by James Hind & Matthew Threadgold

Why Did We Decide to Apply?

  • Thought we’d give it a go.
  • Confident about our other choices.
  • Renowned university with world class departments.
  • Wanted a challenge.

Make sure you have a visit.

There’s no point applying somewhere if you’re not going to enjoy living there.
There’s plenty of open days before the deadline so lots of opportunities to have a look round.
Sometimes you can find residentials/summer-schools e.g. UNIQ/University held events. These give a good experience to studying at the university.


Should be aiming for A*s in all subjects.
Offers will likely be A*AA or A*A*A but it’s best to have A*A*A*.
Make sure you have the correct A-Levels for the course you want to study. You can look on the university websites to check these.

Where else we applied

  • Oxford/Cambridge
  • Warwick
  • Durham
  • Nottingham
  • York/Leeds

Personal Statement

  • Passion and super-curricular are the most important.
  • Read books and go beyond the syllabus.
  • Investigate other modules in your courses.
  • Online courses e.g. Future Learn
  • Use stuff you’ve read in books to investigate interesting concepts.
  • Don’t forget a little bit of extracurricular e.g. hobbies, volunteering, but try to link it to the course.


  • Pick the one you like the look of, not the one that your mates applying to.
  • Colleges are more alike than different so it doesn’t matter where you end up.
  • You may get pooled in the Winter/Summer pool but you’ll end up at the college that’s right for you.
  • Oxford give interviews at multiple colleges. Cambridge will give you one interview and then inform you about pooling in January.

Entry Requirements

  • Some colleges/subjects ask for entrance exams along side the A-Level offer. These are nothing to worry about.
  • For Oxford, these come before interview. Cambridge want these at the same time as A-Levels.
  • Colleges may want written work to be handed in before interview to discuss during the interview.


  • Go in being positive. Don’t care about the outcome.
  • You’re there to do your favourite subject with a world class academic.
  • If you think it has gone badly, don’t worry, the interviewers will have just wanted to challenge you more.
  • Make sure you are enthusiastic and talk a lot. Make sure you explain what you’re doing/saying and why.
  • If you don’t understand a question, ask them to explain it again.
  • The academics want to see how you think and see how well you cope in the unique teaching environment.
  • Be yourself and stay relaxed.

The Course

Make sure you choose the subject that you enjoy the most. This is the best piece of advice for applying to OxBridge. You’ll be spending the majority of the day actually doing your subject so make sure it’s one that you love doing.

Very intense. You’ll be given lots of work to do with large amounts of time required to complete it.

A lot of the work given will need you to be able to think for yourself. The learning is done outside of contact hours as opposed to someone teaching you in a class.

You’ll have both lectures and tutorials/supervisions each week, the ratio will depend on the subject.

Tutorials/supervisions will generally last an hour. On occasions they could be up to three hours, depending on the content.

Tutorial/supervision time is vital. It’s what makes OxBridge OxBridge. It is time that you can spend with a world class academic going through intense material on a 1-2/1-3 environment.

The Stereotypical OxBridge Student

There isn’t one.

It’s completely what you make of it. Don’t think you wouldn’t fit in if you got a place.

It’s up to the academics whether they think you’ll manage there.

You’ll find a group of friends and undoubtedly find a hobby you really enjoy.

Don’t worry about money either. The universities make it so finances shouldn’t be a problem for you when you want to study for your degree. They’ll happily help you with any troubles you have.

“Lilac Flowers of Doom!” flickr photo by Sidneiensis shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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