Applying to Oxbridge (Oxford or Cambridge)


Oxford and Cambridge (also known as Oxbridge) are the UK’s most famous and sought after universities and have a very strict admission procedure. Below you will find all you need to know before applying to Oxbridge.

Oxford or Cambridge?

Applicants can only apply to Oxford or Cambridge – it is not possible to apply to both universities. Cambridge and Oxford are both world-renowned universities that share many similarities in terms of the collegiate structure, personalised teaching methods, excellent academic reputation and rich learning resources. Therefore, it can be difficult to decide which one to apply to. The best way to decide is to consider the following points:
– Which institution offers the course I prefer?circle-steps
– Which city would I prefer to live in?
– Which learning environment do I prefer?
Don’t forget to visit both universities on their Open Days and spend some time imagining yourself studying there.

The College System

In the UCAS application, as well as listing applicants’ preferred university (either Oxford or Cambridge), they are also required to choose a particular college to apply to.

Oxford and Cambridge are each made up of over 30 individual and self-governed colleges where students live, eat, socialise, study and receive college supervisions / tutorials (small group teaching sessions).

However, this does not mean students will be trapped within the college walls for three years. Lectures, labs and larger classes are held in the faculty buildings where students from different colleges will have the chance to meet each other.

Which Oxbridge college should I choose?

With over 30 colleges to choose from, it can be a daunting task. Below are a few tips for applicants on how to choose the best suitable college:
● Attend College Open Days: it is important to see the college in person as applicants gain a real sense of the environment.
● Eliminate by college type: Some colleges only admit mature students, graduate students or female students.
● Eliminate by course availability: Some colleges do not provide all courses offered by the university.
● Eliminate by location: Older colleges are usually located in the city centre, and more modern colleges are usually a short walk out of town.
● Eliminate by academic reputation.
● Eliminate by accommodation choices.
● Eliminate by facilities: Some colleges are better equipped than others. Sport facilities, internet access and music facilities may vary between colleges.

Open Applicationoxbridge application

If applicants cannot make a decision, they can opt for an Open Application, where the allocation is made by a computer programme. It is important to note that whether applicants make an open application or specify a preferred College, it makes no difference to their chances of getting a place.

Oxbridge admission procedures

Differing from other universities in the UK, the Oxbridge admission process goes beyond UCAS application. Oxbridge applicants need to apply a year before the start date of the course by completing the online UCAS application form. Applications open in early September, and the deadline is 6pm UK time on 15 October every year. The deadline could be earlier for some international applicants.

Academic Grades

With the typical condition offers ranging from AAA to A*A*A (A-levels) or 38-41 (IB), it is no surprise that Oxbridge admission tutors are looking for the brightest candidates.
While Oxford uses applicants’ predicted A Level/ IB grades as a part of the shortlisting process, Cambridge also takes AS Level grades into consideration. Moreover, Cambridge requires applicants to do a Supplementary Application Questionnaire and to provide Uniform Mark Scheme scores in addition to their UCAS form.

Oxbridge Personal Statement

Personal Statements are an important part of the university application. It is a great opportunity to demonstrate applicants’ ambitions, skills, experience and subject knowledge.
Please be prepared to be able to confidently discuss / elaborate on your Personal Statement with admission tutors at your interview.

Submitted Courseworkoxbridge application

Both universities ask applicants to submit examples of written coursework. At Oxford the deadline for the submission of this work is 10 November. Cambridge applicants will be advised by their college when it needs to be submitted.

Oxbridge Admission Tests

Oxbridge requires applicants to take additional tests or written assessments as a part of the application process either pre-interview or at-interview. For all pre-interview tests and written assessments in Oxford, registration is required by 15 October.
The admission tests applicants are required to take largely depend on the course they apply for. It is always a good idea to prepare in advance and practice past papers beforehand.

Oxbridge Interviews

Interviews for the shortlisted candidates usually take place in early to mid December in the form of small classes. If applicants do not get shortlisted for interview, it means their application has not been successful.
Interviews at Cambridge normally take place in one college, often on a single day, whereas Oxford applicants will usually stay for at least a couple of days and may be interviewed at multiple colleges.
Oxbridge interview questions are well known to be tricky and challenging. Interviewers require applicants to think outside the box, to demonstrate their extensive knowledge on the subject area and their ability to apply critical thinking skills into real life events. It is always a good idea to read recommended reading materials and keep up-to-date on current affairs.

“Success comes to those who are prepared”oxbridge application

The above quote is the key to a successful Oxbridge application.

Applicants need to make sure they:
● have all the relevant documents;
● understand the admission procedure;
● know the deadlines for application and admission test registration;
● practice past test papers and interview questions; and
● work hard to achieve their predicted grades.

With a team of dedicated and experienced consultants, UKG offers an extensive service which ranges from Personal Statement support, UCAS document checking, reading list recommendations, admission test preparations and mock interview practice for Oxbridge applicants. We can also help with the difficult decision of which university and college to choose.
Get in touch today to book your free initial consultation –, +44 (0) 20 8387 4095.