How To Get Into Oxbridge | My Learning Room

How To Get Into Oxbridge

There are more insights and tips that I gained during my experience of applying and getting into Oxbridge, which I will proceed to share in this blog if you are someone aiming to get into Oxbridge!
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Cambridge University

Human, Social and Political Sciences

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How To Get Into Oxbridge

As the first in my family to attend university, as well as coming from a state-school background, my initial imposter syndrome fuelled my doubts about Oxbridge’s accessibility. Yet, I am now in my first year at Cambridge University studying my dream course of Human, Social and Political Sciences, and so I am here to say it is absolutely attainable.

The UCAS process, particularly for Oxbridge, was rigorous and somehow luck-dependent. Therefore, the first decision you can make is strategic college selection, which you can explore by visiting on open days and communicating with its students (you can find people on LinkedIn if you know nobody personally). This was effective for me, as the modules chosen by my college aligned well with the topics mentioned in my application, thus making it difficult to determine success in a different college, albeit for the same course. Nonetheless, you can still be ‘pooled’ to other colleges during the application process, so making uninformed decisions on colleges is not the end of the world!

There are more insights and tips that I gained during my experience of applying and getting into Oxbridge, which I will proceed to share in this blog if you are someone aiming to get into Oxbridge!

Grades

Firstly, I would like to break down the common misconception that applying to Oxbridge requires a genius with perfect grades and extraordinary work experience – that is simply not the case.

One thing I didn’t know was that Oxbridge assesses GCSE performance contextually to the school’s standards. Therefore, a student achieving straight 7s in a school whose average grade is a 5 is more appealing than a student achieving straight 7s in a school whose average grade is an 8. Secondly, predicted grades are of course important, but meeting the minimum requirement suffices. Around 40-45% Oxford applicants and 80% Cambridge applicants get an interview, thus illustrating that application success is a lot more holistic than grades alone.

 

Interviews

 The ultimate aim of Oxbridge interviews is to mirror supervisions that are uniquely had in Oxbridge. This is where a student will complete a task (essay, equation sheet, etc..) before meeting with their ‘supervisor’, where they will inquire you on the topic to check and expand your understanding.

Therefore, interview prep can be important to showcase your fit to the university, and these are the tips that I recommend:

  1. Firstly, I would encourage you write about subjects in your personal statement that you are truly passionate about, rather than ones you think make you seem more ‘impressive’. If you are passionate about a subject, the most bizarre questions can be treated as an interesting debate, rather than an interrogation. For example, one of my paragraphs was on feminist ideologies, and whilst Feminism may seem like a topic that is ‘common’ or basic’, my interest and passion for female equality and subjugation allowed me to navigate even the toughest questions with That passion makes your interview flow a lot more smoothly in helping you to loosen up, and so your anxiety will quickly disappear.
  2. In some cases, Oxbridge interviews bring something new or unseen to Whether this be an extract from a source or an equation for you to solve, it is SO important to remember that the aim isn’t to be ‘right’, but rather to show your thinking process, so think out loud. Justify your answer, but also be humble and be willing to learn from your interviewer. No interviewer expects you to be fully read and yield extensive knowledge on every single topic.
  3. The interview is NOT the deciding factor of your The application is holistic, they assess against so many different criteria, and so avoid undue pressure to perform perfectly. I remember initially having concerns about this particular poorly answered question during my interview, but this ultimately proved inconsequential when I received my acceptance to Cambridge, so don’t be too hard on yourself!

Additional Statement (SAQ)

 For multidisciplinary courses at Cambridge, there is the option to complete an additional statement in order to align your application with the course, and I would highly recommend that you complete it.

I applied for HSPS at Cambridge, which is a unique course at Cambridge as an amalgamation of Politics IR, Social Anthropology and Sociology. However, for other universities, I applied for Politics IR, so the additional statement allowed me to delve into the other disciplines. I chose social anthropology, and it was a great decision as it enriched my conversation with the interviewer, highlighting the value of exploring less familiar disciplines for a more catered application to the course. Therefore, I encourage you to complete the SAQ, particularly in a discipline that your personal statement does not already address.

  • IE. if you do Land Economy and did an Economics Personal Statement, do a Geography/Law SAQ.

Pre-Interview Tests

 For some courses, Oxbridge may require pre-interview tests. Despite the repetition, the holistic nature of the application process remains genuinely significant to remember.

Of course, it would be better safe than sorry and thus to perform well in these tests, but Oxbridge considers that stress may hinder your performance. I knew two Oxford History applicants who performed similarly in their HAT, but only one got into Oxford. Again, that implies something about their broader applications and so it is truly not the end of the world. Nonetheless, that is not to say don’t work hard, as an outstanding performance in these tests can often set you out from other students.

Written Work

Again, for certain courses, submitting written work from A Levels/IB may be part of your application. I would recommend that you focus on content and quality, rather than the subject itself. I studied History, Politics and English Literature at A Levels, and whilst History and Politics may seem more suited for my course, I chose to send an English Literature poetry essay. This allowed me to showcase the breadth of my interests and intelligence. Also opt for an essay that earned good marks and reflects nuanced thinking, as this will be more impressive!

 

Cambridge Pooling

Applicants from specific backgrounds qualify for the Cambridge Reconsideration Pool on Results Day, offering a chance for reassessment. Even if initially rejected in January, strong exam performance could reopen doors to Cambridge. Witnessing several peers at my sixth form get in this way, the lesson for your application is to remain hopeful and patient!

 

Conclusion

I hope that these tips have eased concerns about Oxbridge applications, and hopefully have taught you that Oxbridge is attainable. Whilst I have emphasised throughout that success in Oxbridge applications is based on a holistic approach, don’t let that make you complacent. Diligent effort is essential, given Oxbridge’s high standards, and if you perform well in each stage, then your position is more likely to be accepted. If you need any help from an online tuition company, then we are ready to help you excel!

Tackle these challenges step by step, and success is assured. Best of luck with your applications!

 

 

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