Although the interview will be the same for all students at Oxford or Cambridge regardless of which school they went to, students from international schools often find UK application process even more confusing and daunting. Many UK students take for granted the knowledge they acquire about these very unique universities simply by being in the same country and perhaps having experience of people who studied there before them.
Many of our tutors come from an International schooling background including Singapore, Hong kong, Malaysia, India and many other countries, both within the EU and outside. All of them have experience in helping International students reach the same point as the UK students in their understanding of the intricacies of the Oxbridge interview from an International perspective
There are some key things all International applicants should know before deciding to make an application-
Why Oxbridge over other highly competitive universities for example, the US?
Oxford and Cambrige are both world-reknowned universities famous for their long history, its academic rigour and its track record of producing some of the world’s most famous influencial leaders and most prized academics.
That said- as an International student you will have the option of applying many other top universities, including top universities in the USA. So what are the main differences?
- US universities like a range of international students but they tend to limit the number from each, so a student applying from a highly competitive pool for example Hong Kong or Singapore, will face stiff competition as the numbers accepted per country are relatively low. In contrast at Oxbridge students are accepted only on academic merit and not their country of origin. An exception to this is in Medicine, where the UK Higher Education Funding Council requires both Oxford and Cambridge to limit their intake of non-EU applicants to between 14 and 21 per year respectively.
- The structure of the courses are also different. Whilst universities in the US operate the ‘Liberal Arts’ model whereby students indicate a preference of major they complete an initial undergraduate year studying a range of subjects before ‘majoring’ in their second year. At Oxbridge subjects are highly specific from the first day of the course and students often choose sub-specialities to focus on later in their degree. The Oxbridge courses are therefore less broad than in the US and much more focused on the subject chosen.
- For this reason the admissions process is very different. In the US the admissions are carried out by one large undergraduate admissions department regardless of your subject of choice. They are therefore looking for evidence of a breadth of skills as well as a stellar extra-curricular CV, and some argue that they therefore favour the IB over the relatively more specific A-levels. At Oxbridge the only consideration is academic ability and passion for the subject applied for, and very little consideration is given to extra-curricular achievements, although Oxbridge applicants invariably have exceptional CVs.
The admissions process-
The application for Oxbridge requires everyone to submit their UCAS application by the 15th of October 2013. This contains all the information the university needs about your academic achievements, your personal statement and a reference from someone at school. Although all of these are important no student will get an interview without excellent academic scores, usually predicted grades of all As at AS-level and a majority of As and A* at GCSE. International students sitting different exams can see the entry requirements in the following link-
They must sit the relevant admissions test (BMAT, LNAT, TAS, Subject specific) and attend interview. Students applying to Cambridge will also need to complete the Cambridge Online Preliminary Application (COPA) as well as the Supplementary Application Questionnaire (SAQ) which will give Cambridge some additional information including what subjects you have studied and your average UMS scores (or equivalent). Please see the following links for more details
Some subjects have specific admissions tests designed to push students academically to distinguish between the good and the excellent students, all of whom will have near perfect scores at GCSE and AS-level (or equivalent). These tests are invariably more difficult than any exams at school, and students often find it very difficult to prepare. These tests range from purely numerical/logical questions (for example Maths), to more essay-based questions (for the Arts). Some subjects require the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA), which is a mixture of both.
Please see our subject pages for support on each of these admissions tests.
Students applying to Oxford may be interviewed over Skype or by telephone if they are unable to travel to the UK for interviews. The exception to this is Medicine where all students, UK or otherwise, but attend interview in person.
In Cambridge the interviews may be conducted face to face if students cannot attend interview in person in the UK, as they send interviewers out to several different countries outside the EU including Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan. Here students must submit their applications slightly earlier, so please do have a look at the following link for full details.
What do we offer for International Students?
Interview Training Weekends for International Students in London
For our International students we offer Interview Training Weekends in London on specific dates throughout the year. Students attending these weekends will be provided with the full training programme but will receive additional extended mock interviews and interview technique training. All accommodation and meals are provided and students will leave with a personalised preparation plan, created in conjunction with one of our Oxbridge tutors, to help them prepare specifically according to their strengths and weaknesses for interview. Skype and email support will also be available at any time following the training weekend so answer any additional questions.
Premium International Service
We know from experience that our international students often require more support than our UK applicants, not because they are not equally bright academically, but because they are so far removed from the UK admissions process and what Oxbridge expects from its candidates. Our international team is made up entirely of current and former students at Oxford and Cambridge from schools from around the globe. They understand how difficult and stressful it can be to go through this application, and have designed a programme to support our applicants throughout the entire process.
|Choosing a university, a course and a college||Choosing a specific course and college can be difficult from abroad, particularly where students have not had the chance to visit Oxford or Cambridge. Our first job is to help each student decide which college suits their needs most with the help of our tutor who will be able to give impartial advice about differing accommodation costs, locations, student number, current teaching staff and their academic interests and extra-curricular strengths. Although colleges are more similar than they are different, each has a unique feel with some being more academic, or more focused on the arts, or renowned for their sports.Choosing a course may be easy for some, for example Medicine, but for others they may need to decide between a pure subject or joint honours (for example law with a language). Our tutors can advise students on the reality of studying these subjects and give them an overview of a ‘day in the life’ of a typical student studying that subject.|
|UCAS application||UK students take for granted that their schools are well rehearsed in this process and will be able to help them should any problems arise. International students may not have this luxury and as a result the UCAS application can be a daunting prospect. We will ensure that the UCAS application is completed as soon as possible with little stress and provide guidance for any teachers writing references should this be needed.|
|Personal statement||UK and International applicants alike spent a great deal of time worrying about how to accurately describe their enthusiasm, their academic ability and their long list of extracurricular achievements in less than 4000 characters. Although the personal statement is important, successful Oxbridge candidates have learnt that the personal statements are not used in the same way at Oxford and Cambridge when compared to other universities. Rarely used during the UCAS admissions process they are only really used at interview to pick out topics of conversations to start a line of questioning. Our tutors will therefore help to write the personal statement with this in mind. As part of our focused programme we will ensure the personal statement is finished early, and is geared specifically to Oxbridge.|
|Academic portfolio||Our aim is to develop a CV of academic achievements and interests which will be far superior to any other candidate’s. This includes reading a range of books, journals and articles, selected for the student specifically by the tutor, to writing essays, entering relevant competitions and gaining the right work experience where appropriate. Oxbridge applications are done almost entirely on academic merit, so although achievements such as music, sport and things like DoB are commendable they DO NOT differentiate the student from the crowd. Our methods will help the student to achieve a level of understanding and reasoning in their subject which would be expected of an undergraduate Oxbridge student.|
|Subjects of Interest||Unique to our programme is the concept of academic subjects of interest, a key part of any application for Oxbridge yet one that few applicants understand the importance of. These are subjects within your field, beyond A-level, which the student will research over the course of 4 months with the help of their tutor. These form the basis of a solid application and demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for the subject|
|Admissions tests||Most subjects will have an admissions test as part of the application, and different courses weight your performance on these tests differently. Applicants must not underestimate how important these tests are and a large amount of tuition and preparation time will be dedicated to achieving the highest possible marks in these.|
|Tutorial preparation||Interviews at Oxbridge are chiefly designed to see whether students are ‘Oxbridge material’, that is to say, are they teachable, enthusiastic and can they participate in a tutorial. We want to teach our students what a tutorial is like, and how to prepare for them before they get to interview, so that they can demonstrate these qualities to their interviewers. This is done through either a Tutorial Simulation Day or as part of the Mock Interview Days|
|Interview preparation||Most of the tuition time will be spent on perfecting interview technique, practicing Oxbridge-style questions over and over again, and developing logic and reasoning skills so that applicants can answer any question, regardless of how difficult, in a sensible and logical manner. This is the single most important part of our Premium service, and students who work hard at this will most likely be successful.|
|Mock Interviews||All students will receive at least 4 full-length mock interviews with real past Oxbridge questions, given by SUBJECT SPECIFIC tutors, that is to say, ONLY former medical students will be allowed to interview medical applicants. This again, is unique to OxbridgeSciences and OxbridgeHumanities|
|24/7 support||We expect both our tutors and our students to work hard for each other. Our tutors will therefore be available at any time between scheduled tuition for offer help and guidance.|
What should I do if I want to apply?
We want to support any enthusiastic student in their dream to get to Oxbridge but we do want to be fair to our applicants and to our tutors. For this reason we will only accept students onto this course who have predicted grades at AS/A-level of 3 As or more. We expect our tutors and our students to work hard on our programmes and we do not believe it is fair to ask students to take this on unless they have a genuine chance of gaining a place.
The first step is to arrange a Skype interview with a subject-specific representative so that we can get to know you and explain in detail what we can offer. We will want to know from you whether you are motivated and prepared for the Oxbridge application process, academically able and most importantly, passionate about your subject. If both parties are satisfied that we can work together towards a successful outcome we will begin creating your programme, starting with a meeting with potential tutors, the senior tutors and parents to formulate a personalised plan of action.
Forming a partnership-
We believe that a student applying to Oxbridge needs more than just a tutor to teach them about their subject, they need a mentor for every aspect of their potential new life at Oxbridge. As every one of our tutors has been through the daunting process of applying they know exactly what the major worries are of a potential applicant, far more than any teachers, parents or friends.
We believe in creating a partnership between the tutor and the student so that they work together with the single goal of performing at their very best at interview, regardless of how hard they have to work to get there. It is testament to the way we work that several hundreds of tutors apply; tutors invariably say they really appreciate the Oxbridge-centric environment at OxbridgeSciences and OxbridgeHumanities. Of these, we only pick the very best for each of our applicants.
We believe in also believe in an honest and human approach, not focusing on sheer numbers of students at the expense of quality, but tailoring our approach for each individual student. In the past, applicants have asked their tutors to accompany them to interview to keep them calm and focused, we’ve been up until the early hours with students with last-minute panics about their admissions exams, and we’ve been there at the end when students receive their offers, and we can all say there is nothing quite like it.
To book a place on a London International Preparation weekend or to enquire about Oxbridge Humanities services abroad please contact us.