Which university focuses on GCSEs more - Cambridge or LSE?

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anaveragekid
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Hi. I'm a Year 12 Student, giving AS exams this summer. I plan to apply for a few Russel Grp universities this year but want to have the best chance possible at getting in. I know both Oxbridge and LSE are GCSE-heavy, particularly Oxford, but I've heard Cambridge gives them less importance.
I've ruled out applying to Oxford because I don't believe I'm competitive enough in GCSE terms, but my question is out of LSE or Cambridge which uni is less likely to put more emphasis on GCSEs. I know there are no set 'standards', but still, which of the two would prioritise GCSEs more?
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ageshallnot
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Cambridge place least emphasis on GCSEs of the three unis you mention
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Theloniouss
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LSE likely prioritises GCSEs more, but without your GCSEs and the course you're applying for it's difficult to be more specific.
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anaveragekid
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(Original post by ageshallnot)
Cambridge place least emphasis on GCSEs of the three unis you mention
Thanks for the insight!

(Original post by Theloniouss)
LSE likely prioritises GCSEs more, but without your GCSEs and the course you're applying for it's difficult to be more specific.
Thanks for the answer. Planning to apply for Law. My GCSEs were five 9s, one 8 (Physics) and 2 7s (Maths and French).
A-Level subjs Maths, Economics, English Lit & Law.
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artful_lounger
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LSE, but it varies depending on the course you're applying to. Generally the more competitive courses at LSE (i.e. their flagship programmes in economics, the LLB, some other courses like A&F and so on) will put more emphasis on GCSEs than courses that tend to be less oversubscribed (e.g. anthropology, geography, etc). That said they should consider them in context for all courses (i.e. if you went to an underperforming school vs if you went to Eton) although I don't know exactly how or to what extent they consider this (it is a major consideration at Oxford and Cambridge for example).

That said your GCSEs are very strong (currently I believe the only university to distinguish between grades 8 and 9 at GCSE is Cardiff medicine, all others to my knowledge consider both equivalent to the old A* grade at GCSE), so unless you did go to Eton or somewhere comparable, I don't see much reason to rule out Oxford (or LSE) even for Law. Particularly as for Oxford if you do very well in the LNAT that might outweigh "weak" GCSE scores (which again, I don't think you have) and lead them to invite you to interview anyway; after the interview it will probably be mainly the interview which determines whether you get an offer at Oxford.

Also I've moved your thread to the law uni courses forum, as it is specifically about applications to law and concerns multiple universities
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anaveragekid
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
LSE, but it varies depending on the course you're applying to. Generally the more competitive courses at LSE (i.e. their flagship programmes in economics, the LLB, some other courses like A&F and so on) will put more emphasis on GCSEs than courses that tend to be less oversubscribed (e.g. anthropology, geography, etc). That said they should consider them in context for all courses (i.e. if you went to an underperforming school vs if you went to Eton) although I don't know exactly how or to what extent they consider this (it is a major consideration at Oxford and Cambridge for example).
If it makes any difference, the GCSE grades I got were those received in 2020 without sitting the exam. The two 7s I got, both teachers have been in touch w/ my career counsellor to assure that they both want to write a letter in the application explaining why the two 7s are actually inaccurate & should be 8s-9s but due to school restrictions etc they could only send a very small number of 9s & 8s. Don't know whether such a letter even is accepted in applications or whatever, but that's that.
I was reading on Oxford's website that they will "consider the difficult circumstances" these GCSE grades were awarded in. Dk if that will apply to LSE & Cambridge though.
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harrysbar
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(Original post by anaveragekid)
If it makes any difference, the GCSE grades I got were those received in 2020 without sitting the exam. The two 7s I got, both teachers have been in touch w/ my career counsellor to assure that they both want to write a letter in the application explaining why the two 7s are actually inaccurate & should be 8s-9s but due to school restrictions etc they could only send a very small number of 9s & 8s. Don't know whether such a letter even is accepted in applications or whatever, but that's that.
I was reading on Oxford's website that they will "consider the difficult circumstances" these GCSE grades were awarded in. Dk if that will apply to LSE & Cambridge though.
You're overthinking it somewhat as your GCSEs are very good - slightly below average for successful Oxford applicants but that doesn't mean you would get rejected on that basis. However, to answer your question, LSE will put more emhasis on GCSEs than Cambridge, although even they only require (from their website) "A strong pre-16 academic profile such as several GCSE grades of A (or 7) and A* (or 8-9)". So there is no reason for any letters to be sent about the grade 7s, the unis will already be aware of the difficult circumstances every GCSE student was in at the time.

At the end of the day there is never a guarantee that a rejection won't come your way no matter how good your academics are, but that is no reason for someone with your grades not to aim high. You get five choices of uni on the UCAS form so don't be afraid to make some riskier as well as one or two safer choices.
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Johnny ~
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I think that the data shows that Cambridge still ends up giving offers to people who, on average, have a better GCSE profile than LSE. Simple reason for this being that Cambridge gives out ~250 offers a year for law while LSE gives well over 500. Might double-check the numbers tonight.

Both are competitive to get into and OP should consider applying to both.
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anaveragekid
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(Original post by harrysbar)
You're overthinking it somewhat as your GCSEs are very good - slightly below average for successful Oxford applicants but that doesn't mean you would get rejected on that basis. However, to answer your question, LSE will put more emhasis on GCSEs than Cambridge, although even they only require (from their website) "A strong pre-16 academic profile such as several GCSE grades of A (or 7) and A* (or 8-9)". So there is no reason for any letters to be sent about the grade 7s, the unis will already be aware of the difficult circumstances every GCSE student was in at the time.

At the end of the day there is never a guarantee that a rejection won't come your way no matter how good your academics are, but that is no reason for someone with your grades not to aim high. You get five choices of uni on the UCAS form so don't be afraid to make some riskier as well as one or two safer choices.
Many thanks for the answer and insight on the letters. I appreciate it.
(Original post by Johnny ~)
I think that the data shows that Cambridge still ends up giving offers to people who, on average, have a better GCSE profile than LSE. Simple reason for this being that Cambridge gives out ~250 offers a year for law while LSE gives well over 500. Might double-check the numbers tonight.

Both are competitive to get into and OP should consider applying to both.
Thanks for the advice! I'll definitely consider applying to both, just wanted a rough idea of the stats.
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camapplicant530
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I'm a bit biased but I'd suggest Cambridge over Oxford purely because you will get an interview and at that point you'll have far more personal control over the outcome. At Oxford, not so much.
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anaveragekid
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(Original post by camapplicant530)
I'm a bit biased but I'd suggest Cambridge over Oxford purely because you will get an interview and at that point you'll have far more personal control over the outcome. At Oxford, not so much.
Does Oxford not do interviews? I thought both Cam & Oxf conducted them?
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camapplicant530
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(Original post by anaveragekid)
Does Oxford not do interviews? I thought both Cam & Oxf conducted them?
Cambridge interviews around 75% of applicants, Oxford is a lot lower. I'm 90% sure the only reason I got my offer was because I was able to get in front of someone - my GCSEs are less than stellar.

Personally I preferred having more control over my application, also, it was nice to have a uni that didn't require the LNAT in case the MCQ went tits up.
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anaveragekid
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(Original post by camapplicant530)
Cambridge interviews around 75% of applicants, Oxford is a lot lower. I'm 90% sure the only reason I got my offer was because I was able to get in front of someone - my GCSEs are less than stellar.

Personally I preferred having more control over my application, also, it was nice to have a uni that didn't require the LNAT in case the MCQ went tits up.
Understood. Thanks for the advice, really appreciate it.

In general, the reason I want to be extra cautious, especially with my below average GCSEs for Cambridge and LSE is the fact that I'll be competing in a batch that has hyper-inflated GCSE grades from 2020. Because my school took the 'cautious' route and only awarded 4-5 A*s per subject overall, I'm comparatively disadvantaged compared to those whose schools sent As and A*s for everybody. Hence I assume it will be extra difficult for me, and thus I want to keep my expectations realistic. We've already seen the issues faced during this academic year w/ admissions due to the inflated A-level grades, with deferrals etc. I fear these GCSEs might not perhaps have disadvantaged me greatly in a usual year, but in a year with over-inflated grades, who knows.
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one_two_three
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Why not apply for LSE and Cambridge? A large amount of LSE applicants will have applied to Oxbridge as well and the reality is that LSE give out more acceptances than Oxbridge because if you get an offer from Oxbridge you don't turn it down, which means you will be declining the LSE offer.

I think if you genuinely believe that you have a chance with Cambridge then it would be wrong to rule out LSE. You still have three other choices if both of them decline, and depending on your other three choices, it is unlikely you will get 5 declines. You only need one acceptance because you can only say yes to one university.
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anaveragekid
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(Original post by one_two_three)
Why not apply for LSE and Cambridge? A large amount of LSE applicants will have applied to Oxbridge as well and the reality is that LSE give out more acceptances than Oxbridge because if you get an offer from Oxbridge you don't turn it down, which means you will be declining the LSE offer.

I think if you genuinely believe that you have a chance with Cambridge then it would be wrong to rule out LSE. You still have three other choices if both of them decline, and depending on your other three choices, it is unlikely you will get 5 declines. You only need one acceptance because you can only say yes to one university.
Thanks for the response and advice As I said above, the primary reason I didn't want to apply for both Cambridge & LSE was simply my GCSEs. The grade inflation of 2020's batch means there a ton of people out there who got As and A*s, so in my opinion, the value of an A from 2020 is more like a B. I may be overthinking it, but seeing so many people with 10-12 even 15A*s in GCSEs applying for Cambridge (and those are grades from 2019 or 2018, not 2020) makes me feel much less confident about Cambridge. With all the grade inflation from 2020 and so many ppl getting many As & A*s, I just feel that even comparatively less prestigious unis like KCL or UCL might fill up faster, let alone Cambridge or LSE.
I just don't want to apply to both LSE, Cambridge and 3 others, and heaven forbid get rejected from all 5
But a lot of ppl here on TSR seem to be more optimistic than me and perhaps they're right and I'm just being overly paranoid lol.
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one_two_three
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(Original post by anaveragekid)
Thanks for the response and advice As I said above, the primary reason I didn't want to apply for both Cambridge & LSE was simply my GCSEs. The grade inflation of 2020's batch means there a ton of people out there who got As and A*s, so in my opinion, the value of an A from 2020 is more like a B. I may be overthinking it, but seeing so many people with 10-12 even 15A*s in GCSEs applying for Cambridge (and those are grades from 2019 or 2018, not 2020) makes me feel much less confident about Cambridge. With all the grade inflation from 2020 and so many ppl getting many As & A*s, I just feel that even comparatively less prestigious unis like KCL or UCL might fill up faster, let alone Cambridge or LSE.
I just don't want to apply to both LSE, Cambridge and 3 others, and heaven forbid get rejected from all 5
But a lot of ppl here on TSR seem to be more optimistic than me and perhaps they're right and I'm just being overly paranoid lol.
I can understand this but the reality is probably quite different to what you see. TSR is not really an overview of the general populations GCSE results - quite far from it I suspect. Schools were not able to inflate everyone's grades, it still had to be in line with what the school typically achieved so the spread of GCSE results is likely to be similar to the years before but the media changes your perception of that because they need to publish something. But with that in mind, it is likely that there will be more emphasis by all universities on your AS levels/A level predictions. If people are genuinely a C grade student but their school inflated them to an A* (I don't understand the new grades), then Oxbridge, LSE, KCL and UCL will know this has happened so look for the truest reflection of one's capabilities.
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harrysbar
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(Original post by anaveragekid)
Thanks for the response and advice As I said above, the primary reason I didn't want to apply for both Cambridge & LSE was simply my GCSEs. The grade inflation of 2020's batch means there a ton of people out there who got As and A*s, so in my opinion, the value of an A from 2020 is more like a B. I may be overthinking it, but seeing so many people with 10-12 even 15A*s in GCSEs applying for Cambridge (and those are grades from 2019 or 2018, not 2020) makes me feel much less confident about Cambridge. With all the grade inflation from 2020 and so many ppl getting many As & A*s, I just feel that even comparatively less prestigious unis like KCL or UCL might fill up faster, let alone Cambridge or LSE.
I just don't want to apply to both LSE, Cambridge and 3 others, and heaven forbid get rejected from all 5
But a lot of ppl here on TSR seem to be more optimistic than me and perhaps they're right and I'm just being overly paranoid lol.
You wouldn't get rejected from all 5 if you applied to one or two safe choices - maybe a non LNAT uni would be a good idea just in case that test didn't go well on the day.

Of course I wouldn't recommend someone apply to competitive unis like LSE (or UCL/Kings) unless they are predicted A*AA so see what you get in your AS levels first.
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anaveragekid
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(Original post by one_two_three)
I can understand this but the reality is probably quite different to what you see. TSR is not really an overview of the general populations GCSE results - quite far from it I suspect. Schools were not able to inflate everyone's grades, it still had to be in line with what the school typically achieved so the spread of GCSE results is likely to be similar to the years before but the media changes your perception of that because they need to publish something. But with that in mind, it is likely that there will be more emphasis by all universities on your AS levels/A level predictions. If people are genuinely a C grade student but their school inflated them to an A* (I don't understand the new grades), then Oxbridge, LSE, KCL and UCL will know this has happened so look for the truest reflection of one's capabilities.
(Original post by harrysbar)
You wouldn't get rejected from all 5 if you applied to one or two safe choices - maybe a non LNAT uni would be a good idea just in case that test didn't go well on the day.

Of course I wouldn't recommend someone apply to competitive unis like LSE (or UCL/Kings) unless they are predicted A*AA so see what you get in your AS levels first.
Many thanks to you both for the encouraging words, highly appreciated and I will certainly look seriously at applying to 2 top-tier unis now if as harrysbar said, I get the A-level grades.
One final question perhaps someone may be able to help me out with, do all the unis we apply to get to see the LNAT score regardless of whether or not they require the LNAT, or do only the ones which require the exam get the scores? I'm asking in the sense that if I were to give the LNAT and perhaps not achieve a very high score, would Cambridge (which doesn't need the LNAT) be able to see that score and/or take the result into consideration?
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harrysbar
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(Original post by anaveragekid)
Many thanks to you both for the encouraging words, highly appreciated and I will certainly look seriously at applying to 2 top-tier unis now if as harrysbar said, I get the A-level grades.
One final question perhaps someone may be able to help me out with, do all the unis we apply to get to see the LNAT score regardless of whether or not they require the LNAT, or do only the ones which require the exam get the scores? I'm asking in the sense that if I were to give the LNAT and perhaps not achieve a very high score, would Cambridge (which doesn't need the LNAT) be able to see that score and/or take the result into consideration?
LNAT unis can download your essay and multiple choice score but others do not. Therefore, Cambridge would not have access to your LNAT score.
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Mikos
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Just because an institution places “less emphasis” on one section of an application relative to other aspects, doesn’t mean that the GCSE standards are lower. At Cambridge there is more information to base decisions on (ie the CLT, SAQ, interview) than at LSE, hence why it’s not the most important aspect. Generally speaking, the calibre of applicant at Cambridge tends to be higher than that of LSE.

But regardless, how much emphasis an institution places on GCSEs≠quality of grades needed. If Nottingham Trent suddenly decided to base their offers entirely on GCSEs tomorrow, the GCSE scores of their intake would still probably be lower than most Russell Groups.

Another thing I wanted to say is that you’re seriously overstating how bad your GCSEs are. Even with the inflation, your grades are about where they should be to form a competitive Oxbridge application. Two 7s is truly not the end of the world (I know people who got into both Oxford and Cambridge for law with worse) and if you’re that antsy about it then you could just explain it in a reference/SAQ.
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