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Oxbridge admissions process - which one cares most about GCSEs?

Just got my GCSE results and am really pleased - I managed to get all A*s and with good UMS, including 100s in my A level choices (maths, physics and French - I’ll also take FM). I’m probably going to apply for engineering and based on my results I think I will look at Oxbridge. I need to research/visit but don’t know much about the oxbridge process and my (state) school probably wont be able to help much. My question is, I think they place different emphasis on GCSE results vs AS vs A level predictions etc in the admissions process is one going to place more value on my GCSEs&UMS than the other? Any guidance would be really helpful 🙏
I applied for Oxford Law (New College) with 9/8.5/8/8/8/8/7/7/7, got to the interview stage and was then rejected. In my feedback I was told that my GCSE grades were below average compared to other candidates, as well as a 'good but not competitive' interview performance etc. It was definitely the consensus that Oxford weighted GCSEs more than Cambridge, with the alternative focusing more on the interview stage of the application process. If you have a good set of GCSE grades (as you do), it would seem that Oxford would provide you with the best chance of getting an offer. They still consider A-level predicted grades with likely a heavier weight than your GCSEs but, as was the case with me, they do account for something.

In terms of the application process it goes something like this (exact dates will differ between Oxford and Cambridge but this is a rough timeline):

- Summer between y12-y13 you begin preparing your personal statement (ideally beforehand) with supercurriculars and whatnot to be completed sometime in September
- Mid-October is when UCAS applications open, and is when you will need to apply as Oxbridge candidates are early applicants.
- Mid/late-December interview invitations will be given, or rejections if you were unsuccessful in making it to the interview stage. You will have your interview (most likely) in the next few weeks after your invitation
- Early-mid January is when offers are given out to those who were shortlisted for interview. Everyone receives it on the same day for either Oxford or Cambridge
- Take your A-levels in May-June and hopefully secure your place (if offered) in August on results day!

Hope this helps
Reply 2
Original post by bjones02520
I applied for Oxford Law (New College) with 9/8.5/8/8/8/8/7/7/7, got to the interview stage and was then rejected. In my feedback I was told that my GCSE grades were below average compared to other candidates, as well as a 'good but not competitive' interview performance etc. It was definitely the consensus that Oxford weighted GCSEs more than Cambridge, with the alternative focusing more on the interview stage of the application process. If you have a good set of GCSE grades (as you do), it would seem that Oxford would provide you with the best chance of getting an offer. They still consider A-level predicted grades with likely a heavier weight than your GCSEs but, as was the case with me, they do account for something.

In terms of the application process it goes something like this (exact dates will differ between Oxford and Cambridge but this is a rough timeline):

- Summer between y12-y13 you begin preparing your personal statement (ideally beforehand) with supercurriculars and whatnot to be completed sometime in September
- Mid-October is when UCAS applications open, and is when you will need to apply as Oxbridge candidates are early applicants.
- Mid/late-December interview invitations will be given, or rejections if you were unsuccessful in making it to the interview stage. You will have your interview (most likely) in the next few weeks after your invitation
- Early-mid January is when offers are given out to those who were shortlisted for interview. Everyone receives it on the same day for either Oxford or Cambridge
- Take your A-levels in May-June and hopefully secure your place (if offered) in August on results day!

Hope this helps


That’s v helpful, thank you!! I am quite nervous about the interview aspect but have done a bit of work experience and some courses outside school and hoping those will balance out the interview a bit.
Original post by MostlyLurking
That’s v helpful, thank you!! I am quite nervous about the interview aspect but have done a bit of work experience and some courses outside school and hoping those will balance out the interview a bit.

Those won't make up for poor interview performance, so it's best to just work on your interview technique if you're worried. As for GCSEs, the other person is correct in saying Oxford value them more in admissions. More specifically, they normally compare your GCSE results with the average for your school that year, calculating how many 8/9/A*s you got compared to the average. This is known as a cGCSE score (contextualised GCSE). It varies from course to course, but they're usually fairly important in shortlisting for interviews. This means you have a little more leeway with entrance test performance.

Basically, you're in a very good position to apply to Oxford. Prepare as much as possible for the entrance test, try and get your passion across with the personal statement, and make sure you work hard for your A levels. You have a good chance at getting in.
(edited 6 months ago)
Reply 4
Original post by MostlyLurking
Just got my GCSE results and am really pleased - I managed to get all A*s and with good UMS, including 100s in my A level choices (maths, physics and French - I’ll also take FM). I’m probably going to apply for engineering and based on my results I think I will look at Oxbridge. I need to research/visit but don’t know much about the oxbridge process and my (state) school probably wont be able to help much. My question is, I think they place different emphasis on GCSE results vs AS vs A level predictions etc in the admissions process is one going to place more value on my GCSEs&UMS than the other? Any guidance would be really helpful 🙏

Since you got A*s in all your subjects I wouldn't worry about whether Oxford or Cambridge place more emphasis on GCSEs - it's pretty marginal. Choose the university that you prefer, based on the course, visit both, look around the colleges and get a feel for both places.
What's more important is what your predicted A levels are and, crucially, how you do in their admissions assessments. Most candidates have excellent GCSE results and are predicted more than the necessary entry requirements in terms of A level grades.
When it comes down to who gets an offer at Oxbridge, it's mostly about performance in admissions tests and then if you get through to the interview stage, how you do in the interview. Good luck!
Reply 5
Original post by emilyalexandria
Those won't make up for poor interview performance, so it's best to just work on your interview technique if you're worried. As for GCSEs, the other person is correct in saying Oxford value them more in admissions. More specifically, they normally compare your GCSE results with the average for your school that year, calculating how many 8/9/A*s you got compared to the average. This is known as a cGCSE score (contextualised GCSE). It varies from course to course, but they're usually fairly important in shortlisting for interviews. This means you have a little more leeway with entrance test performance.

Basically, you're in a very good position to apply to Oxford. Prepare as much as possible for the entrance test, try and get your passion across with the personal statement, and make sure you work hard for your A levels. You have a good chance at getting in.


Thank you!! I thought I had read somewhere that one of the 2 look more closely at GCSEs, it must be Oxford. I need to visit both but they both have general engineering courses which is what I am interested in. I will definitely spend some time on interview prep! That and the admissions test will require quite a bit of preparation.
Reply 6
Original post by rudyard
Since you got A*s in all your subjects I wouldn't worry about whether Oxford or Cambridge place more emphasis on GCSEs - it's pretty marginal. Choose the university that you prefer, based on the course, visit both, look around the colleges and get a feel for both places.
What's more important is what your predicted A levels are and, crucially, how you do in their admissions assessments. Most candidates have excellent GCSE results and are predicted more than the necessary entry requirements in terms of A level grades.
When it comes down to who gets an offer at Oxbridge, it's mostly about performance in admissions tests and then if you get through to the interview stage, how you do in the interview. Good luck!


Thank you!! Yes I’m definitely going to visit both, I know the course I’m interested in so I can focus on that.

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