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19 Aug

Am I Good Enough to Apply to Oxbridge?
<p>Many students have doubts about whether they should apply to Oxford and Cambridge. Some think that they are being too ambitious. Very few students get admitted after all. If you have similar concerns, that’s perfectly understandable. Before you make up your mind though, hear us out. In our experience, many applicants who are hesitating have two main concerns.<br>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Do I Have to be An Academic Genius with Top Grades for Everything?</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Lots of students (particularly those who take the IB) are worried that their application is not likely to succeed because their overall score across all subjects is not high enough.&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;</p><p>But when it comes to academic excellence, the UK has a different focus from many East Asian countries where students are often expected to be exceptional across multiple subjects. Of course, there will always be students who do well in every aspect of their studies. But other students are more specialised. They excel in certain subjects and not others. The UK education system acknowledges and supports these students as well. In the A-Levels for instance, students can choose 3 subjects which they are strong in to focus on.<br>&nbsp;</p><p>It is passion which will be critical to an Oxbridge application. Passion is strongly correlated with academic excellence. If you like a particular subject you’ll spend more time thinking about it. You’ll also want to learn more, perhaps even more than what you’re taught in school. That in turn will give you a much better understanding of your subject. This is what will make you stand out.</p><p><br>&nbsp;</p><p>When you apply to Oxford or Cambridge, the admissions tutors will want to know if you have an academic interest in the course that you’re applying for and whether you’ll be good at it. Your other subjects are less critical so long as you meet the minimum offer requirements.</p><p><br>&nbsp;</p><p>For instance, the university will admit a talented mathematician from a foreign country even if they do not have a stellar command of English. For many mathematicians at Oxford and Cambridge, their A-Level choices would have been Maths, Further Maths and Physics. That is perfectly okay. They were able to demonstrate academic excellence in the subject which mattered the most: Mathematics.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>That’s how importance passion for your subject is. Sometimes even well-rounded students with 5 or 6 A*s in A-Levels or a perfect IB score of 45 do not secure an offer from Oxford or Cambridge. There is a reason for this. Students can perform well in a subject because they are really good at taking exams. But they may not really be interested or curious about the subject. If the admissions tutors detect this during the interview, they may not make the student an offer.<br>&nbsp;</p><p>We’ve gone on and on about passion. But what does passion mean? It does not always refer to a burning curiosity that causes you to think about your subject for every single waking moment of your life. Passion differs from person to person.&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;</p><p>But here are a few useful signs that you’re genuinely interested in your subject:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><ol><li>When you’re reading about the subject, do you get bored easily or do you feel like reading on?</li><li>Do you try to learn more about the subject without anyone telling you to do so?</li><li>Do you ask your teacher about things that are not taught in the textbook?</li><li>Have you thought about specific areas in your subject that you’d like to study in depth? (for instance, an Economics student might be particularly interested in the field of Behavioural Economics)</li></ol><figure class="image"><img src=""></figure><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Do I Have Enough Time to Prepare?</strong><br>&nbsp;</p><p>The second major concern that applicants have, is whether it’s too late to start preparing. Here are three common questions that we get:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><ol><li>I’ve only seriously thought about studying in the UK since my second year of high school, do I have enough time to accumulate extra-curricular experiences?</li><li>I’m currently in my first year of A Levels or IB, is that too late?</li><li>I’m starting my A-Levels/IB next year, am I too late to prepare for my Oxbridge application?<br>&nbsp;</li></ol><p>Most of the time, the answer is no, it’s not too late. When you fill in your UCAS form (for more details on the UCAS form, refer to Chapter 1.3), the only information relating to your pre A-Level that you need to provide is your GCSE/O Level score (or equivalent). Grades from your middle school like GPAs are not required.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>In addition, there is no separate section where you need to mention extra-curricular achievements. These go into your 4000 character personal statement.<br>&nbsp;</p><p>What this means: even if you’re in your first year of A Levels and you don’t really have any extra-curricular achievements yet, you won’t lose out against fellow applicants who have, for example, been planning to apply to Oxford or Cambridge since they were 13.<br>&nbsp;</p><p>You’re still in a good position to start beefing up your application. This can be done by accumulating work experience, securing internships or taking part in academic competitions. In fact, many subject competitions in the UK are only open to older students, like those in their first year of A-Levels or IB.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>With the exception of subjects like mathematics, where it’s possible to become really competent at an early age, most courses require students to develop a strong foundation in a variety of subjects. The students will also need to have a sufficient amount of general knowledge. For instance, it is unlikely that a 13 year old student can prepare for a subject like Law in advance. Writing well and having the ability to analyse and construct arguments takes time. And for most other disciplines, maturity of thought comes with time as well; it cannot be rushed. So even if you make up your mind in your first year of A-Levels or IB to apply for a particular course, there’s still plenty of time.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>We hope you now have a clearer idea of what really matters. Leave aside the uncertainty of whether your Oxbridge application will succeed. Instead, focus on the two major concerns we discussed earlier. Do you have a genuine passion for your subject? Are you doing well in it? If that’s the case, you’re in a good position to consider applying to Oxford or Cambridge even if you’re just starting your A Levels or IB. Best of luck!</p><p>&nbsp;</p>