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How to pick unis when predicted really aspirational grades?

So my college has this system where they have a minimum expected grade based on gcses. My gcses were good so I have a minimum expected grade of four a stars, and since predicted grades are almost always at least your minimum expected grade, and my mock results were all A*s, I have been told it’s almost guaranteed that I’ll be predicted those grades.

Are those achievable in all subjects? Sure , but it’s incredibly difficult and far from guaranteed, if achievable. So based on that how do I go about choosing unis to apply to. There’s only so many open days I can go to and what makes it more complicated is that I’m eligible for contextual offers but far from the poorest in society, just average working class background(so are contextual offers guaranteed?).

If I applied to the top five universities I personally like based on course content and location right now, my potential offers could go as low as ABB(contextual) and A*AB, if I get no contextual offers . But they’re still very high grades despite being three-five grades below my predictions. On top of this they’re top 10 unis for economics so nothing is guaranteed.

I study maths, fm, economics and history and want to do bsc economics. Not really too fussed about this right now but I’m booking open days for the summer so would appreciate advice.
Original post by Peach_rose34
So my college has this system where they have a minimum expected grade based on gcses. My gcses were good so I have a minimum expected grade of four a stars, and since predicted grades are almost always at least your minimum expected grade, and my mock results were all A*s, I have been told it’s almost guaranteed that I’ll be predicted those grades.
Are those achievable in all subjects? Sure , but it’s incredibly difficult and far from guaranteed, if achievable. So based on that how do I go about choosing unis to apply to. There’s only so many open days I can go to and what makes it more complicated is that I’m eligible for contextual offers but far from the poorest in society, just average working class background(so are contextual offers guaranteed?).
If I applied to the top five universities I personally like based on course content and location right now, my potential offers could go as low as ABB(contextual) and A*AB, if I get no contextual offers . But they’re still very high grades despite being three-five grades below my predictions. On top of this they’re top 10 unis for economics so nothing is guaranteed.
I study maths, fm, economics and history and want to do bsc economics. Not really too fussed about this right now but I’m booking open days for the summer so would appreciate advice.

You probably don't have much to worry about in terms of strategy. If you are on track for 4 x A*, then you are likely to get offers from everywhere you apply to, saving the Oxford/Cambridge competition. Even then you would be competitive, but there is still only about a 25% offer rate.

But say you applied to Cam, LSE, UCL, Durham and Bristol, you'd stand a chance of 5 offers and a good chance of at least 4.

So then you need to consider, what if you ding your actually grades? First off, for Economics, with 4 Levels, you probably would;t get grade specific offers, you'd get A*A*A at worst, but in any subjects. Check if anywhere has a habit of requiring grades for specific subjects.

Next, what are you realistically likely to ding? Because if it's one A level badly ie you get A*A*A*C - you've have to have a 4 A level offer or a grade/subject specific offer for that to make a difference. If its a possibility you get A*A*AA, then a) you are likely to have offers covered by that, but b) if you apply for contextual offers, they are even more likely to accept that.

Botton line - you can apply for a top-end range, without any low back-ups, because even with slightly sub-optimal performance in the final exams, you are still likely to be a competitive applicant. Well done!
Original post by threeportdrift
You probably don't have much to worry about in terms of strategy. If you are on track for 4 x A*, then you are likely to get offers from everywhere you apply to, saving the Oxford/Cambridge competition. Even then you would be competitive, but there is still only about a 25% offer rate.
But say you applied to Cam, LSE, UCL, Durham and Bristol, you'd stand a chance of 5 offers and a good chance of at least 4.
So then you need to consider, what if you ding your actually grades? First off, for Economics, with 4 Levels, you probably would;t get grade specific offers, you'd get A*A*A at worst, but in any subjects. Check if anywhere has a habit of requiring grades for specific subjects.
Next, what are you realistically likely to ding? Because if it's one A level badly ie you get A*A*A*C - you've have to have a 4 A level offer or a grade/subject specific offer for that to make a difference. If its a possibility you get A*A*AA, then a) you are likely to have offers covered by that, but b) if you apply for contextual offers, they are even more likely to accept that.
Botton line - you can apply for a top-end range, without any low back-ups, because even with slightly sub-optimal performance in the final exams, you are still likely to be a competitive applicant. Well done!

Wow this is really good news.

So my top 5 (literally dreaming to get into all but let’s say I had all the choice in the world) would be Durham and bath , with placement year, and then Cambridge, LSE, Warwick.

Also had a look at all of the top 25 and Bristol , Nottingham and London ones would be great too but I don’t want to assume any of these unis are easy to get into.

In terms of grades I think my economics will be at least an A, maths I feel very confident because I work so hard at it and further maths makes the normal a level feel easy, so let’s say A*A , and then history I feel confident for an A but on a bad exam a B at least. It’s 20% coursework and I work incredibly hard so I believe in my own ability to study a ridiculous amount for another year here. With a good chance of contextual offers I’d feel okay going for only top unis but the offer rate does scare me for some of these.

I honestly feel blessed that my gcses got me guaranteed good predictions but I wouldn’t underestimate how hard I have worked to adapt to a levels . I’d be happy with three offers really-do you think that’s likely?
Original post by Peach_rose34
Wow this is really good news.
So my top 5 (literally dreaming to get into all but let’s say I had all the choice in the world) would be Durham and bath , with placement year, and then Cambridge, LSE, Warwick.
Also had a look at all of the top 25 and Bristol , Nottingham and London ones would be great too but I don’t want to assume any of these unis are easy to get into.
In terms of grades I think my economics will be at least an A, maths I feel very confident because I work so hard at it and further maths makes the normal a level feel easy, so let’s say A*A , and then history I feel confident for an A but on a bad exam a B at least. It’s 20% coursework and I work incredibly hard so I believe in my own ability to study a ridiculous amount for another year here. With a good chance of contextual offers I’d feel okay going for only top unis but the offer rate does scare me for some of these.
I honestly feel blessed that my gcses got me guaranteed good predictions but I wouldn’t underestimate how hard I have worked to adapt to a levels . I’d be happy with three offers really-do you think that’s likely?

Yes, I think that's very likely.
Original post by Peach_rose34
So my college has this system where they have a minimum expected grade based on gcses. My gcses were good so I have a minimum expected grade of four a stars, and since predicted grades are almost always at least your minimum expected grade, and my mock results were all A*s, I have been told it’s almost guaranteed that I’ll be predicted those grades.
Are those achievable in all subjects? Sure , but it’s incredibly difficult and far from guaranteed, if achievable. So based on that how do I go about choosing unis to apply to. There’s only so many open days I can go to and what makes it more complicated is that I’m eligible for contextual offers but far from the poorest in society, just average working class background(so are contextual offers guaranteed?).
If I applied to the top five universities I personally like based on course content and location right now, my potential offers could go as low as ABB(contextual) and A*AB, if I get no contextual offers . But they’re still very high grades despite being three-five grades below my predictions. On top of this they’re top 10 unis for economics so nothing is guaranteed.
I study maths, fm, economics and history and want to do bsc economics. Not really too fussed about this right now but I’m booking open days for the summer so would appreciate advice.

Hi! If a student qualifies for a contextual offer, this will be applied automatically to the application, if that helps :smile:
Original post by Peach_rose34
So my college has this system where they have a minimum expected grade based on gcses. My gcses were good so I have a minimum expected grade of four a stars, and since predicted grades are almost always at least your minimum expected grade, and my mock results were all A*s, I have been told it’s almost guaranteed that I’ll be predicted those grades.
Are those achievable in all subjects? Sure , but it’s incredibly difficult and far from guaranteed, if achievable. So based on that how do I go about choosing unis to apply to. There’s only so many open days I can go to and what makes it more complicated is that I’m eligible for contextual offers but far from the poorest in society, just average working class background(so are contextual offers guaranteed?).
If I applied to the top five universities I personally like based on course content and location right now, my potential offers could go as low as ABB(contextual) and A*AB, if I get no contextual offers . But they’re still very high grades despite being three-five grades below my predictions. On top of this they’re top 10 unis for economics so nothing is guaranteed.
I study maths, fm, economics and history and want to do bsc economics. Not really too fussed about this right now but I’m booking open days for the summer so would appreciate advice.

One tactic you might utilise is not to apply to all 5 unis initially. Just put down Cambridge and 2-3 others, leaving 1-2 blank. With luck you will receive offers/rejections before the deadline for equal consideration and can adapt your final choices accordingly.

(That said, I don't think you'll have problems, but this approach might calm your anxieties.)
Original post by UniofNottsEnq
Hi! If a student qualifies for a contextual offer, this will be applied automatically to the application, if that helps :smile:

I appreciate the help it’s useful to know. Would you happen to know whether this policy is consistent across other universities?
Original post by Peach_rose34
Wow this is really good news.
So my top 5 (literally dreaming to get into all but let’s say I had all the choice in the world) would be Durham and bath , with placement year, and then Cambridge, LSE, Warwick.
Also had a look at all of the top 25 and Bristol , Nottingham and London ones would be great too but I don’t want to assume any of these unis are easy to get into.
In terms of grades I think my economics will be at least an A, maths I feel very confident because I work so hard at it and further maths makes the normal a level feel easy, so let’s say A*A , and then history I feel confident for an A but on a bad exam a B at least. It’s 20% coursework and I work incredibly hard so I believe in my own ability to study a ridiculous amount for another year here. With a good chance of contextual offers I’d feel okay going for only top unis but the offer rate does scare me for some of these.
I honestly feel blessed that my gcses got me guaranteed good predictions but I wouldn’t underestimate how hard I have worked to adapt to a levels . I’d be happy with three offers really-do you think that’s likely?


Hiya, I was predicted 3 A* and achieved those in my mocks so was in a similar boat! My advice for picking unis is go with the ones you like ! Because of your grades, UCAS is your oyster! I applied to one ‘safety’ to have as an insurance. However, because of my EPQ I got a reduced offer from a different uni which is my insurance now. If you are eligible for a contextual offer, it’s most likely that you’ll get one (I can’t say for definite as I don’t know)
Also, congratulations on your grades!!
Original post by threeportdrift
You probably don't have much to worry about in terms of strategy. If you are on track for 4 x A*, then you are likely to get offers from everywhere you apply to, saving the Oxford/Cambridge competition. Even then you would be competitive, but there is still only about a 25% offer rate.
But say you applied to Cam, LSE, UCL, Durham and Bristol, you'd stand a chance of 5 offers and a good chance of at least 4.
So then you need to consider, what if you ding your actually grades? First off, for Economics, with 4 Levels, you probably would;t get grade specific offers, you'd get A*A*A at worst, but in any subjects. Check if anywhere has a habit of requiring grades for specific subjects.
Next, what are you realistically likely to ding? Because if it's one A level badly ie you get A*A*A*C - you've have to have a 4 A level offer or a grade/subject specific offer for that to make a difference. If its a possibility you get A*A*AA, then a) you are likely to have offers covered by that, but b) if you apply for contextual offers, they are even more likely to accept that.
Botton line - you can apply for a top-end range, without any low back-ups, because even with slightly sub-optimal performance in the final exams, you are still likely to be a competitive applicant. Well done!

Unfortunately what you have said isnt true. There are A*A*A*A* students getting rejected every year by top universities especially for competitive subjects like Economics and Computer Science. To put matters in some perspective 1 in 20 get offers for CS from Imperial. Of the 1710 students who got into LSE for undergraduate courses nearly 1000 were from India or China leaving less than 800 from everywhere else. Over 1/2 the students who got into UCL were from overseas.

For a subject like Economics the vast majority of students getting into top universities have top grades as to many who are rejected. Making things look easy isnt the reality and ending up with 5 rejections is a distinct possibility.

This is the very reason why we suggest applying to a range of universities and applying to not more than 2 London or Oxbridge universities which are fae more oversubscribed than the rest of the UK. This is largely due to overseas applicants wanting to be in London.

A couple of years ago I helped a student find somewhere during extra who was predicted A*A*A*A* and been rejected by London universities plus I believe from memory Durham and Warwick. The student was totally devastated and had thought just like you. At extra most of the better provincial universities had been filled. Things are not as easy as you make out and anyone applying for all top universities for competitive courses needs to be aware of the risks they are taking.
Original post by swanseajack1
Unfortunately what you have said isnt true. There are A*A*A*A* students getting rejected every year by top universities especially for competitive subjects like Economics and Computer Science. To put matters in some perspective 1 in 20 get offers for CS from Imperial. Of the 1710 students who got into LSE for undergraduate courses nearly 1000 were from India or China leaving less than 800 from everywhere else. Over 1/2 the students who got into UCL were from overseas.
For a subject like Economics the vast majority of students getting into top universities have top grades as to many who are rejected. Making things look easy isnt the reality and ending up with 5 rejections is a distinct possibility.
This is the very reason why we suggest applying to a range of universities and applying to not more than 2 London or Oxbridge universities which are fae more oversubscribed than the rest of the UK. This is largely due to overseas applicants wanting to be in London.
A couple of years ago I helped a student find somewhere during extra who was predicted A*A*A*A* and been rejected by London universities plus I believe from memory Durham and Warwick. The student was totally devastated and had thought just like you. At extra most of the better provincial universities had been filled. Things are not as easy as you make out and anyone applying for all top universities for competitive courses needs to be aware of the risks they are taking.

If you are coming from an independent school and have the absolute top 5, then perhaps. But slinging in a Bath, Bristol etc and with a contextual tag, the OP is likely to be fine.

The counterpoint to taking in loads of overseas students, eg LSE, UCL, ICL is that they need a higher proportion of contextual offers from their smaller home cohort.
Original post by swanseajack1
Unfortunately what you have said isnt true. There are A*A*A*A* students getting rejected every year by top universities especially for competitive subjects like Economics and Computer Science. To put matters in some perspective 1 in 20 get offers for CS from Imperial. Of the 1710 students who got into LSE for undergraduate courses nearly 1000 were from India or China leaving less than 800 from everywhere else. Over 1/2 the students who got into UCL were from overseas.
For a subject like Economics the vast majority of students getting into top universities have top grades as to many who are rejected. Making things look easy isnt the reality and ending up with 5 rejections is a distinct possibility.
This is the very reason why we suggest applying to a range of universities and applying to not more than 2 London or Oxbridge universities which are fae more oversubscribed than the rest of the UK. This is largely due to overseas applicants wanting to be in London.
A couple of years ago I helped a student find somewhere during extra who was predicted A*A*A*A* and been rejected by London universities plus I believe from memory Durham and Warwick. The student was totally devastated and had thought just like you. At extra most of the better provincial universities had been filled. Things are not as easy as you make out and anyone applying for all top universities for competitive courses needs to be aware of the risks they are taking.

Based on this advice which I’ve seen before I only aspire towards one London (lse) and Cambridge which I think are obviously unlikely offers but nonetheless I’d like to try ideally.

I definitely want to apply to Durham and Bath for the placement year which is rare to find in economics. Bath has a high offer rate too and Durham has a reasonably ok offer rate for contextual admissions but it’s mainly the placement year that really appeals.

For a fifth I would really really like to try for Warwick. They had a 60% offer rate in 2021 if I’m remembering my research correctly but if that’s too ambitious then I’m quite happy to apply elsewhere . It’s a great course at a great uni in a great location(based on what I’d like out of a uni location) and from what I’ve researched they mainly look at predicted grades(correct me if I’m wrong).

I’ve done this amount research into courses at 5 other universities and while I would be happy to apply to those universities , the five above all stand out to me as better than the rest and this isn’t based on rankings. I’d rather attend any of those five than other very good unis for economics such as UCL(which is far more difficult to get into than say, Bath) and I suppose I just wanted to find out with this question whether with these predicted grades I could apply to my personal top five preferences or would I still have to apply strategically.

Based on what you’ve said how would you recommend I choose where to go? The placement year is very important to me but I could switch out Durham for a more realistic option and likewise for LSE or Warwick. I’ve been looking for very quantitative courses as I do further maths and I think apart from Durham the other 4 universities have strong maths components which was part of the appeal for me.
Original post by ageshallnot
One tactic you might utilise is not to apply to all 5 unis initially. Just put down Cambridge and 2-3 others, leaving 1-2 blank. With luck you will receive offers/rejections before the deadline for equal consideration and can adapt your final choices accordingly.
(That said, I don't think you'll have problems, but this approach might calm your anxieties.)

Thank you I think I’ll probably do this regardless of where I end up applying to.
Original post by Peach_rose34
Thank you I think I’ll probably do this regardless of where I end up applying to.

Good. It's something that more applicants should do.
Original post by threeportdrift
If you are coming from an independent school and have the absolute top 5, then perhaps. But slinging in a Bath, Bristol etc and with a contextual tag, the OP is likely to be fine.
The counterpoint to taking in loads of overseas students, eg LSE, UCL, ICL is that they need a higher proportion of contextual offers from their smaller home cohort.

The fact is that loads of students are being rejected with top grades. Dont mislead student by saying they will get 4 or 5 offers. There is a very strong possibility they will get 5 rejections and they need to be aware of that.
Original post by Peach_rose34
Based on this advice which I’ve seen before I only aspire towards one London (lse) and Cambridge which I think are obviously unlikely offers but nonetheless I’d like to try ideally.
I definitely want to apply to Durham and Bath for the placement year which is rare to find in economics. Bath has a high offer rate too and Durham has a reasonably ok offer rate for contextual admissions but it’s mainly the placement year that really appeals.
For a fifth I would really really like to try for Warwick. They had a 60% offer rate in 2021 if I’m remembering my research correctly but if that’s too ambitious then I’m quite happy to apply elsewhere . It’s a great course at a great uni in a great location(based on what I’d like out of a uni location) and from what I’ve researched they mainly look at predicted grades(correct me if I’m wrong).
I’ve done this amount research into courses at 5 other universities and while I would be happy to apply to those universities , the five above all stand out to me as better than the rest and this isn’t based on rankings. I’d rather attend any of those five than other very good unis for economics such as UCL(which is far more difficult to get into than say, Bath) and I suppose I just wanted to find out with this question whether with these predicted grades I could apply to my personal top five preferences or would I still have to apply strategically.
Based on what you’ve said how would you recommend I choose where to go? The placement year is very important to me but I could switch out Durham for a more realistic option and likewise for LSE or Warwick. I’ve been looking for very quantitative courses as I do further maths and I think apart from Durham the other 4 universities have strong maths components which was part of the appeal for me.

What Iam trying to make you aware of is the risk you take applying to top universities. You may get 5 offers or 5 rejections. How big a risk you intend taking only you can decide. You need to be aware of the risk because 5 rejections happens every year. All the universities you are looking at are competitive for Economics. It is a risk only you can decide upon.
Original post by swanseajack1
What Iam trying to make you aware of is the risk you take applying to top universities. You may get 5 offers or 5 rejections. How big a risk you intend taking only you can decide. You need to be aware of the risk because 5 rejections happens every year. All the universities you are looking at are competitive for Economics. It is a risk only you can decide upon.
I’m willing to take a risk as long as there’s a highly probable chance of 2 offers . Based on that how would you advise I pick unis?
Say for instance 2 super competitive 2 a bit competitive one safe ?
That sounds a good plan. The problem is none of the universities you are looking at are safe. All are competitive for Economics. You would have a chance of getting into Bath, Warwick and Durham but they arent guaranteed.
Original post by Peach_rose34
I’m willing to take a risk as long as there’s a highly probable chance of 2 offers . Based on that how would you advise I pick unis?
Say for instance 2 super competitive 2 a bit competitive one safe ?

As a putative economist, what would rational choice theory lead you to do? 😆

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