Oxbridge Admissions Process

The Oxbridge Admissions Process can be quite intimidating (and headache inducing!) for people who are looking at it from outside in. This guide will help to demystify the process and explain it as simply as possible. Let’s dive in:
What’s (mostly) the same:
A lot of the process of applying to Oxbridge is the same as any other university. This involves

  1. Filling out the UCAS Application Form with personal details
  2. Picking a Course and University Choices
  3. Writing a Personal Statement
  4. Getting a reference from your tutors
    There are some differences though. The first key one is the deadline. UCAS posits that the deadline for most courses is the 25th of January. However, Oxbridge, along with specific courses like medicine, require that students send in their application substantially earlier. The deadline shifts to the 15th of October. So steps 1 through 4 need to be completed by then.
    The other major difference is that you don’t just pick what course you want to go to at Oxbridge- you also pick a college. There is a lot of talk about colleges that is confusing. They are essentially your central hub for many university experiences. Here is a bullet pointed list to simplify what colleges( and you) do:
  • They are the place that sorts out your accommodation. You live in them for at least one year, but many people live in them for the entirety of their course
  • They are where your dining hall and food is- almost every college cooks for you
  • It is where your personal tutors are based. Each professor is part of a college- they will be the ones setting you day to day work, as well as giving you tutorials.
  • Welafe officers are also college based.
  • It is where your student community will be, this also includes the common room (think of it as a souped up school council)
  • They are where your primary social spaces are, including common rooms, bars, gardens, meeting rooms etc
  • Sporting events are organised by colleges, so if you decide to play, it will mainly be people from your college.
    Each college offers a certain amount of spaces per subject. However, not all colleges offer all courses- so double check before you pick a college. Each college is in a different location and have different perks and benefits. Picking the right college is a whole process in itself.
    What’s extra:
    There are three core areas in which the Oxbridge Application vastly differs. Let’s tackle them one by one
    Entrance Exams:
    Almost every course at Oxbridge requires students to sit an entrance exam. Students need to register for these exams before they send in their application. These exams tend to be aptitude focused- so reivisng content does not help. Students need to practice skills related to their subject. These exams can be difficult and there is no passing score- rather a student needs to be in the top X% to make it to the next stage (unless there are some additional nuances to a given application). These exams tend to take place in early to mid November, so students need to prepare well in advance.
    Submission of Work
    Many subjects and colleges also require students to send in written work that has been marked or reviewed by a teacher. This tends to be for more essay based subjects, but is a vital part of the process. Students tend to send in coursework or their best marked essay. Getting this work marked well in advance is always a good idea. Also students should not bank on selecting a specific future essay as “the one” they plan to send in. They need to build up the strongest portfolio of work possible and pick from that set. Putting all their eggs in one basket is a poor strategy. The written work tends to be asked for in Early to Mid-November.
    Another topic that warrants its own guide, the Oxbridge interview is one of the most notoriously known academic tests that undergraduates can come across. In early to Mid December, students who have done well in their written work, as well as scired well on the entrance exam test will be invited to the university for multiple days to take part in several interviews. Ranging between 20-40 minutes, professors sit down with students and push them to answer tough academic questions they have never come across before. It is a small minority of students who make it this far, and this is the final hurdle.
    Back to the same:
    After this process, students either receive offers or rejections. If they accept them, all they need to do from there is ensure that they meet their grade offer on results day, like students applying to other places. The only thing to note here is that grade requirements for Oxbridge tend to be much higher than other places.
    So those are the major similairites and differences between Applying to Oxbridge and elsewhere. I hope this has helped you out and will give you the information you need to decide if Oxbridge is the right place for you.
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