How to Get Into Oxford University

Time and time again, students ask me ‘how do I get into Oxford.’ Luckily, I know exactly how to answer this.

In 2021, the average acceptance rate for Oxford University was 13.5% (according to data from UCAS). Here at The Profs, 55% of our students get in! Meaning, our students are over 3x more likely to get into Oxford.

The admissions process for Oxford isn’t simply competitive, it’s different to most other universities. For example, Oxford considers historic grades, often requires the completion of admissions tests, and interviews 45% of their applicants. Due to Oxford’s holistic approach to admissions, NONE of these steps can be discounted. All must be thoroughly prepared for.

Most Oxford applicants have top grades so an excellent academic track record does not guarantee your admission, nor will it help you to stand out. We’ll dive into some tips on how to demonstrate the X factor in this article.

Plenty of our team have studied at Oxford or previously worked in Oxbridge admissions. So, if anyone has the know-how to make your application as perfect as possible, it’s us. In our experience, we’ve seen that very few students know how to write an undergraduate university application that targets Oxford’s unique admissions criteria. Thankfully, we offer the right support and preparation to aid you in submitting an application that stands out and maximises your chances of an offer.

Read on for insider information from our team of Oxford admissions experts to maximise your chances of getting into Oxford this year.

Contents:

  1. What is the University of Oxford acceptance rate?
  2. What are the Oxford entry requirements?
  3. Does Oxford give contextual offers?
  4. Oxford’s courses and entry requirements
  5. What do I do if I don’t meet Oxford’s entry requirements?
  6. Insider information on Oxford
  7. 8 tips for getting into Oxford
  8. Get 1-to-1 guidance from an expert admissions tutor
  9. FAQs

What is the University of Oxford acceptance rate?

In 2021, the Oxford University acceptance rate was 13.5% (according to data from UCAS). It received 24,645 applications and accepted 3,330 students overall.
With the help of The Profs’ expert Oxbridge consultants, this acceptance rate jumps to 55%, meaning our applicants to Oxford are more than three times more likely to receive an offer. Get in touch with our team to maximise your chances of getting into Oxford.

What are the Oxford entry requirements?

Oxford’s entry requirements vary depending on the course you’re applying to study and the country you’re applying from. The table below shows the UK qualifications and some of the most common international qualifications accepted by Oxford, and the entry requirements for each.

If your qualifications are not in this table, or you need more information on English language requirements and additional admission requirements, check Oxford’s guide for international students. You can also get in touch with the Profs’ Oxbridge admissions team for one-to-one support from one of our international applications experts.

QualificationEntry requirements
A LevelsRange from A*A*A-AAA, depending on the course.
International Baccalaureate (IB)Total score of 38-40 points (depending on the course) including core points, with 6s and 7s in subjects taken at the higher level.
European Baccalaureate (EB)An average of 85% or above, with scores of between 8 and 9 in subjects specified at A level or equivalent.
Abitur (Germany)Overall grade of 1.1-1.3, depending on the course.
Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE)Grade 5 or A in three elective subjects, taken from either Category A or Category C.
AP (Advanced Placement) (USA)Either four APs at grade 5;
Or three APs at grade 5 plus a score of 33 or above in the ACT or 1480 or above (out of 1600) in the SAT.
Other international qualificationsCheck the full list of international qualifications accepted by Oxford.

Note that Oxford’s entry requirements differ depending on your chosen course, so make sure you check on the relevant course page before applying. If you’re a UK student and need support in meeting the entry requirements for Oxford, then our A level tutors can help you boost your grades.

Are you an international student? Check out Oxford’s information page on all qualifications and grades that qualify you for Oxford’s minimum entry requirements.

Does Oxford give contextual offers?

Oxford University does not make systematic contextual offers, but it does look at contextual data when considering applicants to ensure that it is offering places to the candidates with the highest potential, regardless of background. The proportion of students attending Oxford that come from socio-economically disadvantaged areas has risen from 8.2% to 15.9% in the past 5 years. You can find more information on how Oxford uses contextual data here.

Not meeting entry requirements because of your socio-economic background and/or extenuating circumstances? Or think this could have a part to play? check out our previous blog on what to do if you don’t meet Oxford’s entry requirements – which includes a section on what qualifies applicants for contextual consideration and how this is handled by Oxford.

Oxford’s courses and entry requirements

Please note that the entry requirements for Oxford differ depending on your chosen course, so make sure you check on the relevant course page before applying. Better yet, we’ve synthesised all of Oxford’s most competitive and/or popular courses and laid them out clearly in an undergraduate and postgraduate table. Check them out!

We also have previous guides on how to get into Oxford for Physics and Law.

What do I do if I don’t meet Oxford’s entry requirements?

If you don’t meet Oxford’s entry requirements, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up on your application. A) Our expert A level tutors can help you boost your grades.
B) It might not be too late to improve your student profile. C) There are many alternative ways to stand out and make up for where you lack. In need of advice? We’ve got you covered.Check out our in-depth article on how to get into Oxford if you don’t meet their entry requirements!

  • Curiosity:

Oxford likes curious students. If you are applying to Oxford, it is recommended that you digest reading lists months ahead of your interview. Remember, you can also watch (quality) YouTube or TED talks in the evening to introduce yourself to more subjects outside of your school’s syllabus.

  • Research:

Oxford states that it favours students who have ability, enthusiasm, curiosity, and commitment. It can be impressive if you find a way to conduct official research related to your subject and demonstrate the critical ability to explore it outside the confines of your school environment. The importance is showing Oxford that you can flourish as an academic without handholding and a regimented school structure. If you really want to impress Oxford, you could study the first few weeks of a first or second-year module for your chosen course and talk about this in your application. This will prove that you are already able to think and study at university level – which is what Oxford is looking for.

  • Unique courses:

Oxford offers some unique courses, like PPE and PPL. If you’re interested in taking one of these degrees, you can really stand out. Research one of these unique courses in depth and convey that you have a genuine passion for it in your personal statement that is well evidenced with relevant readings.

  • Access days:

It’s super important that you show genuine interest in your chosen course and demonstrate commitment to learning about it. Oxford offers year 12 study days for 500 state school students (held over 3 days in March each year). These access days offer students the chance to experience their chosen subject through a day of academic sessions run by Oxford tutors! Apply for this programme in a required/recommended subject that you might be lacking some education/experience in to prove your passion and dedication to Oxford.

  • Your referee:

A good referee is important. Obviously, you want them to speak highly of you, but ideally, they will highlight your skills and qualities that are relevant to your chosen degree. For this reason, as well as for the general impression of your application, it is best to choose a referee who teaches your chosen subject or within your discipline. It is also a good idea to choose a referee who knows you well enough to write you something of quality.

Talk to your referee about your strengths that they might not be aware of: what you have read around your subjects, and your work experiences and non-school achievements. You want your referee to convince Oxford that you are good at your chosen subject/s, passionate about them, and committed to your discipline. If you can’t fit some of your readings or summer schools into your personal statement, ask your referee to add these in.

If you don’t meet subject requirements we have more tips on how to use your referee to flag this appropriately – check out the section covering this on our previous blog.

8 tips for getting into Oxford

We are going to break down each step of Oxford’s application process with relevant tips below. But first, take note of Oxford’s holistic approach to admissions. No step can be overlooked. Familiarise yourself with the process and prepare thoroughly. Each factor carries weight. Don’t lean more into your strengths or weaknesses – leave no stone unturned!

Oxford has an early deadline compared to most other universities. Whilst the standard UCAS deadline falls in January, Oxford’s deadline for standard undergraduates is in October. Applying much earlier than the deadline will not increase your chances so do not rush your application by any means. Just be organised enough to have your application 100% ready for Oxford’s deadline.

Insider tip: It’s important to note that Cambridge interviews most of their applicants who meet the academic requirements, thus their final decision is often based on the interview itself. Whereas LSE does not interview applicants, so their final decision is predominantly based on grades and experience. Contrastingly, Oxford takes a holistic approach. Oxford considers your prior academic attainment as well as your predicted grades, and then any admissions tests and written work, and finally your interview. Oxford’s focus is spread out. Tutors make decisions based on all aspects of your application. Meaning, that each step holds value and must be polished. Your profile should be well-rounded. No step is more important than another! Don’t spend the majority of your efforts in one area or neglect another.

Please note: There are additional steps and criteria if you are applying for a specific scholarship and you often need a reference, so ensure that you add this separately to your general checklist.

1. Do you actually know your specific subject requirements?

Oxford’s standard entry requirements for conditional offers range from A*A*A-AAA at A level. However, many courses have specific additional requirements that students need to meet. For example, Oxford and Cambridge both expect you to pass practical components that form part of any of your science A levels used to meet its offer requirements.

Ensure that you are aware of what Oxford’s subject requirements and preferences are for your chosen course, and try to meet these.

There is no ideal subject combination as expectations vary depending on your course. For example, Chemistry with either Maths, Further Maths, Biology or Physics is required for Medicine, while Economics and Management requires an A* or A grade in Maths. Typically, if you are choosing a Science subject, they’ll value you having A levels in Science subjects as well as Maths. More generally, they’ll want to see you have studied the subject you’re applying for if it’s a common subject e.g. they would expect a Maths applicant to have studied Maths for A level but they would not expect Law applicants to have studied Law for A level. Surprisingly, applicants pursuing History or Geography degrees are only recommended to have taken these subjects rather than required. It’s always worth checking Oxford’s definitions of umbrella subjects too e.g. they often accept Psychology as a science subject whereas Cambridge usually does not.

Our A level tutors have a proven track record of helping students achieve an A*, so if you’re finding yourself slipping behind the grades required for entry, reach out to the Profs for support.

Even where a specific subject isn’t required, there are often preferred subjects that Oxford may favour over others. Certain subjects, such as Maths, give you an advantage when applying for a huge range of courses, all the way from Psychology to Business. If you’re unsure of which course to apply for, what you need or where to start, get in touch with the Profs’ experienced Oxbridge admissions team who can advise you.

Due to how competitive Oxford is, having the required grades in the correct subjects does not guarantee you a place at Oxford. Hence, it could be a good idea to gain extra achievements, experience, or qualifications in subjects related to your chosen course so that yourapplication is as competitive as possible. If you attend a free state school within the UK, you could also benefit from taking a course at UNIQ. This is a free summer school offered by Oxford which you apply for by January in year 12. MPLS offer a bridging programme as a department which is particularly useful if you’re applying for a related course. Oxford also offers other term schools which do not consider socio-economic backgrounds, such as niche subject-related schools e.g. the Creative Writing Summer School, the Critical Reading Summer School, or the Statistical Genomics Summer School. Colleges like Merton College and Christ Church offer introductory level Summer Schools. Oxford also offers Winter Schools, such as the College of International Education, as well as study abroad programmes for international students. You could also enter essay competitions, olympiads for your subject, and/or take extra qualifications in your subject.

2. Is your academic record as polished as possible?

Along with Cambridge, UCL, LSE and Imperial, Oxford University is one of the most competitive universities in the UK. The entry requirements for its most competitive courses, including Mathematics and Statistics, Economics and Management, and Computer Science, are at the top end of Oxford’s standard offer range at A*A*A-A*AA at A level.

Grades are expected and considered before anything else. In short, Oxford does expect you to have their required grades, and even then, having them might not be enough. So, the value of meeting Oxford’s academic entry requirements cannot be underestimated. Generally, Oxford has one grade requirement lower than Cambridge. Hence, more people can apply to Oxford than Cambridge and the best way to stand out academically is by exceeding the average.

Ensuring that you achieve the best grades possible throughout your secondary education studies should therefore be a top priority if you’re applying to Oxford. Our A level tutors have helped many students achieve top grades and get offers from their first and second-choice universities, including Oxford. Whether you’re falling behind in one subject or need more intensive, all-round support, reach out to our team and we’ll get you the help you need.

Please note: None of Oxford’s courses have specific GCSE requirements and there is no set number of GCSEs (or equivalent). However, GCSEs are used in some parts of Oxford’s admissions process as performance indicators and to predict A level grades. Oxford prefers applicants to have as many A*s and 9s as possible, and many applicants have a lot of 7, 8 and 9 grades. So you should ensure that your historic grades don’t let you down, especially in subjects relevant to your course.

Also, don’t stretch yourself too thin if you’re struggling to get great grades. Consider dropping down to three A levels if you’re taking four. Oxford states that their offers are usually made for three A levels, even if applicants are taking more. Oxford will consider additional A levels as these can help in proving your ability to handle a large workload. However, four A levels are not worth the effort if you’re not achieving highly in each subject. Oxford warns that students “think carefully before taking on any additional A levels as this may reduce the time you have to read around your chosen subject beyond your school or college work” or “you may risk dropping a grade or two”. Consequently, Oxford prioritises high grades, appropriate subject choices, and further reading, over additional A levels.

Oxford makes its offers on the basis of specific grades rather than UCAS Tariff points. Meaning, three A*/A grades meet most conditional offers, whereas two A*s and two Bs do not.

Remember: Once you have gone through the application process you will most likely be given a conditional offer. If so, you must meet these requirements (usually specific A level grades and sometimes admission test grades) to confirm your place.

3. Selection success: Choose the right college

When choosing a college, be aware of the subjects your college offers as well as what departments it specialises in. Is this college suited to your academic and personal interests? Can it facilitate your goals?

You can choose a specific college to apply to or, if you don’t have a preference, you can join the 40% of students who make open applications. However, making an open application does not mean that your application is sent to all colleges. Oxford will assign you one and your application will be processed through this college alone. Therefore, an open application will not offer you a greater chance of being admitted. In fact, showing clear knowledge of a college as well as a keen interest in joining their community might give you a better chance as this will show you have genuine enthusiasm rather than handing in a generalised application. Oxford could also assign you the most competitive college for your course, so it might be better to take the reins yourself. Colleges vary in that some are recognised as the most prestigious for particular disciplines and have tighter acceptance rates. Similarly, some have larger student bodies and therefore can accept more students.

Unlike Cambridge, all of Oxford’s colleges have signed up to a Common Framework for admissions. This means that the same application process for your course applies at every college. Hence, Oxford claims that no college is easier or harder to get into.

You can find out about all of Oxford’s colleges here. Oxford suggests you take virtual tours and contact your shortlisted colleges’ admissions offices to help you make a decision. An optimum way to suss out the right college for you is to attend Oxford’s open days where you can view the college and get a feel of it in person. You could even talk to existing students there.

Please note: Oxford has a system called ‘pooling’. The admissions tutor may send your application to other colleges if they think you’re a strong candidate but the college has filled its places or already has sufficient numbers of applicants from your subject area. So, you could receive an offer from a college that is different to the one you applied for.

Insider tip: Due to pooling, once you’ve completed your college interview on the interview day you could be sent for more interviews for different colleges. This could happen whether you’ve submitted an open application or not. Possible reasons for this are:

      • Your college thinks you’re an excellent candidate and wants to show you off.
      • Your college thinks you’re a very good applicant and wants to give you ample opportunity with more colleges than just this one.
      • Your college thinks you might be better suited to another college.
      • Your college is concerned that they have too many applicants from your course or generally.

The different reasons are endless. There’s no reason to stress – it could be a good thing! Similarly, if you aren’t asked to attend any interviews with alternate colleges to your selected one, this is not necessarily a bad thing. There’s no set algorithm to determine whether callbacks are a positive or negative sign. So, remain calm and optimistic and do your best. If you are not asked to go to another interview, go home, unwind, recharge, and stay hopeful. If you are, try to approach this as a great opportunity.

4. You’ve mentioned a solid 5-year plan, right?

Oxford values applicants with a clear and ambitious career plan because they want their students to go on to get good jobs after university and maintain a strong Oxford alumni network.

Getting into Oxford is a great goal to have, but it’s also important to think about the long-term plan and how a degree in your chosen subject from Oxford will help you achieve your future academic or career goals. You may want to go on to study a Master’s or PhD, land a graduate job at your dream company, or use the skills acquired in your undergraduate to help you set up your own business. For example, if you’re applying for a course in Medicine or Law, it’s imperative to show you’ve thought about your career and what comes next. So, mention your career aspirations in your application and be specific. What institution or company do you want to work for, and what do you want to specialise in? If you’re not sure, educate yourself.

Having these goals in mind will help you communicate your reasons for wanting to study your course in your personal statement and prove to Oxford that you are motivated and committed to your academic future.

Also remember, your career aspirations don’t need to be set in stone. You have every right to change your mind later down the line.

5. Don’t trip on your admissions test

A key stage of the Oxbridge application process is the admissions test. Which admissions test you’re required to take depends on the course you’re applying for. You must register for your admissions test before you submit your UCAS application by the 15th October Oxbridge deadline. You’ll then need to sit your test before your Oxbridge interview in December; the exact date will depend on which admissions text you’re taking. Most tests are computer-based (excluding the MAT and PAT, which are hybrid) and are held in early November. You usually take your test at your school but if this isn’t possible, you can find an open centre to take your test.

It’s really important to prepare and practise as thoroughly as possible for your admissions test, as it will be used to assess your academic ability and how well-suited you are to your chosen course. Tips for Oxford’s admissions tests:

      • Test papers are key and dry runs are crucial. The more papers, the better!
      • Look at mark schemes.
      • Admissions tests are subject specific.
      • Familiarise yourself with the test content, style and rubric early.
      • Practice and revise over the summer. You’re going to have less time once your A levels begin.
      • YouTube and Google examiner and tutor comments regarding what they like to see. This will be different for Oxford than AQA examiners.

Information on Oxford’s admissions tests can be found here. Oxford also released a table of admissions tests per course.

Insider tip: You should be aware of the average scores for your required admissions test e.g. the average scores of those invited for an interview as well as those who receive an offer. These differ from year to year, so check your specific test within the current date so that you know what to work towards. Aim above the average scores of interviewees and offer holders to make your application as competitive as possible. Also, check that there have been no changes to your test format. For example, the PAT and Oxford’s Geography admissions test have recently changed so past papers for them might not be relevant. Also, be aware of different sections and skills within your admission test. For example, the TSA is split between a Q/A section and an essay section so you should be prepared for both and avoid leaning too heavily into your weaker or stronger side.

Our extensive network of admissions test experts can tutor you in both the academic content and technique of these tests. Get in touch with the Profs to begin preparing.

Written work:

Your course might ask you to submit one or multiple written works prior to your interview. Check here to be sure as this can vary depending on your individual circumstances.

Usually, the written work will be recent examples of your writing around a subject relevant to your course, however, it’s always important to check this with your course department as this can differ.

Take the time to choose the best possible example you have. Consult an expert admissions consultant here at The Profs or one of your relevant teachers for advice on what is best suited to hand in. Even consider writing something new, especially suited to Oxford’s request. Although, if you do write something new, remember to get it marked. Be sure to revise your work as much as possible to ensure that it could not be any better!

Insider tip: Firstly, don’t just pick a piece with a high mark, also consider what it’s about and what thought process or skills it demonstrates. Secondly, if you’re given the opportunity to send in more than one piece of written work, offer a relevant variety of material. Finally, be aware that you’re submitting something that Oxford will probably interview you about so be sure that you’re comfortable talking about it. Keep a copy with you on the interview day to read through.

6. Lay the ‘groundwork’ for Acceptance

Work experience: To help prove your commitment to your long-term goals outlined in your personal statement, you should look to gain relevant work experience in your field. Whether paid or unpaid, having experience working in your desired field will provide you with invaluable real-life knowledge about the industry.

For undergraduate courses at Oxford, work experience is never a requirement. However, Oxford is a very competitive university, especially for undergraduate entry, and it’s best to do all you can to stand out to maximise your chances. Work experience in a relevant industry to your chosen discipline can demonstrate your drive and commitment to the subject. Expressing what skills you have learned from this experience and how they will help you with your course will also make you a more attractive candidate.

Remember, context is important. Remain as relevant to your degree as possible. For example, if your degree values research, analytical or programming skills then you should be referencing work experience that marries up with this.

Important: Oxford explicitly states on its entry requirement pages that it takes into consideration when students might not have had the opportunity to gain work experience, publish, or conduct research. If you are lacking desirable skills or experience because of your circumstances you should ensure that this is flagged in your application.

If you can’t secure work experience, try to engage in as many extracurricular activities related to your chosen subject area as you can. For instance, if you’re applying for Computer Science, you could join a school Computing club or learn a new programming language in your free time in order to gain valuable extra skills to supplement your application.

Extracurriculars: Oxford values academia more than your extracurriculars, however, as Oxford considers your application holistically, your extracurriculars can play a large hand in your admission. So, make this part count! Explore as much as you can to know what you’re good at and what you want to do!

Ask yourself: What is your X-factor? What is it that makes you really unique? Have you competed nationally, scored very highly in a competition, or perhaps grown a large following on your YouTube vlog? Have you been an appreciated leader for anything? Whatever it is that you have achieved, can you link it to academia, and more importantly, to skills that your course requires? For example, a black belt in Judo might be hard to associate with the Law degree you’d like to take, whereas, being head of your school’s debate team is certainly relevant. Similarly, if you’re applying for a Literature degree it’s great if you can share a link to a blog or collection of poems that you’ve been consistently adding to for a long period of time. With hobbies like music, it is probably only worth mentioning if you have impressive grades and/or play multiple instruments and can link this talent to skills required by your chosen degree.

You can stand out by mentioning scholarships, awards, class prizes, the percentile you were ranked in your class (if your school offers this), and competitions such as Intermediate Biology Olympiad or the Oxford German Olympiad. Even things like a high chess ELO ranking could help you prove the academic capability of your mind. The main importance is the relationship between your hobby and your desired subject, as these extracurriculars only become beneficial if they relate to your ability to excel as a student in your chosen department.

Insider tip 1: Elite universities, especially Oxford, compare applicants to their school peers. Therefore, it’s vital to do more unusual supercurricular activities than those your school pushes everyone to do. This is why essay competitions are great (especially now that some have a limit on the number of entries per school). In fact, connecting with PhD students can be a brilliant way to show a detailed interest in research.

How to ACTUALLY go beyond the syllabus: Show that your understanding of the course is beyond comprehensive by talking about very specific and complex concepts. The best way to do this is to do your research and go beyond the curriculum and A level understanding. If you take the time to read a large breadth of quality literature around your subject, you can reference academic texts or textbooks and analyse them to demonstrate that you are able to work at university level. Be careful not to read the most popular texts that most students in your field might point to. Express something unique to your personal interests. Or find something unknown, underrated, niche, and/or peculiar to talk about.

Ensure you check Oxford’s page for resources per course subject as well as Oxford’s reading bank. That’s a great place to start.

Insider tip 2: Oxford often expects its applicants to be familiar with their department’s and proposed supervisor/s publications and research. This is especially with postgraduate courses related to English, Social Science, Computer Science, or Medical Science. However, it could benefit your application even if you’re applying for a totally unrelated subject or for an undergraduate course.

Insider tip 3: An Oxford Law graduate (2023) from Hertford College told us: “Don’t spread yourself thin across the entirety of the syllabus. Pick an area that you are most interested in and show that you have gone the extra mile in researching and thinking about the academia surrounding it. They want to see potential rather than the finished product!”

7. Invest in your PS!

For Oxford’s many competitive subjects, lots of applicants will inevitably achieve the grades required for entry. Oxford will therefore use applicants’ personal statements as a key factor in deciding who to offer places to. That’s why investing plenty of time and passion into writing your personal statement is so important in the application process.

Oxford wants students who are teachable, independently minded, willing to contribute to academic problems, and who will thrive in Oxford’s learning environment. So, your application is the perfect chance for you to prove this to them. Show Oxford that you’re well-suited to their course, your chosen college, and Oxford itself.

Use your statement as a chance to express who you are and what makes you unique. As well as describing your ambitions, skills and experience, dedicate your personal statement to explaining why you would be an excellent and unique candidate. The Profs’ personal statement tutors can provide further guidance and support on how to write a stand-out statement tailored to Oxford.

Insider tip 1: Don’t be afraid to take risks as unique applications which aim high pay off. If you’re confident in following something through that you find interesting (no matter how out there) you should mention it. Successful applicants are original and can express interests that do not follow the crowd and show independent thinking e.g. a BioMedical Science applicant might talk about a medical ailment they or a close family member underwent and what this taught them about modern medicine and treatment, as well as inspiration for a hypothesis that they can foresee being solved in the future. This example is not safe because it takes risk, and speculates possible discoveries. It also shows that the applicant is passionate and can think for themselves.

Insider 2: When it comes to personal statements, the word ‘passion’ is severely overused. But when what is the importance of it? What is it really referencing? Oxford wants to know that their applicants enjoy what they do and can do it better than most. They want applicants that have exciting or promising ideas. For this to be the case, applicants
must actually find their subject fun and stimulating. So, it’s really important that you choose a course you love!

Insider tip 3: Make your personal statement personal! A 2022 Oxford Law graduate told us: “When applying to Oxford University for Law, always remember what makes you unique. If you have something that makes your journey to reading Law different, say it! For example, I used my ethnic background of being Albanian as something that could distinguish me from my peers. By highlighting my experience and knowledge of the Albanian legal system, I differentiated myself from my peers.”

Note that all students applying to university for 2023, 2024 or 2025 will still be required to submit a UCAS personal statement as normal. However, from January 2025 onwards (October 2024, for Oxbridge applicants), there will be changes to the UCAS application process and students will no longer be required to write a personal statement. Instead, all applicants will answer a series of shorter, more tailored questions provided by UCAS.

8. Remember the purpose of your interview

All shortlisted applicants (approximately 10,000 out of 22,000 applicants) are invited for an interview with Oxford University. Oxford interviews 45% of their applicants – that’s 25% less than Cambridge. Hence, interviews are not another form of culling, like they might be for Cambridge. Instead, interviews are another relatively equal-weighting step of Oxford’s admissions process. Hence, your application is what wins you the crucial chance of an interview and you will only be interviewed if Oxford approves of your application and are genuinely thinking about giving you a place.

That said, Oxford’s acceptance rate is 15% which is 30% less than the number of students they interview. So, you will not receive an offer before successfully passing the interview round; it’s a key stage of the Oxbridge application process. It’s therefore imperative that you prepare to be interviewed by practising your interview skills and developing your subject knowledge and people skills beforehand.

If you do well enough to get an interview, well done! This is such an achievement and you wouldn’t be here if you were not being seriously considered.

Undergraduate interviews for Oxford are usually held in early December.

In your interview, Oxford is checking whether you think independently and are excited about your course. When they ask you a question, they are watching how you answer it, rather than your answer itself. Your interview is your chance to engage academically with people in your discipline who are far more senior. Your Oxford interview is also an audition to check your suitability for the one-to-one conversational style of tutelage that you would receive there. Hence, if you can smash this, you’re in with a good chance of admission even if you don’t fulfil all of Oxford’s entry requirements.
Here are some interview tips, specific to Oxford:

  • Always check whether there’s pre-reading and get to the interview early. This way, even if you’re surprised by any expectations, you have time to prepare.
  • You might have multiple interviews, not just for colleges but for subjects e.g. one for Spanish and one for German. Prepare equally for all your interviews. Avoid leaning more into your strength or weakness.
  • Show that you’re teachable; Oxford wants students that they can teach!
  • Unsure of how to answer a question? Articulate what you’re thinking and/or sit for a moment in silence. You can even say: “Please can I have a moment to think about that.”
  • It’s great to think out loud. This doesn’t mean you have to be super confident, only that you can share your thoughts aloud.
  • Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something. The interview is not a knowledge test but a thought process. Obviously, saying you don’t know shouldn’t be cold cut but something like “I don’t know but this is my train of thought/speculations” or “I don’t know but this has sparked X idea/X question.”
  • Oxford sometimes seeks to push students to the point of not knowing so that they can see how they respond to being challenged. Hence, they are more interested in how you answer a question and how your brain works, than your answer itself.
  • Remain flexible and open-minded. Do not go to the interview with set ideas and plans. It’s important that you’re not regurgitating facts or rehearsed knowledge. You need to be present, engaged, and actively thinking.

Insider tip: An Oxford graduate (Hertford College, 2023) told us: “What I believe tutors want to see over anything else is someone who has an evident and emphatic love for the subject. They have devoted their life to it and therefore want to teach people who feel the same way. Try to place yourself in their position and ensure that you present yourself as somebody they would actively enjoy teaching.”

Medicine interviews at Oxford still follow the traditional panel format (rather than an MMI format), so you’ll need to research common questions and practise interview techniques to maximise your chances of success. Interviews for other subjects also tend to follow this traditional panel format, but what each department is looking for will differ, so it’s best to work with an expert to tailor your preparation accordingly.

Check out our video on how to prepare for a university interview!

Practising with one of our excellent interview training experts who understands the Cambridge admissions process is the most surefire way to improve your interviewing abilities and maximise your chances of success.

Get 1-to-1 guidance from an expert admissions tutor

At the Profs, we have many admissions consultants who can guide you through the process of applying to Oxford, as well as LSE, Imperial and other top universities. In fact, Oxbridge applicants are over 3x more likely to receive an offer when working with the Profs’ experts, and over 95% of our applicants receive an offer from their first or second choice universities. We can even support you in your wider degree-level education, helping you with everything from writing your dissertation to applying for postgraduate courses. Reach out to our friendly team today to access our dedicated support.

FAQs

Is Oxford a good university?

Oxford University is one of the best universities in the world. It dominates the UK and world league tables, currently ranking first and second respectively, and being offered a prestigious place at Oxford remains many students’ dream.

What are the most competitive courses at Oxford?

Though the average Oxford acceptance rate is 15.8%, this rate decreases significantly for its most competitive courses, which have a greater number of applications. These courses include Mathematics and Statistics, Economics and Management, Computer Science, Medicine, and Mathematics and Computer Science.
The acceptance rate for Mathematics and Statistics, for example, is just 5.8%.
Thankfully, the Profs have expert tutors who can offer one-to-one support for each of these subjects and more, as well as guidance throughout the entire Oxbridge application process.

Is Oxford a Russell Group university?

Oxford University is one of the 24 Russell Group universities. Russell Group universities are known for being research-intensive institutions, and Oxford is certainly a global hub of ground-breaking research and innovation. Oxford achieved the best result in the most recent assessment of research quality in UK universities, with 48% of its research rated world-class and a further 39% rated internationally excellent. It is also considered one of, if not the, oldest university in the world. The Complete University Guide also ranks Oxford as the number one best Russell Group university.

How old is Oxford University?

The University of Oxford was founded around 1096. Its first colleges, University, Balliol and Merton, were founded between 1249 and 1264. Oxford is one of the world’s oldest universities and the oldest in the English-speaking world.

Where is Oxford University?

Oxford University is located in the city of Oxford. Its colleges and buildings are spread across Oxford city centre. Oxford sits in the county of Oxfordshire, about 83 kilometres west of London in the South of England. It is less than an hour away from London by train.

Does Oxford give contextual offers?

Oxford University does not make systematic contextual offers, but it does look at contextual data when considering applicants to ensure that it is offering places to the candidates with the highest potential, regardless of background. The proportion of students attending Oxford that come from socio-economically disadvantaged areas has risen from 8.2% to 15.9% in the past 5 years. You can find more information on how Oxford uses contextual data here.

How much is Oxford University?

Tuition fees for undergraduate courses for UK students are £9,250 per year at Oxford. Undergraduate tuition fees for international students range from £28,950 to £44,240 per year depending on the course. Students should also consider other costs associated with studying at university, including accommodation, transport, food and other personal costs. Oxford estimates that students should allow between £1,290 and £1,840 per month for living costs.

What is Oxford University known for?

The University of Oxford is known for its excellent academic reputation and its long-standing traditions as the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Oxford is also widely known as one of the best and most competitive universities in the world. It dominates the UK and world league tables, currently ranking first in the Complete University Guide and fourth in the QS World University rankings.

Can you visit Oxford University?

You can visit many colleges, museums and libraries at the University of Oxford during their opening hours. All museums are free to visit, as well as some colleges. Some colleges do charge visitors a small entry fee, ranging from £2 to £16 per adult.

How many colleges at Oxford University?

Oxford University has 44 colleges, including 5 permanent private halls (PPHs), which were founded by various Christian denominations. Each college has its own character, traditions and buildings, and are located in different areas of the city of Oxford. Some colleges only offer a selection of courses, so it’s important to research colleges carefully before applying for Oxford.

Is Oxford University older than Cambridge?

Oxford University is just over a century older than Cambridge University. Oxford was founded around 1096 while Cambridge was founded in 1209. Both universities have a long history of providing quality education and producing world-leading research.