As many of you will be very aware, and some may not have realised, the deadline for Oxbridge applications for this year is approaching at an alarming rate! In fact it is only 2 weeks away –6pm on 15th October. It seemed a good idea, therefore, to give you all a bit of advice (from an Oxford graduate herself!).
First of all, the UCAS website is your friend! It is incredibly informative and gives a really helpful run-down of the whole process – not just Oxbridge applications but all universities. I really recommend checking it out: https://www.ucas.com/ucas/undergraduate/getting-started/when-apply
Bear in mind that as well as sending in your UCAS personal statement and predicted grades, both Oxford and Cambridge will require you to send in some extra work to help with the selection process. Your teachers will be able to help you with choosing your pieces, but it should be work that you have produced during your AS/A levels. Make sure to give yourself the best possible chance by choosing your most interesting and best work! The deadline for submission to Oxford is 10th November. For Cambridge applicants, be aware that you will be advised by your chosen college when you need to submit this work.
Always apply for a particular college. Although both universities give you the chance to send an open application it really is a good idea to choose a college. Take some time to have a look around (in person if you can, but there is plenty of information online) and see where you think you’d enjoy living. Remember:not all colleges will offer your subject!! Check this carefully before applying or it doesn’t look good! Each college varies greatly: some colleges are sportier, some colleges are renowned for their formal dinners, some are more academic. Make sure you choose the right place for you.
As well as looking carefully at the right college for you, make sure that you are applying for the right course as well! It might sound a very basic thing to say, but applying for a subject that you are only doing because your parents want you to (for example!) is unlikely to get you a place at Oxbridge. These universities want to take candidates who are truly passionate about their subject and genuinely want to study it to a high level. Show them how much you are interested – read widely around your chosen subject. It is not enough to rely on schoolwork. Tutors at Oxbridge are looking for students who are enthusiastic about their subject, and (for example) this means taking the time to read a few more French books in your free time, not just relying on that lesson you once had on L’Étranger!
Be aware that even if you get through the first stage of selection, it doesn’t end there. Candidates who meet the Oxbridge requirements will be asked to interviews, which usually take place in December. At this point there may be some additional tests to take, and you could be interviewed by multiple tutors from a number of different colleges. The interview stage is tough but ignore the urban legends. Tutors aren’t there to trick you or to try to trip you up! They want to see how you work, the way you think and how you approach problems. Above all, they want to see that you are interested enough in your subject that you would be a pleasure to teach! So practice talking about your subject, chat to your family, find new ways of thinking about your subject. Your school might offer mock interviews, accept this offer! Practice is a great way to help you feel more relaxed on the day itself. If your school doesn’t offer this opportunity, get in touch! We have many Oxbridge graduates who are able to give coaching and advice on the application process and interviews. Make the most of what they can offer and make sure you feel as confident as possible. Get in touch today!
Good luck Oxbridge applicants 🙂