The worst GCSE grades at Oxbridge Watch

Conniestitution
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Hi guys!

This is an odd question, and I do know the Oxbridge average GCSE score is 8 A* or something like that. I've seen my fair share of 'are these GCSEs good enough for Oxbridge?' questions too.

What I'm asking is, anecdotally, personally, or otherwise, does anyone know any stories about Oxbridge applicants who performed poorly or got mediocre grades at GCSE level? Or even average-good grades and still got an offer?

Mere curiosity strikes.


(This isn't for me to decide whether or not to apply by the way )
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CollectiveSoul
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(Original post by Conniestitution)
Hi guys!

This is an odd question, and I do know the Oxbridge average GCSE score is 8 A* or something like that. I've seen my fair share of 'are these GCSEs good enough for Oxbridge?' questions too.

What I'm asking is, anecdotally, personally, or otherwise, does anyone know any stories about Oxbridge applicants who performed poorly or got mediocre grades at GCSE level? Or even average-good grades and still got an offer?

Mere curiosity strikes.


(This isn't for me to decide whether or not to apply by the way )
anecdotally, the lowest GCSEs ive seen from an Oxbridge student was like 2A*s, 6As and 2Bs or something
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Conniestitution
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(Original post by CollectiveSoul)
anecdotally, the lowest GCSEs ive seen from an Oxbridge student was like 2A*s, 6As and 2Bs or something
Thanks!
That's a big ouch really. Definitely feeds into the 'best of the best' description - they're still very good grades!
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artful_lounger
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I imagine there's a wider range at Cambridge, which puts less weight on GCSEs (although many who get in have good GCSEs anyway, this is according to them because people who did well in GCSE often do well in A-level and in the relevant entrance exams). I also imagine there are a few mature students at both with few/no GCSEs at all, and/or poorer grades in the ones they did take, many years before they later applied with stronger contemporaneous qualifications.

It's worth noting all the Cambridge AT reps on TSR have stated that they have never rejected a candidate solely on the basis of GCSE grades. Less help if you wanted to apply to an Oxford-only course I guess...

I've also moved this thread to the Oxbridge forum so current/former students and applicants can weigh in Doonesbury might know some stats too
Last edited by artful_lounger; 1 month ago
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rose.obrien
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If you achieve 8+ A*s, this will give you a chance. However, for the most competitive courses (typically medicine and law), you will need a full set of A*s to put u in good stead
However, this is just general advice. I’d say find out your school’s average set of GCSEs and compare yours to that. This is relevant as most unis will take this into consideration. For example, the YouTuber ‘ibz mo’ has a video talking about his low grades and how he got into Cambridge

Overall I’d say if it’s your dream uni, why not apply anyway. If u have 5 choices (if ur not applying for medicine) then a risky choice is fine. The worst thing is not applying, then forever overthinking if you would’ve got in. U may not be offered a place at oxbridge, but not applying makes this definite
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rose.obrien
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Sorry just re read your question, I may have got off tangent but anyway I recommend going through some of ibz mo’s videos
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Conniestitution
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(Original post by evabellarose)
If you achieve 8+ A*s, this will give you a chance. However, for the most competitive courses (typically medicine and law), you will need a full set of A*s to put u in good stead
However, this is just general advice. I’d say find out your school’s average set of GCSEs and compare yours to that. This is relevant as most unis will take this into consideration. For example, the YouTuber ‘ibz mo’ has a video talking about his low grades and how he got into Cambridge

Overall I’d say if it’s your dream uni, why not apply anyway. If u have 5 choices (if ur not applying for medicine) then a risky choice is fine. The worst thing is not applying, then forever overthinking if you would’ve got in. U may not be offered a place at oxbridge, but not applying makes this definite
Thanks for the reply!
This wasn't me asking if I was good enough, don't worry! My GCSE results were 99999D*8876, which is good anyway, especially when considering the quality of my school. I'm still undecided on whether I want to apply or not. I'm just asking for anecdotal stories here, to see if anyone has ever broken that trend of having all those A*s.

I'll definitely check out that video though! I didn't know he'd spoken about his GCSEs in relevance to his application.
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Tolgarda
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Ibz Mo is a YouTuber that studies at Cambridge (studying for a psychology degree, I believe). He got 2 Bs, 4 Cs and 2 Ds at GCSE. He displays his GCSE grades at 6:05 in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxqTpLPWlMg
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Conniestitution
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(Original post by Tolgarda)
Ibz Mo is a YouTuber that studies at Cambridge (studying for a psychology degree, I believe). He got 2 Bs, 4 Cs and 2 Ds at GCSE. He displays his GCSE grades at 6:05 in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMwio5ZrhV0
Just to check - are you aware that link takes you to a BT Sport football video? :rofl3:
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Tolgarda
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(Original post by Conniestitution)
Just to check - are you aware that link takes you to a BT Sport football video? :rofl3:
****! I'll change that. This is why I shouldn't have too many tabs open at once! I've just edited it to the actual link lmao. I was watching football highlights. For ****'s sake!
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here2panic
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Omg I just saw someone say "the worst i've seen anecdotally is 2A*s 6As 2Bs" and that's me!!!
I used to post on a different account on TSR but lmao that I think someone is potentially referencing my grades on here
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here2panic
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I graduated from Cambridge in 2018 and studied HSPS - came out with a high 2.1 and got a 1st in 2nd year...
From what I understand Oxford care a lot more about GCSES because they have their research which claims that gcse grades are far more important than AS levels, whilst Cambridge found the inverse.
I know AS levels don't really exist anymore, but I was saved by a pretty good top 3 average of 94.7 in my AS levels and a strong interview performance. I ultimately got A*A*A in my A levels, with full marks in Geography, 98% in History and 91.5% in Politics (but 88% in a level so I got an A overall ). I also went to a high performing private school and didn't use extenuating circumstances.

I think my school were very keen to also paint me as someone on an upward trajectory as I didn't put a lot of effort into my GCSES, was having quite a few issues with the school etc. I also did a lot of extra-curricular activities to a high level, and whilst I don't think that was decisive I think it showed that I was potentially smart and deserved a shot.
My recommendation is this if you have poor GCSE grades:
A. Apply to Cambridge
B. Work out - did I get these grades when I was trying, or did I have some big reason why I didn't do well? Was I lazy, but am actually really smart? Was I sick? Do I really believe I can do significantly better than this?
There's obviously a spectrum of acceptable grades, and whilst mine were poor, they certainly weren't objectively horrific, so you do need to be realistic.
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Doones
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(Original post by Conniestitution)
Thanks for the reply!
This wasn't me asking if I was good enough, don't worry! My GCSE results were 99999D*8876, which is good anyway, especially when considering the quality of my school. I'm still undecided on whether I want to apply or not. I'm just asking for anecdotal stories here, to see if anyone has ever broken that trend of having all those A*s.

I'll definitely check out that video though! I didn't know he'd spoken about his GCSEs in relevance to his application.
I'm glad you clarified that

I don't know the overall lowest GCSE profile but there are some with 0, zero, none, nada A*s at GCSE.

Including some studying, for example, Medicine at Cambridge.
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Notoriety
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
I'm glad you clarified that

I don't know the overall lowest GCSE profile but there are some with 0, zero, none, nada A*s at GCSE.

Including some studying, for example, Medicine at Cambridge.
Though we don't know if they put in some mitigating circumstances for the more low-performing candidates, so gets a bit meaningless.
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Doones
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(Original post by Notoriety)
Though we don't know if they put in some mitigating circumstances for the more low-performing candidates, so gets a bit meaningless.
Or, as per Ibz Mo above, are mature.
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GeniusOfEarl100
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I got into Cambridge last month for HSPS. My GCSEs are 2*As, 3As, 5Bs
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here2panic
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(Original post by Notoriety)
Though we don't know if they put in some mitigating circumstances for the more low-performing candidates, so gets a bit meaningless.
Re myself, I didn't take any years out, didn't have any mitigating circumstances and went to a private school soo!
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CollectiveSoul
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(Original post by GeniusOfEarl100)
I got into Cambridge last month for HSPS. My GCSEs are 2*As, 3As, 5Bs
that really surprises me tbh. you must have really excelled in literally everything else
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GeniusOfEarl100
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(Original post by CollectiveSoul)
that really surprises me tbh. you must have really excelled in literally everything else
I’m just as surprised as you tbh. It seems that there are quite a lot of HSPS students with low GCSE grades, Ibz Mo being the most notable example as that was what he initially got accepted for. Maybe the HSPS faculty don’t care about them as much? I’ve also heard that a brilliant performance on the admissions assessment will make them effectively disregard GCSEs. My predicted grades were 3A* + 1A and I felt my interviews went really well.
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nexttime
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The most 'GCSE-brutal' course at Oxbridge and probably the world, is medicine at Oxford. Average of 10.5A*s for those that get in.

But even then, when there are special circumstances, they will make exceptions. As you can see from this data from 2015, one person got in with 2A* 3A 3B.
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