I have just received my GCSE results today. My dream is to apply to Oxford to study Physics in the year commencing 2026. This is what I have wanted for years, but until now I have had no actual exams to base my plans on. Now that I have my GCSE results, I was hoping to be able to start making a prediction about my odds of getting into Oxford, and whether it is actually feasible. I have applied to study Physics, Maths, Further Maths and Computer Science at Sixth Form, and I understand that the minimum A-Level entry requirements for Physics at Oxford are "A*AA to include Mathematics and Physics. The A* must be in Mathematics, Physics or Further Mathematics."

I was reading the Oxford Physics "Admissions Report" from 2023, and came across the "R-score", described as "the principal determinant for shortlisting". The formula for calculating this before interviews is:

R-score pre-interview = PAT mark + 10 x cGCSE

and after the interviews is:

Post-Interview R-score = (PAT mark out of 100) + 10 x cGCSE + 2 x (Interviews out of 100).

I have looked into what "cGCSE" ('Contextualised GCSE') refers to, and it appears to be my GCSE grades relative to other people in my year group at school? Oxford themself describe it as "the number of standard deviations the applicant is away from their ‘expected’ number of A*/9/8 grades and was typically be in the range −3 to +3, expressed to 2 decimal places".

Essentially, I understand what a cGCSE score represents, but I want to know actually how to calculate it myself, so I can start making predictions. Oxford's explanation gives me a decent crack at being able to work it out, except I don't know exactly what they mean by "expected" number of 9s/8s. Does each school have an 'expected 9/8 value'? If so, how do I find out what my school's is?

I apologise for what has turned into quite a long rant, this is just something I am quite invested in, so I would really appreciate it if anyone could help me out here.

I was reading the Oxford Physics "Admissions Report" from 2023, and came across the "R-score", described as "the principal determinant for shortlisting". The formula for calculating this before interviews is:

R-score pre-interview = PAT mark + 10 x cGCSE

and after the interviews is:

Post-Interview R-score = (PAT mark out of 100) + 10 x cGCSE + 2 x (Interviews out of 100).

I have looked into what "cGCSE" ('Contextualised GCSE') refers to, and it appears to be my GCSE grades relative to other people in my year group at school? Oxford themself describe it as "the number of standard deviations the applicant is away from their ‘expected’ number of A*/9/8 grades and was typically be in the range −3 to +3, expressed to 2 decimal places".

Essentially, I understand what a cGCSE score represents, but I want to know actually how to calculate it myself, so I can start making predictions. Oxford's explanation gives me a decent crack at being able to work it out, except I don't know exactly what they mean by "expected" number of 9s/8s. Does each school have an 'expected 9/8 value'? If so, how do I find out what my school's is?

I apologise for what has turned into quite a long rant, this is just something I am quite invested in, so I would really appreciate it if anyone could help me out here.

You are over-thinking things. The Oxford admissions process is not a calculation. Human tutors make judgments about candidates. Although they use numerical ratings as part of the process, they do not strictly apply algorithms or run gambling books.

You should believe what Oxford says on its website about GCSEs and disregard stuff which you read elsewhere or chit chat which you hear at school.

Oxford says this -

GCSEs

GCSEs will be taken into account when we consider your application but they are just one aspect that we look at. GCSE results will be considered alongside your personal statement, academic reference, predicted grades and performance in any written work or written test required for your course.If you are shortlisted, your performance in interviews will also be taken into account. Higher grades at GCSE can help to make your application more competitive, and successful applicants typically have a high proportion of 7,8 and 9 grades. However, we do look at GCSE grades in context.

https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses/admission-requirements/uk-qualifications

You should believe what Oxford says on its website about GCSEs and disregard stuff which you read elsewhere or chit chat which you hear at school.

Oxford says this -

GCSEs

GCSEs will be taken into account when we consider your application but they are just one aspect that we look at. GCSE results will be considered alongside your personal statement, academic reference, predicted grades and performance in any written work or written test required for your course.If you are shortlisted, your performance in interviews will also be taken into account. Higher grades at GCSE can help to make your application more competitive, and successful applicants typically have a high proportion of 7,8 and 9 grades. However, we do look at GCSE grades in context.

https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses/admission-requirements/uk-qualifications

Original post by Stiffy Byng

You are over-thinking things. The Oxford admissions process is not a calculation. Human tutors make judgments about candidates. Although they use numerical ratings as part of the process, they do not strictly apply algorithms or run gambling books.

You should believe what Oxford says on its website about GCSEs and disregard stuff which you read elsewhere or chit chat which you hear at school.

Oxford says this -

GCSEs

GCSEs will be taken into account when we consider your application but they are just one aspect that we look at. GCSE results will be considered alongside your personal statement, academic reference, predicted grades and performance in any written work or written test required for your course.If you are shortlisted, your performance in interviews will also be taken into account. Higher grades at GCSE can help to make your application more competitive, and successful applicants typically have a high proportion of 7,8 and 9 grades. However, we do look at GCSE grades in context.

https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses/admission-requirements/uk-qualifications

You should believe what Oxford says on its website about GCSEs and disregard stuff which you read elsewhere or chit chat which you hear at school.

Oxford says this -

GCSEs

GCSEs will be taken into account when we consider your application but they are just one aspect that we look at. GCSE results will be considered alongside your personal statement, academic reference, predicted grades and performance in any written work or written test required for your course.If you are shortlisted, your performance in interviews will also be taken into account. Higher grades at GCSE can help to make your application more competitive, and successful applicants typically have a high proportion of 7,8 and 9 grades. However, we do look at GCSE grades in context.

https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses/admission-requirements/uk-qualifications

Yes, although, as I said above, Oxford say themself that the "principal determinant for shortlisting" is one's R-score, which is calculated with the equation "R-score pre-interview = PAT mark + 10 x cGCSE". Thus, while my PAT score would be the biggest part of that, my GCSEs really do come into it. I have done some rough estimates and calculations, and I believe my cGCSE value is in the ballpark of 3.10. Last year, they automatically shortlisted for interview anyone with R-scores equal to or higher than 75%. My cGCSE value, multiplied by 10 is 31. If I subtract that from 75, I get 44. Therefore, were I applying last year with my current GCSEs, I would only need to score 44% on my PAT to automatically get an interview, while, if I had no GCSEs, I would have to score 75%.

Original post by TobyAS

Yes, although, as I said above, Oxford say themself that the "principal determinant for shortlisting" is one's R-score, which is calculated with the equation "R-score pre-interview = PAT mark + 10 x cGCSE". Thus, while my PAT score would be the biggest part of that, my GCSEs really do come into it. I have done some rough estimates and calculations, and I believe my cGCSE value is in the ballpark of 3.10. Last year, they automatically shortlisted for interview anyone with R-scores equal to or higher than 75%. My cGCSE value, multiplied by 10 is 31. If I subtract that from 75, I get 44. Therefore, were I applying last year with my current GCSEs, I would only need to score 44% on my PAT to automatically get an interview, while, if I had no GCSEs, I would have to score 75%.

If you think that this sort of thing is going to help you get into Oxford, I can only wish you luck.

If you had no GCSEs, you could score eleventy bazillion percent in the PAT and you still wouldn't get in, my dear Doctor.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsLcwZ9LKx4

(edited 2 months ago)

I suspect Oxford would not disclose what the expected number is for each school, (if they drill down to that level), because it's commercially sensitive.

But if you've got a decent profile and don't apply you'll have zero chance.

But if you've got a decent profile and don't apply you'll have zero chance.

My understanding is that Oxford calculate a person's cGCSE using a three-step process. In the first step, they rank schools based on the fraction of students that get five or more 9-7 grades (think of this as the x-axis). In the second step, they look at all applicants to Oxford (across all subjects) to calculate the ‘expected’ number of 9-8 grades that an ‘average’ applicant from a school with a particular GCSE performance score should achieve (think of this as the y-axis). In the final step, the number of 9-8 grades achieved by each applicant is compared to their ‘expected’ number to produce their cGCSE score. So, for example, say you went to an average state comp which had 10% of students with five or more 9-7 grades (I've made the 10% up btw). And that applicants to Oxford at schools with that profile had, on average, seven 9-8 grades. Then if you got more than (less than) seven 9-8 grades, your cGCSE score would be positive (negative). If positive, then your score would be 1 if you were one standard deviation higher than average (so the top 15% of the distribution), and 2 if you were two standard deviations higher than the average (so the top 2.5% of the distribution) and so on.

(edited 1 week ago)

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