If you have a chance to study university at Oxford or Cambridge, you will no doubt be wondering how you can increase your likeliness of succeeding in your application. At My Tutor Club we are experts in the British education system. We offer a university advisory service and university interview practice service, so we know a thing or two about what it takes to secure a place at a top British educational institution.
Follow My Tutor Club’s seven top tips for boosting your chances at Oxford and Cambridge.
Between submitting your application and going to interview, read something new
It’s extremely impressive if you can refer to an article or a book, in the interview, that might illuminate the discussion further. And tell them, too: “Since my application, my teacher recommended reading more about cell division in Smith’s book…”
Read widely, but not cover to cover
Both in arts subjects and the sciences, reading lists for essays are almost never entire books (unless you’re studying a specific book, like the Qur’an, or War and Peace). Instead, supervisors and tutors will give students reading lists of selected essays from edited compendiums, or specific chapters of interest to the essay in question. Of course, if you can read a whole book about your subject, that’s fantastic!
But often, a better use of your time might be zoning in on a chapter or two of a book that interests you most. That way, you can dip into a wider selection of books, read different perspectives, and focus your learning a bit more.
Look at past exams for your course
You can only apply to Oxford or Cambridge, not both. So find out the modules on offer for your course, and think about which modules you’d want to study. Then, get hold of some past exam questions for those modules. Then, try to answer them as best you can (maybe with some help)! This will hugely prepare you for the interview and your written applications, and hugely help you get a sense of what the course is really about.
Speak to someone doing the course
If you struggle to get hold of past exam questions for your modules, or you don’t know how to choose what to study, try to speak to someone who’s already “been there and done that”. They will also have some great, specific advice for you on how to apply for your particular course. Open days are a fantastic opportunity to do this, as are subject-specific open days, and My Tutor Club can also help you here, too. Your school may also be able to help.
Do as many practice interviews as you can, with different interviewers
The more you expose yourself to different interview styles and questions, the more prepared you will be. Most of the time you will meet with two, or maybe even three interviewers on the day of your interview. Remember, the interviewers are not expecting you to know the answer to everything (many questions, like, “Why does suffering exist?” have no clear answer!). They want to see how you think and how you can apply what you’ve studied to tackle difficult new subject matter.
Talk about both sides
Just like in an essay, it’s important that for every time you assert a particular technique or idea pertinent to your subject, both in the written application stage and at interview, that you present both sides of the argument. In science subjects especially, everything is up for debate: even if you’re discussing “certainties” like the theory of gravity, or the theory of evolution, it’s a good idea to briefly touch on what potential criticisms there may be in assuming these theories, or how certain evidence may challenge these presuppositions.
The Oxford and Cambridge application dates are very early in the autumn term: it’s a good idea to have everything submitted by September. That means getting the bulk of the application done over the summer holidays, and using September for the finishing touches. It’s ok to ask for help! Your teachers will be glad to help you, and if you need further assistance, get in touch with My Tutor Club.
For professional advice and support about your application to university, get in touch to discuss how we can help.