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What’s better – five average A-level grades or three good ones?

Picking your A-levels can be difficult. But do aim for three good grades or five average ones? Here's how trying to be flash can end in disaster...

The quick answer is nearly always the three good ones. Let’s say you’ve applied to do mechanical engineering at a university which is very competitive. It would normally make you an offer based on three A-level grades, such as AAB.

If you got 5 Cs at A-level you may well be rejected because you have not met the conditions of your offer – meaning it’s much better to get higher grades in fewer subjects.

Some courses do make offers using the UCAS tariff, where you can meet the entry requirements on a points basis spread across your qualifications, but most selective universities don’t tend to use it.

However, for the most competitive courses at top universities (such as those in the Russell Group or 1994 Group), some students will have five A-levels under their belt, all at high grades. It may be that you fit into this profile – speak to your teachers to consider your choices.

On the other hand, they may think you’ll be better off consolidating your options down to three A-levels and working hard to get the grades you actually need.
 

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