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

A-Grade-PaperIt’s that time of year when exam results are uppermost in the minds of young students. But what happens when someone’s ‘AS’ results are far better than they expected and have a chance of widening their university options and applying for Oxford or Cambridge?

Oxbridge Applications, the leading international consultancy, know that many young people every year suddenly find themselves in the unexpected position of being eligible to apply for Oxbridge, but feel intimidated by the complicated application process, which can be difficult to understand.

If students like the idea of Oxbridge, they should definitely give it a go. It’s not too late to start preparing. However, things do start moving quickly from here: suddenly you’re dealing with a UCAS deadline of October 15th, rather than a deadline in January.

So if you find yourself in this position, Katie advises the following for ensuring the new, early deadline doesn’t faze you…

Make a smart course choice: oversubscribed vs overlooked courses

Students should not assume that Oxbridge covers only traditional subjects. There are plenty of alternative courses that cover mainstream elements. Year on year we see the same popular courses are massively oversubscribed, where alternatives with substantial disciplinary overlap are neglected. A bit of research can really inform course and university choice. For example, if you are interested in Economics or Law and are considering Oxford, you’re looking at a 8% or 17% success rate respectively (according to the most recent statistics). However, if you went for Land Economy at Cambridge, which has huge overlap with both of these subjects, 1 in 4 are successful. You should never choose your course purely based on stats of course – if you don’t have a real interest the universities will spot it a mile off. These stats simply go to show how certain courses don’t get the same attention from candidates as others. Having gone through the process of switching my course halfway through Oxford from English to Archaeology & Anthropology I only wish I had properly researched the wealth of options available to me back then!

Personal statements: for Oxbridge and for other universities

Christ-Church-college-OxfordNot many students realise that it is possible to submit your UCAS form twice: once for the Oxbridge deadline in October and once for your other choices later. You are resubmitting the same form (you cannot make changes to your personal statement once you’ve sent it) but this helps alleviate some students’ worry that other universities will know they’ve applied to Oxbridge and that this might damage their chances.

“In writing the personal statement, think of it as a springboard for your Oxbridge interview. Last year, of over 1000 students we surveyed, 64% were asked about their personal statement in the interview. You will need to know the material inside out come December, but more than that, it is a good idea to have built on this material with further supportive reading and research.

An Oxbridge application: the extra hurdles

If you decide to go for Oxbridge, it is important to be aware of the extra hurdles the application requires. Many students will need to take an admissions test, such as the subject aptitude tests Oxford set (MAT, PAT, HAT etc., sat in the first week of November), national admissions tests such as those for Law (LNAT) and Medicine (BMAT) and the various papers and tests that many Cambridge colleges ask candidates to sit during the interview process in December. Then, of course, there’s the world-famous interview. These hurdles can be daunting, but we encourage students to see them as exciting intellectual challenges – a chance to explore a subject you love in more depth, beyond the A level syllabus, and to begin to become a strong independent scholar.”

 Oxbridge Applications provides a vast wealth of freely available resources to students and one-to-one telephone support, as well as intensive one-to-one private support and in-school services. It has 2,400 Oxbridge-educated tutors and has worked with 65,000 students during the past 18 years. Its success rate in supporting people through the Oxbridge application process is twice the national average. See for more tips, resources and practical advice.

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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

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