hugojenner
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So I am hoping to go to top universities such as Cambridge, LSE and UCL. I am currently in year 12 and in year 11 I got a level 5 for history and a level 6 for business because I did not study and was going through a rough time but I was constantly getting level 9's throughout the year for both subjects. I am retaking business and history this summer as I know I can achieve much higher (most likely a 9 in both), will this improve my chances of getting into top universities or slim them because I heard that top unis do not like GCSE resits.
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redmeercat
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It really depends - Ive heard that LSE is much stricter than Cambridge in terms of GCSE grades. Cambridge, however, cares a lot more about A level predictions, demonstrated interest in the subject, etc. I got into Cambridge with a C and a 6 at GCSE, so I don't think that would be an issue
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by hugojenner)
So I am hoping to go to top universities such as Cambridge, LSE and UCL. I am currently in year 12 and in year 11 I got a level 5 for history and a level 6 for business because I did not study and was going through a rough time but I was constantly getting level 9's throughout the year for both subjects. I am retaking business and history this summer as I know I can achieve much higher (most likely a 9 in both), will this improve my chances of getting into top universities or slim them because I heard that top unis do not like GCSE resits.
I wouldn't have bothered to retake. unless you are hoping to read something that uses History. They are just GCSEs and having two weaker GCSEs isn't critical to an application.
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Mijiiiiiiii
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(Original post by redmeercat)
It really depends - Ive heard that LSE is much stricter than Cambridge in terms of GCSE grades. Cambridge, however, cares a lot more about A level predictions, demonstrated interest in the subject, etc. I got into Cambridge with a C and a 6 at GCSE, so I don't think that would be an issue
100% agree.
I got a Cambridge offer this year to read History and had 988776664 at GCSE - I’m sure you’ll be fine.
GCSEs aren’t the end of the world - interviews, personal statements and predicted grades are also important.
I guess it also depends on what you want to study at university too.
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daniel06
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(Original post by Mijiiiiiiii)
100% agree.
I got a Cambridge offer this year to read History and had 988776664 at GCSE - I’m sure you’ll be fine.
GCSEs aren’t the end of the world - interviews, personal statements and predicted grades are also important.
I guess it also depends on what you want to study at university too.
Congratulations on receiving an offer. Please could you give me some advice. My GCSEs are not great - 5A* , 2A , 2B. I am taking history, geography and economics and I want to do history at Cambridge. Predicted hopefully - A*A*A - A*AA
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Mijiiiiiiii
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(Original post by daniel06)
Congratulations on receiving an offer. Please could you give me some advice. My GCSEs are not great - 5A* , 2A , 2B. I am taking history, geography and economics and I want to do history at Cambridge. Predicted hopefully - A*A*A - A*AA
For starters, your GCSEs are much better than mine! In that regard, you’ve ticked that box. Work as hard as you can for your A-Levels. (hopefully they’re not cancelled like mine 😂)

My advice would be to not apply just because it’s Cambridge. In that I mean, do not apply just because of the prestige of the university. Apply if you genuinely like the way the course will be taught, if you like the campus/colleges, if you can handle the workload of the course. I think being genuinely interested and enthusiastic about studying History really shows through in your personal statement and interviews.

Read as widely as you can whilst still reading deeply. Read what enjoys you whilst seeking out other topics/avenues that you have not explored/considered before to widen your knowledge & scope of the subject. Don’t restrict yourself to just history. I found that reading about the economic impacts of historical events or looking at sociological explanations for other events etc was a very nice way to look at other disciplines and their relationship to the way we understand, study and remember history. Don’t limit yourself to solely reading history books. You’ll be a better historian for it.

Podcasts and news articles etc are just as good as reading a book. (And 10x faster & often more interesting). Don’t force yourself to read anything that doesn’t interest you.

Also remember that Cambridge isn’t the final destination of life. There’s so much more than just Oxbridge - if you don’t get in, it’s not the end of the world.

If you want more academic advice, just pm me - I promise I’m friendly
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daniel06
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(Original post by Mijiiiiiiii)
For starters, your GCSEs are much better than mine! In that regard, you’ve ticked that box. Work as hard as you can for your A-Levels. (hopefully they’re not cancelled like mine 😂)

My advice would be to not apply just because it’s Cambridge. In that I mean, do not apply just because of the prestige of the university. Apply if you genuinely like the way the course will be taught, if you like the campus/colleges, if you can handle the workload of the course. I think being genuinely interested and enthusiastic about studying History really shows through in your personal statement and interviews.

Read as widely as you can whilst still reading deeply. Read what enjoys you whilst seeking out other topics/avenues that you have not explored/considered before to widen your knowledge & scope of the subject. Don’t restrict yourself to just history. I found that reading about the economic impacts of historical events or looking at sociological explanations for other events etc was a very nice way to look at other disciplines and their relationship to the way we understand, study and remember history. Don’t limit yourself to solely reading history books. You’ll be a better historian for it.

Podcasts and news articles etc are just as good as reading a book. (And 10x faster & often more interesting). Don’t force yourself to read anything that doesn’t interest you.

Also remember that Cambridge isn’t the final destination of life. There’s so much more than just Oxbridge - if you don’t get in, it’s not the end of the world.

If you want more academic advice, just pm me - I promise I’m friendly
Thank you for your advice. What was the offer that you got and what subjects did you do?
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Mijiiiiiiii
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(Original post by daniel06)
Thank you for your advice. What was the offer that you got and what subjects did you do?
Hey, no worries.
I studied History, Sociology and English Literature. My offer was A*AA in any order.
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daniel06
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(Original post by Mijiiiiiiii)
Hey, no worries.
I studied History, Sociology and English Literature. My offer was A*AA in any order.
Congratulations again. We’re you at a private school may I ask? I have moved to a private sixth form from an average state school. Hopefully this won’t discredit my application. Are there any books you would recommend or just read around areas your interested in/ a level content?
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Mijiiiiiiii
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(Original post by daniel06)
Congratulations again. We’re you at a private school may I ask? I have moved to a private sixth form from an average state school. Hopefully this won’t discredit my application. Are there any books you would recommend or just read around areas your interested in/ a level content?
No, I went to a failing state comprehensive and stayed there for sixth form. I'm sure it wouldn't discredit your application and isn't something you should be worrying about.

I'd recommend seminal texts like Carr's What Is History?, but I'd say read whatever interests you. For example, in my personal statement I didn't mention a single history book but did mention novels such as Frankenstein and the play The Importance of Being Earnest' which I studied for my English Literature A-level. I listened to podcasts around my A-level content - I recommend BBC's In Our Time History - and more generally. I liked RadioLab's More Perfect podcast about the United States' Supreme Court. I'd say thinking historically about things you have done/seen is just as important and valid as reading history books. The themes I had picked up in my wider reading was very helpful in my interview because my thinking had become more considered and rounded. All in all, read WHAT YOU LIKE & FIND INTERESTING!

Best of luck
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daniel06
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(Original post by Mijiiiiiiii)
No, I went to a failing state comprehensive and stayed there for sixth form. I'm sure it wouldn't discredit your application and isn't something you should be worrying about.

I'd recommend seminal texts like Carr's What Is History?, but I'd say read whatever interests you. For example, in my personal statement I didn't mention a single history book but did mention novels such as Frankenstein and the play The Importance of Being Earnest' which I studied for my English Literature A-level. I listened to podcasts around my A-level content - I recommend BBC's In Our Time History - and more generally. I liked RadioLab's More Perfect podcast about the United States' Supreme Court. I'd say thinking historically about things you have done/seen is just as important and valid as reading history books. The themes I had picked up in my wider reading was very helpful in my interview because my thinking had become more considered and rounded. All in all, read WHAT YOU LIKE & FIND INTERESTING!

Best of luck
We’re your GCSEs a lot better than mine?
Thanks for the advice. I will definitely take this all into consideration.
Thank you
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Mijiiiiiiii
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(Original post by daniel06)
We’re your GCSEs a lot better than mine?
Thanks for the advice. I will definitely take this all into consideration.
Thank you
I have 2 less A*s, one extra B and a C. Mine were 988776664.
Your GCSEs will be looked at in the context of your school - but I wouldn't worry about it. I nearly didn't apply because mine were far away from the myth that all Cambridge students have straight As and A*s at GCSE. I'm glad I did!
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daniel06
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(Original post by Mijiiiiiiii)
I have 2 less A*s, one extra B and a C. Mine were 988776664.
Your GCSEs will be looked at in the context of your school - but I wouldn't worry about it. I nearly didn't apply because mine were far away from the myth that all Cambridge students have straight As and A*s at GCSE. I'm glad I did!
Ok thanks so much. Any other advice you have ?
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Mijiiiiiiii
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(Original post by daniel06)
Ok thanks so much. Any other advice you have ?
I can't think anything specific, but if you have questions I can try my best to answer them!
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daniel06
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(Original post by Mijiiiiiiii)
I can't think anything specific, but if you have questions I can try my best to answer them!
Would you say I’d have a good chance as long as I get the predicted grades ?
Like are my subjects relevant enough?
Should I have 4 a levels ?
Important stuff for personal statements?
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Mijiiiiiiii
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(Original post by daniel06)
Would you say I’d have a good chance as long as I get the predicted grades ?
Like are my subjects relevant enough?
Should I have 4 a levels ?
Important stuff for personal statements?
1) Absolutely.
2) Yes.
3) No need - if you want to take 4 then feel free to do so, but I'd advise against it. No one expects you to do 4 and they may give you an offer that includes grades in all 4 which isn't fun.
4) Be original, don't focus on what other people have written because it should be about your interests. Whilst I didn't get asked about my personal statement at interview, I can imagine it being quite awkward to not know the texts you've put in it well if they ask you. Keep the statement largely academic - Super curricular not extracurricular. Be deep rather than shallow - it's better to talk about a small amount of things you know well and are interested in and can talk about if asked, than to know a small amount of loads of different things that you haven't thought critically about.
I think it's good to develop a 'chain'. For example, listening to a podcast about X made you then read Y and you thought about Y in this way, and another way etc etc. A chain of ideas thoughts and opinions comes across better than disjointed parts.

Feel free to ask anything else
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anon12344321
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depends on the degree
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daniel06
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(Original post by Mijiiiiiiii)
1) Absolutely.
2) Yes.
3) No need - if you want to take 4 then feel free to do so, but I'd advise against it. No one expects you to do 4 and they may give you an offer that includes grades in all 4 which isn't fun.
4) Be original, don't focus on what other people have written because it should be about your interests. Whilst I didn't get asked about my personal statement at interview, I can imagine it being quite awkward to not know the texts you've put in it well if they ask you. Keep the statement largely academic - Super curricular not extracurricular. Be deep rather than shallow - it's better to talk about a small amount of things you know well and are interested in and can talk about if asked, than to know a small amount of loads of different things that you haven't thought critically about.
I think it's good to develop a 'chain'. For example, listening to a podcast about X made you then read Y and you thought about Y in this way, and another way etc etc. A chain of ideas thoughts and opinions comes across better than disjointed parts.

Feel free to ask anything else
Thanks again. I’m getting the ‘What is history’ book you mentioned earlier. Regarding having an academic statement, would you say 2-3 extra curricular is enough? For super curricular - I have gone to festivals, read books, gone to lectures etc. However I don’t have any work experience which may be an issue. As in work experience relating to history. Also it’s difficult atm to get anything with everything going on. With the ‘chain’ concept I completely agree and I will get the ball rolling.
Thanks 👍
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daniel06
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(Original post by anon12344321)
depends on the degree
History at Cambridge. What do you think my chances are ?
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Mijiiiiiiii
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(Original post by daniel06)
Thanks again. I’m getting the ‘What is history’ book you mentioned earlier. Regarding having an academic statement, would you say 2-3 extra curricular is enough? For super curricular - I have gone to festivals, read books, gone to lectures etc. However I don’t have any work experience which may be an issue. As in work experience relating to history. Also it’s difficult atm to get anything with everything going on. With the ‘chain’ concept I completely agree and I will get the ball rolling.
Thanks 👍
I didn't have work experience - it's not necessary. Don't worry about trying to get some.
Best
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