Thinking of applying to Oxford or Cambridge? Here’s what you need to know.
Oxford and Cambridge. Two renowned institutions synonymous globally with top-class university education. Attracting the best and brightest students from around the country and even further afield, these two universities have a slightly different application procedure and deadlines to the rest of the UK’s universities.
Here, we will outline the key dates to be aware of and the main differentiators in the Oxbridge application process.
The UCAS deadline is much earlier… in fact it’s this month! Whilst the final deadline for the vast majority of UK universities is 15th January 2018, for Oxford and Cambridge it’s 6pm on 15th October. This deadline is incredibly strict and applications received after it will not be accepted.
Making your mind up:
Unfortunately, you must decide if you want to study at Oxford, or at Cambridge. The two institutions do not allow you to apply to both. You can still apply to other universities to make up your maximum of 5 institutions on your UCAS form, but not both Oxford and Cambridge.
Don’t worry about the College.
Oxford and Cambridge operate on a collegiate based system (as do York and Durham in the UK). The college will be where you live, study and socialise for much of your degree. It’s advisable to check which colleges offer subjects you are interested in and go from there. However, approximately one in five of successful Oxford applicants and 25% of Cambridge applicants end up at a different college to the one they applied for. So, don’t worry too much about your decision.
If you’re really not sure which college to apply to, fear not. You can also make an Open Application, and a computer programme will match your application to an appropriate college.
Some courses at Oxford and Cambridge require additional tests to be sat. To see if a test is required, check your specific course listing. Click here for Oxford and here for Cambridge. All applications to Cambridge require applicants to carry out a Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) or the Cambridge Online Preliminary Application (COPA) after the submission of their UCAS form to ensure the information provided is consistent.
Both institutions typically invite all applicants who stand a realistic chance of being offered a place to attend an interview. At Oxford, interviews take place in December and can be one or two days – you will typically stay in the college you’re applying for to get a feel for the environment. At Cambridge, the majority of interviews will be held in the first three weeks of December and just take one day, with a small number taking place in January.
The interview will be with one or two tutors from the course you’re applying for. Interviews give the universities and colleges a chance to assess your abilities, your interest in the subject and your wider interests.
It will be in the style of a tutorial (Oxford) or supervision (Cambridge), to see how well you respond to that style of teaching. The tutors may give you a piece to read, give you some data to interpret or a problem to solve and then discuss it with them. They aren’t trying to catch you out, rather to see your thought process, if you’re open to new ways of learning and how you react to various situations.
A good interview takes the course of a conversation, discussing ideas and wider topics, rather than a series of questions and answers.
The typical entry requirements for each university are A* A* A & AAA for Oxford and A* A* A & A* AA for Cambridge. Obviously this is dependent on your subject, so please do check your specific course for the full breakdown of grades required.
The application process for Oxbridge is incredibly competitive – don’t lose heart if you’ve application is unsuccessful or if you are unsuccessful after going for an interview. It’s a huge achievement to be asked for an interview at either of the universities!
For the full application timeline and key dates for each university, please visit the following links: