Applying to Oxford with autumn predictions under entry requirements?

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WeAreSuchStuff
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Greetings everyone,

I have just left school following the conclusion of Y13. I plan on sitting the autumn series of examinations a few months from now, as I do not favour CAGs. More principally, it is likely I will be issued a highly forgettable set of results.

As far as wider context is concerned, I achieved mostly A*/A grades at GCSE, although I was expected to attain straight Grade 9s, which did not happen due to considerable extenuating circumstances (I was houseless for some time during Y10/Y11 which disrupted my studies and exacerbated ill health).

Recently, I sat teacher examinations which I was very ill prepared for. I will be applying for electronics engineering at other universities, hence, I selected maths, physics and computer science. However, I have suffered from severe depression and anxiety for 2/3 years (the 'ill health' I alluded to earlier), which I have been prescribed medication for, as well as debilitiating (most likely neuropathic) joint pain. Repeated lockdowns set me so far back that I was yet to study 6 chapters of Y2 pure mathematics (integration, differentiation, parametric equations, trigonometry and modelling, numerical methods and vectors) and we were examined on all but the latter two. In computing, I almost caught up entirely (1/2 topics left), while physics was a similar story to maths: I was yet to study electric fields, waves, medical physics, nuclear physics, circular motion and oscillations/SHM, as well as a topic not being examined for my CAGs (electromagnetism). Needless to say, this has not been helping my grades in assessments, and in fact led me to take a gap year, as my UCAS predictions were very poor.

However, I have always had high expectations of myself, and am as diligent as the pain I experience allows. That is to say, I spend all free time studying if I can. I will be aiming for A*A*A* (or at least A*A*A) in the autumn examinations. I do not want some medical conditions to extirpate my future.

In light of everything you have heard, I would like to ask whether you believe it is within the realms of possibility to achieve an interview in late November/early December, given I attain suitable grades in the October series.

Since results are released around Christmas, they will not avail my interview odds. To complicate matters further, it may be quite likely that I am not predicted the entry requirements (A*A*A) for Engineering Science, since I have consistently scored below that set of grades in assessments. I would like to know if there is anyone who has ever been in a similar position (when applying to Oxbridge) and also what advice you would give to better mine.
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artful_lounger
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If you aren't predicted the standard entry criteria then it's quite likely you will not be shortlisted for interview. Perhaps if you are only one grade short and do very well in the relevant pre-interview admissions assessment you might be invited to interview but I think it would be a long shot. Not something to peg all your hopes and dreams to.
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WeAreSuchStuff
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
If you aren't predicted the standard entry criteria then it's quite likely you will not be shortlisted for interview. Perhaps if you are only one grade short and do very well in the relevant pre-interview admissions assessment you might be invited to interview but I think it would be a long shot. Not something to peg all your hopes and dreams to.
Hi, thanks for your reply. Are you aware as to which facets of the application hold the greatest weight, especially given the circumstances presented in my original post? For example, will an engineering application with a notably high PAT mark but poor autumn predictions (below entry requirements) be considered more favourably than one with a notably poor PAT mark but multiple A* predicted grades? Shall both be dismissed summarily or do either stand to progress to interviews? How does this differ when one or more 'significant' extenuating factors are present?
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WeAreSuchStuff
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by WeAreSuchStuff)
Hi, thanks for your reply. Are you aware as to which facets of the application hold the greatest weight, especially given the circumstances presented in my original post? For example, will an engineering application with a notably high PAT mark but poor autumn predictions (well below entry requirements) be considered more favourably than one with a notably poor PAT mark but multiple A* predicted grades? Shall both be dismissed summarily or do either stand to progress to interviews? How does this differ when one or more 'significant' extenuating factors are present?
I think if you were one grade below the standard offer you might be considered with a high PAT mark. More than that and I think you would be automatically rejected before interview. Ultimately the predicted grades are a necessary but not sufficient criteria to be invited to interview; virtually all applicants will meet or exceed the standard offer in their predicted grades, and it will come down mainly to the PAT to differentiate them.

They might decide to invite someone with a stellar PAT score who was just one grade shy, assuming that maybe they had some bad mocks or something or that teacher was less keen to predict A* grades, but there seems little rationale for them to invite to interview someone more than one grade off that regardless of PAT score, when they will have so many applicants with A*A*A or higher and good PAT scores.

(Original post by WeAreSuchStuff)
Bump
Also don't bump your thread 20 minutes after someone has replied to it. You should only bump your thread after the first 24 hours of posting it, once every 24 hours, unless it is no longer on the front page of the forum you posted it in.
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WeAreSuchStuff
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Also don't bump your thread 20 minutes after someone has replied to it. You should only bump your thread after the first 24 hours of posting it, once every 24 hours, unless it is no longer on the front page of the forum you posted it in.
Sorry, new here.
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WeAreSuchStuff
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
I think if you were one grade below the standard offer you might be considered with a high PAT mark. More than that and I think you would be automatically rejected before interview. Ultimately the predicted grades are a necessary but not sufficient criteria to be invited to interview; virtually all applicants will meet or exceed the standard offer in their predicted grades, and it will come down mainly to the PAT to differentiate them.

They might decide to invite someone with a stellar PAT score who was just one grade shy, assuming that maybe they had some bad mocks or something or that teacher was less keen to predict A* grades, but there seems little rationale for them to invite to interview someone more than one grade off that regardless of PAT score, when they will have so many applicants with A*A*A or higher and good PAT scores.
Hi, thanks for the advice. But surely mitigating circumstances change things somewhat? I agree, it's not likely many people apply without meeting entry criteria, but it's also unlikely that the subset with both 3 or more A*s and the highest PAT scores apply with ECs stated on their application. And surely the coronavirus pandemic has altered the landscape of things to some degree?

For further information, I come from a poor state sixth-form (ACORN 4, POLAR 2) and my secondary school was in an even more deprived area (ACORN 5, POLAR 1). I would expect these contextual factors, alongside mitigating circumstances, are meaningful to Oxford.
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by WeAreSuchStuff)
Hi, thanks for the advice. But surely mitigating circumstances change things somewhat? I agree, it's not likely many people apply without meeting entry criteria, but it's also unlikely that the subset with both 3 or more A*s and the highest PAT scores apply with ECs stated on their application. And surely the coronavirus pandemic has altered the landscape of things to some degree?

For further information, I come from a poor state sixth-form (ACORN 4, POLAR 2) and my secondary school was in an even more deprived area (ACORN 5, POLAR 1). I would expect these contextual factors, alongside mitigating circumstances, are meaningful to Oxford.
If you have contextual factors they'll be taken into account, but I still don't think it's likely you'll be interviewed with predictions significantly below the standard offer; you haven't actually said what you are predicted, but anything less than AAA I think is very unlikely to be considered even with contextual factors. For reference the LMH foundation course, which is only open to those with contextual flags, normally expects AAB or AAA with relevant subjects - and that is a for preliminary year before even starting on the main degree.

Also note the COVID pandemic affects all applicants and so it's not likely they will make concessions to individuals for a situation affecting the entire cohort.
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OxFossil
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I'd endorse artful_lounger 's general position. The main function of contextual flags is to ensure that any flagged applicant *with the entry requirement grades* is given an interview.

It's also unclear whether your extenuating circumstances will be a significant help. Usually, these are highlighted in the teacher/academic reference to account for results that are significantly below what the teacher had seen in A Level work to date. You say that you have consistently failed to achieve the necessary grades, so I'm wondering what evidence your teacher could provide for suggesting you are capable of performing at entry level? (no need to answer this, it's a question for you to consider).

Finally, I would urge you to consider whether Oxford is the best option for you. For some people, the pressure and discipline of weekly assessments via tutorials is a helpful routine; but it can be a punishing environment if you are vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Again, just something to think about.

Hope it goes well for you whatever you decide to do.
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Peterhouse Admissions
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Just to add something re contextual information - the postcode we use to calculate POLAR4 quintiles and ACORN (not that Cambridge use it - we use IMD instead) is your home postcode, not the postcode of your school. School-level data is considered, including average GCSE attainment, average A level attainment and the percentage of students at your school on Free School Meals. The school used is whichever you attended at the time, so we wouldn't use data about the school/college where you're doing your A Levels to contextualise your GCSEs, for example.
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WeAreSuchStuff
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(Original post by OxFossil)
I'd endorse artful_lounger 's general position. The main function of contextual flags is to ensure that any flagged applicant *with the entry requirement grades* is given an interview.

It's also unclear whether your extenuating circumstances will be a significant help. Usually, these are highlighted in the teacher/academic reference to account for results that are significantly below what the teacher had seen in A Level work to date. You say that you have consistently failed to achieve the necessary grades, so I'm wondering what evidence your teacher could provide for suggesting you are capable of performing at entry level? (no need to answer this, it's a question for you to consider).

Finally, I would urge you to consider whether Oxford is the best option for you. For some people, the pressure and discipline of weekly assessments via tutorials is a helpful routine; but it can be a punishing environment if you are vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Again, just something to think about.

Hope it goes well for you whatever you decide to do.
Hi, thank you for your reply. It is worth remarking I have been highly invested in making an application for some time -- in fact, I have been expanding my supercurriculars since GCSE days (insofar as this has been possible) for the purpose of making an application. To receive an unconditional offer would be a tremendous encouragement continuing into higher education and striving to better my quality of life in general. Not even having a crack at an interview for another year running, only because of subjective predictions (which I strongly doubt will be correct, provided I cover the content in due time) would be very dire.

This would compel me to take a second gap year, which would be particularly ridiculous since results are to be released mere days after shortlisting decisions are made.
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OxFossil
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(Original post by WeAreSuchStuff)
Hi, thank you for your reply. It is worth remarking I have been highly invested in making an application for some time -- in fact, I have been expanding my supercurriculars since GCSE days (insofar as this has been possible) for the purpose of making an application. To receive an unconditional offer would be a tremendous encouragement continuing into higher education and striving to better my quality of life in general. Not even having a crack at an interview for another year running, only because of subjective predictions (which I strongly doubt will be correct, provided I cover the content in due time) would be very dire.

This would compel me to take a second gap year, which would be particularly ridiculous since results are to be released mere days after shortlisting decisions are made.
I appreciate the emotional investment alone may be enough to warrant an application. At least then, you know you've done all you could. I think both artful and I are trying to warn you of what we see here every year; people who appear utterly devastated by what was actually a pretty predictable rejection. Whether we like it or not, projected grades are given significant weighting by the ATs. So by all means apply, but please be realistic about your chances and invest in a plan B that also excites you.
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WeAreSuchStuff
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
If you have contextual factors they'll be taken into account, but I still don't think it's likely you'll be interviewed with predictions significantly below the standard offer; you haven't actually said what you are predicted, but anything less than AAA I think is very unlikely to be considered even with contextual factors. For reference the LMH foundation course, which is only open to those with contextual flags, normally expects AAB or AAA with relevant subjects - and that is a for preliminary year before even starting on the main degree.

Also note the COVID pandemic affects all applicants and so it's not likely they will make concessions to individuals for a situation affecting the entire cohort.
Hi, artful_lounger. As far as grades are concerned, I have clarified that I expect to be in a more optimal position come Results Day. The root issue is not having these results before shortlisting decisions are made. Are you very sure that Oxford will not consider lower predictions in the context of the entire application? If so, I kindly ask your advice as to any better options for a shot at admission, other than halting my studies till 2023.
I have seen data which suggests applicants with over 90% on the PAT, or thereabouts, are automatically invited for interview (if you would like, I shall send the spreadsheet for your perusal). This is a hard ask to be sure, but still doable. Moreover, the LMH foundation year you kindly pointed out takes grades as low as BBB: https://www.lmh.ox.ac.uk/prospective...oundation-year, which would make it possible for me to receive an offer. However, this is no longer an option as applications for 2021 entry are now closed.
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(Original post by WeAreSuchStuff)
Hi, artful_lounger. As far as grades are concerned, I have clarified that I expect to be in a more optimal position come Results Day. The root issue is not having these results before shortlisting decisions are made. Are you very sure that Oxford will not consider lower predictions in the context of the entire application? If so, I kindly ask your advice as to any better options for a shot at admission, other than halting my studies till 2023.
I have seen data which suggests applicants with over 90% on the PAT, or thereabouts, are automatically invited for interview (if you would like, I shall send the spreadsheet for your perusal). This is a hard ask to be sure, but still doable. Moreover, the LMH foundation year you kindly pointed out takes grades as low as BBB: https://www.lmh.ox.ac.uk/prospective...oundation-year, which would make it possible for me to receive an offer. However, this is no longer an option as applications for 2021 entry are now closed.
It's important to add, you shouldn't just apply to Oxford because it's Oxford. What is it about the course that interests you, in comparison to other universities, especially as you are applying for a far more specialised Engineering course elsewhere?

Also, you mention that you have had some mental health issues in the past, which are ongoing. As someone who attends Oxbridge, I would say to be careful to choose a university that can support you, and weigh up whether an intensive courseload is the right thing for you.
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WeAreSuchStuff
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(Original post by OxFossil)
I appreciate the emotional investment alone may be enough to warrant an application. At least then, you know you've done all you could. I think both artful and I are trying to warn you of what we see here every year; people who appear utterly devastated by what was actually a pretty predictable rejection. Whether we like it or not, projected grades are given significant weighting by the ATs. So by all means apply, but please be realistic about your chances and invest in a plan B that also excites you.
Thanks Oxfossil. I would definitely prefer to make a strong application, to be considered on its merits, rather than one doomed from the get-go. After all, this is why I took a gap year in the first instance. However, I could not have foreseen the various U-turns (and dissipating "cast-iron guarantees") which have led me to this point. Personally, I consider it grossly incompetent that exams which could have been held in June (i.e. now) have essentially been deferred till October. Not that there's anything I can do to that end.
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by WeAreSuchStuff)
Hi, artful_lounger. As far as grades are concerned, I have clarified that I expect to be in a more optimal position come Results Day. The root issue is not having these results before shortlisting decisions are made. Are you very sure that Oxford will not consider lower predictions in the context of the entire application? If so, I kindly ask your advice as to any better options for a shot at admission, other than halting my studies till 2023.
I have seen data which suggests applicants with over 90% on the PAT, or thereabouts, are automatically invited for interview (if you would like, I shall send the spreadsheet for your perusal). This is a hard ask to be sure, but still doable. Moreover, the LMH foundation year you kindly pointed out takes grades as low as BBB: https://www.lmh.ox.ac.uk/prospective...oundation-year, which would make it possible for me to receive an offer. However, this is no longer an option as applications for 2021 entry are now closed.
They will consider your predicted grades. They can't interview everyone who applies, as they have limited rooms to put the students up in during interviews, and limited staff available to conduct the interviews continuously over a short period of time. Therefore, they have no reason to interview people who have predicted grades that suggest they aren't even close to getting the actual required grades for the course. You need to think about it from their perspective, and realise if you have less than AAA you have almost no chance of being interviewed.

It would just be a waste of their time 9 times out of 10 - sure 1 out of 10 of those might go on to achieve the required grades, but even if they did there is no guarantee their interview would've indicated they were suited to the tutorial teaching format at Oxford. Why would they spend an enormous amount of additional resources to try and interview everyone, just in case that one off person not only meets the grade requirements, but also is "teachable" in the Oxford format? The approach for those in that situation would be to achieve those grades, then apply as a post-qualification applicant during a gap year.
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(Original post by Peterhouse Admissions)
Just to add something re contextual information - the postcode we use to calculate POLAR4 quintiles and ACORN (not that Cambridge use it - we use IMD instead) is your home postcode, not the postcode of your school. School-level data is considered, including average GCSE attainment, average A level attainment and the percentage of students at your school on Free School Meals. The school used is whichever you attended at the time, so we wouldn't use data about the school/college where you're doing your A Levels to contextualise your GCSEs, for example.
you really gotta love the people who run this account's commitment, not even a Cambridge post but they're helping out.
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(Original post by WeAreSuchStuff)
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Also OP it depends on every subject since they have different shortlisting criteria. Some subjects like Medicine won't care, some like PPE and Chemistry will care a lot. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque..._passthrough=1 this from 2017 so is a bit old but you can clearly see that for chemistry the number of A*s predicted can make a huge impact.
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WeAreSuchStuff
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(Original post by Levi.-)
Also OP it depends on every subject since they have different shortlisting criteria. Some subjects like Medicine won't care, some like PPE and Chemistry will care a lot. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque..._passthrough=1 this from 2017 so is a bit old but you can clearly see that for chemistry the number of A*s predicted can make a huge impact.
PRSOM. Although I've seen the engineering data and since 2019 no applicants with less than A*AB predicted grades have received an offer. For those who had offers for 2019 entry, the minimum A Level predicted grades were A*AB and the lowest achieved grades were ABC. For the 2020 cohort, the lowest achieved grades were A*AB. However, this is a far cry from data for 2016 through to 2018, at least on the face of it (see: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque...Data.xlsx.html).

Applying a filtering mechanism quickly reveals many applicants with 0 A* predicted grades (possibly a school policy) and about a dozen with both 0 A*s and PAT scores <30% received interviews (some, offers). In fact, some had received no marks on the PAT (although I'm not sure how to interpret that) which is presumably exhaustive since the PAT is required for all applications.
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WeAreSuchStuff
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(Original post by Levi.-)
you really gotta love the people who run this account's commitment, not even a Cambridge post but they're helping out.
I kindly thank Peterhouse Admissions for all their assistance up to this point.
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