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What grades do I need?

(Standard Conditional Offers) & Subject Choice

Below we discuss the minimum (predicted) grades you will need to make a competitive application to our Computer Science undergraduate degrees. We also discuss subject choice. Further information about what our tutors look for in candidates is given on a separate page.

All students must have achieved, or be on track to achieve, one of the sets of qualifications outline below.



A-levels, IB & Scottish Highers

We will normally make an offer of A*AA on three A-levels including at least an A in Maths:

  • For Computer Science, and Computer Science & Philosophy students, the A* must be in Maths, Further Maths, or Computing/Computer Science. Those taking Further Maths A-level or AS-level are required to achieve at least a Grade A.
  • For Maths & Computer Science students: If Further Mathematics is taken, then including A*A between Mathematics and Further Mathematics; otherwise including A* in Mathematics. Those taking Further Maths AS-level are required to achieve at least a Grade A.

For those doing Advanced Highers or the IB, we will normally make offers as follows:

  • Students with Scottish qualifications would usually be expected to have AAAAB or AAAAA in their Scottish Highers. Supplemented by Advanced Highers: AA/AAB, which should include Mathematics to Advanced Higher (A grade).
  • IB: 39 points, including core points. Higher Level grades of 7 6 6 with the 7 in Maths. We will accept candidates who are taking either of the new IB Mathematics courses (HL Mathematics: applications and interpretation or HL Mathematics: analysis and approaches), without preference between the two courses.

Overseas Qualifications

We accept applicants from around the world, with a wide range of educational backgrounds. There is a page on the University admissions site that gives a good guide to the grades that we consider comparable to A*AA A-levels. So with a little consultation, any tutor will be able to work out what would be a fair set of conditions for you. But as a general rule we’re looking for top-level grades in Maths, and also preferably science subjects. In addition, all non-native English-speaking applicants must satisfy the University's English Language requirements.

The following are standard conditional offers for applicants studying for some of the overseas qualifications that we most often see, for courses in Computer Science, Mathematics & Computer Science, and Computer Science & Philosophy.

US qualifications

Candidates should achieve the following:

  • The redesigned SAT reasoning test with a total score of 1,470 (out of 1,600), which should include a score of at least 770 in Mathematics. We do not require the optional essay in the redesigned SAT.
  • OR
  • The ACT with a score of at least 32 out of 36.

AND

  • (Preferred) Advanced Placement Tests with Grade 5 in Calculus BC and two out of Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Computer Science Principles, Physics, and Statistics.
  • OR
  • SAT Subject Tests with at least 750 in Mathematics Level 2, and at least 700 in two other mathematics or science subjects. NOTE: 2021 is the last admissions cycle in which the Sat Subject Tests will be accepted.*
  • OR
  • A combination of AP Tests at grade 5 and SAT Subject Tests with scores of at least 700, in three different mathematics or science subjects. This must include grade 5 in AP Calculus BC or a score of at least 750 in the SAT Mathematics Level 2 Subject Test.

* Any further updates will be posted here (see 'USA') .

Please note that Calculus AB and Calculus BC cannot be counted as two separate subjects for the purposes of meeting your offer, whether taken as separate tests or by receiving the AB sub-score when taking Calculus BC. Similarly, candidates taking either AP Physics C course cannot count AP Physics 1 as a separate subject for the purposes of meeting an offer.

We don't make offers based on a GPA score, but if you wish to include this additional information, please ask your referee to mention it in the reference.

Candidates are asked to enter all their scores for any tests taken when they complete their UCAS application, showing the relevant dates for each, rather than just the `superscore' of best results for the different sections of any test taken on multiple occasions. Candidates are also asked to include any pending test scores on the UCAS application: that is, details of any test they intend to take up until the end of Senior Year. This gives tutors a complete picture of the candidate's academic record, including studies which are still in progress.

Further information for applicants from the United States can be found in An American student's guide to undergraduate study at Oxford.

Irish Leaving Certificate

(From 2017) Candidates should achieve grades of H1 H1 H2 H2 H2 H2, including H1 in Mathematics, and in Applied Mathematics if taken or else a science subject.

Polish Matura

Candidates should achieve an overall average of 80% with scores in the ninth (top) stanine in Basic and Higher-Level Mathematics, and scores in the eighth stanine or above in two other subjects (e.g. Computer Science) at extended level.

Romanian Diploma De Bacalaureat

Candidates should achieve an overall of at least 9.0 with at least 9.5 in Mathematics.

Bulgarian Diploma Za Sredno Obrazovanie

Candidates should achieve an overall score of at least 5.75 with 6 in end-of-year exams in Mathematics, and at least 5.9 in the State Matriculation Exam in Mathematics.

Indian qualifications

Candidates should achieve the Year XII qualification, studied with either the CBSE (All-India SSC) or CISCE (ISC) examination boards, with grades as follows:

  • CBSE: CGPA of 9.6 (A1 A1 A1 A2 A2), with A1 in Mathematics.
  • CISCE: Overall grade of at least 90%, with grades of at least 95% in three subjects (including Mathematics) and 85% in the other two subjects.

For the CBSE board, we are aware that students will not know their grades at the point when they are applying. As an indication, therefore, we will be looking for marks of 91 or above for A1 and 81 to 90 for A2.

We do not require the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) entrance examinations as a pre-condition for entry.

Information for students whose education has been impacted due to COVID-19

You can find information for students whose education has been impacted due to COVID-19 here

Vocational Qualifications: eg BTEC National Diploma

Competition for places at Oxford University is extremely strong, and all courses are academic in nature. Although Computer Science may suggest a more vocational style of learning, the courses are strongly academic in their focus. Academic qualifications such as A-levels, the International Baccalaureate or any other academic equivalent are strongly recommended as the best preparation for any course of study at Oxford. However, we also recognise the achievements of students who hold vocational, professional or other qualifications, and these will be taken into account during the admissions procedure.

For students taking the BTEC National Extended Diploma in IT, a conditional offer will normally be: DDD in the Extended Diploma and A* in A Level in Maths.

Students taking BTEC National Extended Diplomas in science or engineering, or the new Tech-level/Technical Level qualifications will also be considered, but the above requirements for A-level Maths still stand.

English Language Requirements

All non-native English-speaking applicants must satisfy the University's English Language requirements.

Subject Choice at School

Maths, Further Maths & Science

As explained in our open day talks, Computing is a mathematical subject, especially in the way we approach it at Oxford. So you will need to know some mathematics, and more importantly, to have developed your ability in mathematical thinking.

For A-level candidates we require Maths to A2 (or equivalent), and we strongly recommend Further Maths to A2. We find that students who have taken Further Maths have spent more time developing their Maths skills and tend to do better in the MAT and interview parts of the application process. If your school offers Further Maths A-Level we expect you to have taken it. From 2018-20, 97% of A-level students who were offered places for Computer Science courses at the University of Oxford (including joint courses) took Further Maths to A-level. However, we understand that not all schools offer Further Maths, and so we do consider applications from people with a single Maths A-level, with or without Further Maths to AS-level. (If you are based in England, and your school doesn't offer Further Maths please see: the Advanced Support Programme website.) If candidates are studying Further Maths then we will expect them to do well. We consider Maths and Further Maths as two separate A-levels.

For those who are not taking Further Mathematics to full A level, there are resources to help with the transition from school to university Mathematics. If Further Maths was not offered by your school, and/or you have self-studied it, please ask your referee to indicate this in your UCAS reference.

We also recommend a science subject such as Physics.

Computer Studies or Information Technology

You don’t need to have studied Computing at school to have a realistic chance of success in applying to Oxford. Though these subjects are relevant, the way Computer Science is studied at University level is quite different from the way it is studied at school.

Also relevant are the A-level Maths modules in Discrete Maths and Decision Maths; but, the way we study these topics at University level goes far beyond what you will have done at school, so it's no particular advantage to have studied these modules. On the other hand, if the sort of questions raised by these topics excite your interest, then perhaps Computer Science is the subject for you.

ICT isn’t particularly relevant to us, so won’t be considered a particularly positive point on your application, but it isn’t “blacklisted”.

Philosophy

Computer Science and Philosophy can be studied at Oxford without requiring any previous qualifications in either subject. Students who like the idea of doing Philosophy with a broadly scientific focus can apply, even if they have never previously studied either discipline.

Recent experience of writing essays, though by no means essential, would be helpful. (See guidance on Maths and Further Maths & Science above.) Further information is available on the Faculty of Philosophy admissions webpages.

A-levels Taken Early and Resits

Please be aware that all courses at Oxford are academically rigorous. Tutors need to be convinced of your ability to manage an intense workload, so that you will be able to cope with the demands of studying here. If any student feels that studying three A-levels (or equivalent qualifications) at the same time would be too much work for them, we would encourage them to consider whether an Oxford degree is really the best choice.

We are quite used to seeing students who have, for example, taken A-level Maths in Year 12 and are doing the whole of Further Maths in Year 13. We know that some universities don’t let you carry it forward, or alter the standard offer in such circumstances, but as far as we’re concerned, if you’ve achieved the grade you should get the credit. To us it’s another concrete indicator of your ability that we can use to assess your capacity to do well on the course. However, please bear in mind that we are, of course, in favour of stretching students, but not at the expense of levels of achievement. We would discourage schools and colleges from entering their students into early exams unless they are very confident that top grades will be met. A grade B in an AS-level taken in Year 11 is still a B in our eyes; it is not equivalent to an A in the same qualification taken in Year 12. If you have taken an unusually high number of A-levels, some of which are notably more relevant to Computer Science than others, it may be that the conditional offer includes additional clauses specifying which of your A-levels can be used towards the A*AA. If you are a mature student, please note that it’s essential that you have also undertaken formal academic qualifications within the three years before you apply. For students that have been affected by COVID-19, you may find this FAQ link useful.

Of course we would prefer not to see resits, but we do understand even the best candidates can have a bad day. If an applicant has had a bad result in one paper which has caused a dropped grade, it's helpful if the marks breakdown is included in the application. This will allow us to see the level the student has generally been achieving, and put the bad day into context. If there are contextual reasons/extenuating circumstances surrounding a dropped grade(s) please make sure the referee includes these in their reference. It can help us tell which grades are a true reflection of your ability, and how much weight to give to predicted grades where they are at odds with your achieved ones.

Note regarding A-level, AS-level and GCSE grades awarded in 2020:Any students who are unhappy with the grades they have been awarded in summer 2020 and who choose to take examinations in November 2020, or in June 2021, are welcome to apply to us. Please follow the steps outlined in our guide for applicants and note our application deadline of 15 October. This deadline is earlier than most other universities. We will not consider the results of the exams you take in autumn or June 2021 as retakes, so your application will not be disadvantaged by summer 2020 results when admissions decisions are made.

GCSEs

We do look at GCSE results when accessing candidates, and we would of course prefer to see a good set of results, especially amongst Maths and Science subjects, but there are no fixed requirements. A good smattering of 8/9/A*s is helpful evidence in showing your abilities, but it's certainly not the last word. Successful Computer Science applicants average about eight/nine grades 8/9/A*s but some have fewer: a few even have no 8/9/A*s (although such candidates will need to persuade us that they're better than their results suggest). We are trying to find out if you're likely to be an excellent Computer Scientist. We really aren't too concerned about how you got on in subjects that aren't relevant to this, such as sport or drama. Factors such as the MAT and the interviews are important parts of the application process. Good performance here can certainly outweigh weaker GCSE scores. If there is contextual information/extenuating circumstances around your lower GCSE scores please do make sure your referee mentions this in the reference. It can help us judge how much weight to give these grades, especially where your grades are notably different to your projected A-level/IB (or equivalent) grades.

STEP Papers and EPQs

We are looking for students with a genuine interest in their chosen subject. Extended Projects (EPQs) don’t form part of our standard offers, but we’ll certainly notice that you’ve chosen to explore your interests in an area that’s relevant to the degree you're applying for.

STEP papers don’t form part of our standard conditional offers either. But we are looking for students who have developed their mathematical thinking. Some of our successful students tell us they found STEP a useful way of doing this.

Entering Qualifications on the UCAS Form

You must enter, on your UCAS form, all your qualifications from secondary education onwards – whether you have the result (even any that were ungraded) or you’re still awaiting exams and results. Without this your application is considered incomplete. UCAS provides guidance here.