How relevant are GCSEs in relation to uni? Watch

OD1555
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When applying to a top university such as Oxbridge, Durham, LSE etc, in what context are GCSEs important?

For example if I were to have GCSEs at:

Maths A
English Lang A
French B
History B
RE B
Sciences B,B
Computer science C
English Lit C

However after A levels I’ve received dramatically higher results with:

Politics A*
History A
Business A

I’ve just taken a gap year and unsure if my GCSE’s would hold me back from a top uni? Ive read around it but I’m unsure if they matter in the context of predicting A level results, which I already have, or as a tool for narrowing the applicant pool. It’s also worth noting that my school was by no means high achieving. I’d be grateful to hear some insight from someone with knowledge around applications. Do not be afraid to be blunt and honest. Is there a realistic chance in a top uni?
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Admit-One
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(Original post by OD1555)
When applying to a top university such as Oxbridge, Durham, LSE etc, in what context are GCSEs important?

For example if I were to have GCSEs at:

Maths A
English Lang A
French B
History B
RE B
Sciences B,B
Computer science C
English Lit C

However after A levels I’ve received dramatically higher results with:

Politics A*
History A
Business A

I’ve just taken a gap year and unsure if my GCSE’s would hold me back from a top uni? Ive read around it but I’m unsure if they matter in the context of predicting A level results, which I already have, or as a tool for narrowing the applicant pool. It’s also worth noting that my school was by no means high achieving. I’d be grateful to hear some insight from someone with knowledge around applications. Do not be afraid to be blunt and honest. Is there a realistic chance in a top uni?
It might weaken your overall application slightly but by no means would it put you out of the running, even at a competitive Uni.

I would not let it affect the Uni's you are considering applying to at all. Just make sure you have a spread of Uni's in and around your A Level predictions.
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aesthete1
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since you have your a level results already, your GCSEs will be almost meaningless to unis (and in the context of a poor school as well they are absolutely fine) so you should definitely apply, you have a good chance of getting an offer (obviously Oxbridge is still hard but other top unis you shouldn't have a problem depending slightly on course choice)
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harrysbar
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(Original post by OD1555)
When applying to a top university such as Oxbridge, Durham, LSE etc, in what context are GCSEs important?

For example if I were to have GCSEs at:

Maths A
English Lang A
French B
History B
RE B
Sciences B,B
Computer science C
English Lit C

However after A levels I’ve received dramatically higher results with:

Politics A*
History A
Business A

I’ve just taken a gap year and unsure if my GCSE’s would hold me back from a top uni? Ive read around it but I’m unsure if they matter in the context of predicting A level results, which I already have, or as a tool for narrowing the applicant pool. It’s also worth noting that my school was by no means high achieving. I’d be grateful to hear some insight from someone with knowledge around applications. Do not be afraid to be blunt and honest. Is there a realistic chance in a top uni?
What subject are you applying for?
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OD1555
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Preferably law but I’m also open to history/and politics or PPE
(Original post by harrysbar)
What subject are you applying for?
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Sinnoh
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(Original post by OD1555)
Preferably law but I’m also open to history/and politics or PPE
GCSEs are used as an indicator of future performance, although A-level grades are going to be a lot more relevant.

Only exception really is if you applied to do PPE at Oxford, where they place GCSEs as having a high importance for shortlisting candidates for interview (source: https://www.ppe.ox.ac.uk/images/ppe_...6-17_final.pdf )
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harrysbar
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Oxford do generally place higher emphasis on GCSEs than Cambridge, they say on their website that:

Higher grades at GCSE can help to make your application more competitive, and successful applicants typically have a high proportion of A and A* grades or 7,8 and 9 grades. However, we do look at GCSE grades in context. Where possible, tutors will be made aware of the overall GCSE performance of the school or college where you studied.

If in doubt, phone Admissions at the unis that interest you and get advice directly from them
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Nuttyy
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(Original post by aesthete1)
since you have your a level results already, your GCSEs will be almost meaningless to unis (and in the context of a poor school as well they are absolutely fine) so you should definitely apply, you have a good chance of getting an offer (obviously Oxbridge is still hard but other top unis you shouldn't have a problem depending slightly on course choice)
Couldn't be further from the truth tbh. These top unis look for persistent excellence. They want to know youve always been the top of the class etc.

But I'd still recommend what you said, apply, cus why not. Can't win the lottery if you don't but a ticket.
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OD1555
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Thanks for the info. Oxbridge seem to be quite unclear about the context though. Like this could mean that they consider a high amount of GCSE as evidence of a high chance in As at A level for those applying directly from sixth form to uni without the gap year however it could also matter in narrowing the applicant pool between everyone, its a little unclear. And yeah I think I’ll phone up soon. Thanks
(Original post by harrysbar)
Oxford do generally place higher emphasis on GCSEs than Cambridge, they say on their website that:

Higher grades at GCSE can help to make your application more competitive, and successful applicants typically have a high proportion of A and A* grades or 7,8 and 9 grades. However, we do look at GCSE grades in context. Where possible, tutors will be made aware of the overall GCSE performance of the school or college where you studied.

If in doubt, phone Admissions at the unis that interest you and get advice directly from them
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ageshallnot
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(Original post by Nuttyy)
Couldn't be further from the truth tbh. These top unis look for persistent excellence. They want to know youve always been the top of the class etc.
That's not true. More than one Cambridge admissions tutor has stated on TSR that an upward trajectory is a good sign.
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harrysbar
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(Original post by OD1555)
Thanks for the info. Oxbridge seem to be quite unclear about the context though. Like this could mean that they consider a high amount of GCSE as evidence of a high chance in As at A level for those applying directly from sixth form to uni without the gap year however it could also matter in narrowing the applicant pool between everyone, its a little unclear. And yeah I think I’ll phone up soon. Thanks
I think in this case, what they mean by context is they will make allowances for people not performing so well at GCSEs if they went to a school with poor GCSE results generally. But if people attended a decent private or grammar school, they would expect them to have achieved a good set of results (unless they had extenuating circumstances like they were ill during their studies).
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Nuttyy
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(Original post by ageshallnot)
That's not true. More than one Cambridge admissions tutor has stated on TSR that an upward trajectory is a good sign.
Ah ok, fair enough. They know more haha.
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aesthete1
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(Original post by Nuttyy)
Couldn't be further from the truth tbh. These top unis look for persistent excellence. They want to know youve always been the top of the class etc.

But I'd still recommend what you said, apply, cus why not. Can't win the lottery if you don't but a ticket.
I'm not making this up dude I'm a student at Cambridge, an access ambassador and I'm repeating what's been said by the director for admissions Dr Sam Lucy at the many admissions events I've been a part of.

while GCSEs can be a factor, for Cambridge they are not a large part of the selection process particularly for candidates who already have a level results
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Nuttyy
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(Original post by aesthete1)
I'm not making this up dude I'm a student at Cambridge, an access ambassador and I'm repeating what's been said by the director for admissions Dr Sam Lucy at the many admissions events I've been a part of.

while GCSEs can be a factor, for Cambridge they are not a large part of the selection process particularly for candidates who already have a level results
Yes I realised I was wrong, read previous posts lol
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harrysbar
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(Original post by aesthete1)
I'm not making this up dude I'm a student at Cambridge, an access ambassador and I'm repeating what's been said by the director for admissions Dr Sam Lucy at the many admissions events I've been a part of.

while GCSEs can be a factor, for Cambridge they are not a large part of the selection process particularly for candidates who already have a level results
We believe you - Oxford do care about them more than Cambridge though
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OD1555
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This is a very useful answer. Thanks
(Original post by aesthete1)
I'm not making this up dude I'm a student at Cambridge, an access ambassador and I'm repeating what's been said by the director for admissions Dr Sam Lucy at the many admissions events I've been a part of.

while GCSEs can be a factor, for Cambridge they are not a large part of the selection process particularly for candidates who already have a level results
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aesthete1
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(Original post by OD1555)
This is a very useful answer. Thanks
I will say that most successful post a level candidates for Cambridge have actually exceeded the standard entry conditions, so got multiple a*s at a level, but if your interview is also strong that can balance this out
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A Rolling Stone
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you only have 1 traditional A level.

however, Durham has been expanding massively in the last few years and is not as competitive as it used to be. the offer rate there used to be around 50% but is now approaching 80%. so Durham is in play but LSE and Oxbridge are unrealistic
(Original post by OD1555)
When applying to a top university such as Oxbridge, Durham, LSE etc, in what context are GCSEs important?

For example if I were to have GCSEs at:

Maths A
English Lang A
French B
History B
RE B
Sciences B,B
Computer science C
English Lit C

However after A levels I’ve received dramatically higher results with:

Politics A*
History A
Business A

I’ve just taken a gap year and unsure if my GCSE’s would hold me back from a top uni? Ive read around it but I’m unsure if they matter in the context of predicting A level results, which I already have, or as a tool for narrowing the applicant pool. It’s also worth noting that my school was by no means high achieving. I’d be grateful to hear some insight from someone with knowledge around applications. Do not be afraid to be blunt and honest. Is there a realistic chance in a top uni?
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aesthete1
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(Original post by A Rolling Stone)
you only have 1 traditional A level.

however, Durham has been expanding massively in the last few years and is not as competitive as it used to be. the offer rate there used to be around 50% but is now approaching 80%. so Durham is in play but LSE and Oxbridge are unrealistic
they wouldn't be the most competitive candidate due to only the one A* but they still have a shot at Cambridge (can't speak for Oxford but know that Cambridge are ok as long as you have the required subject(s) for the course they aren't worried about exactly what a levels)

it's only one choice out of 5 so if they like the course it is worth applying, in general they should apply to a range of unis, usually two aspirational (Oxbridge/LSE) and three more safe options
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Last edited by aesthete1; 4 weeks ago
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A Rolling Stone
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ok and he also has a shot at the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
(Original post by aesthete1)
they wouldn't be the most competitive candidate due to only the one A* but they still have a shot at Cambridge (can't speak for Oxford but know that Cambridge are ok as long as you have the required subject(s) for the course they aren't worried about exactly what a levels)

it's only one choice out of 5 so if they like the course it is worth applying, in general they should apply to a range of unis, usually two aspirational (Oxbridge/LSE) and three more safe options
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