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Stand out from the Oxbridge crowd

You’ve made the decision to apply to Oxford or Cambridge. You’ve scoped out the courses, colleges and cities. Investigated teaching staff and interrogated league tables. But how do you make the Oxbridge dream a reality? With thousands of applications from top students around the world, you’ll need to see off tough competition to secure that coveted place. Here’s our quick guide to making a successful Oxbridge application, and how we can help along the way.

Prepare early

There are additional nuances to consider when applying to Oxford or Cambridge – most notably, that you can only apply to one in a given academic year. They also both operate a collegiate system, so if you have a preference, you’ll need to include this as part of your application. The deadline for Oxbridge applications is much earlier too, so you’ll need to have your personal statement, test registrations and references ready to submit by 15 October at the very latest.


Understand the admissions process

Like any university, Oxbridge applications go through UCAS. You’ll need to complete personal, educational and work details, as well as uploading your personal statement and requesting a reference. Your chosen referee will need to complete their part by the October deadline too, so make sure to leave plenty of time for this. And if you can, it’s worth chatting to your referee in advance to discuss any key points you’d like them to highlight that will complement your personal statement.

Unlike other universities, most Oxbridge courses require an additional admissions test to see whether you can think creatively under pressure. Tests vary by course and institution, so it’s critical to seek specialist support in order to practice relevant past papers and get to know the marking scheme for your chosen subject.


Talk the talk

All shortlisted students will need to go through the notoriously difficult interview stage, where you’ll be invited to apply your learning in new and unexpected ways. Interviews are usually conducted by a panel of academic tutors, and while there will be targeted questions covering academic achievements and subject-matter knowledge, you may be expected to take the lead from the start. That’s why we recommend practicing as many different approaches as possible – so you can build confidence and learn to think effectively on your feet.


Don’t go it alone

At Figtree, we’ve supported students from around the world on their journey to Oxford and Cambridge, and we’re well-versed in all the different aspects of each university’s application process. We conduct a thorough discovery phase to gain a deep understanding of your needs and motivations. You’ll then be carefully matched with an Oxbridge graduate, with experience in your chosen subject, who can provide targeted support at every step.

Practice papers to personal statements, reading recommendations to interview techniques, our holistic support is designed to take the stress out of the application process. So you’re free to focus on putting your very best foot forward.

Head over to this month’s interview for more insider tips from one of our application tutors. Or get in touch with the Figtree team to find out more.

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