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Why It Pays to Start Early on Your University Application

Applying to universities, especially renowned institutions like Oxford and Cambridge, can be a daunting and highly competitive process. However, as we have learned from our almost 25 years of experience helping students with their applications, with careful planning and starting early, you can significantly increase your chances of success! In this blog post, we will delve into why it pays to begin your university application early, particularly when aiming for Oxbridge. By giving yourself ample time, you can make informed decisions about your course and university, 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 Right Course and University:

Embarking on the journey of higher education is a significant milestone, and selecting the right course and university is crucial for your academic and personal growth. Starting early allows you to thoroughly research different programs, consider your interests and strengths, and align them with your long-term goals. We recommend heading over to the Oxford and Cambridge websites (or that of whichever university you’re considering if not Oxbridge) and delving into the course content, structure, and teaching style of any and all courses you’re considering; the more in-depth the better, so it could take a while! By exploring the options available, you can make an informed decision that matches your passion, abilities, and career aspirations. Oxbridge, with its rich academic offerings, requires thoughtful consideration, as each course has specific requirements and expectations.

Engaging in Supercurricular Activities

Supercurricular activities go beyond the curriculum and demonstrate your genuine interest and enthusiasm for a subject. Starting early gives you the opportunity to engage in activities related to your intended course, such as attending workshops, summer schools, or online courses. These activities not only deepen your understanding of the subject but also showcase your commitment, initiative, and intellectual curiosity to admissions tutors. Taking the time to participate in supercurricular activities can greatly strengthen your application, especially for highly competitive courses at Oxbridge. Extra research around your chosen subject could consist of reading books and watching films (check out our blog on alternative research methods for some creative methods if furthering your interests ahead of application), or it could be work experience. Work experience is particularly important for students applying to clinical courses such as medicine, and can take a long time to organise and complete, so this can be where preparing ahead of time can really come into its own.

Preparing for Admissions Tests and Interviews

Oxbridge universities often require applicants to undertake specific admissions tests, such as the Oxford Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) or the Cambridge Admissions Test (we have a handy Admissions Test Resources section on our website so you can read up on which test(s) you might have to sit). Starting early enables you to familiarise yourself with the test format, practice sample questions, and seek guidance if needed. Dedicated preparation time allows you to build your skills and confidence gradually, increasing your chances of performing well. Similarly, Oxbridge interviews are known for their rigorous nature, and early preparation gives you an edge by allowing ample time to practise, refine your responses, and gain a deeper understanding of the interview process.

Balancing Academic Demands

Undoubtedly, preparing for university applications requires time and effort. However, starting early ensures that you can strike a balance between your ongoing schoolwork, exams, and the application process. By managing your time effectively, you can allocate specific periods for research, supercurricular activities, test preparation, and interview practice. This approach helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed and ensures that your academic performance remains consistent while you work towards securing your university placement; your exam grades might not be the defining factor in getting an offer from your chosen university, but without proper care and attention they could well be the reason an applicant doesn’t make their offer!


In short, starting early on your university application, particularly when targeting Oxbridge, can be immensely beneficial. The extra time allows you to carefully consider your course and university choices, engage in meaningful supercurricular activities, adequately prepare for admissions tests and interviews, and maintain a healthy balance with your schoolwork. Remember, the journey towards higher education is not solely about securing admission; it is an opportunity for personal growth, self-discovery, and pursuing your passions. By giving yourself ample time, you set the foundation for a successful and fulfilling university experience. So, even if it’s just an hour or so a week, get started on your application today to set you on the right path!


Applying to Oxford or Cambridge?

Looking to apply to Oxbridge? Call us on +44 (0) 20 7499 2394, or email [email protected], and one of our Oxbridge-graduate team members will be happy to chat with you.

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

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