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Is my uni list too ambitious?

To cut to the chase, I'm predicted A*A*A in Econ, Politics, and History. I'm about to apply to the following universities for Politics and Philosophy (or similar variations of that, for example, P + IR + Phil at RHUL)

LSE - AAA
Durham - AAA
Edinburgh - AAA
Exeter - AAA
Royal Holloway - ABB-BBB

While I'm aware, my predictions are well above the entry requirements. I've been told my personal statement is excellent; I mentioned five books in great detail and have mountains of extracurricular activities, including running an active journalism company and interviewing Jeremy Corbyn; what worries me is my GCSEs due to struggling with severe anxiety & depression during Y9-Y11 (anxiety continued even onto Y12), all of which has been put on my reference, I left secondary school with 99754444 in GCSEs, with unfortunately one of the 4s being in Maths (i was allowed to do econ at 6th form due to these issues). Should I consider maybe adding another more lenient uni? Such as York over Edinburgh?
(edited 2 months ago)
Hi, I've moved your thread to the applications forum - it ended up in the medical schools forum somehow!

Honestly I think you're under-aiming. You could well be looking at Oxbridge and similar. If you want a "safety" option, maybe consider Essex as your 5th option - I gather their politics department is quite good and punches above its weight, and you could comfortably pick your other 4 to be around your predicted grade range.

That said, you should be aiming to retake the GCSE Maths to pull it up to a 5 - this is a common requirement for unis and is normally a "hard" requirement. Pretty sure LSE requires this for example.
Reply 2
Original post by artful_lounger
Hi, I've moved your thread to the applications forum - it ended up in the medical schools forum somehow!

Honestly I think you're under-aiming. You could well be looking at Oxbridge and similar. If you want a "safety" option, maybe consider Essex as your 5th option - I gather their politics department is quite good and punches above its weight, and you could comfortably pick your other 4 to be around your predicted grade range.

That said, you should be aiming to retake the GCSE Maths to pull it up to a 5 - this is a common requirement for unis and is normally a "hard" requirement. Pretty sure LSE requires this for example.

Hiya, thanks for the reply. I'm aware I'm sort of under-aiming to be honest, I was discouraged from applying to oxbridge due to those results, not much I can do now since I've missed the deadline. I'll look into retaking GCSE Maths, I believe now if I put effort into it I could walk away with a 6 or a 7, however I'm worried about time management with my other 3, labour intensive subjects. Weirdly for my course the requirements don't go higher than AAA! so this is the highest I could go.
Original post by AhmedHelmyy
Hiya, thanks for the reply. I'm aware I'm sort of under-aiming to be honest, I was discouraged from applying to oxbridge due to those results, not much I can do now since I've missed the deadline. I'll look into retaking GCSE Maths, I believe now if I put effort into it I could walk away with a 6 or a 7, however I'm worried about time management with my other 3, labour intensive subjects. Weirdly for my course the requirements don't go higher than AAA! so this is the highest I could go.

I'm not just referring to entry criteria but also just general quality of departments - I think there are stronger philosophy and/or politics departments out there (some of which may offer joint honours courses) you could be considering. Really there aren't any unis in the UK you couldn't conceivably apply to as far as I could see, provided you meet subject requirements and minimum GCSE requirements.

Ultimately though GCSE Maths is something you really need to aim to get a 5 or above in at GCSE (as well as unis it's commonly required by jobs). However you don't need to get more than the minimum requirement for the uni (usually a 5 but some might require a 6) as it's just a tick box. However, if you don't meet a uni's minimum GCSE requirements in GCSE Maths (and often English language) then you usually won't be considered at all. It's a yes/no factor.

Beyond that though generally unis aren't that fussed about your GCSE grades. Outside of some courses at Oxford, some courses at LSE, and some medical/dental/vet schools, they aren't make or break normally. You are ascribing far too much weight to them. Your A-level results are very strong and that is going to be the main academic factor for most unis.
Original post by AhmedHelmyy
To cut to the chase, I'm predicted A*A*A in Econ, Politics, and History. I'm about to apply to the following universities for Politics and Philosophy (or similar variations of that, for example, P + IR + Phil at RHUL)

LSE - AAA
Durham - AAA
Edinburgh - AAA
Exeter - AAA
Royal Holloway - ABB-BBB

While I'm aware, my predictions are well above the entry requirements. I've been told my personal statement is excellent; I mentioned five books in great detail and have mountains of extracurricular activities, including running an active journalism company and interviewing Jeremy Corbyn; what worries me is my GCSEs due to struggling with severe anxiety & depression during Y9-Y11 (anxiety continued even onto Y12), all of which has been put on my reference, I left secondary school with 99754444 in GCSEs, with unfortunately one of the 4s being in Maths (i was allowed to do econ at 6th form due to these issues). Should I consider maybe adding another more lenient uni? Such as York over Edinburgh?

Well, LSE require a 6 in GCSE maths for your course, so that's a likely rejection without a resit.
Reply 5
Original post by artful_lounger
I'm not just referring to entry criteria but also just general quality of departments - I think there are stronger philosophy and/or politics departments out there (some of which may offer joint honours courses) you could be considering. Really there aren't any unis in the UK you couldn't conceivably apply to as far as I could see, provided you meet subject requirements and minimum GCSE requirements.

Ultimately though GCSE Maths is something you really need to aim to get a 5 or above in at GCSE (as well as unis it's commonly required by jobs). However you don't need to get more than the minimum requirement for the uni (usually a 5 but some might require a 6) as it's just a tick box. However, if you don't meet a uni's minimum GCSE requirements in GCSE Maths (and often English language) then you usually won't be considered at all. It's a yes/no factor.

Beyond that though generally unis aren't that fussed about your GCSE grades. Outside of some courses at Oxford, some courses at LSE, and some medical/dental/vet schools, they aren't make or break normally. You are ascribing far too much weight to them. Your A-level results are very strong and that is going to be the main academic factor for most unis.

Very true. Thank you. I'll consider other universities (UCL mainly) as well. About the resits, how would I put resit pending on my UCAS application? as I'd need to change that + book a resit for June this year.
Reply 6
Original post by ageshallnot
Well, LSE require a 6 in GCSE maths for your course, so that's a likely rejection without a resit.

Guess I was hoping they might let it slide due to my grades, statement and extentuating circumstances. Though it seems worth resitting maths either way. Thank you.
Original post by AhmedHelmyy
Guess I was hoping they might let it slide due to my grades, statement and extentuating circumstances. Though it seems worth resitting maths either way. Thank you.

Doubt it, tbh. But in any scenario resitting maths is a good idea.
Original post by AhmedHelmyy
Very true. Thank you. I'll consider other universities (UCL mainly) as well. About the resits, how would I put resit pending on my UCAS application? as I'd need to change that + book a resit for June this year.

Assuming you haven't already submitted the application you would need to list your original GCSE and grade then list a new qualification for the same with the grade as "pending", I believe.
Reply 9
Original post by artful_lounger
Assuming you haven't already submitted the application you would need to list your original GCSE and grade then list a new qualification for the same with the grade as "pending", I believe.

Alright thank you. After checking my universities the only one that has minimum GCSE requirements is LSE, so definetly worth a retake as they want a 6.
I'm curious how you've mentioned 5 books in great detail in your PS along with your other content. I would usually advise on writing about 1, (maybe 2 at most), so I suspect that from a scoring perspective you could do better here. Bear in mind the feedback you've gotten might be from someone that has never seen a statement scoring matrix, and is just going off which students have been sucessful in the past.

There is a good PS review service here on TSR. It takes about 10 days so might be an idea for some impartial feedback.
Reply 11
Original post by Admit-One
I'm curious how you've mentioned 5 books in great detail in your PS along with your other content. I would usually advise on writing about 1, (maybe 2 at most), so I suspect that from a scoring perspective you could do better here. Bear in mind the feedback you've gotten might be from someone that has never seen a statement scoring matrix, and is just going off which students have been sucessful in the past.

There is a good PS review service here on TSR. It takes about 10 days so might be an idea for some impartial feedback.

Thanks for the advice. I've already used a PS review service catered towards Oxford & Cambridge students, and they gave me the green light; for obvious reasons, I won't put any part of my statement here, but I'll try and describe what I did. I'd talk about a book, give something which ignited interest in the subject, and then elaborate on that, connecting it to my course; when I say "great detail", it's in the context of the character limit. I wouldn't talk about the book's content for more than a sentence; more about how the book impacted/interested me. Since I wrote a PS for joint honours, I spoke about one book which had both applied and theoretical politics (The Case for Democracy), two philosophy books unrelated to politics (The Divine Comedy, & The Idiot; the latter isn't purely philosophical, though I took the philosophical message of the book, being a critique of 19th-century Russia, and went with that), and then two political philosophy books, Lenin Lives & Egypt: The Moment of Change to try and check all the boxes.
(edited 2 months ago)
Original post by AhmedHelmyy
Thanks for the advice. I've already used a PS review service catered towards Oxford & Cambridge students, and they gave me the green light; for obvious reasons, I won't put any part of my statement here, but I'll try and describe what I did. I'd talk about a book, give something which ignited interest in the subject, and then elaborate on that, connecting it to my course; when I say "great detail", it's in the context of the character limit. I wouldn't talk about the book's content for more than a sentence; more about how the book impacted/interested me. Since I wrote a PS for joint honours, I spoke about one book which had both applied and theoretical politics (The Case for Democracy), two philosophy books unrelated to politics (The Divine Comedy, & The Idiot; the latter isn't purely philosophical, though I took the philosophical message of the book, being a critique of 19th-century Russia, and went with that), and then two political philosophy books, Lenin Lives & Egypt: The Moment of Change to try and check all the boxes.

Appreciate the reply and explanation btw.

Is it a paid service that you've used? I wonder how closely linked they are to the scoring criteria, (they may have good links with admissions tutors, or could be talking out their backsides, it's very difficult to tell with some of these agents)?

I can't speak for Oxbridge but I do score PS's. Around 200 a week, so a few thousand each cycle. Again, I think 1 sentence each is potentially a bit superficial, and you would be better served by more depth and fewer examples.

That said, appreciate you will likely not want to take a hatchet to it at this stage and that you've received guidance tailored to your choices. Best of luck with the apps.

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