Those with jobs in education
should be aware that many gifted young people are missing out on places at prestigious universities, say researchers.
A report published by education charity the Sutton Trust found despite having the expected grades, many pupils are still not applying to the most selective institutions.
The researchers revealed a student with the equivalent of one A grade and two Bs at A level has a 79 per cent chance of entering one of the 500 most selective degree courses.
By comparison, the figure was almost ten per cent lower for state school students.
Sir Peter Lampl, the trust's chair, said: "Many highly able pupils from non-privileged backgrounds wrongly perceive the most prestigious universities as 'not for the likes of us', and often lack the support and guidance to overcome this misconception."
The trust called for a reform of the university application system, which would require students to apply for places using actual rather than predicted grades.
Previous research by the trust revealed highly-able pupils from deprived backgrounds to be performing worse than their better-off peers.
Children from poorer areas achieved on average half a grade less than those from wealthier backgrounds.