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How Important is the Admissions Test to my Oxbridge Application?

With Admissions Tests coming up in the next few weeks, many applicants to Oxford and Cambridge are understandably becoming quite nervous about making sure they get the best possible grade in the tests and worrying about what might happen if they don’t do quite as well as they would like. Here at Oxbridge Applications, it’s our job to make sure that you are completely clear on how the Admissions Test will affect your application, and to what extent it is a make-or-break element in your chances of being invited for interview or getting an offer from your dream university.




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Naturally, it goes without saying that whichever course at whichever university you are applying for, your ultimate aim is to get the best possible score in order to give you the best possible chances. However, what score do you realistically need to be aiming for to get invited back for interview? One thing that makes this something of a sticky question is that Admissions Tests do not have official grade boundaries like GCSEs or A-Levels, so it can be hard to know what is going to impress admissions tutors. Similarly, the average grade for which applicants are put through to interview or not asked back to interview change slightly year on year, depending on how competitive the cohort is overall, which again means that it’s impossible to give a golden number for the mark you need o be getting in. This being said, there is data on what students who have been invited back to interview have scored in their Admissions Tests on average, which can be a useful indicator (but by no means a hard and fast rule) of what you might need to be scoring as a general rule of thumb. Check out our blogs on good Admissions Test scores for every test at Oxford and Cambridge respectively to consult the stats as an indicator. 


However, it is important (and perhaps comforting) to remember that no score can guarantee you an interview or an offer. Academic grades are also essential in determining whether you’ll be selected for interview, and ultimately admissions tutors will consider your application as a whole. This means that, whilst of course doing your best in the Admissions Test is always advised, if your grade isn’t quite as high as you’d have liked but your personal statement really stands out and your academic grades are good, there’s still a good chance you may get invited for interview (and likewise, if you smash your Admissions Test but your personal statement is lacking and predicted grades fall below the mark, then you may well not be asked back in favour of someone who didn’t do quite as well in the test). It’s also the case that certain courses at either university put more weight on the admissions test score than do others. For example, the TSA, PAT, and MAT tests at Oxford all have a long history and tend to be very good predictors of whether applicants reach interview and eventually get a place. Whereas, for Cambridge, there are fewer pre-interview tests, and more college-dependent tests at interview. 


The bottom line is, it’s very difficult to know big a role your Admissions Test score is likely to play in your application to one specific course at either Oxford or Cambridge in one specific year. This being said, although it is naturally important that you do your absolute best to perform as well as possible in the test, we do know that it is the entire application as a whole that is considered, not just the test score. Furthermore, the test score thresholds for likely invitation to interview change year on year depending on the performance of the cohort as a whole, so if you come out of your Admissions Test feeling like it hasn’t gone quite as well as you’d hoped, it’s worth remembering that there’s no hard and fast rule and there’s always a chance you’ll be invited back to interview.  

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