Is Oxbridge on the horizon for you?
We are here to help!
When it comes to preparing an application for prestigious universities it is always a good idea to start early. This is even more important if you are aiming for Oxford or Cambridge, and/or to apply for a competitive course such as Medicine or Law.
Based on the Team’s experiences of successfully supporting students with the admissions process, these tips will encourage you to get stuck in and work hard to make yourself the best applicant you can be.
In the Classroom
Competitive universities such as Oxford and Cambridge typically have high grade requirements for A Levels, and likewise for international qualifications such as the IB and AP. It is therefore worth making your academic subjects a priority this year, ensuring that you achieve good predicted grades and avoid last-minute cramming! At Oxford Tutors, we have an abundance of brilliant tutors who can support all curricula, including A Level and IB, so if you feel like you may need a little extra help in order to achieve those (crucial) top grades, please do get in touch.
It is also worth thinking about building a rapport with any teachers who will be providing you with an academic reference that will be submitted with your UCAS form in October. This will help to ensure that these teachers are aware of the effort you are putting into your application and that they are able to give you a stellar character reference.
Further reading, podcasts and documentaries
Reading relevant books and articles beyond the school curriculum is a fantastic way to engage with the subject. This will help you with developing your own specific interests and learning about them in detail, and familiarising yourself with the language and style of academic writing. Listening to podcasts and watching documentaries are equally worthwhile ways to spend your time, and should not be underestimated as learning resources – why not take a look at Blinkist, an app that condenses large academic texts into twenty-minute podcasts. It is also a very good idea to keep up with the news and follow recent developments and discoveries in your field (a nice way to do this is to follow the relevant University Department on social media!). By immersing yourself in your subject at this early stage you are positioning yourself brilliantly to start working on your Personal Statement in the Spring/Early Summer.
Explore work experience options
An exemplary Personal Statement will often also include reference to and reflection on some relevant work experience. Indeed, whilst volunteering in relevant placements and gaining work experience is particularly important for Medicine applications, for other courses, volunteering in a role relevant to your academic interests shows initiative and motivation. This might include, for instance, volunteering at a museum, library, wildlife trust or archaeological dig, or mentoring younger pupils at school. If you are applying to a STEM course, it is also worthwhile exploring the option of working in a lab. At Oxford Tutors, we understand that finding out what kinds of work experience and volunteering opportunities are out there (and then applying successfully to them!) can be a rather daunting task. Our Team and Subject Specialist Tutors are always happy to offer guidance in this area, so please do get in touch.
Several Oxford and Cambridge colleges run Year 12 Essay Competitions. Entering one of these will mean that you gain experience of writing your own research essay on a topic that interests you, and will be able to talk about what you learned in your Personal Statement. There are also other types of competition that may be relevant to your subject, such as translation prizes, drama or speaking competitions, or Maths and STEM Challenges and Olympiads. If you have written an essay and would like an expert tutor to look over it before submission, please do get in touch. We also have experienced tutors available to support students preparing for STEM Olympiads.
Ask for help!
The brightest students will know when to ask for help with things they are finding challenging. Indeed, our top tip for University applicants will always be to ask for help! Whether this is speaking with a friend or family member who has been through the process before, speaking to a current student at an Open Day or asking Oxford Tutors to find you a mentor, a strong support network is key to thriving at challenging tasks.
Join our Oxbridge Programme
If you would like further guidance, we offer bespoke Oxbridge Programmes that are tailored to your needs and will support you every step of the way; these can begin in January, or at later entry points. Each programme includes one-to-one tuition for your subjects, academic extension work, application mentoring, and support with personal statements, admissions tests and interviews.
— The Oxbridge Team
Kate is an experienced Oxbridge advisor. She graduated from Hertford College, Oxford having studied Archaeology and Anthropology. Last year she completed an MSc in the Anthropology of Policy at Leiden University in the Netherlands before joining Oxford Tutors. She has ample tutoring experience at various levels. As a member of the Oxford Tutors full-time team, she has been heavily involved with Oxbridge admissions, helping students optimise their Personal Statements and delivering our Free Oxbridge Webinars.
Megan studied for a BA and Master’s in Classics at Oriel College, Oxford. She has helped students applying to study a variety of subjects at Oxbridge, looking over personal statements and written work as well as aiding preparation for entrance tests and interviews. Megan is also interested in education policy issues, having published a report and articles on the UK’s ‘languages crisis’. She is passionate about removing barriers to equal opportunities in education: she enjoys volunteer teaching, mentoring and creating free resources to support disadvantaged pupils.