What to Do if You Don’t Meet LSE’s Entry Requirements

LSE is one of the most grade-focused universities in the UK, which is why it has a low acceptance rate of just 12%. If you’re worried that you don’t meet LSE’s requirements, there are some tips and tricks that could tip the scales in your favour. Let’s break them down.

LSE’s basic criteria consider your grades, subject choices, the quality of your application, your experience, and your English language proficiency. This article will explore each of these factors, helping you to identify which areas you might be lacking and to equip you with the know-how to combat this.


What is the criteria to get into LSE?

As one of the top Russell Group universities, LSE can afford to be choosey. Hence, it runs a competitive admissions process.

Meeting or exceeding LSE’s entry requirements doesn’t guarantee you an offer. You are considered in relation to the standard of applicants that year.

When it comes to entry requirements, LSE considers a variety of factors:

  • Grades: LSE’s prestigious university ranking means that it places a much higher value on grades than some other universities. On top of this, unlike Oxbridge, LSE never conducts interviews as part of its admissions process. This increases the importance of grades when applying to LSE. So, check whether your grades are up to par!
  • Subject choices: Some courses at LSE might deem it essential that you’ve studied X or Y subjects. In other cases, they might strongly recommend specific subjects. Beyond what is mandatory or advised, it’s important that your subject choices convey a genuine interest in your chosen degree, as well as applicable knowledge, and relevant capability.
  • Your application: Again, LSE does not conduct interviews, so your application is everything! Your personal statement should demonstrate your suitability for both LSE and your chosen degree. It should prove that you are motivated and impassioned by the course.
  • Your experience: Relevant work experience, extracurriculars, and extra/other qualifications might give you an edge over other students or make up for other areas in which you lack. Lived experience can help strengthen your application, though the weight this holds varies depending on the course.
  • English language ability: If you are an international student, LSE might ask you for a qualification proving your proficiency in English. The level of proficiency required depends on the course itself.

Feeling overwhelmed by all the factors you’ve got to consider? Or just generally daunted by the LSE admissions process? Here at The Profs, we have amazing admissions tutors, with a proven track record of tripling their students’ chances of success. They can help you with meeting the entry requirements, as well as preparing your perfect application. Don’t stress, just reach out to our friendly team for an expert helping hand.

Understanding LSE’s entry requirements for undergraduates

First things first, you need to understand LSE’s expectations. We have made a table where you can see LSE’s criteria for each of their undergraduate courses. Just click below to check it out:

View table!

Can’t find your subject? Click here to find your undergraduate course.

Are you an international student? Check out LSE’s help page for international services where you can find your specific country of residence as well as the corresponding entry requirements.

Understanding LSE’s entry requirements for postgraduates

Applying for a postgraduate course is completely different to applying for an undergraduate course. LSE considers a new set of criteria, and it varies according to the course. We have made a table where you can see LSE’s criteria for each of their postgraduate courses. Just click below to check it out:

View table!

Can’t find your subject? Click here to find your course.

Are you an international student? Check out LSE’s help page for international services where you can find your specific country of residence as well as the coinciding entry requirements.

What should I do if I don’t meet LSE’s Entry Requirements, and how do I get in?

We have some insider advice to share if you don’t meet LSE’s entry requirements. LSE might not necessarily be beyond your reach! Below is a breakdown of what you could be lacking regarding LSE’s entry criteria, and how to tackle this.

1) If your subject choices don’t align with LSE’s expectation

Recovery tips: What can I do if I don’t meet the subject requirements?

It is important to recognise that if a certain subject is required, it might be worth your time to take the missing subject.

Sometimes there are fast-track options available, such as using school holidays to take classes and revise. Alternatively, you can get a tutor, and invest time and effort outside of school into taking the added subject. If you implement these strategies, you might be able to catch up in time for the exam/coursework deadlines or proceed with later deadlines. If your school will not facilitate you adding this subject to your timetable, they may still allow you to sit the exams. If not, you might be able to find an external institution to sit the exams with.

If you’re applying for a postgraduate course with an undergraduate degree in the “wrong” subject, your solution might involve: enrolling in a conversion course, completing a course at LSE’s Summer School, or completing a relevant supplementary qualification.

What if I can’t get a grade in my missing subject?

It is definitely worth explaining to LSE why you have not studied a required subject. For example, if your chosen course requires you to have studied Further Maths, and your school doesn’t offer this subject, you should flag this in your application. Similarly, if you tried to enrol on Further Maths and your school wouldn’t let you, you should note this in your application. If your referee can mention this for you, that is ideal, but if not, ensure that you do so yourself. LSE has contextual entry requirements precisely for situations where students lack advantages and opportunities. You can check the contextual requirements for courses on our tables. Don’t ignore what’s missing, try to confront it!

Another tip for if you are missing a required subject is: to try to find a related extra qualification that you can complete which can stand in for the missing one. For example, those who are not taking Further Maths but want to get into a degree programme that asks for a grade in this might consider taking the TMUA, MOOCs, or UK Maths Challenge to demonstrate their mathematical ability and bolster their application. Or a student applying to a postgraduate degree in a business discipline despite not having studied any quantitative subjects might consider taking the GMAT/GRE to make up for this.

Recovery tips for if you don’t meet subject recommendations:

Finally, you might find that your subject profile does not clash with the subject requirements for your desired LSE course, but only the recommended/favoured subjects. In this case, taking another A level course might not be wise at all, nor would be discussing the missing favoured subject in your application. However, it is never a waste of time to take a relevant extra qualification that could bolster your application and show capability in LSE’s recommended subject/s. LSE is heavily competitive, so anything that you can do to present yourself as the ideal candidate for their course is advised. If your LSE course favours students with one essay-based or artistic subject and you are without this, you should pursue something along these lines outside of your curriculum and flag that in your application e.g. an essay competition or online writing course. If most of their successful applicants have taken History, consider joining a History society or doing independent research/work for the History department.

2) Underestimated factors that carry weight

Your application is not about how great you are:

Surprisingly, a lot of applicants forget to mention what they intend to do with their degree as well as why they are applying, or why they are a good student for their chosen course at this university. This, however, is exactly what the application is supposed to focus on, rather than just proving why you’re great.

LSE cares about their students having a genuine interest in and passion for their courses so your application is the perfect chance for you to prove this to them. Show LSE that you’re well-suited to their course and the university itself.

Demonstrate expert knowledge:

Show that your understanding of the course is beyond comprehensive by talking about very specific and complex concepts. The best way to do this is to do your research and go beyond the curriculum and A level understanding. If you take the time to read a large breadth of quality literature around your subject, you can reference academic texts or textbooks and analyse them to demonstrate that you are able to work at university level. Be careful not to read the most popular texts that most students in your field might point to. Express something unique to your personal interests. Or find something unknown, underrated, niche, and/or peculiar to talk about.

Better yet, research your specific department, and discuss how you would contribute to their existing published research or accomplishments. LSE favours students whose research will diversify that of their departments, or complement their interests. If you really want to impress LSE, you could study the first 2-3 weeks of a 1st-year module for your chosen course and talk about this in your application to show that you are ahead of the competition.

Talk end goals:

LSE also values applicants with a clear and ambitious career plan because they want their students to go on to get good jobs after university and maintain a strong LSE alumni network. So, mention your career aspirations in your application and be specific. What institution or company do you want to work for, and what do you want to specialise in? If you’re not sure, educate yourself.

If you’re applying for a postgraduate degree, you will need to present a very clear objective behind this course: What do you hope to achieve with this and what makes your research proposal special?

The Profs offer advice on crafting the perfect personal statement, just watch our video or read our previous blog on this subject.

Your work experience or professional experience (undergraduates):

For undergraduate courses at LSE, work experience is never a requirement. However, LSE is a very competitive university, especially for undergraduate entry, and it’s best to do all you can to stand out to maximise your chances. Work experience in a relevant industry to your chosen discipline can demonstrate your drive and commitment to the subject. Expressing what skills you have learned from this experience and how they will help you with your course will also make you a more attractive candidate.

Remember, context is important. Remain as relevant to your degree as possible. For example, if your degree values quantitative skills you should be referencing work experience that marries up with this.

Top tip 1: Get work experience at a prestigious institution/company and highlight that you are looking forward to working there or in the same field after university. This will show LSE that you have a career lined up after your degree to support their employment survey and alumni network.

Top tip 2: Show that you have the X factor by demonstrating an entrepreneurial spirit. Being able to say that you started your own business, even if it was a small side hustle, will give you an edge.

Your work experience or professional experience (postgraduates):

For postgraduates courses at LSE, work experience or even professional experience is sometimes a requirement, or recommended. Hence, it is very important to check your course’s entry requirements and make sure you complete what they ask and/or suggest. Even if the experience is not requested, most of the postgraduate courses state that you should mention it if you have any, which insinuates that this could make your application more competitive. Therefore, it is a good idea to get some work experience either way, to maximise your chances of getting into LSE. The level that this experience should be depends on the topic of your course and its requirements. Again, make sure that you stick to roles and industries that complement your course.

Don’t forget to mention the experience you might have picked up during your undergraduate course. LSE offers ‘Spring Weeks’ which are designed to give you a comprehensive introduction to your relevant industry. It is great if you are able to say you’ve done this as it proves you have some experience, but more importantly, it shows that you have initiative, motivation and passion. Similarly, if you completed an internship, or if you were a part of any university society, especially if you had a position such as president or treasurer, it’s extremely valuable to highlight this.

Your extracurriculars:

Extracurriculars can be a great opportunity to boost your application. If the activities are related to your chosen subject, they can demonstrate genuine passion and interest in the subject. If you have any accomplishments within your extracurriculars, they can be evidence that you have talent, capability, and skills that will equip you for your degree. That said, don’t write ‘fluff’, check that your extracurriculars genuinely relate to your chosen course and strengthen your application. Ensure you add new experiences to your repertoire if you’re falling short in any areas of your application.

Don’t ignore the power of your referee:

You should always set up a meeting with your referee early in the application process because their statement about you is just as integral as your personal statement.

A good referee is important. Obviously, you want them to speak highly of you, but ideally, they will highlight your skills and qualities that are relevant to your chosen degree. For this reason, as well as for the general impression of your application, it is best to choose a referee who teaches your chosen subject or within your discipline. It is also a good idea to choose a referee who knows you well enough to write you something of quality.

Talk to your referee about your strengths that they might not be aware of: what you have read around your subjects, and your work experiences and non-school achievements. You want your referee to convince LSE that you are good at your chosen subject/s, passionate about them, and committed to your discipline.

Use your referee wherever you need them and ask them to vouch for you. If you lack a particular qualification or a high enough grade in something, you want your referee to defend why that is and assure LSE that you are still a suitable candidate with a good academic track record. Maybe they can say how you make up for this loss. However, it is important to note that this is somewhat relative. For example, it is unlikely that your referees’ commendation will save you if all your A level grades fall a good chunk below minimum requirements.

It is ideal if your referee can mention any weaknesses or extenuating circumstances in their statement. This way, you can focus your own personal statement on your strengths, rather than explaining or defending the weaknesses in your application. It can also sound more credible coming from a referee. Plus, you won’t have to use precious parts of your restricted word limit to say so yourself. However, if your referee won’t bring these things up, make sure that you do.

3) If your grades aren’t up to par

Many universities (even top universities) solely or predominantly consider your A levels. However, LSE purposefully looks for applicants who have evidence of a long track record of success. LSE considers your GCSEs as well as your A levels (or equivalent) so you must ensure that your grades are impressive across the board, especially in subjects relevant to your course.

The importance placed on your academic history can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you have the opportunity and platform to showcase all of your wins from when you were young. This can extend beyond your GCSEs themselves to any extra qualifications, courses, tests or extracurriculars you took and did well in, so long as they demonstrate academic excellence and/or talent in your field of interest. On the other hand, if you have had a dip in grades here or there over the years, this may weaken your application.

So, let’s talk solutions for if any of your grades are lacking:

Careful what you declare:

Put your best foot forward as long as it’s not deceitful.

If you have two GCSE or A level grades for a singular subject, with one being lower than the other, you might not need to declare both of them. If the better result is the most recent one, then this is your rewritten grade, and you should only present this grade to LSE. However, there is a chance that they notice the date is later than your other GCSEs or A levels and ask you about that. If this happens you should explain that you completed the test twice and that this is your most recent result.

However, if your most recent grade is the lower one, then this is your current and rewritten grade and you have to declare it. But in this situation, you should declare both of your grades as evidence that you have in fact achieved higher before, and you can even state that the higher grade is the accurate representation of your abilities.

Similarly, if you took an extra test or qualification beyond your standard GCSEs and/or A levels then it is not mandatory for you to declare this or your results in your application to LSE. If you didn’t do very well, don’t bring it up.

All that said, make sure you talk to a teacher at your school to double-check what you have to declare as you don’t want to get into trouble or have your statements mismatch anything your school files for you.

Offer an alternative track record:

Mention all your relevant wins from the beginning to the end of your time at secondary school. Again, this can include absolutely anything that demonstrates excellent academic ability and/or talent in your field of interest. The better these wins are, or the more you have of them, the more likely they are to make up for your academic blips.

For example, you can stand out by mentioning scholarships, awards, class prizes, the percentile you were ranked in your class (if your school offers this), and competitions such as the UK Maths Challenge. Even things like a high chess ELO ranking could help you prove the academic capability of your mind. Reading is also important. Demonstrating a keen interest in a wide array of academic texts around your subject and being able to analyse them comprehensively can demonstrate your interest and aptitude in your subject, even if you don’t have the ideal grades.

Improve your GCSE grades:

The solution that is most likely to work is improving your grades. Most of LSE’s courses favour a history of 7-9 (A-A*) in GCSE. If you fall below this, it might be worth investing some time and effort into GCSE retakes.

However, context is important. If you’re hoping to study Maths and you only have one or two 6 (B) grades in History and RE, and for the rest you have 7-9 (A-A*), it might not be worth retaking.

It is important to assess your need for a retake based on your overall performance:

  • If you have mostly 7-9 (A-A*) grades and one or two 4-6 (C-B) grades in non-traditional subjects, like Art and Music, it is probably unnecessary to retake these. Assuming these grades are not in subjects related to your degree.
  • How low are your “low” grades? If your low grades are 4-5 (C) or above, then these might not be worth retaking, especially if you have 7-9 (A-A*) in subjects required for your course. However, grades below 4-5 (C) are important to retake, especially if they’re in traditional subjects.
  • Do you have 7-9 (A-A*) in subject/s related to your chosen course? For example, if you are applying for a quantitative degree like Economics, it’s worth retaking GCSE Maths to get the highest grade (level 9). Or if you wish to study Law at LSE, you might want to retake English and History to earn a top score.

Improve your A level grades:

Again, the safest solution is to improve your grades. Most of LSE’s courses require A*AA-AAA. It is highly recommended that you meet these requirements, or better yet exceed them. It is definitely recommended that you achieve an A*-A in your chosen subject. So, if you’re not predicted these grades or are worried about getting them, it might be worth your while to take some time out to retake one or two modules in order to improve your predicted grade or plan to retake your A levels before you hand in your LSE application.

However, if retaking isn’t an option for you, you might want to consider achieving supplementary academic qualifications. You should ask your school and independently research what courses, tests and/or qualifications you can do to strengthen your academic repertoire. Obviously, you should only choose something related to your chosen course. For example, LSE states for many of its courses that require an A* in Maths: they are happy to accept applicants who have an A in Maths if they have an A* in Further Maths.

Contextual grades:

LSE offers a slightly lower set of GCSE and A level requirements for UK applicants who are eligible for Home tuition fees. This is to enable LSE’s admissions selectors to assess achievement and potential whilst recognising obstacles an applicant could have faced in their educational or individual circumstances. If you qualify for the contextual entry grades, you do not need to do anything in addition to your standard UCAS application. Contextual information will automatically be added to your application. You can check the contextual entry requirements for your course on our tables, or on your specific course page on the LSE website.

Please note: Once you have gone through the application process you might be given a conditional offer. If so, you must meet these requirements (usually specific A level grades) to confirm your place. If you don’t meet these expectations, two things could happen: your offer is retracted, or it is referred back to the Admissions Selector for reconsideration in August. If you marginally fail to meet the conditions of your offer, it is most likely you will not lose your offer point blank, but that it will be revised in August. If this happens, your application will be considered in competition with all the other applicants who have marginally failed to meet the conditions of their offer. There is no guarantee that LSE will be able to confirm your place. This is where The Profs can help. Our admissions team have a lot of experience with this part of the LSE admissions process.

Improve your academic profile (postgraduates):

When it comes to postgraduate applications, secondary school qualifications become much less important as they will predominantly consider your degree results. However, if you don’t have a 6 (B) in GCSE English and Maths, this could weaken your application and it might be worth investing a little time into retaking to be on the safe side.

LSE’s entry requirements for postgraduate courses don’t mention GCSEs and A levels. However, the majority of their courses require at a minimum: an upper 2:1 degree (including 65-70% in the dissertation element) or a 650+ grade in the GMAT/GRE. If you only just meet these requirements or fall beneath them, then your academic past will probably go under the microscope, and you should really consider revisiting and brushing up on any past grades which are sub-par. Another option could be retaking one element of your degree (an exam with strong weighting or your dissertation) to improve your overall grade. Again, LSE values a proven track record of high academic achievement, so it’s important that you can show this.

Something else that you can do to boost your application (either as well as retaking or instead) is completing an extra higher-level qualification or course. LSE offers many courses at their Summer School, which could drastically improve your application. Also, many of the postgraduate courses that do not require the GMAT/GRE still favour students who have taken it. Hence, depending on your subject of interest, completing this test could make you stand out as an academically robust candidate. Moreover, there are a bunch of reputable online courses that you can take as well.

Consider what’s best for you:

Whilst it is easy to get carried away with the mentality of “I must get in”, take a moment to stop and reflect. If you’re really struggling to meet the requirements for LSE, are you sure this is definitely the university for you? And if your history of grades for this subject is far below expectation, are you certain that this is the course for you? It might be worth taking some time to mull over whether this course and LSE are suited to you and whether you’d be able to keep up. Your mental wellbeing and happiness is important!

4) Consider your options

Here at The Profs, we have a dedicated, experienced, and friendly team of:

Anything you need, no matter how niche, we can help. We also provide application assessments, where we can tell you your chances of getting into LSE, and where you need to improve. Getting students into university is our speciality! That’s why we have a 95% success rate in helping students get admitted to their first or second-choice university.

Finally, if you find that you meet none of the entry requirements mentioned in this article and you do not want to invest a year into getting everything up to scratch, or maybe a year couldn’t fix everything, then it might be worth considering a different course or a different university. Here at The Profs, we can help you establish your options and make a decision that is right for you.

We can help

Triple your chances of success with an expert LSE admissions tutor! At The Profs, we know exactly how to help you. 85% of our students who apply to LSE get in.

Reach out to our amazing team today and let’s get started.


85% of our LSE applicants GET IN! Why not join them?

* indicates required