (Original post by StudentRobbie)
    That's a great story to hear, thank you. May I ask when you say "pretty bad" what you mean more specifically? I'll definitely take the advice though.
    A*A*A*BBBCDE

    Extenuating circumstances though, although I know a boy who got in with Cs and Ds at GCSE.
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    (Original post by Mingzhe Feng)
    I would definitely go for it anyway, your GCSE results won't hold you back, if your predicted grades are good enough and you especially do well on the entrance exams (TSA I think?), its likely you'd get interviewed.
    I guess so. I think I could get some decent predicted grades, though apparently if you want an A* prediction you usually have to twist an arm for it and promise to do extra work for that subject.
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    (Original post by SteamboatMickey)
    A*A*A*BBBCDE

    Extenuating circumstances though, although I know a boy who got in with Cs and Ds at GCSE.
    How bad does something have to be to qualify as extenuating circumstances? I had quite bad tinnitus when I was doing my GCSEs and saw a doctor about it, but would I be right in suspecting that you need to have been being operated on or something at the time you did your GCSEs to qualify?
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    (Original post by Naruke)
    Disregard all the advice you receive from the this thread, unless the advice comes from someone who goes/has gone to Oxbridge
    I suppose their advice is more qualified but it seems a bit cynical to say that, some rejects/teachers/people who know people who got in can probably offer good advice.
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    (Original post by ShootTheWall)
    There are so many other Universities that offer PPE and don't look so much at GCSEs eg. Durham, UCL, LSE, Kings etc.
    Durham and LSE are known for being sticklers for GCSEs, perhaps even more so than Oxford.
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    (Original post by StudentRobbie)
    How bad does something have to be to qualify as that? I had quite bad tinnitus when I was doing my GCSEs and saw a doctor about it, but would I be right in suspecting that you need to have been being operated on or something at the time you did your GCSEs to qualify?
    I was out of education for four years for health reasons and was not given any help to catch up so had to self teach what I had missed during Year 11, but like I said I know a boy with Cs and Ds at GCSE and no extenuating circumstances. He's currently in his second year at Cambridge. Cambridge don't care about GCSEs as much, but I can't speak for Oxford as I've never been through that process.
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    It's not just about grades, it's all about your enthusiasm for the subject. Going to a good school certainly is a disadvantage. I applied with perfect grades, fell behind my school work trying to prepare for the entrance test and realised i'd messed up as I applied for the wrong subject. Don't think of it is in terms of what job will I get at the end of it/it's Oxbridge so its the be all and end all. Honestly only apply if you seriously live and breathe your subject. Not trying to put you off at all but you need to be able to show that you literally are the most dedicated person to that subject, not to the end result to counter out grades/school combo.
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    I got similar GCSEs to you and got into Cambridge for law, OP. It is doable. It helps if the reason for your not getting typically good grades at GCSE is that you didn't work too much at it, as you seem to suggest. That means you have plenty of scope to do better with a bit more effort.

    Just smash your A levels and present yourself well at interview etc and give it a go if you want to.

    (On the other hand I think it is right that some others, the LSE in particular, are more strict about GCSEs, because they have less to go on otherwise -- no interview process etc. LSE rejected me anyway)
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    (Original post by Abstract_Prism)
    Durham and LSE are known for being sticklers for GCSEs, perhaps even more so than Oxford.
    For that particular course? I got into Durham for History (complete with lowered offer) and my GCSEs aren't fab.
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    (Original post by SteamboatMickey)
    For that particular course? I got into Durham for History (complete with lowered offer) and my GCSEs aren't fab.
    For all courses Durham and LSE have a reputation for caring a lot about GCSEs

    Extenuating circumstances make it a whole different ball game
 
 
 
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