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If your dc has had an offer for Oxbridge, what grades did they get in a levels and g.c.s.e's?

(79 Posts)
DrMadelineMaxwell Mon 12-Feb-18 14:01:40

Just gauging the 'average' level of successful applicants. Dd is applying for Cambridge and I'm curious as to what makes a successful applicant.


Affie Mon 12-Feb-18 14:46:47

My son has an offer from Cambridge. He got 12 GCSES: 5A*, 5As and 2 Bs. He did one AS Level last summer and got a high B, which was disappointing so I was surprised he got an interview. He’s doing 3 A levels in May/June. The relevant GCSEs for his degree choice are the A*. He was doing an EPQ but dropped out. He had a great personal statement (wrote it himself, do not be tempted to write for her). I heard they interview 90% of applicants at Cambridge, not sure if that’s for all subjects. His offer is for A*AA, in a humanities degree. I think what got him his offer was his wide reading in his subject area, off curriculum, which he’s genuinely interested in and motivated to do; and his ability to talk in the interviews knowledgeably, articulately and enthusiastically about his subject and his reading. They wanted to hear about his extra reading, barely asked about the personal statement. Now he’s just got to get the grades. Good luck.

janinlondon Mon 12-Feb-18 15:05:23

You can find this info by course and successful applicants for Cambridge if you look up the FOI requests.

DrMadelineMaxwell Mon 12-Feb-18 16:36:47

Thank you, I didn't know that. (Or what FOI requests is... blush )

GeorgeTheHippo Mon 12-Feb-18 16:38:41

Eleven A stars (yes, seriously).

S0ph1a Mon 12-Feb-18 16:39:47

FOI is freedom of information

DD got 11 GCSE all A*
A* A* A at A level

Didn’t do AS

HingleMcCringleberry Mon 12-Feb-18 18:05:02

Not my dc, but me. At GCSE I had 4 A*, 5 A’s, and a B (in Drama, my school didn’t want me having free periods, so I had to take it! Quite fun actually!) A Levels (pre A* days) I got 3 A’s, and an A and a C at AS.

Needless to say attending opening days was an interesting experience, listening to all the people talking about their 10,11,12+ A* GCSEs! Feelings of mild inadequacy ensued.

goodbyestranger Mon 12-Feb-18 18:10:43

Yes the Cambridge statistics are available somewhere. I can't see that it's going to be especially useful to you to ask for the grades of random DC on MN. For a start, you ask about 'Oxbridge' DC and Oxford has until extremely recently based its filter on AS levels rather than GCSEs and Oxford has been basing its filters on GCSE A* and aptitude tests. Those very different approaches will to some extent determine the profile of a significant number of applicants. Cambridge's new approach in response to the reforms at KS5 will take time to bed down, so I'm not sure you can say very much just yet. In addition it's quite misleading to draw too many conclusions from public exam grades alone, but especially funneled through MN.

My DC have had offers from Oxford only, not Cambridge (none wanted to apply to Cambridge) and while several got eleven or twelve A* at GCSE, a couple didn't. None got a B grade or lower however, it's always been straight A*/A. A levels were a pretty similar range, from 6A* to 2A*2A. All of those doing aptitude tests scored highly in them (as in equivalent to first class ie over 70) so it's not clear what was down to grades and what to aptitude tests.

I honestly don't think you should worry too much about other people's grades and especially now that Cambridge is taking more of an Oxford approach smile

Good luck. Which subject?

DrMadelineMaxwell Mon 12-Feb-18 22:42:25

She's looking at history, which doesn't seem to be quite as oversubscribed as some of the other courses on offer at Cambridge. She really enjoyed the masterclass day this weekend and would love to apply.

The admissions people told them on the visit day that GCSE grades didn't really matter (she has a ruck of A*s, As and distinctions, but one B - in the one subject her school made them take a year early which is a bit of a sore subject for her) but the thought of DCs with straight A*s makes her worry a little that she isn't going to be able to make the grade.

We're Wales, so not many go from here. But we do still have AS levels, so she'll have solid grades to be able to base the decision of whether to apply or not on.

goodbyestranger Mon 12-Feb-18 22:49:13

Sounds fine then, go for it.

LoniceraJaponica Mon 12-Feb-18 22:53:52

One of DD's friends has an offer from Oxford for history, and has 1 A* a few As and a few Bs at GCSE. He is predicted 2 As and 1 A* at A level.

riverpen Mon 12-Feb-18 22:56:39

Current Oxford student here, although I went through a different system than GCSE/A-Levels and am not doing History. Don't worry about the GCSE grades, they really aren't that relevant. Even your A-Level results aren't crucial, as long as they are at a certain standard (and the admissions websites should have info on that). Far more important is personal statement, reference and interview, and there's no point worrying about those until nearer the time. If your DD is really worried, she could try to get in touch with the admissions people again to ask, but I honestly wouldn't bother.

Way more important is to focus on getting through A-Levels, and to do some (fun! don't make it a stressful thing) reading/watching documentaries about whichever History topics she particularly likes, because the best way to get an Oxbridge place is to just be really really interested in stuff to do with your course. There are also loads of blogs and YouTube channels by current Oxbridge students in which they talk about the application process, so she might find it helpful to have a look at those.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 13-Feb-18 13:09:56

I don't think the reference is terribly important, and the PS is mostly just to give interviewers some sense of what they might discuss. It's more useful to universities that don't interview.

ImagoLuna Tue 13-Feb-18 16:47:12

Lonicera, do you know what it was about your DD's friend who has an offer for History from Oxford, that meant their lower grade GCSE results didn't exclude them at the first hurdle? Was their school one that rarely sends people to Oxbridge?

DCs school has warned them that you need at least 8A*s minimum at GCSE to get through the first hurdle of the application process for Oxbridge.

But they also emphasised that the grades are taken in the context of the school cohort.

DCs are not at the top level of their very academic school and in many ways 'disadvantaged' coming from a 'single mum/DCs on bursaries' family - but because I've made many sacrifices to keep them at their school, we hear now that they'll look less academically credible in their cohort than if I'd sent them to the local state school.

No regrets, as they've been very happy at their school but I'm just wondering what other people have heard about grades taken in the context of type of school?

Aftershock15 Tue 13-Feb-18 17:49:45

On the FOI request someone had made about ds course all candidates had a contextualised GCSE score. I think this is just based on the school, but you could probably do a FOI to ask what they take into account. Some people got shortlisted with only 2A*. This is Oxford and a pretty competitive course, so the at least 8A* advice isn’t necessarily true.

It’s only 1 choice at out 5, so I think it’s better to apply than not. If you are an oxbridge just missing candidate it’s likely your other places will be keen to take you, so it’s not like you will be left offerless.

angollady Tue 13-Feb-18 19:48:27

So DD only had 8 GCSEs, none of which were A*. Of these one was a B and one a C. She is now at Cambridge.

So I cant imagine a single B would discount her at all.

OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 13-Feb-18 20:10:30

In terms of GCSES she sounds right on target smile Is she getting good advice from school in general? Good luck to her!

DrMadelineMaxwell Tue 13-Feb-18 21:17:18

I think so. Wales has their Seren network, specifically aimed at those who they'd like to encourage into the better Universities, inc Oxford/Cambridge. She was invited on the strength of her GCSE results, so I hope they are strong enough after all, and not just getting her hopes up. Lots of schools in the area all contribute to the same Seren hwb so the advice comes from different providors.
Several Seren events are for Oxbridge specifically, (there's a conference and a 2 night residential in Cambridge later in the year) and DD has applied for the Magdalen college outreach residential that's offered to encourage pupils from N Wales/Wirral to consider the uni.

Worryingly, none of the students taking her subjects in her sixth form college got A*s in those subjects last year. She's exceeded the scores for As in her mocks, and just needs to pull it out of the bag in the same vein for her AS levels I think, to be considered. It may go in her favour, too, if she's exceeding the college's average scores. Who knows though?

OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 13-Feb-18 21:22:12

Although you can never really know, she sounds very well placed, as well placed as anyone really. Unless she tries she will never know. It's only one place on the form. I think it's good to encourage them to find additional unis they could love.

DrMadelineMaxwell Tue 13-Feb-18 21:30:05

Of approx 350 kids, 4 went to Oxford last year and none to Cambridge.

goodbyestranger Tue 13-Feb-18 21:33:17

Madeline just relax, she sounds as though she's a perfectly realistic applicant but you getting super anxious will be something she feels and it certainly won't help.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 13-Feb-18 21:51:03

They do get data on whether the school has ever/recently/frequently got candidates into Oxbridge - it's another thing that potentially gives a bit of context.

DrMadelineMaxwell Tue 13-Feb-18 22:02:13

Not getting super anxious. Just reading around the topic a bit.... and certainly not mentioning any of it to her either.

OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 13-Feb-18 22:22:43

is there a local history group she could join?

LoniceraJaponica Tue 13-Feb-18 23:43:29

ImagoLuna the school gets very few students into Oxbridge. A few years ago 4 students managed to get in, and made the front page of the local paper. I understand that contextual offers can be made on the applicant's home postcode, and her friend lives in such a postcode.

He is bright, but was too lazy to work for his GCSEs. DD had a far better set of grades than he did, but she is definitely not Oxbridge shaped. She would crumble under the intensity of the courses and short but intense terms.

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