The Student Room Group

"Are these GCSEs good enough for x" - the guide

READ CAREFULLY BEFORE COMMENTING!
Quite often, the answer to these such threads is yes.
But there are inevitable asterisks. Read more for specific examples.

Are these results good enough for...

Cambridge:
Well, let's see what they say on their website about GCSE results as an entry requirement:


Things to take away from this:

There is no fixed requirement for GCSE results

If you do badly it's not the end of the world

They care more about A-level performance.

Good A-levels can compensate for "less than stellar" GCSEs, but not the other way around.


From personal experience: GCSEs do not act as a safety net if you badly mess up part of your application.

So chances are, your results are good enough.

Oxford:
The number of times I've heard "Oxford doesn't look at your application unless you have 8 A*s" (or something along those lines) is too damn high, because it is too damn wrong.

To read their full statement on how they view GCSE results, go here and scroll down. The most important takeaways from this are:

A*s, 8s and 9s are regarded as equal (for now). Someone with 10 8s is not disadvantaged against someone with 10 9s. As of 2021 this appears no longer to be the case.

Like with Cambridge and every other university in the country, they care about a lot more besides GCSE results

There is a correlation between excellent GCSEs and application success. But then again, that's because of the much more obvious link between GCSE and A-level performance. Someone who excels at A-level, who would consider applying to Oxford or Cambridge would probably have excelled in their GCSEs as well.


Exception: Medicine at Oxford. When it comes to medicine, Oxford shortlist for interview based on your GCSEs and BMAT scores and they interview a fixed number of applicants every year. The standard of GCSE results for Oxford med is exceptionally high, and no set of results will ever guarantee you a place.
See here for statistics on GCSE and BMAT scores.

Possible exception: PPE. According to their admissions statistics which you can read here, when it comes to shortlisting applicants to interview, GCSE results are given a "high" importance, along with predicted grades and your TSA score.
GCSEs are regarded within the context of the school you were at - whether your results were below average or above average for your school.
But you can also see, the GCSE standards for shortlisting are nowhere near as high as for medicine. People can get in without any A*s at GCSE.

LSE:
LSE actually explicitly say what they're looking for in applicants' GCSE scores.
Let's start off with actual requirements. No matter what the course, they say that "Your GCSE (or equivalent) English Language and Mathematics grades should be no lower than B (or 6)".
However, they do prefer all-round strong performance at GCSE, but just how strong depends on how competitive the course is. For example, with Anthropology and Law they state that
"We are also looking for a strong pre-16 academic profile such as several GCSE grades of A (or 7) and A* (or 8-9) or equivalent, and you will also have achieved a good set of GCSE grades or equivalent across a broad range of subjects"
But with Economics, "Applicants should also have already achieved a strong set of GCSE grades including the majority at A (or 7) and A* (or 8-9), or equivalent."
However, your grades will be looked at in the context of the school where you attained them - if you went to an underperforming school for your GCSEs and your results were good relative to your school, even if it doesn't meet those preferences given above, you may still have good chance.

In summary;

Make sure you've got at least a 6 in English Language and Maths

It depends on the course

There's no strict cut-off

If the majority of your grades are 7-9 then relax

If you went to an underperforming school for GCSE and didn't get those results, don't panic


Here's an interesting thing I've just found out - despite having lower preferences for GCSEs, anthropology and law actually has a lower offer rate than economics. Let this be a reminder that GCSEs still aren't all that matters.

Russell Group:
Yes. Your results are good enough, because the Russell Group isn't that special.

They may (and may not) ask for a specific grade in maths and/or English (usually between 4 and 6), but other than that they do not care. For most universities in the Russell Group, the vast majority of applicants get offers.

Medicine:
Delicate one this. Medicine is pretty consistent across the country with how hard it is to get in. You could get into Cambridge but be rejected by Anglia Ruskin. Depending on the medical school you apply to, GCSEs may be used (alongside your BMAT/UKCAT score) to shortlist people for interview, due to the generally high standard of A-level predicted grades among applicants. But it's a thorough process and you can expect all parts of your application to be looked at.

Furthermore there's a bit of variation among what med schools want from GCSEs. Some require five 7s/As minimum (e.g. Sheffield, St. Andrews), some only require passes, some don't have any fixed requirements (e.g. Imperial, Newcastle)

There are some pretty excellent resources on TSR about this already so I'll link them in this section:

GCSE requirements of medical schools: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/results/gcse/medical-school-gcse-requirements
FAQs of the medicine forum: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/university/courses/medicine/medicine-forum-guide-and-faqs
"Are my grades good enough for medicine" megathread: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=5678544
Other medicine threads for any other queries: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=5523988

One aspect in which specific GCSE results are useful is when a 6th form places GCSE requirements on taking certain subjects at A-level, but that's up to the school.

In summary:

Loads of A*s/8s/9s can't hurt

But exceptional grades are not a requirement.

Don't neglect the BMAT/UKCAT and don't think of your GCSEs as a safety net.

GCSE requirements vary among medical schools. If your grades are on the edge, choose carefully.


Exception: Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health courses. GCSE requirements are set by the professional body, not the university, as the course involves a professional registration at the end of it. Therefore, the GCSE requirements are non-negotiable and must be attained.

Any other specified course:
In general: yes.
Unless, as mentioned already, there is a specific requirement for a particular grade in a GCSE subject. But if your query is "are these GCSEs good enough for STEM courses" or something along those lines, the answer is yes.
If in doubt, check the university website and check their course page. I get the feeling not enough people do that.


(edited 2 years ago)

Scroll to see replies

Reply 1
3 7s, 2 8s and 4 9s competitive for Oxbridge Law?
Reply 2
Original post by C000034
3 7s, 2 8s and 4 9s competitive for Oxbridge Law?


Probably.
But it won't be if you get bad predicted grades, or do badly on the admissions test or flop the interview.
Original post by C000034
3 7s, 2 8s and 4 9s competitive for Oxbridge Law?
The GCSE grades are not the "competitive" bit. It's all the other stuff that you'll be compared on. GCSE criteria exists more as a benchmark for candidates applying.
Reply 4
Original post by 04MR17
The GCSE grades are not the "competitive" bit. It's all the other stuff that you'll be compared on. GCSE criteria exists more as a benchmark for candidates applying.

Was just to get a rough estimate as to what the average accepted offer is because it's tough to know with these new 9-1s what a solid performance is
Original post by C000034
Was just to get a rough estimate as to what the average accepted offer is because it's tough to know with these new 9-1s what a solid performance is
All 7-9s is a fantastic performance and something to be proud of. I doubt there'd be any different correlation between average acceptance of university candidates with certain GCSEs and the correlation between high GCSE and A Level grades. Your GCSE grades don't say anything about Oxford chances beyond whether it's worth applying or not.
Reply 6
Feels like I have no chance of studying medicine at oxbridge :frown:
GCSE grades are too low for Oxford (seven 8s and three 7s, no 9s) and chose the wrong A-levels for Cambridge (97% of Successful applicants have 3 science-maths a-levels, I only picked 2) aargh so frustrated
Original post by Fr3yaa
Feels like I have no chance of studying medicine at oxbridge :frown:
GCSE grades are too low for Oxford (seven 8s and three 7s, no 9s) and chose the wrong A-levels for Cambridge (97% of Successful applicants have 3 science-maths a-levels, I only picked 2) aargh so frustrated
As is clear in the OP, Oxford regard 8s and 9s as equal. Your grades are not too low for Oxford. Obviously medicine will be competitive but you can't say for certain that you've missed it.

Which A Level subjects have you chosen? There's no point doing Chemistry Physics and Maths if you're applying for Classics.
(edited 4 years ago)
Reply 8
Original post by 04MR17
As is clear in the OP, Oxford regard 8s and 9s as equal. Your grades are not too low for Oxford.

Which A Level subjects have you chosen? There's no point doing Chemistry Physics and Maths if you're applying for Classics.

The average oxford candidate for medicine has 10 A*s I think? Also I’m doing Biology, chemistry and geography
Original post by Fr3yaa
The average oxford candidate for medicine has 10 A*s I think? Also I’m doing Biology, chemistry and geography

Without a source I'm not going to engage with that. 10A*s is not a requirement even if it is an average.

Biology and Chemistry are what's going to be needed for Medicine. Geography is a perfectly acceptable third and Cambridge aren't necessarily going to find fault with you there.
(edited 4 years ago)
For those shortlisted who had taken GCSEs, the mean number of A*s at GCSE was 10.2 and the mean proportion of A*s at GCSE was 0.94.

The actual data ^

Mean number of 10A*s with a mean proportion of 0.94 indicates that a large number of applicants will have done about 11 GCSEs and missed an A* in at least one of them.

You're on 7 A*s and a 0.7 proportion. That's not a million miles away. Especially with three 7s right behind it.

In addition your BMAT score will be hugely significant and you can't account for that.

@Fr3yaa
Reply 11
Original post by 04MR17
For those shortlisted who had taken GCSEs, the mean number of A*s at GCSE was 10.2 and the mean proportion of A*s at GCSE was 0.94.

The actual data ^

Mean number of 10A*s with a mean proportion of 0.94 indicates that a large number of applicants will have done about 11 GCSEs and missed an A* in at least one of them.

You're on 7 A*s and a 0.7 proportion. That's not a million miles away. Especially with three 7s right behind it.

In addition your BMAT score will be hugely significant and you can't account for that.

@Fr3yaa

Thank you so much for the reassurance:smile:
9 9s, one 7 and one A^ alright for engineering science at oxford?
Reply 13
Original post by Fr3yaa
Feels like I have no chance of studying medicine at oxbridge :frown:
GCSE grades are too low for Oxford (seven 8s and three 7s, no 9s) and chose the wrong A-levels for Cambridge (97% of Successful applicants have 3 science-maths a-levels, I only picked 2) aargh so frustrated


But that's because simply, people with medicine in mind are just more likely to pick 3 sciences, not necessarily because Cambridge prefers it.
Yes your grades are below average for medicine at Oxford (and I didn't find similar statistics for Cam), but you haven't taken the BMAT yet so it all could change. Plus, they don't distinguish between 8s and 9s.
Reply 14
Original post by bubble123987
9 9s, one 7 and one A^ alright for engineering science at oxford?


Please re-read the OP, with particular reference to the first sentence.
Is an 8 and 9 actually equal in the eyes of Oxford?
Reply 16
Original post by TheCapstan
Is an 8 and 9 actually equal in the eyes of Oxford?

Follow the link in the Oxford section.
Reply 17
Original post by 04MR17
Without a source I'm not going to engage with that. 10A*s is not a requirement even if it is an average.

Biology and Chemistry are what's going to be needed for Medicine. Geography is a perfectly acceptable third and Cambridge aren't going to find fault with you there.

I'm assuming @Fr3yaa is basing her understanding on the entry requirements on the website which are:

A Levels in Chemistry and one of Biology, Physics, Mathematics.
Most applicants have at least three science/mathematics A Levels. Please note that in the past three admissions rounds, 96% of applicants for Medicine (A100) offered three or more science/mathematics A Levels and, of these, 29% were successful in obtaining a place. Of the 3% of applicants who offered only two science/mathematics A Levels, just 3% were successful in gaining a place.

However, the important thing is to look at which college to apply to see here, because to hit that slim chance with geography you need to be very specific in your college choice.
Original post by TheCapstan
Is an 8 and 9 actually equal in the eyes of Oxford?

Yes

Original post by readyplayer2wo
no *****. they're different grades

This is inaccurate, please read the OP.
Original post by 2500_2
I'm assuming @Fr3yaa is basing her understanding on the entry requirements on the website which are:

A Levels in Chemistry and one of Biology, Physics, Mathematics.
Most applicants have at least three science/mathematics A Levels. Please note that in the past three admissions rounds, 96% of applicants for Medicine (A100) offered three or more science/mathematics A Levels and, of these, 29% were successful in obtaining a place. Of the 3% of applicants who offered only two science/mathematics A Levels, just 3% were successful in gaining a place.

However, the important thing is to look at which college to apply to see here, because to hit that slim chance with geography you need to be very specific in your college choice.

Good point re colleges, but I support Sinnoh's thoughts in post 14.

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