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How much will grade 7(s) affect a potential oxbridge application?

Obviously received my results day, and I got three 9s, two 8's and three 7's. A decent set of results although I still feel I could've done better - especially since I didn't receive a formal education until year 11, resulting in me essentially teaching myself the GCSE content within 9 months.

Im happy with the 5 A*s, but I'm slightly concerned by the presence of 3 grade 7's and how that may affect a future oxbridge application. From what I have seen, many successful oxbridge applicants tend to be achieve almost entirely 8/9 GCSE grades with rarely anything less. I may be wrong but again, just from what I know.

I've seen numerous people mention that GCSE's are insignificant compared to other parts of your application - but as of right now, I am trying to maximise the possibility of attendance and would honestly like to know if they will put me at a disadvantage.

Contextually though, I did attend an academy (In Bexleyheath) which is locally notorious due to its poor quality. Would that, alongside my other circumstances, justify the few (arguably) disappointing grades I did end up receiving?
Original post by riverw
Obviously received my results day, and I got three 9s, two 8's and three 7's. A decent set of results although I still feel I could've done better - especially since I didn't receive a formal education until year 11, resulting in me essentially teaching myself the GCSE content within 9 months.

Im happy with the 5 A*s, but I'm slightly concerned by the presence of 3 grade 7's and how that may affect a future oxbridge application. From what I have seen, many successful oxbridge applicants tend to be achieve almost entirely 8/9 GCSE grades with rarely anything less. I may be wrong but again, just from what I know.

I've seen numerous people mention that GCSE's are insignificant compared to other parts of your application - but as of right now, I am trying to maximise the possibility of attendance and would honestly like to know if they will put me at a disadvantage.

Contextually though, I did attend an academy (In Bexleyheath) which is locally notorious due to its poor quality. Would that, alongside my other circumstances, justify the few (arguably) disappointing grades I did end up receiving?

Firstly, you need to state what course you are thinking of applying for and which A levels you are taking.

Secondly, the worse your school is, the better your chances of getting an offer are as they prefer to assess your grades in context.

I actually hold an offer for chemistry at Oxford with achieved GCSEs of 9988887766 (so in old money: 6A*, 2A, 2B), which are considerably worse grades than yours. I also applied with achieved A level grades of A*A*A (literally the entry requirements), so perhaps academically speaking I was one of the weaker applicants.

In my case, I clearly did well in the interview stage and my supercurriculars gave me a competitive advantage.

Given you had to self teach in a matter of 9 months and yet you still did really well, it is extremely likely you will manage A levels as they require a far more independent style of learning that you already have quite some practice with. Keep up the amazing work and you may well land yourself an offer at Oxford or Cambridge.
Reply 2
Original post by TypicalNerd
Firstly, you need to state what course you are thinking of applying for and which A levels you are taking.

Secondly, the worse your school is, the better your chances of getting an offer are as they prefer to assess your grades in context.

I actually hold an offer for chemistry at Oxford with achieved GCSEs of 9988887766 (so in old money: 6A*, 2A, 2B), which are considerably worse grades than yours. I also applied with achieved A level grades of A*A*A (literally the entry requirements), so perhaps academically speaking I was one of the weaker applicants.

In my case, I clearly did well in the interview stage and my supercurriculars gave me a competitive advantage.

Given you had to self teach in a matter of 9 months and yet you still did really well, it is extremely likely you will manage A levels as they require a far more independent style of learning that you already have quite some practice with. Keep up the amazing work and you may well land yourself an offer at Oxford or Cambridge.


Thank you for the help - much appreciated.

I probably want to read law, and in terms of A-Levels I have decided to take 4 (as I feel I can manage the workload), those being: Economics, Business studies, History, and biology.

Now as my grades are relatively well rounded I can, in essence, take pretty much any A-Level combination. However, i feel that playing to my academic strengths is probably the way to go - History is a subject I adore, economics has always interested me as well. My sister took business studies as an A-Level and recommended me to take it alongside economics: as, according to her, many people in her cohort who took both Econ and BS had a significant advantage as both subjects tie in with each other. In terms of the 4th A-level, I did (initially) think maths was the best option however I now realise that it is probably one of my weakest subjects - biology on the other hand was the STEM subject I found easiest at GCSE level.

Obviously I'm still not completely certain regarding my choices - it does feel like a missed opportunity to not take multiple sciences at A-Level. However, I think that my struggles in mathematics may hinder me slightly as at GCSE level, the level of maths involved in science is no more difficult than that of a foundation paper. Naturally, I am inclined towards humanities and so think I would be more likely to find academic success there, but the allure of a STEM career has me torn.
Original post by riverw
Thank you for the help - much appreciated.

I probably want to read law, and in terms of A-Levels I have decided to take 4 (as I feel I can manage the workload), those being: Economics, Business studies, History, and biology.

Now as my grades are relatively well rounded I can, in essence, take pretty much any A-Level combination. However, i feel that playing to my academic strengths is probably the way to go - History is a subject I adore, economics has always interested me as well. My sister took business studies as an A-Level and recommended me to take it alongside economics: as, according to her, many people in her cohort who took both Econ and BS had a significant advantage as both subjects tie in with each other. In terms of the 4th A-level, I did (initially) think maths was the best option however I now realise that it is probably one of my weakest subjects - biology on the other hand was the STEM subject I found easiest at GCSE level.

Obviously I'm still not completely certain regarding my choices - it does feel like a missed opportunity to not take multiple sciences at A-Level. However, I think that my struggles in mathematics may hinder me slightly as at GCSE level, the level of maths involved in science is no more difficult than that of a foundation paper. Naturally, I am inclined towards humanities and so think I would be more likely to find academic success there, but the allure of a STEM career has me torn.


Taking history is a very good idea as you have stated it is your passion.

It’s generally recommended you don’t take both business and economics, as a lot of unis frown upon the combination (they are seen as being too similar to constitute two different subjects).

However, I’m not sure if this rule regarding econ and BS applies to you, since you are taking 4 A levels rather than the usual 3. Even still, I’d be inclined more towards taking economics over business and if you are insistent on a fourth A level (which I probably wouldn’t advise as 3 A levels are much more intense than 8 GCSEs), then maths or chemistry would strike me as the best possible options as maths compliments economics and chemistry compliments biology.

Also, there are booklets by OCR that summarise all the maths you need for the A level sciences (and these booklets are applicable to all exam boards), so getting to grips with the maths needed is perfectly doable imo.

Chemistry maths skills: https://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/295468-chemistry-mathematical-skills-handbook.pdf

Biology maths skills: https://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/294471-biology-mathematical-skills-handbook.pdf
(edited 9 months ago)

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