If you’re one of the 40,000 students thinking of applying to an Oxbridge Undergraduate course of study – then we can help increase your chances of a successful application. Don’t let the rigorous process put you off. With our help we can ensure you’re fully prepared. Your chances of obtaining an offer from Oxford or Cambridge are roughly 20%, and that’s before you’ve sat your Admissions Test and been invited up for interview. Of course there are ways of improving your odds.
Our specialist tutor Nicholas Reed Langan is a graduate of Merton College, Oxford and has hundreds of hours experience working with students on their Oxbridge Interview techniques and applications. Here he shares his insider knowledge on what makes a successful application.
APPLYING – THE BASICS
If you want to study at Oxford or Cambridge, you need to apply a year before the start date of your course by completing an online UCAS application form at www.ucas.com. Applications open in June so you can start work on the form from then. You won’t be able to submit your application until early September. There is a strict submission deadline of 6pm (UK time) on 15th October.
OXFORD OR CAMBRIDGE?
While you DO have to decide between an Oxford College or a Cambridge one, you don’t HAVE to specify which College you want to attend. If, having looked at the different Colleges, you don’t mind, you could make an Open Application through UCAS instead. If you’re set on a specific college but don’t get in, don’t worry all is not lost. Your application could be placed in a ‘winter pool’. Although impressed by your application, your College may not have a place for you and so may pool your application for other Colleges to consider. Nick says “Typically, one in four applicants is pooled and, of these, around one in five is made an offer of a place by a different College to the one they applied.” Remember, you can only make one application at a time.
CHOOSING A COURSE
Take your time in selecting your undergraduate course. Do your research! “It may seem obvious but the course you choose should be something you enjoy!” Nick Says. “You’re preparing for a much more intense 3 year period – so if you’re not enjoying it then you need to rethink the course or subject.” Also, double check the course requirements. Have you made the correct A Level choices? Are you likely to achieve the necessary grades required?
VISIT THE COLLEGE CAMPUS
If your heart is set on a specific College, Nick advises visiting. “Don’t be put off by the College Porters, tell them you are thinking of applying to that College, and they will most likely let you enter without paying. Take the time to have a good look around.” Try not to overthink it. For equally well-qualified applicants, making an open application or indicating a preference College makes no difference to your chance of being made an offer.
HOW CAN YOU MAKE YOUR APPLICATION STAND OUT?
With thousands of applications to compete against – how can you make your personal statement stand out? “Straight A’s and glowing references are par for the course,” explains Nick “but don’t dismiss your interests or hobbies.” They want to see what you read and are interested in. Nick pushes the point, “Can you think? Debate? Can you attempt original thought?” You should also attempt at least 4 drafts of your personal statement before final submission. As Nick explains, “The first draft is normally terrible and demands refinement, you must also ensure you are counting the characters and not the words.” He goes on to say, “Any characters over the word limit will simply be cut off, you don’t want to be sitting there 30 minutes to deadline wondering where your closing statement has gone.”
PREPARING FOR INTERVIEW
If you get offered an interview, the hard work can really begin. “Interviews can be tough, but it’s a balance between sticking by your opinions and being able to re-evaluate your position. Expect to be challenged and to be able to examine your ideas.” Nick also asserts, “Make sure you have read what you claim to have read and can talk about it easily. Now is not the time for last minute cramming of texts!”
For most courses at Oxford you are required to take a test as part of your application. Registration for tests is not automatic and is not part of the UCAS process. Please check the details for your course, including how to register. For Cambridge, most applicants are required to take a written assessment, either pre-interview or at interview.
Remember, for 2020 acceptance, applications must be submitted by 6pm on October 15th through Ucas.
For more information:
Holland Park’s team of specialised Tutors and Consultants are on hand to provide expert support throughout the admissions process. Whether it’s last minute proof reading or interview preparation, get in touch to discover how we can help.