How To Get Into Oxford: Tips & Strategies

05/05/202317 minute read
How To Get Into Oxford: Tips & Strategies

If you're wondering how to get into Oxford, there are a few things you should know about what the university looks for and how to stand out. The university has rigorous admissions requirements and a highly competitive applicant pool, so it's crucial to submit a stellar application. In this blog, we’ll expert tips on how to get into Oxford and explore what the university looks for.

How hard is it to get into Oxford?

Getting into Oxford is a competitive process; you’ll need exceptional academic achievement, as well as a wide range of extracurricular activities and personal qualities.

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

Source: Oxford Annual Admissions Statistical Report 2022

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

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What is Oxford looking for?

1. Academic excellence

Oxford is looking for students who have a strong academic record and have demonstrated exceptional intellectual ability. This includes high grades in relevant subjects, as well as a genuine passion for learning.

While taking AP (Advanced Placement) or IB (International Baccalaureate) are not a requirement, Oxford does value applicants who have challenged themselves academically by taking advanced courses.

2. Critical thinking skills

Oxford values students who can think deeply and critically about complex issues. The university is looking for students who can analyze problems, develop creative solutions, and communicate their ideas effectively.

This involves the capacity to question assumptions, recognize biases, and evaluate evidence in a systematic and logical manner. Students who are able to demonstrate creativity and innovation in their problem-solving approaches are highly sought after at Oxford, as they have the potential to make meaningful contributions to their fields of study and to society more broadly.

A Day in the Life: Oxford Student

3. A Holistic Application

It's essential to remember that Oxford has a holistic admissions process, meaning they consider every aspect of an applicant's profile. Oxford weighs grades and test scores but also values personal qualities such as character, creativity, intellectual curiosity, and growth potential.

4. Passion for your subject

Oxford is looking for students who have a genuine passion for their chosen subject. This includes a deep interest in the field, a desire to learn more, and a commitment to pursuing a career in the area.

Oxford values students who have a range of interests and hobbies outside of their studies. While academic achievement is essential, extracurriculars are an important way to showcase the passion you have for your chosen subject.

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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How to increase your chances of getting into Oxford?

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 extracurricular 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.

4. Take Rigorous Courses & Score Well

Oxford is looking for students who have excelled academically and challenged themselves by taking rigorous courses such as Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses.

It's important to maintain high grades throughout high school and to take advantage of opportunities for academic enrichment.

Helpful resources

  • If you want to add rigorous coursework to your academic profile, consider taking some Online AP Courses at Crimson Global Academy.
  • If you’re struggling to reach a GPA of 4.0, consider taking Online Tutoring with Oxford graduates who can help you reach your maximum academic potential.
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Life After Oxford

Life after Oxford can take many different paths, depending on the individual's interests and career aspirations.

For some, Oxford provides a launchpad for careers in academia, research, or industry. Graduates of the university are highly sought after by employers worldwide, and many go on to work in fields such as law, finance, medicine, and technology. Others choose to pursue entrepreneurial ventures or careers in the arts, media, or public service. Regardless of the path they choose, Oxford graduates are well-equipped with the skills, knowledge, and networks to succeed in whatever they do.

Oxford has produced some of the world's most influential figures, including:

  • U.S. President Bill Clinton
  • Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai
  • Philosopher and writer J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Actor Emma Watson
  • Physicist Stephen Hawking
  • Economist Amartya Sen.
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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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