A Tutor House Guide to Oxbridge Applications

Gearing up to apply to Oxford or Cambridge Universities can feel pretty daunting. Even if you have the top grades in your chosen subjects, you still face fierce competition from the brightest minds in the country. Places are extremely limited, and the application process is as tough as it gets, so if you want to stand a chance of being accepted you need to do your research and be as prepared as possible. In this guide you’ll be given insight into every stage of the Oxbridge application process and what you should do each step of the way to prepare.

Oxbridge Entry Requirements

Oxford and Cambridge only accept the most gifted and dedicated pupils, and because of this your GCSE and A Level grades need to be pretty much flawless. Conditional offers are made on the basis that students are expected to receive the grades that are required by the university.

You can find more about the specifics of what Oxbridge require for their different courses here:

Oxford entry requirements

Cambridge entry requirements

Your Oxbridge Application

Your application is where you can prove to tutors that you have what it takes to study a degree at Oxford or Cambridge. They want to know that you are passionate about your chosen degree and that you are willing to go above and beyond to succeed there.

All courses at Oxbridge are academically rigorous, and even if you do achieve the highest grades in your chosen A-Level subjects, you need to prove that you are willing and able to take on the intense workload that Oxbridge demands.

What are they looking for?

Admissions decisions at the Oxbridge are based on academic criteria so getting those top grades is essential. However convincing decision makers of your ability and potential is also important.

You must remember that almost all applicants will have achieved A’s and A*’s in their exams, so what makes you stand out?

Admissions Tutors are looking for students whom they think will most benefit from life at the University, who will dedicate themselves to it, get the most out of it and put their all into it. They know their courses inside out and will, therefore, look for individuals who they believe best suit that course – therefore there is no ‘perfect’ student. Different courses require different strengths and personality types so it’s all about applying for a course where you truly believe you can excel.

Oxbridge Deadlines

Pretty much the worst thing that could happen to you during your Oxbridge application process is missing the deadline. No matter how good your excuse is, if you miss it, you miss your chance.

Let’s be honest, if you are applying to one of the top universities in the world one would expect you to be more organised. That means panic-submitting your application with only 10 minutes to go is never going to be a good idea.

As soon as you have decided to apply to Oxbridge, you need to find out the deadline for applications. Put it in your diary. Save it on your phone. Write it on a post-it. Engrave it in your mind.

It can be very tempting to wait until the last minute to send your application in. Logically this makes sense as you then have the maximum amount of time to perfect it.

However all it takes is your internet to go down, your car to breakdown, your mobile signal to fail, and suddenly you are in a rush against time to submit.

Don’t aim to have your application in by the deadline, aim to have it in a week before. This way you have plenty of contingency time for things to go awry. Make sure that when you finally hit submit you feel calm, ready, and safe in the knowledge that you have made it the absolute best it can be.

Oxbridge Personal Statement

Your personal statement is your chance to show the decision makers at Oxford and Cambridge Universities exactly why you are the right choice for them.

This is where you can give them insight into who you are, and how you operate as a student. It will complement your academic record and predicted grades, your teacher’s reference, and all the other elements of the Oxbridge application process such as interview and admissions tests.

The most important thing to remember is that Oxbridge tutors are really only looking for two things – your academic ability and your future potential. In your personal statement, you need to demonstrate a commitment to your chosen subjects. The key word here is ‘demonstrate’. Don’t just say you are interested in or passionate about something, show them what you have done to learn and explore the subject, beyond simply what you have studied at school.

Remember that writing an Oxbridge personal statement is really like writing a personal statement for any other university – they are all looking for the same things, so just work through it calmly and thoroughly and you’ll be fine.
You can find our complete guide to writing a personal statement here.

Oxbridge Interviews and Preparation

When it comes to an Oxbridge interview, preparation is key. It’s likely that you already have a firm grasp on your chosen subject and your admissions tutor will know that, so you need to impress them beyond reading around your subject.

This is an opportunity to find and explore niche and unusual avenues and add something unique to the conversation. Remember breadth might be as important as depth at this stage. If you are applying for a history degree, you might well think yourself an unparalleled expert on the Tudors, but when asked a comparative question may become hopelessly unstuck!

If you are applying to study a course that you haven’t studied previously it is wise to find out exactly what it entails and seek out relevant experience.

If one is applying to read archaeology, for example, taking the time to get to grips with basic excavation and recording techniques as well as partaking in an archaeological dig shows you have taken the initiative and will not go unnoticed.

Likewise, for aspiring lawyers, a trip to the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) will show commitment to the course and provides students with an opportunity to discuss what they have learnt and steer the interview to make this a focal point which they can then easily prepare for.

Work experience will also put candidates at an advantage and finding relevant work experience demonstrates students are willing to use their time outside of school hours to further pursue their passion and continue their learning.

Oxbridge Tutors at Tutor House

At Tutor House, our specialist Oxbridge tutors will work with intending Oxbridge applicants to ensure that they are fully prepared for their Oxbridge interview and tests.

Not only do our experienced tutors help with working through the application, offering expert knowledge and advice, they can also arrange mock interviews conducted by an Oxbridge graduate who has been through the process themselves and knows exactly what the admissions tutors will be looking for.

We will make sure we find the right tutor for you, so why not get in touch with our friendly team today, for a chat about how we can help?