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GCSE English grade needed for Oxbridge application

(24 Posts)
AnotherPoster Fri 11-Jan-13 10:24:08

Please could anyone advise me - and I do appreciate that circumstances vary - but what is the minimum GCSE English requirement needed for an Oxbridge application to stand a decent chance of being considered?

My son is currently in Year 10 and has set his sights on Oxford (or maybe Cambridge - we haven't got as far as looking into which). He is taking 12 GCSEs and he is expected to get either A or A* in all of them, except German (expected to get either B or A). My worry is English. So far, he is on course for an A, but ds is adamant he cannot get an A*. I suppose this sounds a stupid question for most parents, and under any other circumstances, I would be thrilled my son was heading for an A in English (languages are his weakest area) but with competition being what it is these days, I want to know if an A in a core subject such as English is enough for him to base an Oxbridge application on.

So, any parents of Oxbridge students, teachers experienced in Oxbridge applications, or recent Oxbridge graduates, can you advise: would an A in English (assuming the other GCSEs were a spread of As and A*s, and also assuming he got A* in his chosen degree subject) be good enough?

I do realise most of it comes down to A level grades/predictions, but we need to know where we stand with GCSEs as well.

LemonDrizzled Fri 11-Jan-13 10:29:33

My DD got 10A* and an A in English Lit (which strangely she was very good at!) She then did IB 44/45 and is now at Oxford. We were told at least six A* was enough to tick the GCSE box.

AnotherPoster Fri 11-Jan-13 10:34:25

Thank you LemonDrizzled, that info about needing at least 6 A*s is just the sort of thing we need to know now. (And also, phew! should be a fairly easy goal for ds - he needs some cheering up after we argued about English).

Yellowtip Fri 11-Jan-13 10:48:57

Mine all did happen to have that A* but I can't see it as an issue at all.

DoodlesNoodles Fri 11-Jan-13 13:17:36


You need to look at the actual admissions requirements for the type of courses your DS may be interested in. For example, if he is interested in maths/computer science/science type subjects then a A grade in English may not make a jot of difference. If he is interested in medicine then any 'A' grades may effect his chances as they look at the ratio of A*s to A's at GCSE. There are lots of misconceptions about entry requirements for Universities.

The admissions requirements can change year by year so it is always best to go straight to horses mouth.
You can get lots of mostly reliable information from the Student Room Oxford Applicants 2013 here

You could also give the admissions department a quick call, i am sure they wouldn't mind

My DS looked at maths/computer science and they were extremely clear that what mattered was being good at maths They were not interested in much else.

Oxford produces yearly admission stats ( here ) but I don't think they include GCSE's

I absolutely love Oxford. It is a beautiful city. smile

I hope everything goes well for your DS.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 11-Jan-13 18:27:21

I would imagine he would be fine, but seriously - ring the admissions office. They will know exactly what to say.

Loads of people with Bs at GCSE (and doing fewer than 12 subjects, too) get in every year.

The absolute minimum requirement for any university is usually an A-C pass in English.

AnotherPoster Fri 11-Jan-13 20:02:54

Thanks everyone. smile

He actually hasn't even chosen his A levels yet, let alone has an idea of what he wants to do for his degree (though I doubt it will be anything to do with languages!) His most likely A levels will be Maths, Chemistry, Geography and Physics but I am second guessing him here. I just wanted to be sure that A* wasn't necessary in all core subjects so I can get off his back about his English. grin

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 11-Jan-13 20:12:45

They always say they only really look at GCSEs when they're tossing up between two otherwise evenly-matched candidates.

Yellowtip Fri 11-Jan-13 20:32:50

Yes, get off his back smile It won't be a deal.

AnotherPoster Fri 11-Jan-13 20:51:40

Thanks! Ds will be eternally grateful that you told me to get off his back! And I am eternally grateful not to have to nag him about it. I just wanted to be sure it wasn't going to retrospectively become an issue at a point when it was too late to do anything about it.

I didn't realise when I posted earlier that today was the day everyone finds out about their Oxbridge (or just Oxford?) applications. I wish anyone in the process of applying good luck.

Yellowtip Fri 11-Jan-13 20:58:00

Oxford today. Cambridge made offers last week.

LineRunner Fri 11-Jan-13 21:03:55

Allegedly it should also matter what type of school your DC attends ... although I think we are all a bit suspicious of this in practice.

i.e. a A or B from an urban comprehensive in a deprived area would be considered on its merits against an A* from a 'leading' independent or grammar school.

AnotherPoster Fri 11-Jan-13 22:43:46

I think we are a bit in the middle there LineRunner. Not an urban comp in a deprived area, but definitely not independent or grammar either. Decent comp with good local reputation. I think maybe 3 or 4 pupils got into Oxbridge last summer.

LineRunner Sat 12-Jan-13 16:00:06

Sounds similar to my DD's sixth-form college.

I would agree that talking to an admissions tutor, and a school tutor who takes an interest in oxbridge/university entry, is the best idea at present.

YetAnotherMum Sun 13-Jan-13 00:01:02

My son is currently at Oxford, studying Physics. He got a C in GCSE English, not sure if it was language or literature. I think he got a handful of A* and the rest As & Bs. He was at a good comprehensive school.
He got into his first choice of college.
I only know about Physics applications but he sat a test that anyone could enter, and then had an interview so I would imagine that they were way more important than GCSEs, along with AS results of course.

pastoralacademia Sun 13-Jan-13 16:03:43

YetAnotherMum Please what AS and A levels has he done?

Year11mum Sun 13-Jan-13 16:40:53

DD1 got into Christchurch with "only" an A for either English Lang or Eng lit. And that was to read English. They seemed far more interested in the A grade A level and Distinction in an Extension paper ( what happened to them?) which she attained two years later....

Yellowtip Sun 13-Jan-13 18:26:53

AEAs have gone Year11mum. The A* grade is supposed to supplant the AEAs.

Yellowtip Sun 13-Jan-13 18:28:25

She obviously applied post A level though Year11mum, so slightly different, or am I reading that wrong?

Year11mum Sun 13-Jan-13 19:26:39

Yes that's true, and I'm mixing up my children/subjects in any event blush, she got A*s in both English GCSE papers, it was an A in Spanish. It was Year11 DD (now year 12) ( should I change my name?), who missed by one measly mark an A* in her English Lit last year.

Actually Yellowtip, I remember loitering in the GCSE thread with you last summer - but if you posted the outcome for your DS(2?) I must have missed your post. Did he do OK? What's he hoping to do re universities?

And so as not to go too far off topic, DD2 ( without the English Lit A*) isn't planning on applying to Oxbridge but does want to read medicine and was assured by Imperial that her A would not be an issue. So please rest easy AnotherPoster

AnotherPoster Sun 13-Jan-13 21:46:58

I do feel somewhat reassured. I needed to read this thread again, having spent a lot of time today going through an assessment ds has to do tomorrow in German which will be his first assessment going towards his final grade. I had hoped he would do well in it and maybe get an A* which will help him to achieve an A rather than a B overall, but it has been hard going today! Adding that to his probable A in English, and...well, let's just say you do wonder how some children achieve straight A*s in all subjects! I am not saying my son deserves a place at Oxford, but he is definite Oxford material and I would at least like him to be able to apply and stand a reasonable chance, even if he doesn't get accepted in the end.

So it is reassuring to know that not every Oxbridge student got straight A*s at GCSE. Thanks to everyone.

Yellowtip Sun 13-Jan-13 21:56:53

AnotherPoster straight A*s are still for the minority I'd have said.

Year11mum thanks, DS3 did fine and better than predictions but I'm very cautious about DS2 and DS3 and their university choices. Both intend to read History. But I think they look at the older sibs and think if they've got in pretty much wherever they applied then it's all dead easy. DS3 took his GCSEs in Y10, so he's some way to go. DS2 is the one in Y12 with his first two ASs tomorrowsad

YetAnotherMum Tue 15-Jan-13 18:52:46

Pastorialacademia - sorry for the delay replying, he did maths, further maths, physics, chemistry, biology & general studies for both AS & A2. So very science based!

YetAnotherMum Tue 15-Jan-13 19:02:27

anotherposter I think you will find that if your son has set his heart on Oxbridge he will put in the effort required without too much input from you. In the nicest possible way I think you can afford to let him and the school get on with it and relax!

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