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Would Oxford / UCL / Imperial offer me an interview?

Hi, just received my A level grades of A*A*A* in bio chem and maths. But my GCSE’s aren’t great. I only got 7 and was diagnosed with anxiety disorder which meant I missed a large part of high school. Would you advise to submit an extenuating circumstances request or would that negatively impact my application as they may think I’m going to miss time at uni too (my sixth form attendance wasn’t great)? My GCSE grades are:
English language - 7 (resit grade as originally a 6)
Maths - 7
Bio - 8
Chem - 8
Physics - 7
History - 6
Food - 2
Also, I was thinking of applying to UCL / Imperial too, but would my GCSE’s mean I probably wouldn’t get an offer? Thank you for any advice :smile:
Congrats! Those are amazing A-level grades. You should defo submit an extenuating letter, as I reckon it would help your application. Just bear in mind that universities such as Oxford tend to be a little bit harsher on students who have taken a gap year without a valid reason.
Considering you already have your A-level results, I would imagine your gcse's would not carry too much weight, the TSA and other tests you'd have to give for Oxford/Imperial would be more important.
Original post by thomas234542
Congrats! Those are amazing A-level grades. You should defo submit an extenuating letter, as I reckon it would help your application. Just bear in mind that universities such as Oxford tend to be a little bit harsher on students who have taken a gap year without a valid reason.
Considering you already have your A-level results, I would imagine your gcse's would not carry too much weight, the TSA and other tests you'd have to give for Oxford/Imperial would be more important.

Hi, thank you so much for the advice I really appreciate it :smile: my reason for having a gap year is that I got a place to study medicine but withdrew because I realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do, and there weren’t many places for biochem in clearing and also I plan to get a job to raise money for uni. Is that generally a good enough reason? Thank you
(edited 1 year ago)
@Chloe Groves It would probably be a good idea to do the extenuating circumstances form, and also to ask that your teachers explain a bit in your reference (why your GCSE grades don't accurately reflect your academic ability). They do take these kinds of things into consideration, and with such good A level grades, I think you should go for it.
Congrats on your results.

Now enjoy some independent studying (MOOC, books etc) so your updated PS shows you are continuing to learn during your gap year. This demonstrates commitment to your chosen course.
Unclear what course you are applying to, which would make a huge amount of difference. UCL also don't interview for most courses, and Imperial don't interview for all courses (although many do).
Original post by artful_lounger
Unclear what course you are applying to, which would make a huge amount of difference. UCL also don't interview for most courses, and Imperial don't interview for all courses (although many do).

Thanks, I was going to apply for biochemistry?
Original post by Chloe Groves
Thanks, I was going to apply for biochemistry?


Probably fine for all, GCSEs might be a tad low for Oxford in general but with your mitigating circumstances then that may balance things out.

Also you should absolutely apply for mitigating circumstances if you are eligible for them - you should apply to the exam boards through your school in the first instance, and then if there are any relevant documents you can fill out when applying through UCAS later for each uni, also do those.

Also I missed this from your original post, but for awareness, unis cannot discriminate against you on the basis of information you provide about extenuating or mitigating circumstances - doubly so for health issues protected by the Equality Act (2010) as it would be literally illegal for them to do so. Likewise once you are at the uni if you do have a health issue covered by the Equality Act they are legally obligated to provide reasonable adjustments for your study.
Original post by artful_lounger
Probably fine for all, GCSEs might be a tad low for Oxford in general but with your mitigating circumstances then that may balance things out.

Also you should absolutely apply for mitigating circumstances if you are eligible for them - you should apply to the exam boards through your school in the first instance, and then if there are any relevant documents you can fill out when applying through UCAS later for each uni, also do those.

Also I missed this from your original post, but for awareness, unis cannot discriminate against you on the basis of information you provide about extenuating or mitigating circumstances - doubly so for health issues protected by the Equality Act (2010) as it would be literally illegal for them to do so. Likewise once you are at the uni if you do have a health issue covered by the Equality Act they are legally obligated to provide reasonable adjustments for your study.

Oh ok, thank you so much for replying :smile: I was just thinking that maybe if I said my high school attendance wasn’t good then unis may look into my sixth form attendance, realise it wasn’t good and then not offer me a place. So I was thinking maybe it would be too risky to talk about any extenuating circumstances
Original post by Chloe Groves
Oh ok, thank you so much for replying :smile: I was just thinking that maybe if I said my high school attendance wasn’t good then unis may look into my sixth form attendance, realise it wasn’t good and then not offer me a place. So I was thinking maybe it would be too risky to talk about any extenuating circumstances

I PMd as have some experience with the courses

But I don’t think you should worry too much. If they ask about your gap year just make sure you are doing useful things like reading around science and learning more about career pathways

Honestly don’t think you have much to worry about :smile:
Original post by Chloe Groves
Oh ok, thank you so much for replying :smile: I was just thinking that maybe if I said my high school attendance wasn’t good then unis may look into my sixth form attendance, realise it wasn’t good and then not offer me a place. So I was thinking maybe it would be too risky to talk about any extenuating circumstances


Well your personal statement isn't where you comment on that anyway. As stated you should (have? not sure if you can do it after the fact) apply for mitigating to the exam boards who will take into account your health situation provided you have a letter from your GP etc confirming your diagnosis. Your academic referee who will be writing your reference can also explain the situation in their reference to contextualise your grades, i.e. confirming due to medical reasons you were unable to attend many days which affected your academics. There might also be a section in the UCAS application for you to fill in yourself about that but I can't remember exactly. Some unis will also have a form themselves for you to fill out and send to them when you apply if you have mitigating circumstances.

Note though this usually applies more to A-levels and GCSEs are generally not that important for the majority of unis and courses. Really for biochemistry the only one where GCSEs may come into it at all I think would be Oxford, and as indicated they will consider your GCSEs in context (provided the context is given - if not they won't know and can't take that into account, which is also why it's important to let them know about things - it can't disadvantage you to make them aware of it, it can only disadvantage you if you don't tell them!).

If you're really concerned, just apply to Cambridge natsci instead - Cambridge are known to put a lot less weight on GCSEs and view an "upwards trajectory in grades" as you have favourably. With A*A*A* in 3 STEM subjects I think you would probably be interviewed by default unless you completely flopped the NSAA. You can also specialise in biochemistry there, and you can take purely biological options in the first two years (along with the required maths paper in first year, which Oxford also has anyway) if you wish. However you'd have the option of taking some additional chemistry (or other!) papers too in the process in the first two years, before specialising in biochemistry solely for third and/or fourth year :smile:
(edited 1 year ago)

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