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Applying for a course with higher entry requirements than predicted?

You might want to aim high with your university application and apply for a course above your predicted grades. But is it risky?

If you want to apply for a university course with higher entry requirements than you're predicted, there's a chance you may not get an offer – but it could still be worth the attempt if your other choices are more balanced.

Below, we'll take a look at how you could approach applying for courses above your predicted grades, as well how flexible entry requirements are – and what might happen if you fall short on results day. 

How many courses with higher grades should you apply for?

It can be a good idea to apply for courses with a range of entry requirements – as well as applying for a few degrees that match your predicted grades, you could have options slightly higher and lower than what you're expecting. This way, you'll be prepared for any outcome on results day. 

If you don't fancy having a back-up choice with slightly lower grades, you could choose three courses where the entry requirements are an exact (or close enough) match for your predicted grades, while still having two ambitious options – this means you'll be able to aim high, but with reasonable options to fall back on. 

How flexible are the entry requirements?

You could get an indication of how flexible a course's entry requirements are by researching the average grades that current students achieved. To find this information, search any course page on The Uni Guide and scroll down to the 'who studies this subject and how do they get on?' section.

Even though entry grades may vary from year-to-year, taking a look at what's been accepted by universities in the past can give you an idea of which courses you could apply for. 

Watch now: In this video from our sister site The Student Room, uni admissions experts answered members' questions about applying to uni, including whether you should apply if the entry requirements are higher than your predicted grades.

What else can influence your application? 

Some universities may use background information – things like where you grew up and where you went to school, or if you’ve been on any outreach programmes – to identify students with the highest potential to succeed, rather than focusing exclusively on exam results.

This context may change the way a university looks at your application. For example, they could think an overachieving student in a lower-performing school may have higher potential than an underachieving student in a higher-performing school. 

If you want to find out more about contextual admissions policies, this article explains what information gets taken into account and how it could affect your application.

What would your university offer look like? 

If you get an offer from a university, it’ll typically be either conditional or unconditional.

If you’re applying for a course with slightly higher entry requirements than your predicted grades, you’ll probably receive a conditional offer – this means a university will set you entry requirements and if you meet them you will be given a place on the course.

The terms they set will typically be the same or similar to the general entry requirements for the course. So if you’ve been offered ABB, you’ll have a place guaranteed if you can meet those grades – even if you’ve only been predicted BBB.

Unconditional offers are usually given to students who have already achieved the required grades, like someone applying after a gap year

Confused about predicted grades?

Colleges believe you are capable of achieving the predicted grades they set – and they could even be slightly optimistic to try and get the best out of you. But what if you want to do even better?

Unfortunately, your predicted grades are unlikely to change as they're usually based on your GCSEs and first year of A-levels.

What happens if you get lower than your predicted grades?

It's not ideal if your grades don't meet the entry requirements for your first and insurance choices, but you'll still have some options.

If you still want to go to university, you can find an alternative course through Clearing – this article explains what Clearing is, how it works and who can use it

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