What is all the fuss about?
The University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, known collectively as Oxbridge, date back over 800 years and are the most famous centres of learning in the United Kingdom. They are both fixtures in the top ten QS world university rankings and across the curriculum both of these universities are recognised in the fields of scholarship and research. Getting a place at Oxbridge is an ambition for many students throughout the world and both universities have systems of admission that are designed to find the best possible candidates, regardless of background.
The competition for a place at Oxford or Cambridge can be daunting. Every year 34,000 applicants apply and on average only 7,000 of them get in, a success rate of about 20%. The independent school provide around 40% of all Oxbridge undergraduates, even though they only educate about 15% of all sixth formers.
There are also courses that offer a better than average chance of a place and this should be taken into account when students decide on their degree programme. For example more than 48% of classicists at Cambridge were made an offer in 2014, but only 14% of Economics applicants did so.
Have you got what it takes to gain a place at Oxbridge?
Competition for a place at Oxbridge is as fierce as ever and as more candidates gain top grades in their examinations both universities are tending to attach more importance to the Admissions Tests that they set when candidates attend for interview. It also means that the interview is when an Admissions Tutor tries to find out if a candidate has the ability to think creatively, analytically and critically ‘outside of the box’. It does not necessarily matter if a student gives the wrong answer to a question, as long as you give an answer that shows engagement with the subject and a willingness to apply your knowledge to a topic you have not encountered before.
Competition is high and the entry requirements are tough, but the rewards can be significant. So what do you need?
- Excellent GCSE results: Many candidates have six or more A*’s. The most extreme example is that of the Law Department at Churchill College, Cambridge who state that virtually everyone admitted during the last decade had attained at least nine A*’s.
- A Willingness to work – Hard: At Churchill College, Cambridge it is stated “if you are not willing to spend 40-60 hours a week on your studies then Law is not for you”.
- Strong School Exam Predictions: Part of the UCAS application form is for predicted final exam grades for the student. For Cambridge the standard current offer is A*AA, while Oxford, who rely more on pre-interview testing the standard offer is AAA.
- Read Widely: Students need to demonstrate that they have read widely on their chosen subject. School usually have reading lists for A Level subjects and they should be used. Student reading should also include quality newspapers, and publications such as ‘The Week’, ‘The Economist’, ‘New Scientist’ or ‘Scientific American’.
- The EPQ: An Extended Project Qualification is looked on favourably as it develops independent learning and research. Cambridge has said that an EPQ might be appropriate for discussion at interview and therefore it is worthwhile to have taken a project.
- Work Experience: This is something that is of particular importance in certain subjects, such as Medicine, Veterinary Medicine or Architecture. However, any application to Oxford or Cambridge will be strengthened with the inclusion of relevant work experience.
- Research: Research is vital for any student applying to Oxbridge and Cambridge.. Remember there is an early deadline for Oxbridge (October 15 th) and you can only apply for one of the two universities, so have to make your mind up which one you want to go to. Both Oxford and Cambridge have Open Days which are usually held in June and July. If it is at all possible to go then you should make every effort to do so.
- High Scores in Admissions Tests: Aptitude or admissions tests are now an established and important part of applying to both Oxford and Cambridge. The following are the main tests:
- BMAT (Biomedical Admissions Test)
- UKCAT (UK Clinical Aptitude Test)
- LNAT (National Admissions Test for Law)
- MAT (Maths Aptitude Test)
- PAT (Physics Aptitude Test
- LAT (Linguistic Aptitude Test)
- HAT (History Aptitude Test)
- ELAT (English Literature Admissions Test)
- TSA (Thinking Skills Assessment)
For any student considering an application to Oxford and Cambridge Education Advisers Limited can help make the difference. Expert university consultants can:
- Help students to strike the right note in their Personal Statement and on the Universities and Colleges Admissions Services form.
- They can help prospective medical students prepare for the compulsory tests that required.
- They can give advice on college selection for and help students choose between the over 20 colleges that are on offer at each Oxbridge university.
- They can prepare students for the all-important interviews and show them the best way to tackle a question and how best to present themselves.
- An application to Oxford or Cambridge is totally unlike any other university application. Students should be aware that this will require a mentor who fully understands the system and can offer the professional advice that is needed.
If you are thinking about applying to Oxford or Cambridge then use our comprehensive advice service to get the help you need.