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The Oxbridge Guide

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Have questions about Oxford and Cambridge? Don't know who to ask? Look here! Everything that you should need to answer your questions about Oxbridge.

Vvi's compilation of useful pages

Top 20 tips for surviving an interview

General questions about the interview process

Filmed Oxford interviews

All Oxbridge related questions will now have to be asked here.

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Hey Guys. Long time no see :) I'm not sure if this is the right place for this question, but since it says here that all questions should go here, I would.

My question is: I'm not from an English speaking country. I know it appears as if I'm an Australian, but that's because Australia is where my school is. I'm originally from an Asian country, and my mother tongue is that language.

Now, would it benefit me in anyway to do English HL to get into Oxbridge? I'm doing four HLs at the moment - English, Economics, Maths and Chemistry - and English HL is causing me so much trouble and stress that I wanna drop it. My parents are kind of against it because they're unsure of whether doing English HL gives me more advantage in getting into Oxbridge or not.

I'm applying to PPE, more specifically, and since I'm doing Maths HL and Economics HL I thought I wouldn't need to worry about English HL......but yeah :)

Someone help me please?

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You're doing English A1, so it shows that you can speak the language. That is enough. Having HL won't make it any different, I don't think. There's no point having a subject that you're having problems with.

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If you're applying for PPE I would actually suggest you to drop Chemistry. PPE is a subject that involves considerable amounts of essay writing therefore showing fluency in English might boost your chances in getting in to Oxford. And when it comes to Oxbridge at least in Cambridge they said that they don't really care whether you have 3 or 4 HLs. On the other hand, fomr my school people have gotten into PPE in Oxford with English A1 SL, so it should be fine.

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Hi,

I have the following grades:

Math HL 7

Chem HL 7

English A1 HL 5

Bio SL 7

Spanish B SL 5

Geography SL 7

I want to apply for Natural Sciences at Cambridge or MEM (Materials, Economics and Management) at Oxford. Do I stand a chance with those 2 5's? Will I even be invited for an interview? What plays a more prominent role in being invited for an interview- grades or personal statement or teacher's refereneces?

For which would it be better to apply with those grades?

Edited by narathiel

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With Oxbridge it's not just the grades that matter although you would be expected to achieve extremely high grade 38+ at least. You need to show skills in other areas like Languages, Music and Sport. If you're captain of a rugby team or have published an article in a news paper or shown independent work and so forth then you will be more likely to get accepted into Oxbridge. You seem to do extremely well in the Hard subjects but not as good in Spanish which is definetely the easiest subject you're taking. Try to immerse yourself in the language. Watch films, listen to the Radio and Podcasts and read. =)

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You need to show skills in other areas like Languages, Music and Sport. If you're captain of a rugby team or have published an article in a news paper or shown independent work and so forth then you will be more likely to get accepted into Oxbridge.

Actually this is not necessarily true for Oxbridge, they apparently mainly care about academics and extracurriculars are only good if they're relevant to your degree (though most other universities do, and since you're presumably applying to 4 other UK schools as well...)

Anyway, you definitely do have a shot of getting interviewed as for most subjects they interview like 90% of all applicants. It doesn't really matter which one you apply to with your grades, but from what I've heard Cambridge's standard offer is at 42 points a bit higher than Oxford's, which is usually 38-40.

Edited by Cynthia

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Narathiel:

For Cambridge your personal statement and references do not matter that much, but I still recommend making them very good. They themselves have stated that since there is no way of being sure that the personal statement is the candidate's own work they do not rely on it very much. On the other hand they do ask questions in the interviews based on your personal statement.

Depends on the subject, but mostly the standard offers at Cambridge are a bit higher than those at Oxford. For example my classmate got an offer of 40 points for history at Oxford, while I got 42 and 777 at HL for Cambridge.

About the extracurriculars and stuff: I believe they don't play that significant a role in getting accepted to Oxbridge. As said, everything you mention in your personal statement should somehow relate to the subject you're applying for, or why you would be a great student (therefore showing dedication, commitment, capability for hard work, etc. is important).

And finally, you do apply for a subject (at least in Cambridge) that doesn't require much language skills, but still I'd work hard on those 5's. Especially your 5 in English might be problematic, since HLs is what they care about most, and normally want at least 6's in those.

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So I have been thinking a bit about Oxford. I did not get (7,7,7) in my HL, which is what bothers me, but (6,6,7):

Swedish A1 HL: 6

English B HL: 7

History HL: 6

Biology SL: 6

Economics SL: 7

Math studies: 7

TOK: A

EE: B

=42

Do I have a chance? I want to study Politics/philosophy or history. I was predicted seven in all my subjects except math, so I am slightly disappointed at the moment, even though I'm unsure if it'd be beneficial for me to re-do Swedish and History.

Edited by Malm

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Oh and as it seems very relevant to here, I figure I should also point out that one ought not to assume everybody at your interview will know about the IB as much as you'd think they would!

I had an interview at for medicine and was asked to prove that IB HL Chem didn't disadvantage me as compared with the A Level Chemistry qualification, as well as explain why I took the IB over normal qualifications (although I got asked that everywhere). I kinda had no clue as to the specifics of the A Level syllabus and ended up rambling about what my teacher had said about further organic making up the organic section and them being more or less similar, but I couldn't explain why, as I was asked. All in all I kinda screwed myself over on that one, ahah. Anyway, it's important to know about what everybody else has done, I think, because there's always the possibility you might be asked to clarify something about the IB and, as it's an obscure course, how it compares to the normal. No point in not knowing it anyway, it really throws you if you haven't a clue!

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Thanks! Very, very interesting and helpful. However, I'm not sure how much I trust it... I mean, it seems that there is a huge amount of leeway in the subjects you can take at A-level (i.e. if you take sciences and maths at higher level, you could study the majority of those courses. For some, it makes out that all you need is a background in a certain subject) So does that mean if I were to change my mind about taking a scientific-type course and go for Oriental Studies instead, just for instance, I could? (for that it says that a language is recommended - which of course you would have with the IB).

Would the competition for courses mean that you would inevitably be rejected (compared to others with more relevant A-level subjects)?

Hmm...

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Actually, provided you have their minimum requirement qualifications, taking something unusual can help you stand out. For instance if you're going for an all-scientific course (e.g. Nat Sci), having one of your additional A Levels in something academic yet non-scientific (for instance English Literature, Philosophy, a language) makes you stand out against all the people who have an extremely 'predictable' set of qualifications. They get tonnes of straight A (or A* now, I suppose) students who all take Physics/Chemistry/Biology/Maths, that sort of thing, and not only does it make you different from them, it also hints at a wider skillset. Ultimately what you employ for the sciences is also what you employ for mathematics, so having something like a language taken to a very high level suggests you've got a wider range of abilities than other people. It doesn't necessarily lessen your substance unless you're taking something non-academic/dossish (Drama or English Language, for instance). They actually interview a lot of IB people because their subject range is so broad it helps suggest they're going to be better students. Obviously they can tell when you get to the interviews whether you're right or not, but in terms of wanting your application to be noticed, the only things which can divide you up when everybody's getting the same grades anyway are subject choice and your personal statement.

If you wanted to go for Oriental Studies, I expect they'd want a HL language. I realise it's hypothetical, but whatever they want as one of their requirements you should really offer at HL to be academically in with a chance against your typical A* A Level lot who might even be taking 2-3 languages to a higher level.

Edited by Sandwich

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Actually, provided you have their minimum requirement qualifications, taking something unusual can help you stand out. For instance if you're going for an all-scientific course (e.g. Nat Sci), having one of your additional A Levels in something academic yet non-scientific (for instance English Literature, Philosophy, a language) makes you stand out against all the people who have an extremely 'predictable' set of qualifications. They get tonnes of straight A (or A* now, I suppose) students who all take Physics/Chemistry/Biology/Maths, that sort of thing, and not only does it make you different from them, it also hints at a wider skillset. Ultimately what you employ for the sciences is also what you employ for mathematics, so having something like a language taken to a very high level suggests you've got a wider range of abilities than other people. It doesn't necessarily lessen your substance unless you're taking something non-academic/dossish (Drama or English Language, for instance). They actually interview a lot of IB people because their subject range is so broad it helps suggest they're going to be better students. Obviously they can tell when you get to the interviews whether you're right or not, but in terms of wanting your application to be noticed, the only things which can divide you up when everybody's getting the same grades anyway are subject choice and your personal statement.

If you wanted to go for Oriental Studies, I expect they'd want a HL language. I realise it's hypothetical, but whatever they want as one of their requirements you should really offer at HL to be academically in with a chance against your typical A* A Level lot who might even be taking 2-3 languages to a higher level.

Ah, great - that cleared things up, thanks a lot!

Sometimes I wish you could take 3 at higher level for two years, and another 3 at higher level for another 2 years :P Thinking about what you want to ultimately do so early on is difficult...

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oxford.pdfI found this on the Oxford Uni website. I don't know if you have seen it before. I hope it can be helpful to some:)

I have a question...It says it's highly recommended that we have an inclusion of the Maths Mechanics module in order to study physics. What does that correspond to within the IB?

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oxford.pdfI found this on the Oxford Uni website. I don't know if you have seen it before. I hope it can be helpful to some:)

I have a question...It says it's highly recommended that we have an inclusion of the Maths Mechanics module in order to study physics. What does that correspond to within the IB?

Basically, as long as you take Physics higher along with Maths higher, you'll be okay: the Mechanics module is covered by Physics in the IB, instead of Maths (as opposed to A levels, which has it the other way around - though perhaps mechanics is mostly covered by Further Maths with A levels, I'm not really sure. Either way, you're from Denmark, so that's irrelevant, sorry =S lulz).

Edited by Yasmeen
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There is no requirement to write an EE in the target course. That said, if you write about it, you'll have something to talk about if you get an interview. Furthermore, don't write an EE in particle physics if you can't pull it off.

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So, this is the week in which we're supposed to be told whether we've been shortlisted or not. Has anyone had any lovecalls yet?

If you don't get shortlisted, do they actually tell you?

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They should send you a letter/email to you if you haven't been shortlisted, but yeah this week is the week for interviews if you don't get one it might be that they are just really busy and hectic right now and you might get one later.

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