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Pembroke College, Cambridge wrote:
The Cambridge Colleges admit about 3000 students each year; last year only six of these offers were made to US citizens, conditional on SAT and Advanced Placement scores. Entry to Cambridge is at least as competitive as for Harvard, Yale etc and we would expect two or three APs in addition to a combined SAT score of at least 1300, and normally a GPA of 3.7 or above.
TSR wiki wrote:
To those wishing to apply to Oxbridge as an undergraduate, your journey will start with a decision. Rules dictate that you may only apply to one of the two universities, and therefore, you need to decide which. You could choose based on the place or even the course, but try to decide at which you would be happiest - a degree takes a long time. Oxford and Cambridge are in some ways very different places to study. Each is equally fulfilling and rewarding academically. Be aware that there are subtle differences in what courses each university offers (e.g. Cambridge offers Natural Science in place of Physics, Chemistry or Biology, Oxford offers Politics, Philosophy and Economics whereas Cambridge offers seperate subjects of Economics or Social and Political Sciences (SPS)).
I really really WOULD NOT stress too much about the choice between them. They are far more similar than they are different. Obviously for some subjects they courses have a very different syllabus (or only offered at one and not the other), and for some they are very similar. If you think the course content is mostly the same, just choose the town you like the most. Cambridge is quieter and less formal (no gowns for exams for example). Oxford is a little bigger, and the town is a lot lot busier. Almost certainly you will "live in" in college owned accomodation for an entire undergraduate degree at Cambridge. At Oxford at most colleges you have to "live out" in privately owned houses for at least 1 year (not the first) if not 2. This can greatly increase your expenses as you will have to pay rent for 52 weeks, not 24. But some people prefer it as they can stay in Oxford out of term.
Cambridge has engineering while Oxford has the rest.
I don't think one is superior to the other. Of course they are always competing against each other in league tables, but these tables aren't any more meaningful that those published in the US and elsewhere. In reality both are more similar to each other than they are to anywhere else.
Get over this Cambridge is superior for sciences and Oxford is superior for arts thing. Over 800 years of history this is true on average, if you count things like Nobel prizes won and Prime Ministers produced. But on a day to day basis you are not going to be left uneducated by studying English at Cambridge or Physics at Oxford. I did natural sciences at Cambridge and as a graduate student I do some teaching (practical classes) for the Biology course at Oxford. I can tell you from personal experience that Oxford Biology is extremely similar to the Biology options in Cambridge Natural Sciences. I don't expect other subjects to be any different.