Welcome to the site providing help and advice for state and independent school students, from the UK and overseas,
applying to Oxford, Cambridge and other elite UK universities.
The first aim of the site is to demystify the Oxbridge admissions process for you, and to make it more, not less, likely that you will make an Oxbridge application.
The second aim is to help improve your Oxbridge application's chances of success.
You can access posts on education, social justice and social mobility, by following one or more of my social media pages:
From my experience as an Oxbridge application tutor, I've gleaned two main pieces of advice.
Since it is so competitive, Oxbridge applicants must look to achieve percentage gains at every stage of the application.
Exam grades, and admissions tests scores, are one of the major determinants of success, but a coherent personal narrative, introduced by the personal statement and then complemented by a strong interview performance, may tip the balance.
My second piece of advice to Oxbridge candidates is to avoid becoming a 'factory-farmed' applicant.
Where possible, seek individual help that brings the best out of you, rather than an 'industrialised' Oxbridge programme that tries to force your thoughts and experiences into a generic mould.
Whilst of course no-one is accepted to Oxford or Cambridge on the basis of their personal statement alone,
a poor personal statement can seriously undermine your Oxbridge application.
There are a few notorious pitfalls to avoid, particularly concerning joint honours degrees. I offer two Oxbridge personal statement reviewing services.
If you haven't yet begun to draft your personal statement I send you some preliminary advice, tailored to your choice of degree. I then review 3 consecutive drafts until we're both happy with it. (More than that and it will cease to be your authentic voice.)
If you're already well-advanced with your personal statement then I can give it a quick review to check for any errors that might weaken your application.
Cambridge University has a written test, for all candidates, as part of changes to the application process.
The Cambridge application tests are tailored to each subject and are taken either before or during the candidate's visit to Cambridge for their interview.
Most of the new at-interview Cambridge admissions tests are an hour long and most pre-interview assessments are two hours.
The pre-interview admissions tests coincide with admissions test to the University of Oxford, late October/early November.
Perhaps the most satisfying part of my work, as an Oxbridge application tutor, is receiving emails
from parents with the good news that their son or daughter is going to Oxford or Cambridge.
Here is one I received recently from a proud father whose daughter has just started at Oxford.
"I'm writing to let you know that E got her required points in the IB and so has just started at Oxford - first official day today.
Many thanks to you again for the wonderful interview preparation. It really helped her immensely so I don't think it is an exaggeration to say she would not be there without you!"
The Russell Group describes itself as representing
"24 leading UK universities which are committed to maintaining the very best research,
an outstanding teaching and learning experience..."
Application to its member universities - which include both Oxford and Cambridge - is highly competitive; and becoming more so. Some have begun introducing admissions tests along Oxbridge lines.
If you're considering an Oxbridge application, it's very likely that your alternative choices of university, in your UCAS application, will be from the Russell Group.
There are a few universities and colleges that, though not part of the Russell Group,
often accompany an Oxbridge application. The University of Bath is perhaps
a good example.
Recently the New College of the Humanities was launched that claims to offer an Oxbridge undergraduate experience with "more immersive degree study programmes with significantly more contact time with lecturers and tutors."
The fees are likely to beyond the reach of state school applicants. However, 30% of the first year's intake were either scholars (no fees) or exhibitioners (reduced fees).
You may therefore wish to consider an application to NCH, which can supplement your standard Oxbridge application.
Success in Oxbridge applications is an important criterion by which independent schools are judged and compared.
They therefore devote considerable resources to coaching their Oxbridge candidates, often with tutors invidually assigned.
A great many state schools lack the time, expertise, and sometimes sadly the inclination, to put in place an effective Oxbridge application programme.
As a state school 'alumnus' myself, who studied at both Cambridge and Oxford, and who was a part-time Oxford tutor, I'm here to help and advise those Oxbridge applicants who need extra support.
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