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Oxbridge GCSE's - do I need all 7s?

I am currently in Year 12 doing my A levels. I got 7776666663 in my GCSE's, 3 for French. I've been told Oxbridge look at GCSE's and want 7's, 8's and 9's. Evidently my GCSE's don't meet their expectations. I am predicted to get A*AA and have a B in EPQ. I also have done some super curricular stuff like work experience at my local solicitors, wider reading, and did some virtual law courses on forage including ones from magic circle law firms. Do I stand a good chance in getting into Oxbridge? (preferably Oxford). What else should I be doing?

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Honestly, these aren't preferable GCSEs. I got all 8s and 9s (except for one 7 in French) and Oxford rejected me pre-interview, saying my grades weren't competitive enough (and my A-Level predicted were: A*A*A*, one achieved A* in EPQ). I did lots of super-curricular stuff, having won writing comps (I applied for History and English), extra reading, lectures, even wrote a novel and still got rejected because of my GCSEs... :smile:

If you want to give Oxbridge a go, it'll be tough and I wouldn't get your hopes up too much (I did and it was not pretty!) but I would go for Cambridge not Oxford as they interview way more people and when other people will have all 9s at GCSE, this will be where you can stand out.
Your GCSEs aren't the best, but could probably be overcome as an issue, especially if you are from a poorly performing school/area with low progression to higher education/etc.

You should do more academic wider reading - they don't care about things like work experience at all unless they help your academic study, since Oxbridge courses aren't practical. I would say no one can really 'stand a good chance', all you can do is do the best you can on admissions tests, and throw your hat in the ring.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by hamlethoratio
Honestly, these aren't preferable GCSEs. I got all 8s and 9s (except for one 7 in French) and Oxford rejected me pre-interview, saying my grades weren't competitive enough (and my A-Level predicted were: A*A*A*, one achieved A* in EPQ). I did lots of super-curricular stuff, having won writing comps (I applied for History and English), extra reading, lectures, even wrote a novel and still got rejected because of my GCSEs... :smile:

If you want to give Oxbridge a go, it'll be tough and I wouldn't get your hopes up too much (I did and it was not pretty!) but I would go for Cambridge not Oxford as they interview way more people and when other people will have all 9s at GCSE, this will be where you can stand out.

Very surprising since they haven't discriminated between 8s and 9s before - were your admissions tests ok?
Original post by faye31
I am currently in Year 12 doing my A levels. I got 7776666663 in my GCSE's, 3 for French. I've been told Oxbridge look at GCSE's and want 7's, 8's and 9's. Evidently my GCSE's don't meet their expectations. I am predicted to get A*AA and have a B in EPQ. I also have done some super curricular stuff like work experience at my local solicitors, wider reading, and did some virtual law courses on forage including ones from magic circle law firms. Do I stand a good chance in getting into Oxbridge? (preferably Oxford). What else should I be doing?

You probably don’t want to hear this but I would give up now. Don’t get me wrong both your predicted grades and GCSEs are good but you should have a mix of 8s and 9s for GCSEs and no Bs for A-levels.

Obviously it depends on what course u select but if u r thinking of applying to a competitive course like law or something, don’t. You will have just wasted an application. There are loads of great unis that you can apply to tho, as someone who is predicted A*A*AA and got similar GCSEs too you (777666665) I got into some great unis (I also got rejected from great ones too haha so I am really basing this of my own experience).

If u do apply for Oxbridge u need to make sure ur personal statement is absolutely impeccable, and u need to be doing loads of extracurriculars that are predominantly academic, winning academic awards etc but that being said I unfortunately think it will be very slim for you to get into Oxbridge.

One of my mates applied to Oxford this year with 5 A*s, 13 9s and 1 8 and her personal statement was amazing and she won loads of academic essay writing awards etc. She got rejected after the interview and for a course that wasn’t competitive (by oxfords standards)
Original post by faye31
I am currently in Year 12 doing my A levels. I got 7776666663 in my GCSE's, 3 for French. I've been told Oxbridge look at GCSE's and want 7's, 8's and 9's. Evidently my GCSE's don't meet their expectations. I am predicted to get A*AA and have a B in EPQ. I also have done some super curricular stuff like work experience at my local solicitors, wider reading, and did some virtual law courses on forage including ones from magic circle law firms. Do I stand a good chance in getting into Oxbridge? (preferably Oxford). What else should I be doing?


Hi Faye, my name is Ed, I'm on a gap year and have an offer to go to Cambridge.

The main piece of advice I would give would be to apply whether you think you have a chance of getting in or not. There's just nothing to lose. The application process is taxing, but everything you put into it, be that reading or super-curricular, will only serve you well in the long-term anyway. Plus, in my experience your school will do so much more to help if you're going for Oxbridge.

I was rejected for PPE at Oxford in year 13, but that only left me a stronger candidate when I applied for history and politics a year later.

The only insight I can give is as one who has been through the process twice so I don't really know the ins and outs, but I think it's easy to exaggerate the importance of grades, especially GCSEs. Yours aren't so bad as to be a deal breaker, and with the PS, the reference, essay, and hopefully interview, they'll have more important things to judge you on - especially as they're looking at the candidate you are when you apply, not who you were two years before.

The interview especially is the great leveller. With that in mind, I would recommend applying to Cambridge, because they have a higher interview rate. It just gives you the best chance to show off more than just the arbitrary measures.

Ultimately Oxbridge admissions are such a difficult to predict process, for every straight 9 and A* student who gets rejected, theres a story of a student with 6s who got in. Each college and frankly each academic approaches it differently. But there's just no harm in trying your luck. If you love your subject there's every chance that will shine through. May I ask what your subject is for that matter?

Please get in touch if there's any way I can help with your application, I wish you all the best.

Ed.
Original post by Layla1712
You probably don’t want to hear this but I would give up now. Don’t get me wrong both your predicted grades and GCSEs are good but you should have a mix of 8s and 9s for GCSEs and no Bs for A-levels.

Obviously it depends on what course u select but if u r thinking of applying to a competitive course like law or something, don’t. You will have just wasted an application. There are loads of great unis that you can apply to tho, as someone who is predicted A*A*AA and got similar GCSEs too you (777666665) I got into some great unis (I also got rejected from great ones too haha so I am really basing this of my own experience).

If u do apply for Oxbridge u need to make sure ur personal statement is absolutely impeccable, and u need to be doing loads of extracurriculars that are predominantly academic, winning academic awards etc but that being said I unfortunately think it will be very slim for you to get into Oxbridge.

One of my mates applied to Oxford this year with 5 A*s, 13 9s and 1 8 and her personal statement was amazing and she won loads of academic essay writing awards etc. She got rejected after the interview and for a course that wasn’t competitive (by oxfords standards)

I really don't agree. What your friend shows above all is that grades aren't the most important part! Good grades help to get you in the door for interview, but they're far from the most important part of the process.

Pursue your interest in the subject, write a personal statement that rings true, and give it a go. To 'just give up now' would be far worse than applying and being rejected.
Original post by ed_parker
I really don't agree. What your friend shows above all is that grades aren't the most important part! Good grades help to get you in the door for interview, but they're far from the most important part of the process.

Pursue your interest in the subject, write a personal statement that rings true, and give it a go. To 'just give up now' would be far worse than applying and being rejected.

The current situation of receiving 2/5 offers being the norm does not allow for "giving it a go". I think OP should be realistic and not waste a precious application on an almost guaranteed rejection, especially for Law.
Reply 8
Original post by faye31
I am currently in Year 12 doing my A levels. I got 7776666663 in my GCSE's, 3 for French. I've been told Oxbridge look at GCSE's and want 7's, 8's and 9's. Evidently my GCSE's don't meet their expectations. I am predicted to get A*AA and have a B in EPQ. I also have done some super curricular stuff like work experience at my local solicitors, wider reading, and did some virtual law courses on forage including ones from magic circle law firms. Do I stand a good chance in getting into Oxbridge? (preferably Oxford). What else should I be doing?


Oxford look at gcse's more than cambridge do but both will be looked at in the context of your school. Matter of fact is you can't change them, they aren't amazing but not bad by any means and if the rest of your application is strong then there's no reason why you shouldn't get in. The best way to strengthen your application would be to increase your predicted grades and prepare well for any pre interview test. You don't get in if you don't apply.
Reply 9
Original post by CuriousO
The current situation of receiving 2/5 offers being the norm does not allow for "giving it a go". I think OP should be realistic and not waste a precious application on an almost guaranteed rejection, especially for Law.


I don't see why OP is a guaranteed rejection. They have good predicted grades, clearly have an interest in the subject and if they have a strong performance in the LNAT then they'll definitely be a competitive applicant.
Anecdotally, I got a B (6) at GCSE and have an English offer from Oxford.

Your grades don’t need to be perfect, but I’m sure good ones can only help you.
Original post by DeBeauvoir2
Very surprising since they haven't discriminated between 8s and 9s before - were your admissions tests ok?

I got told my admissions test was about average for a successful applicant but that my grades were less competitive than others which was why I wasn’t shortlisted (to be fair, the history and english shortlisting rate is very low, lower than the single degree). I was quite surprised as I really thought my GCSEs were good enough, esp since I had all 9’s in the ones I took for A-Level.
Original post by ed_parker
I really don't agree. What your friend shows above all is that grades aren't the most important part! Good grades help to get you in the door for interview, but they're far from the most important part of the process.

Pursue your interest in the subject, write a personal statement that rings true, and give it a go. To 'just give up now' would be far worse than applying and being rejected.

I don’t think so, the shortlisting process at Oxford especially is initially to do with your grades - If they’re only shortlisting 30% (for some courses this is the case) then they are going to sift out some applicants immediately based on GCSE grades, it’s an easy distinguisher. Some students might get past it anyway if they do exceptionally well on admissions tests but it’s unlikely I think.

The application process is so much work and so draining, I don’t think it is worth taking a chance when with these GCSEs, the reality is that the OP is very likely to get rejected. They might as well get a place at another uni instead of wasting an option.
The comment that 8s and 9s were considered to be equivalent disappeared from the website sometime before the last application cycle. Presumably that means they're now not considered to be equivalent, but I've not seen a comment which actually says so.

OP, if you want to go to Oxford and something's changed for you which took your achievement level from pretty good but not special at GCSE to really excellent at A level, go for it. Chances are that you'll have a more interesting PS than most as a result :smile: - but the biggest factor is going to be the LNAT anyway.
Original post by CuriousO
The current situation of receiving 2/5 offers being the norm does not allow for "giving it a go". I think OP should be realistic and not waste a precious application on an almost guaranteed rejection, especially for Law.

But I'm sure with those GCSEs and predicted grades, OP should be comfortably getting at least 2/5. Naturally it's up to them if they want to put one of their options on the line, but my personal experience is I would always prefer to apply and be rejected that not apply and never know. Especially because my own experience of being rejected from Oxford the first time was still so beneficial.

Assuming the application is law, Cambridge interview roughly between 70-80% of law applicants. They have every chance of getting an interview, and from there it's the interview and the admissions test that count. It's not a guaranteed rejection. The only guarantee of not getting in would be not to apply.
I would say that if you really want to give it a shot then go for it, as it’s only one of your five choices and the application process teaches you lots of valuable skills. I would suggest, however, doing some research on cambridge law as they tend to put slightly less emphasis on GCSEs. I’m a current offer holder for Cambridge law and only got 2A*s at GCSE. Thus, if you think you’d perform well in the interview and admissions test, cambridge is probably the better option as you’d probably have a higher chance of receiving an interview. I hope this helps and if you have any questions about the application process to cambridge law specifically, I’d be more than happy to help :smile:
Original post by hamlethoratio
I don’t think so, the shortlisting process at Oxford especially is initially to do with your grades - If they’re only shortlisting 30% (for some courses this is the case) then they are going to sift out some applicants immediately based on GCSE grades, it’s an easy distinguisher. Some students might get past it anyway if they do exceptionally well on admissions tests but it’s unlikely I think.

The application process is so much work and so draining, I don’t think it is worth taking a chance when with these GCSEs, the reality is that the OP is very likely to get rejected. They might as well get a place at another uni instead of wasting an option.


I think one can still get a great deal out of an application even if they don't end up with a place. I applied for PPE at Oxford in year 13 and was rejected pre-interview, but that was still an invaluable experience. Granted prepping for the admissions tests and all the additional reading was a lot of work, but it's work that I don't for regret doing for a moment. My school also laid on mock interviews which were really good practice to develop my academic thought process generally. I had a real step change in my academic performance in year 13, and I just don't think that would have happened if I wrote myself off from Oxbridge from the get-go.

if OP sees all the work of an application as a daunting burden, don't waste your time and effort, but if you're excited to read around your subject and work towards the admissions test, then go for it. If nothing else, use the process as an opportunity to develop as a law student, you don't have to get a place for that to be worthwhile.
Original post by ed_parker
I think one can still get a great deal out of an application even if they don't end up with a place. I applied for PPE at Oxford in year 13 and was rejected pre-interview, but that was still an invaluable experience. Granted prepping for the admissions tests and all the additional reading was a lot of work, but it's work that I don't for regret doing for a moment. My school also laid on mock interviews which were really good practice to develop my academic thought process generally. I had a real step change in my academic performance in year 13, and I just don't think that would have happened if I wrote myself off from Oxbridge from the get-go.

if OP sees all the work of an application as a daunting burden, don't waste your time and effort, but if you're excited to read around your subject and work towards the admissions test, then go for it. If nothing else, use the process as an opportunity to develop as a law student, you don't have to get a place for that to be worthwhile.

This is some great advice and I couldn’t agree with you more! Many people tend to see oxbridge as only the end goal, whilst forgetting about the skills they learn throughout the process. Also, slightly off topic, but what college is your offer from?
Original post by Rebeca5782
This is some great advice and I couldn’t agree with you more! Many people tend to see oxbridge as only the end goal, whilst forgetting about the skills they learn throughout the process. Also, slightly off topic, but what college is your offer from?

I was just about to ask you the same question! I'm going to Clare.
Original post by ed_parker
I was just about to ask you the same question! I'm going to Clare.


Wow, Clare is a really pretty college! I’ll hopefully be going to Girton, given that I meet my offer :smile:

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