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Can I get into Cambridge with these GCSE grades?

I want to apply for Chinese Studies at Cambridge and since the course is also based on language, I was wondering whether my language grades in Gcse would reduce the chances of me getting in. (I have a grade 5 in french) but most people in my secondary school had extremely low language grades since our teacher had cancer during year 10 and 11, so we were stuck with a supply and I had to go to the hospital due to a temporary hearing loss, so it was really difficult for me to do the listening test.

(Currently, i am predicted A*A*A in english lit, politics and religious studies. And I am planning to enter a language essay competition to make up for my language background)

Will I still have a chance at getting accepted? And is there anything i can do to increase my language background and make a more competitive application?
As a current languages student at Cambs, I think there’s always a possibility, but you would need to show linguistic competence Imin another way, I think. For example, reading books, private study of a language, etc. Cambridge doesn’t emphasise GCSEs but if it’s for the subject you want to study, they do Ofc want to know if you’ll manage the degree work. So it’s worth applying but you’ll have to have lots of other evidence of your ability to learn a language, not just in literature. Perhaps you could take a gap year to work on language skills? You’d be able to work on your profile and you’d have more time to work on language skills, so they’d have something to look at to see if you could learn Chinese at the pace it’s taught. Feel free to dm or reply to this if you have any questions 🙂 and most of all, believe in yourself because hard work and learning how to have a good work-life balance will set you up for whatever the future brings.
I can't comment on how much they're going to consider your GCSE grade in French, though I would agree that showing linguistic aptitude in other ways is definitely a good idea.

I would 100% recommend, though, getting your extenuating circumstances mentioned in sufficient detail on your reference. Not having a teacher as well as not being able to hear properly during your listening exam would definitely count as very relevant extenuating circumstances.
Definitely apply to Cambridge.
Reply 4
Original post by tiredgiraff
As a current languages student at Cambs, I think there’s always a possibility, but you would need to show linguistic competence Imin another way, I think. For example, reading books, private study of a language, etc. Cambridge doesn’t emphasise GCSEs but if it’s for the subject you want to study, they do Ofc want to know if you’ll manage the degree work. So it’s worth applying but you’ll have to have lots of other evidence of your ability to learn a language, not just in literature. Perhaps you could take a gap year to work on language skills? You’d be able to work on your profile and you’d have more time to work on language skills, so they’d have something to look at to see if you could learn Chinese at the pace it’s taught. Feel free to dm or reply to this if you have any questions 🙂 and most of all, believe in yourself because hard work and learning how to have a good work-life balance will set you up for whatever the future brings.

Thank you so much for responding, I think taking a gap year would be my last option if I dont get into the uni I want and my parents especially dont want me to take a gap year. That's why im trying to use the time I have now, right before UCAS applications open, in order to work on my language abilities. Im really passionate about the subject and it would be one of my biggest regrets if I would not be able to get into the course due to my gcse language grade.

Do you have any tips on how I can go about this, in a way that Cambridge would like? And, if it's too much to ask, is it possible to ask an admissions tutor in your college about this since you are currently studying there? If not, since you are a language student, did you do anything else to show your language abilities apart from perhaps doing language related a level subjects?
Original post by Anonymous
Thank you so much for responding, I think taking a gap year would be my last option if I dont get into the uni I want and my parents especially dont want me to take a gap year. That's why im trying to use the time I have now, right before UCAS applications open, in order to work on my language abilities. Im really passionate about the subject and it would be one of my biggest regrets if I would not be able to get into the course due to my gcse language grade.
Do you have any tips on how I can go about this, in a way that Cambridge would like? And, if it's too much to ask, is it possible to ask an admissions tutor in your college about this since you are currently studying there? If not, since you are a language student, did you do anything else to show your language abilities apart from perhaps doing language related a level subjects?

I’m sorry for the delay replying! I can’t ask an admissions tutor, but I would recommend anything that shows interest in the language learning process. For example, you could go to a language learning club, self study or even just learn about Chinese grammar (and work out what about the language and its grammar you find interesting) - it doesn’t have to be to an ultra high standard, but enough to show willing and also to show that you understand the process of learning a language. There are apps such as Hellotalk and Tandem you can use to practice with native speakers (but, as always when talking to strangers online, this has to be in the knowledge of the potential dangers of doing so, as well as knowing the benefits of practicing languages with native speakers). If you/your family have the means you could also use tutoring sites like Italki to help you learn a language. Essentially, anything to show that you won’t be a complete beginner when it comes to the process of learning a language (it’s assumed, for instance, that you know what a verb is and what conjugation is when you start a languages degree here). It’s not about being perfect at a second language at all, but about showing your capacity to face the challenges learning one offers and take on new information while still enjoying it. Your profile looks amazing in terms of the literature side, so it’s just a little something to add to your application to reassure them you’ll manage the language side. The course is intense and they don’t want anyone to arrive and feel unable to keep up, that wouldn’t be good for anyone. To reassure you, there is also a form you can fill out when you submit your application to explain anything that might have impacted your gcse grades, so that will also show that your French grade (not a bad grade at all, just doesn’t show the linguistic confidence they’re looking for in and of itself) was lower than it might have been.

Good luck! (I’ll reply to your dm when I can - I’m doing exams atm!)
Original post by Anonymous
I want to apply for Chinese Studies at Cambridge and since the course is also based on language, I was wondering whether my language grades in Gcse would reduce the chances of me getting in. (I have a grade 5 in french) but most people in my secondary school had extremely low language grades since our teacher had cancer during year 10 and 11, so we were stuck with a supply and I had to go to the hospital due to a temporary hearing loss, so it was really difficult for me to do the listening test.
(Currently, i am predicted A*A*A in english lit, politics and religious studies. And I am planning to enter a language essay competition to make up for my language background)
Will I still have a chance at getting accepted? And is there anything i can do to increase my language background and make a more competitive application?

I taught an A level student who applied (and got in) to do Oriental Studies at Oxford. Her A level subjects were Maths, Further Maths and Physics. She asked the department in Oxford whether she should take AS French during Year 13. They told her not to bother since Mandarin is so different from European languages. So I wouldn't worry too much about your GCSE French grade.
We encouraged her to do an EPQ about something Chinese related to show her enthusiasm for the subject. Oxford also asked her to send in an essay arguing the case for something, presumably as evidence that she could actually write an essay, since none of her A level subjects demonstrated this. She wrote an essay about whether Newton or Leibnitz invented calculus.
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by Anonymous
Thank you so much for responding, I think taking a gap year would be my last option if I dont get into the uni I want and my parents especially dont want me to take a gap year. That's why im trying to use the time I have now, right before UCAS applications open, in order to work on my language abilities. Im really passionate about the subject and it would be one of my biggest regrets if I would not be able to get into the course due to my gcse language grade.
Do you have any tips on how I can go about this, in a way that Cambridge would like? And, if it's too much to ask, is it possible to ask an admissions tutor in your college about this since you are currently studying there? If not, since you are a language student, did you do anything else to show your language abilities apart from perhaps doing language related a level subjects?

Friend, just email a college admissions team, that's what those email addresses are for.

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