Obligatory 'what are my chances'. Brutal honesty required. Watch

grauniadfaithful
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So -- last year I started Year 12 at a grammar school having come from a comprehensive, & have now started Year 13 with a view to applying to Cambridge to do History. As far as the technicalities are concerned, all systems are go - I am registered for the HAA, have finalised my personal statement, and have written work in the making.

Little niggle though. My GCSEs are subpar by Oxbridge standards. I am completely aware that questions like this are impossible to answer and do not expect anybody to look into a crystal ball and predict my future -- but how far will they negate my chances of receiving an offer?

They are: 9, 9, 6, A*, A*, A, B, B, B, C.
And an important thing to note is that the second A* is not a GCSE, but a GCSE-equivalent qualification - not sure if these are counted?

And as to A-levels, I'm predicted A*A*A*A.

My head of sixth has assured me that the GCSEs can be 'explained away' in my reference due to my coming from a comprehensive, but looking at Cambridge's admissions statistics via Freedom of Information requests doesn't exactly fill me with confidence. It does seem they have a tendency (understandably) to go for those with mega A* collections. It's not like I'd be crushed if my chances are indeed slim, but I'd rather know beforehand. Don't hold back!

Thanks.
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Jackudy3
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Regardless of your chances, if you want to go there, apply.

It's one choice out of five, and if you get in, great. If you don't, nothing lost by trying.
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Sinnoh
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Let's get this clear.
Cambridge doesn't go for those with mega A* collections; people with mega A* collections happen to go for Cambridge.
GCSEs are not as good performance indicators as A-level predictions - this is what is stated on the Cambridge website (paraphrased).
Admissions tutors are not flicking through grades and deciding after a minute of reading. They look through it carefully and will look at your GCSEs in the context of the school you go to.
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Doones
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(Original post by Sinnoh)
Admissions tutors are not flicking through grades and deciding after a minute of reading.
^^^this.

And I seem to remember the average time spent assessing and reviewing each applicant was about 10 16* hours.

iirc it was Murray Edwards Admissions who did a little study on it.

*Edit to put the correct number, see posts below for details

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Doones
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(Original post by grauniadfaithful)
So -- last year I started Year 12 at a grammar school having come from a comprehensive, & have now started Year 13 with a view to applying to Cambridge to do History. As far as the technicalities are concerned, all systems are go - I am registered for the HAA, have finalised my personal statement, and have written work in the making.

Little niggle though. My GCSEs are subpar by Oxbridge standards. I am completely aware that questions like this are impossible to answer and do not expect anybody to look into a crystal ball and predict my future -- but how far will they negate my chances of receiving an offer?

They are: 9, 9, 6, A*, A*, A, B, B, B, C.
And an important thing to note is that the second A* is not a GCSE, but a GCSE-equivalent qualification - not sure if these are counted?

And as to A-levels, I'm predicted A*A*A*A.

My head of sixth has assured me that the GCSEs can be 'explained away' in my reference due to my coming from a comprehensive, but looking at Cambridge's admissions statistics via Freedom of Information requests doesn't exactly fill me with confidence. It does seem they have a tendency (understandably) to go for those with mega A* collections. It's not like I'd be crushed if my chances are indeed slim, but I'd rather know beforehand. Don't hold back!

Thanks.
Your GCSEs and equivalents are fine, and not really hugely important.

Good luck with the rest of your application
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SuperHuman98
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interview and admissions test are 100% more important than GCSE's so try your best.#

Anyways just make sure you are happy wth your other 4 choices, in the end there is more to life than Oxbridge
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BlueberryViolin
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(Original post by grauniadfaithful)
So -- last year I started Year 12 at a grammar school having come from a comprehensive, & have now started Year 13 with a view to applying to Cambridge to do History. As far as the technicalities are concerned, all systems are go - I am registered for the HAA, have finalised my personal statement, and have written work in the making.

Little niggle though. My GCSEs are subpar by Oxbridge standards. I am completely aware that questions like this are impossible to answer and do not expect anybody to look into a crystal ball and predict my future -- but how far will they negate my chances of receiving an offer?

They are: 9, 9, 6, A*, A*, A, B, B, B, C.
And an important thing to note is that the second A* is not a GCSE, but a GCSE-equivalent qualification - not sure if these are counted?

And as to A-levels, I'm predicted A*A*A*A.

My head of sixth has assured me that the GCSEs can be 'explained away' in my reference due to my coming from a comprehensive, but looking at Cambridge's admissions statistics via Freedom of Information requests doesn't exactly fill me with confidence. It does seem they have a tendency (understandably) to go for those with mega A* collections. It's not like I'd be crushed if my chances are indeed slim, but I'd rather know beforehand. Don't hold back!

Thanks.
Hiya!
I'll be a Cambridge history fresher starting this Saturday (ahh!) so I'll try to answer for you . You have better GCSEs than some history students already at Cambridge and even if you didn't, what is far more important is being on the way to getting great grades at A level (which you clearly are - well done!) and performing well re personal statement, submitted essays, HAA and, of course, the interviews. If you'd like any tips from someone who has just gone through the process, feel free to drop me a PM .
Best of luck!
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riacchi
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
^^^this.

And I seem to remember the average time spent assessing and reviewing each applicant was 10 hours.

iirc it was Murray Edwards Admissions who did a little study on it.

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Is this study public? If so, could you possibly link me to it? Thanks!
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Doones
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(Original post by riacchi)
Is this study public? If so, could you possibly link me to it? Thanks!
No. He mentioned he did a tally in one of his threads when he was Christ's AT. You might find it if you search through the Christ's threads. Good luck...
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riacchi
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
No. He mentioned he did a tally in one of his threads when he was Christ's AT. You might find it if you search through the Christ's threads. Good luck...
Found it! Thanks for telling me where to look.

If anyone else's interested, Christ's Admissions replied to this thread: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho...5155060&page=5 (post 82) with the estimate of around 16 hours per applicant. The thread also goes more into detail on the factors they considered in this estimate.

This is really interesting, especially to an international student applying to the US. Allegedly, admissions officers spend around 20-30 minutes reading applications (of course, there may be additional deliberation, but certainly not 16 hours).
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Doones
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(Original post by riacchi)
Found it! Thanks for telling me where to look.

If anyone else's interested, Christ's Admissions replied to this thread: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho...5155060&page=5 (post 82) with the estimate of around 16 hours per applicant. The thread also goes more into detail on the factors they considered in this estimate.

This is really interesting, especially to an international student applying to the US. Allegedly, admissions officers spend around 20-30 minutes reading applications (of course, there may be additional deliberation) but certainly not 16 hours.
Nicely found! :yay:

An important factor is the manhours involved when you tally up multiple people involved in multiple interviews.
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kazzykat95
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From Cambridge's website:

"There are no GCSE (or equivalent) requirements for entry to Cambridge. GCSE results are looked at as a performance indicator, but within the context of the performance of the school/college where they were achieved.
Applicants have generally achieved high grades in subjects relevant to their chosen course, and most students who apply have at least four or five As or A*s at GCSE (7 is considered equivalent to an A in the new grading structure; and 8 and 9 is considered equivalent to an A*).
However, there are always exceptions and we don’t require a minimum number of As/A*s at GCSE. One of the strengths of the Cambridge admissions system is its ability to assess all applicants individually.
Our research shows that post-16 examination performance is a much better predictor of degree success at Cambridge. While GCSE results are looked at as a performance indicator, this is within the context of the performance of the school/college where they were attained, and strong performance in Years 12 and 13 can make up for a less stellar performance at GCSE."

TL;DR as long as you do well in your A Levels (which you probably will, judging by your predicteds), you don't have anything to worry about
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