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How to get into a Top UK University

In the UK, we are fortunate enough to have some of the best universities in the world on our doorstep. This is not just limited to Oxford and Cambridge: UCL, Imperial, LSE, Edinburgh, Bristol, Manchester...the list of internationally-renowned institutions goes on.

With such strong reputations, competition for admission to these universities is tough. Students are up against both domestic applicants and many international students for these highly-coveted places.

As you are probably aware, applications are conducted online through the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS). Here students will submit basic personal information as well as their course and university selections (up to five), their educational and employment history, and a personal statement. A teacher or similar will also have to submit a letter of recommendation. Depending on the course(s) and universities to which they apply, there may be additional hurdles such as tests and interviews.

Admissions officers will take into account a broad range of factors when considering an application. Understanding how to put your strongest possible profile forward is key to gaining an offer. We offer some initial guidance below to get you started but if you would like some in-depth support, why not book a no-obligation consultation with one of our academic advisors?

How to get into Oxford University

Oxford University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. Unsurprisingly, it is also one of the hardest to get into. Although its admission rate is relatively high compared to some of the Ivy League (a promising 17.5%, compared to Harvard’s 5.2%), Oxford has very strict academic requirements with almost no wiggle room.

Students are expected to achieve three As at A-Level as a minimum, with most courses expecting closer to AAA. You will also need to submit additional written work and, for most subjects, sit an entrance exam. If you get past this stage, you will be invited in for an interview.

Tuition fees at Oxford are the same as most UK universities, at £9,250 per year for British students. You do not need to pay this up-front: it is covered by your student loan which is only repayable once you start earning over £21,000 per year. EU students currently pay the same as domestic students but this may change once Britain leaves the European Union. Fees for international students are significantly more. Budget around £13,000 per year for living costs.

Still keen on Oxford? We have a great track record of helping students get in. One student we worked with is Michael Tai, who’s now studying medicine at Oxford and also working for Crimson, helping students achieve the Oxbridge dream.

If you’d like an academic advisor to assess your candidacy for Oxford University, you can book a no-obligation one-on-one consultation today.

How to get into Cambridge University

Much like Oxford, Cambridge University is one of the oldest and most respected institutions of higher education in the world. It is similarly competitive, with only 21% of applicants receiving an offer. If you have ambitions to study here, a strong academic profile is the absolute minimum requirement.

Most offers to Cambridge require the student to achieve at least an A* and two As in their A-Levels, the more competitive subjects may ask for AAA. As with Oxford, there are additional tests to master and further work to submit before you even reach interview stage.

In terms of financial commitment, domestic fees at Cambridge are also £9,250 and can be covered by a student loan. The living costs are marginally cheaper than Oxford, however - budget for close to £10,000 a year.

If you’d like an academic advisor to assess your candidacy for Cambridge University, you can book a no-obligation one-on-one consultation today.

Outside of Oxbridge...

How to get into UCL

Studying at Oxford or Cambridge definitely isn’t right for everyone. Fortunately they are by no means the only world-class universities in the UK. University College London (UCL) is a very popular choice for undergraduates, boasting an enviable international reputation, all the benefits of studying in London, and the best rate of entrepreneur creation of all British universities.

A degree at UCL is unlike most British university courses as it encourages greater interdisciplinary study than its counterparts. This means you have greater scope to branch out and explore areas not directly related to your core degree - good if you are still keen to learn more than just one subject.

UCL doesn’t normally require you to undertake additional work or exams to apply (unless you want to study a very competitive course such as medicine). But they do still expect top A-Level grades - typically between AAA and ABB (with most offers towards the higher end of that range).

As with Oxford and Cambridge, fees are £9,250 per year for undergraduates from the UK and EU but quite a bit more for international students. As you will be based in London, the cost of living is not insignificant: you should allow around £15,000 per year, at least.

If you’d like an academic advisor to assess your candidacy for UCL, you can book a no-obligation one-on-one consultation today.

How to get into Imperial College London

Another university based in the heart of the Capital, Imperial College London is one of the top-ranked universities in the world and almost unique in the UK as it focuses on only four core areas: science, engineering, medicine, and business.

Needless to say, all of its courses are very challenging and therefore very difficult to get into. Students are usually expected to achieve between AAA and AAA in their A-Levels and for many subjects there will be additional tests and possibly an interview to contend with as well.

As you would expect, fees are the flat £9,250 per year for domestic and EU students, significantly more than that for those from further afield. Living costs are marginally cheaper than UCL as Imperial is slightly further away from the very centre of London - but not much. Allow at least £13,500 per year.

If you’d like an academic advisor to assess your candidacy for Imperial, you can book a no-obligation one-on-one consultation today.

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