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Thinking of applying to Oxford or Cambridge 2017?

Posted: 3rd March 2016

Oxford University
If a student has an exceptionally strong academic profile then we are keen to discuss the possibility of an application to either Oxford or Cambridge, otherwise known as Oxbridge. This application has an early deadline of 15th October 2016, and students must be well prepared.

A strong academic profile will mean achieving a majority of grades A and A* at GCSE and at AS, as well as taking A levels over a two year period. Also, predicted grades will have to fall in to the A*A*A* – AAA category by the beginning of the autumn term of the A2 academic year. A couple of B grades are acceptable, as are one or two re-sits for individual modules, so long as this is within the two year time frame. However re-sits do tend to weaken an application. Extenuating circumstances need to be carefully explained and well documente

Ten tips on what is expected of Oxbridge candidates:

  1. Most importantly be fanatical about your subject. Students should attend lectures and do plenty of extracurricular reading as well as some related work experience if possible. You will have to convince admissions tutors, both at interview and in your personal statement of your potential to enjoy and excel at your subject.
  2. Research the degree. Make sure you have read the full content and structure of the degree being offered. This will give you hints as to the extra reading and research you need to do before completing your application which includes not only the personal statement, but additional entry tests as well. 80% of your personal statement will be written about your interest in the degree.
  3. Research the different colleges. You will usually live amongst students who are studying different degrees; however it is better to apply to a college that admits more than just one or two students of your chosen subject. Information about college open days is available online.
  4. If you do not want to apply to a particular college, then both universities have a ‘pool’ system. For this you apply in the usual way, but without attaching your application to a particular college. If and when you are successful, you will be taking pot luck with which college you end up in.
  5. Many Oxbridge degrees require an additional test as well as an interview. Make sure you find out which test you need to take, and get plenty of practice. Additional information and practice tests are available online. Some students take months practicing their skills with these.
  6. Speak to your personal tutor and subject teachers at Brampton College. It is extremely important to have the support of your teachers and the college. You will need to demonstrate that you are both capable of and serious about an application to Oxbridge.
  7. Practice for interviews. When a student is invited to interview, it is essential to have plenty of practice with relevant subject teachers, as well as experts in the field. Try to get a practice interview with a former Oxbridge student. Sometimes they work at the universities and are able to give you advice – often via admissions departments.
  8. Research degree and college early. Starting this research in the autumn/spring term of the AS year is crucial. This is because time is limited and visits to the open days organised by specific colleges need to be booked and possibly reserved in advance.
  9. Oxford/Cambridge Open days: Department open days and college open days are currently being advertised on relevant websites. General university open days are Oxford: 29 & 30 June and 16 September 2016 (no need to book). Cambridge: 30 June and 1st July 2016 (book online as from April 2016. It is essential that students plan their open days well, so that no time is wasted getting from A to B.
  10. Speak to students and tutors at open days: You will find out a lot about the degree and what it is like to study at Oxford/Cambridge by speaking to current students, post graduates and tutors who will be present on the open days. They can give you useful insights into what to expect at interview and also what it is like to live in a particular college.

Additional Entrance Exams

BMAT: Medicine at both Oxford and Cambridge / Cambridge Law Test / CAT: Classics at Oxford / ELAT: English at Oxford/ HAT: History at Oxford / LNAT: Oxford Law / MAT: Maths & Computer Science at Oxford / STEP: Maths at Cambridge / MLAT: Languages at Oxford / OLAT: Oriental Languages at Oxford / PAT: Physics at Oxford / TSA at CAMBRIDGE for: Computer Science, Economics, Engineering, History, Human Social & Political Sciences, Land Economy, Natural Sciences, Psychological & Behavioural Sciences. TSA at OXFORD for: Economics & Management, Experimental Psychology, Geography, Human Sciences, Philosophy & Linguistics, PPE, Psychology & Linguistics, Psychology & Philosophy.


AS YEAR: Autumn Term: Keep up with extracurricular reading and any external lectures related to degree

AS YEAR: Spring Term: Research degrees and Colleges. Research additional tests and get support from teachers. Apply to open days for colleges as well as the university.

AS YEAR: Summer Term: Visit open days after exams.

A2 YEAR: Autumn Term: Apply by October 15th 2016. Take additional test. Interview practice.

General research:

Oxford University Website
Cambridge University Website
Elfi Pallis: Twitter & books on Amazon
Which? Guide online: Oxford Applications


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