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How to get into a Top UK University

Some of the best universities in the world are in the UK, and we're not just talking about Oxford and Cambridge! However, due to their prestige, UK universities are very difficult to get into and can be extremely expensive if you’re not an EU citizen. Not to mention, unlike US universities, you basically have to be an expert in the subject you want to study before you get accepted.

In order to get in, you must fill out an application online through the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS), which includes all of your basic info as well as your course and universities selections, your educational and employment history, a personal statement, and a letter from a reference. Oxford and Cambridge have additional requirements that we’ll touch on later.

If your chosen universities are interested in you, you’ll be invited for a round of difficult interviews. After you finish your interview, the university will assess your exam scores, interview performance and your application to decide whether or not you deserve a place.

Obviously, getting into a top UK college is no simple task – that’s why we help students do it for a living – but here's some advice to get you started.

How to get into Oxford University

Oxford University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. Unsurprisingly, it’s also one of the hardest to get into. Although the university’s admissions rate seems relatively high (a promising 17.5%, compared to other phenomenal institutions such as Harvard’s 5.2%, Oxford has very strict entry requirements that have almost no wiggle room. Basically, pretty much everyone who gets into Oxford is at the top of their class, if not their country, and still, only 17.5% of students get in.

Just to be considered for a place you’ll need to score between AAA and AAA (or equivalent) in the CIE depending on the subject you want to study, as well as your personal statement, additional written work, and admissions exams. If Oxford likes what it sees on paper, you’ll be shortlisted (mostly based on your admissions exam score). Luckily, if you’re shortlisted, you’ll be interviewed. Don’t forget to study hard for your interview! The more prep the better.

Now, let’s say you crush your application, exam and your interview and miraculously, you get in. Congrats! But, before you rush off to celebrate, keep in mind that you’ll have to pay your fees in order to actually attend Oxford.

If you’re an EU citizen, you’re in luck. Your tuition fees will be around £9,250 a year and you won’t need to pay college fees, but you’ll need to pay rent/living costs which can be anywhere from £9,021-£13,237 a year depending on your college and your living style.

Unfortunately, if you’re an international student, your tuition fees will be significantly higher. We’re talking around £15,755-£23,190 depending on your course (with much higher costs for clinical medicine). On top of that, you’ll also need to pay college fees in addition to the £9,021-£13,237 a year you’ll need for accommodation and other living expenses. Add another £7,570 for college fees and you’re looking at around £32,346-£43,997 a year. Expensive, yes.

There is some financial aid available for both EU and international students, but don’t get too excited, it’s nowhere near as generous as financial aid in the US.

Still keen on Oxford? We know what it takes to get in! One student we worked with is Michael Tai, who’s now studying medicine at Oxford and working for Crimson on the side, helping students just like you achieve the Oxbridge dream!

If you’d like an Academic Advisor to assess your candidacy for Oxford University, you can apply for a free one-on-one consultation today.

How to get into Cambridge University

Cambridge University is also ridiculously old and just as prestigious as Oxford, so their intense rivalry is no surprise. If you only look at admissions rates, you may think Oxford is a better university because its admissions rate is lower (17.5% vs. Cambridge’s 21%); however, numbers never paint the whole picture. Both universities are fantastic and you’d be lucky to get into either one.

Just like Oxford, Cambridge is also extremely difficult to get into, despite its deceivingly high admissions rate. You’ll need at least AAA or AAA (or equivalent) depending on your course to get into Cambridge, not to mention you’ll also need to crush your personal statement, extenuating circumstances form, supplementary application questionnaire, additional written work, exams, and interview. Talk about rigorous entry requirements!

Believe it or not, Cambridge is actually more expensive than Oxford for international students. If you’re an EU citizen, Oxford and Cambridge have the same tuition fees (£9,250) but Cambridge’s living fees are a bit less coming in at about £9,160 a year.

As an international student, on the other hand, you’ll need to pay between £19,197 and £50,130 depending on your course, £8,100 in college fees, and about £9,160 in living fees a year. Expensive much?!

Unfortunately, Cambridge’s financial aid isn’t fantastic either. Sorry!

If you’re really set on Cambridge, attending one of these high schools with the most offers to Cambridge can really help. You can also talk to us – we’ve helped plenty of students get into Cambridge and know exactly what it takes to be a standout candidate.

If you’d like an Academic Advisor to assess your candidacy for Cambridge University, you can apply for a free one-on-one consultation today.

Outside of Oxbridge...

How to get into UCL

So you’ve probably heard about Oxford and Cambridge but have you heard of University College London (UCL)?

And did you know that UCL is the top UK university for producing entrepreneurs?

Well you do now!

More information on UCL admissions

One of the most appealing things about UCL is it’s actually located in London, unlike Oxford and Cambridge, which are both located in relatively small cities outside of London.

At UCL, you’ll get the best of both worlds, a top-ranked university and a big city experience. Plus, UCL is one of the only unis in the UK that focuses on interdisciplinary courses so you don’t need to be an expert in only one subject to get in! That being said, getting accepted to UCL is not easy. However, you won’t need to fill out any forms other than the UCAS… phew!

Depending on your degree, you’ll need scores somewhere between AAA and ABB (or equivalent). At least two of your A level courses need to be from an approved list of classes and the third cannot be General Studies and Critical Thinking. UCL’s admissions rate also depends on the course you’re applying to but you’ll need to be at or near the top of your class to get in, regardless of your degree.

As with most other UK universities, tuition fees are capped at £9,250 a year if you are an EU or UK citizen. As an international student, you should expect to pay around £16,340-£32,670 a year, depending on your course. Regardless of where you are from, you’ll need about £15,103 per academic year… sorry, did we forget to mention that London is a really expensive city to live in?

By now you should know that financial aid at all UK unis is okay at best for EU citizens and pretty bad for international students, and UCL is no different.

There are a few scholarships available through the university for both domestic and international students but you’re probably better off taking loans or finding scholarships elsewhere.

If you’d like an Academic Advisor to assess your candidacy for UCL, you can apply for a free one-on-one consultation today.

How to get into Imperial College London

Ah, another university in the center of London! Imperial College London, often referred to as Imperial, is not only one of the top-ranked universities in the world but it’s also really special because it focuses on only four subjects: science, engineering, medicine, and business. Needless to say, all of these courses are very challenging and therefore very difficult to get into.

More information on Imperial College London admissions

You’ll need between AAA and AAA (or equivelent) to get into most programs at Imperial, as well as a strong personal statement/UCAS application. Your academic record needs to be pretty much flawless in order to get into Imperial but your hard work in high school will pay off when you're sitting in a classroom filled with other insanely bright students being taught by the best researchers and professors in the world.

As for Imperial’s tuition… take a guess!

If you guessed £9,250 a year for UK/EU citizens, you guessed correctly. Congrats! If you’re an international student you’ve got the short end of the stick… again.

You’ll need between £25,000 and £38,500 a year depending on your course plus another £11,268 or so per academic year in living costs (living costs apply to you too, domestic students!).

At this point, there’s almost no reason to ask about financial aid… you should know the drill by now. It’s bad. Period.

If you’d like an Academic Advisor to assess your candidacy for Imperial, you can apply for a free one-on-one consultation today.

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