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Why It Pays to Start Early on Your University Application

Applying to universities, especially esteemed institutions like Oxford and Cambridge, may seem challenging and highly competitive. However, based on our 25 years of assisting students with their applications, we've discovered that strategic planning and an early start can significantly enhance your likelihood of success! In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of initiating your university application process ahead of time, especially when targeting Oxbridge. By allowing yourself ample time, you can make well-informed decisions regarding your course and university choices, engage in valuable supercurricular activities, and adequately prepare for admissions tests and interviews—all while maintaining a healthy balance with your schoolwork and exams.



Our Oxbridge Private Consultations provide in-depth evaluation, strategy and next steps to achieve results for your university application. Suitable for those aged 14 upwards.

Choosing the Appropriate Course and University:

Embarking on the higher education journey marks a significant milestone, and making the right choices regarding your course and university is paramount for both academic and personal development. Initiating this process early allows you to meticulously research various programs, assess your interests and strengths, and align them with your long-term objectives. We suggest navigating to the Oxford and Cambridge websites (or the respective website of any other university you are considering) to delve into the course content, structure, and teaching methodologies of all potential courses—greater depth yields better insights, even if it takes some time! Thoroughly exploring your options enables you to make an informed decision that aligns with your passion, abilities, and career aspirations. Given the distinctive academic offerings at Oxbridge, careful consideration is essential, as each course comes with specific requirements and expectations. To get to know Oxford or Cambridge better before making an application, check out our guide on Getting a Taste of Oxford and Cambridge.

Involvement in Supercurricular Activities:


Supercurricular activities extend beyond the standard curriculum, showcasing your authentic interest and passion for a particular subject. Initiating this process early provides you with the chance to participate in activities aligned with your intended course, such as attending workshops, summer schools, or online courses. These engagements not only deepen your comprehension of the subject matter but also highlight your dedication, proactiveness, and intellectual curiosity to admissions tutors. Dedicate time to participate in supercurricular activities as it can significantly enhance your application, particularly for highly competitive courses at Oxbridge. Additional research in your chosen field could involve reading books and watching films (refer to our blog for innovative research methods to further your interests before applying), or it might include gaining work experience. Work experience is particularly crucial for students pursuing clinical courses like medicine and may require considerable time to organise and complete, emphasising the value of early preparation.

Preparing for Admissions Tests and Interviews:

Oxbridge universities often mandate specific admissions tests (check out our Admissions Test Resources for comprehensive guides on each of the admissions tests, which courses they are applicable for, the structure of the test, and our top tips for preparing!). Starting the preparation process early enables you to acquaint yourself with the test format, practice sample questions, and seek guidance if necessary. Devoting ample time to preparation allows you to systematically enhance your skills and confidence, thereby increasing the likelihood of a strong performance. Similarly, Oxbridge interviews are renowned for their rigorous nature, and early preparation provides a competitive advantage by affording sufficient time to practise, refine your responses, and gain a comprehensive understanding of the interview process.

Maintaining Academic Balance:

Undoubtedly, preparing for university applications demands both time and effort. However, initiating the process early guarantees the ability to strike a balance between ongoing schoolwork, exams, and the application journey. Effectively managing your time allows for the allocation of specific periods dedicated to research, supercurricular activities, test preparation, and interview practice. This strategic approach helps prevent feelings of overwhelm and ensures that your academic performance remains steady while you actively pursue your university placement. While exam grades might not singularly determine an offer from your chosen university, without proper attention and care, they could potentially be a factor preventing an applicant from securing their offer. Our recent blog post on setting academic goals for the new year is a helpful resource (regardless of the season!) to help you build efficient habits for study and application prep!


In summary, initiating your university application early, especially when aiming for Oxbridge, offers significant advantages. The additional time allows for careful consideration of course and university choices, meaningful engagement in supercurricular activities, thorough preparation for admissions tests and interviews, and maintaining a balanced approach with schoolwork. The journey to higher education is more than just securing admission; it's an opportunity for personal growth, self-discovery, and pursuing your passions. Providing yourself with ample time establishes the groundwork for a successful and fulfilling university experience. So, even dedicating just an hour a week, starting your application today sets you on the right path!


Oxbridge Support

For specialist Oxbridge advice or any aspect of your application, get in touch with our expert consultants on + 44 (0) 20 7499 2394 or send us your query at [email protected]

Mock Interview Package x4

The interviews for Oxford and Cambridge are, arguably, the most important part of your application. The package gives candidates four subject-specific mock interviews, designed to recreate the real interview environment, and help candidates gain confidence in the process of how to get into Oxford or Cambridge.

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Oxbridge Applications, 58 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AJ

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