The Student Room Group

Insufficient GCSE grades for Cambridge

I want to apply for economics at Cambridge but I achieved three 9s (biology, physics, English Lang), five 8s (maths, english lit, chemistry, drama, history) and three 7s (compsci, french, dte).

As many people in my school got all 9s, I am worried my GCSE grades are insufficient if I wish to study economics at Cambridge - especially since I got an 8 in maths, as the course is very maths focused.

However, for A levels I have actually studied and put more effort in, so I will be able to achieve at least A*A*A*A in my predicted grades (Maths, Further Maths, Economics, the A being in History, but could be A* depending on whether my teacher optimistically predicts). I have chosen to apply for Cambridge as opposed to Oxford for the reason that they place less emphasis upon GCSEs. Do I have a shot at getting in?
Reply 1
Yes, although contextually your GCSEs may look a bit weaker, provided the rest of your application is Cambridge quality it shouldn't stop you from making a competitive application. Just focus on getting the A* predicted grades, getting a good personal statement and doing well in your entrance exams if you have any.
Reply 2
Original post by Melody0304
I want to apply for economics at Cambridge but I achieved three 9s (biology, physics, English Lang), five 8s (maths, english lit, chemistry, drama, history) and three 7s (compsci, french, dte).
As many people in my school got all 9s, I am worried my GCSE grades are insufficient if I wish to study economics at Cambridge - especially since I got an 8 in maths, as the course is very maths focused.
However, for A levels I have actually studied and put more effort in, so I will be able to achieve at least A*A*A*A in my predicted grades (Maths, Further Maths, Economics, the A being in History, but could be A* depending on whether my teacher optimistically predicts). I have chosen to apply for Cambridge as opposed to Oxford for the reason that they place less emphasis upon GCSEs. Do I have a shot at getting in?

Those grades will not reduce your chances of getting in. They are absolutely fine, even for Cambridge. Focus on everything else.
Original post by Melody0304
I want to apply for economics at Cambridge but I achieved three 9s (biology, physics, English Lang), five 8s (maths, english lit, chemistry, drama, history) and three 7s (compsci, french, dte).
As many people in my school got all 9s, I am worried my GCSE grades are insufficient if I wish to study economics at Cambridge - especially since I got an 8 in maths, as the course is very maths focused.
However, for A levels I have actually studied and put more effort in, so I will be able to achieve at least A*A*A*A in my predicted grades (Maths, Further Maths, Economics, the A being in History, but could be A* depending on whether my teacher optimistically predicts). I have chosen to apply for Cambridge as opposed to Oxford for the reason that they place less emphasis upon GCSEs. Do I have a shot at getting in?

Above responses ^. But I'm also curious, what do you mean by 'many'? Only 1,160 students out of 643,095 students got all 9s in GCSE 2023.
Reply 4
Yes, although contextually your GCSEs may look a bit weaker, provided the rest of your application is Cambridge quality it shouldn't stop you from making a competitive application. Just focus on getting the A* predicted grades, getting a good personal statement and doing well in your entrance exams if you have any.

Okay thank you, that was very relieving to hear. When would you recommend beginning entrance exam prep? I will need to sit the TMUA in around October I believe. Also, aside from wider reading and essay competitions, what other things would you recommend to include in the personal statement?
Reply 5
Original post by studyfor9s
Above responses ^. But I'm also curious, what do you mean by 'many'? Only 1,160 students out of 643,095 students got all 9s in GCSE 2023.

There were around 100 or so people in my year group last year, and I know of around 8 people who got all 9s in their GCSEs- I'm pretty sure there's more, but I'm not close enough with them to know their grades. Many others got something similar, maybe a few 8s and 7s, but I'm pretty sure my GCSEs are on the lower end of the spectrum for my year group which is why i was concerned as many people are applying for oxbridge too
Jesus Christ idk what school you go to but in my books the grades you got at GCSE are not really a barrier for Oxbridge if you get your promised a level results - do you have any extracurriculars or other qualifications that can make you stand out even more? Even if you don't as someone above said just write a good personal statement and you have a good a chance as any to get in. Good luck!
Reply 7
Generally speaking:
Cambridge want slightly higher grades at A Level than Oxford.
Cambridge don't majorly care about GCSE results, Oxford care more about them.
Reply 8
Original post by Maximum-tragedy
Jesus Christ idk what school you go to but in my books the grades you got at GCSE are not really a barrier for Oxbridge if you get your promised a level results - do you have any extracurriculars or other qualifications that can make you stand out even more? Even if you don't as someone above said just write a good personal statement and you have a good a chance as any to get in. Good luck!

I think I'm actually lacking terms of extracurriculars/qualifications- I don't play any instruments to a high standard, I've done pretty mediocre on UKMT challenges, highest I achieved being silver, and I did a few compsci challenges but they're completely irrelevant to econ. I've done Bronze Dofe but I don't think that's worth mentioning, and I've not done much relevant WEX. Really have to step it up this summer icl
Original post by Melody0304
I think I'm actually lacking terms of extracurriculars/qualifications- I don't play any instruments to a high standard, I've done pretty mediocre on UKMT challenges, highest I achieved being silver, and I did a few compsci challenges but they're completely irrelevant to econ. I've done Bronze Dofe but I don't think that's worth mentioning, and I've not done much relevant WEX. Really have to step it up this summer icl


Yeah maybe try to get some extra qualifications in a language maybe? I do Chinese HSKs and those are pretty easy for the first few levels
Reply 10
Original post by Maximum-tragedy
Yeah maybe try to get some extra qualifications in a language maybe? I do Chinese HSKs and those are pretty easy for the first few levels

Respectfully, I don't think that will be much help to OP at all. Top unis are not much interested in extracurriculars. Supercurriculars are far, far more important.

As for OP's post, focus on the supercurriculars. Even if you have a grade bajillion on the flute and had obsidian DofE the Cambridge Econ admissions tutor isn't going to give much of a hoot unfortunately. Its ok as a bit at the bottom to show you are human I suppose, but thats far from the priority on a personal statement.

I personally don't know much in the way of Econ supercurriculars, but firstly try super hard to get an in-person wex. If that's not possible get a vwex on spingpod. There are also some good MOOCs on Edx if you can find something useful. If all else fails, read some famous econ/finance books. Cambridge has a document which lists all sorts of suggested supercurricular activities for each subject, I'm sure there will be some books listed there. If not, just go to a library, find the economics section, and pick up the first 2 or 3 books that catch your eye. Good luck over summer. Stay busy.

Quick Reply