Applying to Oxford University – A Student’s Experience

Friday, January 15, 2016 4:40 PM

Hoping that everyone had a lovely Christmas with family and had a chance to relax and catch up on school work (and sleep!).


You might remember that I had applied to Oxford to study Chemistry. I recently had an interview and I’ve just received an offer from them, so I thought I’d tell you about my Oxford application process.


UCAS Deadline for Oxbridge

The first thing to mention is that there is a much earlier deadline for Oxford (and Cambridge) on UCAS, instead of the regular mid-January deadline, it is actually mid-October. So if you are planning to apply to Oxbridge then make sure you are organised and start your personal statement early! Definitely DON’T leave it until the last minute.

Open Day

Going to an open day at Oxford (or Cambridge) is essential because the collegiate system is very different to other universities and they can explain it a lot better than any information on the Internet can and you can really get a feel for the place. Make sure you do you research about the course there though; don’t just apply because it’s Oxford!!


When you apply, you apply to a specific college at the university or you can make an ‘open application’ and be allocated to a college by the university. I originally applied to Keble College, simply because I visited there and liked the look of it, however I was reallocated to Pembroke college for my interview.


University Interview

Once your application is in, you may wait around for a response for a while. There is a timetable on the Oxford website for when they call for interviews so I knew that the Chemistry interviews were from the 14th to the 16th of December but I didn’t find out that I had an interview until November 20th.


The interview was over a period of two days. I went up after school as I live just over an hour away, I was given a room key and was showed to my room. All meals over the stay were included and everyone was given a room for the two nights we were requested to stay.


Each day we needed to check the noticeboard in the JCR (Junior Common Room) at regular intervals to look out for interview notices. On Tuesday 15th December I had a brief introduction from the tutors after breakfast about 8.20am and then two scheduled interviews at 11.45am and 4.30pm. Around those times I could do anything I wanted to do.


Over the two days, I mainly did school work and revision in my room as I didn’t want to fall behind with studies and had cover work from teachers. I also spent some time in the JCR with other applicants, chatting and playing board games. A couple of times I also walked the short distance into town to meet one of my friends who had an interview to read Chemistry at St John’s.


The next day we were informed that if we didn’t have an interview request posted before 10am then we were free to go. Just minutes before 10, a notice was posted inviting almost all the Chemistry applicants to another interview at various other colleges. Mine was at Jesus College at 12.10pm. After that interview I returned to Pembroke and it was a bit of a waiting game; we had to wait for the admission staff of Pembroke to post a notice dismissing us from our interviews so we were regularly checking the JCR notice board and at about 3.30pm the Chemistry applicants were dismissed, so I packed my bags and headed for the train station.


We were told that offers or rejections would be sent out on January 6th by post or email, depending on the college. On January 6th, I received an email congratulating me and outlining the details of my offer, which is a conditional open offer at Oxford University: An Open Offer guarantees you a place at Oxford if you meet the offer conditions, but it is not yet possible to say exactly at which College your place will be; it may be at any of the Colleges which offer your course. Exactly which will depend on which College has a vacancy after publication of UK Examination results in August. Pembroke College guarantees to admit you in the event that no other College has a vacancy.” So of course I’m fine with that!


I hope this helps any of you wondering about the Oxford admissions process. Hope that everyone’s mock exams are going well (if you are doing some right now like I am).



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