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How To Get Into Oxford: 3 Tips To Help Your Application Stand Out

03 AUG 2022

Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and has consistently retained its position as one of the top universities in the world. Currently, entry to Oxford university remains notoriously competitive – in 2021, over 24,000 people vied for 3300 undergraduate places. As a world-class university, Oxford has an international and diverse student body, where international students make up almost 45% of the student body. As an aspiring international student, are you thinking about applying to Oxford? This blog will provide helpful information and tips to help with your application.


What is Oxford’s Acceptance Rate?

Overall Acceptance Rate

Generally, Oxford has an acceptance rate of approximately 13-17%. While this may seem a lot higher than the acceptance rates of top American universities, it is important to note that there are higher barriers to applying to Oxford – including the restriction that one can only apply to either Oxford or Cambridge and that one can only apply to 5 UK universities in the academic year.

Oxford Acceptance Rate Last 5 years
YearApplicationsOffersAcceptance Rate
202124,3883,29813.52%
202023,4143,69515.78%
201923,0263,28614.27%
201821,5163,31015.38%
201719,9533,28516.46%

Oxford Annual Admissions Statistical Report 2022

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Course-based Acceptance Rate

Nevertheless, acceptance rates can change per course you apply for. Here are some statistics for the most competitive courses in Oxford. Importantly, Oxford does not implement quotas around nationality or domicile of students admitted, except for Medicine courses which are subject to government restriction. Hence, most courses’ acceptance rate applies to both domestic and international students.

Most Competitive Courses at Oxford
CourseNumber of Applicants per Place
Computer Science18.6
Economics & Management18.1
Mathematics & Computer Science12.5
Medicine11.8
Biomedical Sciences10.9
Mathematics9.7
PPE9.4
History & Politics9.4
Physics8.8
Law8.1

Oxford Annual Admissions Statistical Report 2022

For a complete breakdown of admission statistics at Oxford, check out their Annual Admissions Statistical Report for 2022.

A Day in the Life: Oxford Student

What do you need to get into Oxford?

You need stellar academic qualifications to meet the entry requirements of Oxford. All applicants must meet the entry requirements to take up an offer of a place to study at Oxford. Depending on where you studied for high school, Oxford accepts a whole range of UK and equivalent international qualifications.

Generally, here are the expected academic qualifications needed:

International Baccalaureate

  • A total score of 38, 39 or 40 points (depending on the course), including core points, with 6s and 7s in subjects taken at the Higher level.

European Baccalaureate

  • An average of 85% or above, with scores between 8 and 9 in subjects specified at A-level or equivalent.

International A-levels

  • Recognised as equivalent to UK GCE A-levels on a grade-for-grade basis
  • Grade requirements differ per course.

Specifically, grade requirements differ for each course at Oxford. For example, AAA (at A-levels or equivalent) is needed for courses such as Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, Classics and European and Middle Eastern Languages. In contrast, A*AA (at A-levels or equivalent) is required for courses such as Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics, Psychology (Experimental) and Physics.

Course Specific Requirements

For certain courses, you may also need to pass specific entrance tests. For example, the MAT (Mathematics Admissions Test) is required for courses such as Mathematics and Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics and Mathematics and Philosophy.

The ELAT (English Literature Admissions Test) is needed for courses such as English Language and Literature, Classics and English, English and Modern Languages, History and English.

The HAT (History Aptitude Test) is needed for History, History (Ancient and Modern), History and Economics, History and English, History and Modern Languages, and History and Politics.

To learn more about the complete process of applying to top UK universities, check out our free eBook below!

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3 Tips To Help Your Application To Oxford Stand Out

1. Show enthusiasm for the subject

It is important to start thinking of which subject you would want to apply for university early on in your high school career so that you can begin to prepare your application early. Importantly, to develop your interest and enthusiasm for a subject, you may want to consider taking part in relevant extra-curricular activities. For example, if you are interested in the humanities courses (e.g. English, History, Politics), it would help to join clubs such as Debating or Model United Nations to hone your argumentative skills and grasp knowledge of the relevant subject matter. This will also help when you are writing your UCAS statement, given that participating in these activities can show a demonstrated interest in the academic subject.

2. Wider Reading

Given that Oxford courses are known to be very academic in nature, academic tutors tend to look out for potential students who have genuine academic interest through the books that they read. They would want to see students who have read widely and beyond their high school academic syllabus. In part, this shows potential that the potential student would be able to handle the heavy independent reading required for surviving and thriving in the Oxford academic setting.

3. Prepare well for the Interview

Oxford is one of the few universities in the UK that require an admission interview for admission. The interview allows you to meet your potential academic tutors. In essence, the interview is a friendly academic interrogation which enables tutors to tease out how you think about various academic subject matter whilst also allowing them to see if you’re the type of student they can see themselves teaching. It is essential to re-read what you’ve written in your personal statement, especially the books you’ve mentioned you’ve read and the projects you’ve undertaken. Interviewers may quiz you on what you’ve written in your personal statement. It would also help to have a mock interview with your school’s career advisor before going for the actual Oxford interview.

How Crimson helped Zhen Yuan get into Oxford

Final Thoughts

Applying to Oxford can be a stressful affair. It will help to learn about the acceptance rates, admission requirements and some valuable tips on preparing for the application. Hopefully, this article has covered some ground in guiding you through the application process. Believe in yourself, and whatever the outcome, enjoy the process and good luck!

If you need additional help with the application process, book a free consultation with one of our expert UK admission strategists. They can provide individualized and highly informed support in every aspect of your applications.

Our support includes:

  1. Matching every student with a team of supporters who are graduates from Oxbridge and other top UK universities
  2. Addressing every part of the UCAS application in detail - from test prep to personal statements, extracurriculars to interview prep.
  3. Providing oversight by former Oxbridge admissions officers
  4. Sharing years of inside UK admissions consulting knowledge unavailable elsewhere
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