The application process for Oxbridge has a daunting reputation and, for state school pupils, it can seem especially difficult. Moreover, to receive an acceptance to Oxbridge can be very nerve wracking and appearing in front of the administers and acing the interview requires extra help to work through. Here are a few tips to help students get acceptance into these highly sought-after universities.
1. HAVE ‘CHUTZPAH’
A touch of impudence can go a long way. Having a unique point of view and being passionate about your chosen subject is the key to being recognized as Oxbridge will only look at your personal statement for a few minutes. It has to be perfect, so if you stick out for your point of view, without being particularly inflexible, you are bound to stand out. Even if you are slightly shy during your interview, the interviewers and academics will be more interested in the way you think.
2. BE PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR SUBJECT: KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, NOT WHAT YOU OUGHT TO DO
Tutors and academics will always know if you’re expressing a genuine interest in a subject, or whether you have been pushed towards the subject by those who feel it would be pertinent for you to study. Genuine excitement and enthusiasm for what you’re about to study will be needed if you are to thrive in such a high-pressure environment. Don’t just do it for Oxbridge, for a job or because you are good at it. You will be slogging it out for the next three or more years, make sure It’s something you can enjoy. The interviewer will also be looking out for this passion. Write yourself a list of why you love the subject, why you want to study it, what you want to pursue in your studies and where you think it might take you in the long-term.
3. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR GRADES
There is a presumption that if applying to Oxford or Cambridge, you have to be incredibly well-rounded. Some students have well-rounded activities and some don’t. But at the end of the day, being smart is the key. Your grades will need to really dazzle. You need the A-level grades that Oxford and Cambridge require for the course you want to apply for – search for a course to see what these are exactly, as there can be some extra requirements or conditions.
4. PREP FOR YOUR INTERVIEW
Enrol for Mock Interviews to assist you in putting your best foot forward towards your Oxford or Cambridge application. Interviews are an opportunity for university tutors to test the student’s critical thinking skills, their ability to deal with unseen material, analyze, structure their thoughts and communicate with brevity, exuding confidence and passion for the subject. The interview process is awarded a very high weightage in Oxford and Cambridge in particular. Going prepared is thus the best way to turn your dream into reality.
5. STAY AHEAD IN ALL TESTS
Oxford has a wide range of timed, written pre-entry tests to help them choose from the competition. The exams are designed to show how you think and solve questions that you might not have encountered before. Not all degrees require you to take one, but medical, law, maths, languages, English and engineering will do.
Most potential Cambridge students are required to take subject-specific tests. These assessments require no extra preparation as they are set to test your current level of knowledge and provide ‘valuable additional evidence of our applicants’ academic abilities, knowledge base and potential to succeed’. If you are applying for a maths, medical or law course, you will have another set of pre-exams to take.
6. SHOW WIDER READING
For any degree, you should read widely around your subject and the same goes for when you are applying to any other highly sought-after university, for that matter. This will mean you will have more relevant information to talk about on your personal statement, be able to talk widely around a subject during an interview, and be more prepared for the pace of reading expected of you at university.
7. VOLUNTEER WITH CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS & ENGAGE WITH CULTURAL ACTIVITIES
Helping others and showing that you care about your surrounding will make you look like a valuable addition to a community. Moreover, Oxbridge is based on traditions and history. Even if you want to study science, show that you care about the past and the culture by engaging with cultural activities.
8. BE PREPARED TO WORK HARD AND MAKE SACRIFICES
Perhaps the most important point of all is to remember that entry to a top university does require a huge amount of dedication and hard work. Be prepared to slog away for months on end in order to achieve top grades. This may well come at the expense of another hobby or interest, and you need to be prepared to prioritize your academic work.
As you can see, there are ways that you can maximise your chances of getting into Oxford or Cambridge. All of them require thought and planning to get them right. And if you are worried at any point, Rostrum Education is here to help.
Yatharth Gulati is Co-Founder of Rostrum Education (www.rostrumedu.com), premier EdTech firm with the highest acceptance rate for Oxford & Cambridge in the industry