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The University of Oxford offers courses that are academically very demanding and aims to select those students who would best be able to benefit from the challenges they make. Consequently, other things being equal, applicants who are re-taking their GCSEs or A-levels will on average have a lower chance of being offered a place. Nevertheless, we recognise that students sometimes fail to achieve their potential on first attempt at school because of circumstances beyond their control. Examples would include disruption caused by change of school or system, severe discontinuity of teachers, bereavement and one-off debilitating illness. We take pains to treat each application individually and would always take such mitigating circumstances into account, if it is brought to our attention: a clear note should be made of these circumstances in the personal statement and school reference.