Dreaming of Oxford or Cambridge University? Tips to maximise your chance of success

Year 12 students are starting to book their university open days and to consider which universities to aim for.  If Oxford or Cambridge are on your list of potential universities, read our five tips below:

Make sure that your UCAS form statement is superb

Spend time writing your UCAS statement.  You should focus on making sure that it is well-written, expresses your passion for your chosen subject.  It should also show that you are someone who would function well in a university environment.  Have you been actively involved in charity work, sport or music or any other hobby or unusual experience?  If so, emphasise this on your UCAS form as it shows that you have initiative and are willing to try new things outside of traditional academic study.

Be prepared to demonstrate a deep interest in your subject

Oxford and Cambridge are looking for students who can develop a deep interest in their subject.  They are looking for students who are willing to research in depth and demonstrate real scholarship in their chosen major.  At interview, you must be able to show this and to answer unusual questions about your subject.  You must also show that you are capable of thinking creatively and demonstrate that you have new or interesting ideas to bring to the academic argument.

Offer more than just academic prowess

Do you sing in the school choir, play violin in an orchestra, love debating or play hockey to high level? if so, this will only increase your chances of success.  Oxford and Cambridge colleges look for students who are able to contribute a great deal to college life- not just spend three years studying in the library.  So make the most of your other interests and skills, both on your UCAS form and at your interview.

Prepare for your interview

Your interview is an important part of the application process.  It’s worth spending some time preparing for questions which may come up.  Depending on the Oxford or Cambridge College, you are normally interviewed by up to two tutor specialists in your chosen subject so reading around your subject and being aware of any new research, is important.  It may be useful to ask a friend or a teacher from your school to do a mock interview with you.

Consider less popular courses

Geography, Music and Modern Language at Oxford and Archaeology, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Music at Cambridge are amongst the less popular courses, attracting less applicants.  If you have a real interest in and an aptitude for these subjects, you may wish to consider applying for them.  You will have more chance of being offered a place.

Oxford and Cambridge Universities are competitive choices.  Every year many exceptional applicants are discouraged from applying because of the competition.  So, if you are drawn to a course at one of these two universities, give it a go!

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