Map Oxbridge Applications, 14 – 16 Waterloo Place, London, SW1Y 4AR

How Early Should I Start Thinking about Applying to Oxbridge?

You may not have reached your year of application, or even A-levels, or even GCSEs, but you think you might want to go to either Oxford or Cambridge when the time eventually comes around. The question that might now be going through your head is “is it too early to be thinking about university applications?” The truth is, applying to an Oxbridge University isn’t like applying to any other university. Not only is the application deadline three months earlier and the admissions testing process far more comprehensive than other top UK universities, applying to Oxford and Cambridge require a completely different focus and attitude from other universities that requires time to foster and work on, well before the time to apply comes. 

When it comes to the right time to apply, there is no one-fits-all approach, with some students spending years on the journey of their application, whilst others decide only a couple months before. This being said, we always recommend getting started as early as you possible can (effectively, as soon as you know you are interested in applying). Let’s go through some of the main aspects in which getting started early is going to give you a big advantage in your application:




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

First of all, you need to decide if Oxbridge is for you

Before even thinking about the various complicated aspects of an Oxbridge Application, it’s important to think about whether the style of studying and teaching is going to be for you. Oxford and Cambridge hold their classes in a much closer, more personal style in the form of ‘tutorials’ or ‘supervisions’. Even if you might be capable of getting into Oxbridge, it’s still worth researching this and deciding whether the universities would be a good place for you to study aside of the name and reputation. Given that the application process takes so much effort and hardwork, we recommend starting to think about this at least a year, perhaps even a couple of years, before the application process begins in earnest. The longer you have to think about this and come to terms with how you fit into an Oxbridge model, the longer you have to get prepared for the application process itself. 


The sooner you decide this, the better chance you have at picking the right subjects

A big advantage to deciding you want to go down the Oxbridge path before you get to the GCSE/A-level transition is that you can use the subject(s) you are interested in to help you plan out the A-level (or equivalent) courses you are going to study. Have a look at the Oxbridge websites to see which subjects are required for the university course(s) you are interested in. For example, if you are thinking about studying PPE, it would be useful to find out that maths at A-level is highly recommended (with almost every successful applicant having studied this subject to a high level) for applicants, whilst neither philosophy nor politics are required, with only the minority of successful applicants having studied these subjects. Since Oxford and Cambridge have so many excellent applicants, they can effectively call the shots on what they do and don’t require of their applicants, so if you can think about these requirements when picking your A-levels, all the better! 


You also need plenty of time to research and read around your subject

Something that sets an application to Oxbridge aside from other universities is the focus they put on academic interest and proof of wider reading as part of the application process, such as in the personal statement. Whilst other universities may be content with you talking only about what you’ve done in class, an application to Oxford or Cambridge will require you to demonstrate lots of reading and research beyond just what you have studied in class. The longer you spend preparing for Oxbridge, the more of this you can get done in the lead up to your application, meaning you don’t have to try and cram it all in the September before your application is due. 


In Summary

In short, the longer you have had to think about Oxbridge, the longer you have to make sure you’re completely prepared for every aspect of the application. We’re not saying you need to begin preparing your interview skills at the age of ten, but don’t shy away from beginning tentative research into the Oxbridge method of teaching and application process from as early as you can!

Private Consultation

Our Private Consultations, led by senior members of the Oxbridge Applications team, help to shape students’ approach to their application. We provide in-depth evaluation, strategy and next steps to achieve results.

Looking for Expert Advice on your application?

Get a bespoke, honest appraisal of your chances of success and tips on how to improve from one of our Oxbridge experts with our Private Consultation.

Oxbridge Applications Logo

Our Oxbridge-graduate consultants are available between 9.00 am – 5.00 pm from Monday to Friday, with additional evening availability when requested.

Oxbridge Applications, 14 – 16 Waterloo Place, London, SW1Y 4AR

Added to cart

View Cart