Oxford as a US Student?

I’m a junior in high school and my dream has been to go to Oxbridge and major in International Relations (PPE in the case of Oxford). Unfortunately, one of the things that continue to frighten me as far as getting accepted is my grades: freshmen year and sophomore year I failed Algebra I and most of my teachers and counselors weren’t sure how to deal with it because all my other grades were A’s and B’s. I just genuinely wasn’t comprehending math and it showed. I’ve always had a passion for history and language subjects, so I managed to get good grades in those classes. This year, I finally received opportunities to showcase my strengths and I currently have a B in Geometry and I’m planning on taking Algebra II over the summer to complete my math requirement. Besides this, I am taking 3 AP classes: US history, Psychology, and Language and Composition with A’s in 2 and a B in US history. I also plan on taking AP Gov, Econ, French IV, and AP Literature next year.

As far as test scores, I’m hoping to receive good scores on the math portions of SAT and ACT and near perfect on the English portions. I know Oxford requires 5’s on 3 AP tests so I’m trying to knock that requirement out this year, but if not, next year.

Have I ruined my chances of applying to Oxford or any prestigious school in the US? My counselor told me that I can explain to the college’s I’m applying to that I had anxiety due to math in comparison to my other grades. I just wonder if that will be enough and if there is anything else I could do to improve my chances of getting into Oxford. Thank you :slight_smile:

“Although a background in Mathematics is not formally required for admission, PPE applicants should have sufficient aptitude for mathematics to cope with the mathematical elements of the course. Mathematics is a particular advantage for the Economics component of PPE, as well as for the first year logic course in Philosophy, and for understanding theories and data in Politics; it is useful to have learnt the basics of differentiation before starting PPE.
Many successful applicants have studied Maths to at least AS-Level or equivalent. Therefore you may like to consider taking Maths to AS-Level, or an equivalent qualification such as IB Standard Level, even if you do not pursue it further.”

For a US student you should have the stated Math SL if in IB, or Calc AB if using AP tests. Even if you get in without it, you are going to be struggling if you don’t. Algebra 2 is not enough.

“Even if you get in without it, you are going to be struggling if you don’t.”

This. In the US the emphasis is on getting in, but in the UK you are more likely to actually need a familiarity with the level of material required. Also, have you taken a look at the Thinking Skills Assessment test?

IMO, if you have anxiety about academics I would re-think Oxbridge. It is hard to overstate just how intense they are academically. The workload is staggering, and the pace is very, very fast.

Finally, PPE is not just one of the most competitive courses for admission at Oxford, but is the course with the highest number of US applicants. The number of accepted students who don’t have calculus is in the 1% range. Imo the best thing you can do to improve your chances of being accepted is to pick a different course to apply to.

I’m quite overachieving in my other academics, it’s only math that really stumps me when it comes to anxiety or stress levels. When I first showed any interest in Oxford, I was looking to apply to the Law undergrad major because I would like to pursue a career in international human rights law and I know that I would have to take the LNAT for that… Any tips?

As I’m doing more research, I think Cambridge would be a better fit for me but I originally wasn’t looking to apply to them because I hear that their decisions are much more grade-based?? I think, when the time comes, I will apply for HSPS or History and Politics and if anyone has any information or tips on that please let me know :slight_smile:

HisPol requires the HAT and HSPS also has an admissions test, so choose your poison :slight_smile:

Really, go for the course that is closest to your actual interests.

Neither Oxford nor Cambridge practice holistic admission. You cannot „explain“ low scores to them, you simply can’t apply unless you clear the threshold.
On the other hand, neither will be interested in your freshman and sophomore grades, so you haven’t „ruined“ anything.

You need the 5s in your AP exams in relevant subjects (so your B in US history better turn out a 5 in the exam) and at least a 1470 SAT or 32 ACT. Depending on the subject you end up applying for, there will be some kind of written aptitude test as well, to be taken in the fall before admission.
Then, if invited for an interview, you will have to shine in the interview - think of it as an oral examination in the „relevant“ subjects.
Anything you have done until now is neither here nor there. Nail those exams.

Echoing what @collegemom3717 said - if you’re having anxiety and stress dealing with HS math, you might want to think about whether or not you would be OK trying to handle an Oxford workload. The terms are short (8 weeks) and very intense. My son is a current fresher and he is dealing with Math/CompSci problem sets & practicals OK. But according to him, his friends who are taking essay based courses like PPE or History are working like dogs.

@HazeGrey Does you know anybody from US got accepted by Oxford medicine? How many APs did your son take when applying Oxford? The bare minimal requirement for SAT is 1470, do you know the realistic SAT score that you have to achieve in order to get in Oxford? Thanks

@really123 - @collegemom3717 knows more about this than I do, but I believe that Oxford takes some ridiculously small number of international students (like six) into their medicine program each year. I would view the SAT/ACT as a hurdle rather than a key determinate of your success. Your admissions test and interview performance will have significantly more impact on receiving an offer than an extra 50 points on the SAT. There were students who absolutely crushed the MAT last year who did not receive offers, most likely due to poor interview performance. For a US math applicant, the MAT performance has much more meaning than your SAT/AP scores.

My son had English Comp, English Lit, US History, Comp Sci A, Calc BC and Physics C (both) done by the time he applied. He did micro/macro senior year but they never asked to see scores for those.

@collegemom3717 thanks for your very helpful information on Oxford admissions. Do you know any US students got accepted by Oxford medicine? Last year, among 342 applicants, only 6 were accepted. How many of them are from US? Thanks

@HazeGrey thanks for your reply. Very helpful information!

afaik, none. I have pinged the current & recent Oxford students that I know- so far none know of any American med students, though one recent grad said that there might have been one a few years ago, and there are a few that I haven’t heard back from yet.

You have asked this question many, many times, hijacking at least 3 threads. Is this because you would like to go to Oxford for medicine?

If so, is your thinking that if somebody else did it, so can you? if so, that is a distraction: your chances of getting into Oxford medicine are completely unrelated to how many Americans have gotten in over recent admissions cycles.

Also, on another thread you ask if the prestige of Oxford would exempt it from the rules for foreign trained doctors, and the answer is no, it won’t. The info is here: https://www.aafp.org/medical-school-residency/residency/apply/img.html

If you think that you are a seriously strong candidate, start a thread, put your stats and other info up and ask for people to help consider your likelihood of making it past the first hurdle. Of course that (+ your personal statement & LoR) just qualifies you to keep going forward. The BMAT is critical for getting an interview, and the interview is critical for getting an offer.

@really123 According to my son & the American fresher “group chat”, there is one incoming US medic next year. Agree with @collegemom3717 100% that this fact should really have no bearing on your choice/decision process.

(love the info circles! tx, @HazeGrey)

@HazeGrey, nice to know at least one from US got accepted this year. It will be really nice if we can get connected with that student . Will your son be able to help? Thanks again!

@collegemom3717 @HazeGrey ; Thanks for your reply. Very helpful! We are interested in applying med at Oxford because of its reputation and the duration to get a MD degree (six years vs. 8 year in US.) Since we are two years away from graduation, right now, we are just gathering information.

The requirements on SAT (1470) , APs (3) and BMAT (at least 70%?) seems very easy to achieve. While there is 14 international quota every year, last year 342 applied, 28 shortlisted, yet only 6 were admitted, would like to know the underlying cause of that, purely because of the interview or something else. Indeed, past statistics has little to do with future, it is still nice to know if anybody from US ever got in so we know the odd we are facing. The other concern is the future after the MD degree, if the foreign degree will put us into disadvantage to get into good residency, then it is a red flag. From the link by @collegemom3717 , two more tests are needed for foreign degree students to get in the residency in US, not terribly difficult. Again, would love to hear more insights.

Another question, when applying Oxford, can we apply both medicine and biomedical research? If got rejected by medicine, will Oxford put you into the pool for biomedical research? Thanks

Not automatically, you would have to use two slots on your Ucas form, and both departments would consider you separately. But you have to write a single personal statement to cover your interest in both courses. Bear in mind that if you’re thinking of doing Biomedical Sciences as a precursor to medical school back in the US, that may not work out; US med school like to see the prerequisite courses from a US university, regardless of the quality of the non-US university/course.

The grade requirements are really just a starting point (and you may find getting a high score in BMAT is a bit tougher than you think). For medicine you will also need some volunteering experience in something relating to patients; a strong reference; and to perform well at interview (if shortlisted).

However, I have to agree with those who say that if your end goal is to work as a doctor in the US, a US medical school is the best route.

Who is “we”

Was thinking the same thing, @VickiSoCal! Who is the ‘we’ that thinks that getting a good mark* on the USMLE is not terribly difficult?!

@really123, only ~10% of the people who take the BMAT get a 6 (out of 9) or better (which is where Oxford expects you to be- they say that getting a 7 is still rare). As @Conformist1688 said, I don’t think that it’s quite that ‘easy’.

But, it is true that the standardized testing is the ‘easiest’ part of the application process. Your LoR and PS are also important. The interview is critical, and there are plenty of people with dazzling scores who get rejected at that point.

*the score is a key part of getting residency offers, and you can only sit Step 1 once- an 8 hour day covering everything from the 1st 2 years of med school.

@collegemom3717, Thanks for the information regarding “US med school like to see the prerequisite courses from a US university”. Then going to Biomedical research in Oxford does not make much sense if the ultimate goal is to practice in US .

Of course, no exam is easy, but I have to say the bar for standardized tests is not high. Yet every year, Oxford can not even fulfill the quota which makes me wonder if there is something else that plays a role in admission. Interview is like an oral exam, not sure how come US students can be in disadvantage during interview. That’s why we would like to get connected with students who got accepted to better understand the process before investing more time and efforts. After all, we have plenty good medical schools in US.