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How many US students could get an interview for Oxbridge?

sattutsattut Registered User Posts: 894 Member
About 30 US citizens from US schools per year are admitted to Oxbridge. That might mean 150 interviews, considering those who don't get or meet offers and those who choose top Ivies or whatever or don't attend due to money or visa issues.

I am wondering how many could get interviews. I would guess that maybe 10% of the students at top 6 or so US schools would meet Oxbridge criteria for an interview.
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Replies to: How many US students could get an interview for Oxbridge?

  • alcibiadealcibiade Registered User Posts: 586 Member
    You should look at the student room website, perhaps you can directly ask an admissions tutor.

    While I can't answer your question, in general the rate of acceptance for EU and overseas students is lower than from the UK - admissions tutors want to be certain they can keep up with work, know less about the national systems (and esp. individual schools), and the qualifications of applicants is somewhat lower because they don't understand the grade requirements and so get eliminated early.

    My d is an AMerican at Cambridge, though she applied from France as an EU resident. I have described the process in detail if you look at my recent responses. We were deeply impressed with the process and she loves Cam.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,207 Senior Member
    10% of the students at top 6 or so US schools would meet Oxbridge criteria for an interview.

    Then you would guess wrong, at least in the 'top 6' schools part.

    Whether you meant the top 6 public schools (TAG in Dallas, BASIS in AZ, TJ in VA, Gwinnet in GA, etc.?) or private (Exeter, Andover, College Prep in CA, Horace Mann in NY, Castilleja, Cate, Hotchkiss, SFU, etc?), I would estimate that 2/3 of the students would meet the criteria for interview. I can also tell you that at least half of the students in my D's classes- at a school that does not crack the top 25 list- would qualify.

    As you know, the minimum requirements for admission are very straightforward, and heavily based on standardized testing. There were about 23K AP National Scholars in 2013- ie, with a 4 or better in 8 or more APs, and average score of at least 4. You can proxy that most or all of the scholars would be able to muster 3/5 scores of 5, which is what Oxford/Cambridge require. So most of those scholars would likely meet the basic criteria.

    In fact, I know something about most of the US students currently at Oxford (enrolled, not study abroad), and the schools they come from are remarkably ordinary. Moreover, most of them were not the 'superstars' of their secondary schools, mostly b/c they are more asymmetrical than most high school 'superstars'.

    Oxford would say that there is no limit on how many students *could* get interviews: they go for the best. However, given that the numbers are pretty steady over time, it would appear that they at least informally have a percentage basis, as admissions are done by department and college, not by the university overall.

    So, in practice, I would think 150 is not far off, perhaps a bit on the high side.

  • sattutsattut Registered User Posts: 894 Member
    I meant students admitted to top 6 colleges, like HYP, Stanford, MIT, Caltech. I would assume that this would be a stronger group than top 6 prep schools.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,207 Senior Member
    Ah- I misunderstood. But I still disagree. There are fewer than 8,000 students enrolled in those six each fall, so you are suggesting that fewer than 800 of those would qualify, which seems unlikely. The random sample of students that I have direct knowledge of at those colleges (not counting Caltech, where I don't know any students) would all qualify.

    Of course, that they qualify does not mean that they would get in. I know a fair few students at several of those colleges who qualified but didn't get through the interview (and you don't get to the interview if you aren't qualified to get the place).
  • sattutsattut Registered User Posts: 894 Member
    I just through out 10%. It was a question. Maybe it is 50% or whatever. However, the people you know are not a random sampling. US students have not studied as specialized a program. In practice you generally need more than 3 5s on AP exams to get an interview. Also, when you combine the people at HYP who were bought in, had various types of connections, filled various types of quotas, were recruited athletes, and so on, that is a large portion of the class, and few of those would meet Oxbridge standards.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,207 Senior Member
    edited September 2015
    @Sattut, you are absolutely correct that the people that I know are not a random sampling. Of the US students that I know at HYPSM, only a few are athletes, fewer are legacy, and none are big donor kids. They are from a wide range of schools, but only a small handful from the super-elite secondary schools, and none did a 'specialised program'. And, there are quite a lot of them.

    You keep coming back to the idea that "a large portion" of the tippy top college classes are 'bought' in (which doesn't actually happen, or the student body would look *very* different, and the ones who benefit from big donor parents are a teeny tiny number), or are recruited athletes, from 'quotas', or have 'connections' - and that they were not good enough to get in without that hook.

    You seriously underestimate just how good these kids are. The students I know who fall into any of those categories at HYPSM were also top of their classes in grades and test scores- and virtually all of them had something else elite as well (performance-level music, student gov leadership, etc).

    Neither HYPSM nor Oxbridge are magic: there are many thousands more students who would do just fine there. There are other schools that are every bit as good, but these schools have the name, so more students apply, so the schools get to cherry-pick out the most extraordinary. Harvard was a big name hard-to-get-into school when I was coming through- and the acceptance rate was in the 30% range. The high-achiever students that I know now consider a college with that acceptance level a safety.

    Many of the US students that I know are surprised by how seemingly low the requirements are for Oxbridge compared to HYPSM/etc. For Oxbridge the 'standards' are simply a series of hurdles used to winnow down a big number of applicants to a number that are manageable to interview. Lots of US and UK students can 'meet Oxbridge standards' for interview; many fewer can navigate the interview, where what counts is how you think and how you handle the tutorial format.
  • sattutsattut Registered User Posts: 894 Member
    You have to simulate A-levels without having had A-levels or specialized as much as English students do. A-levels are supposed to be more difficult than AP exams.

    If you think that it is so easy to get an Oxbridge interview, is it really that easy to get As or A*s on A-levels?

    The 6% or whatever acceptance rates are mainly due to students applying to like 15 schools and all the top ones, hoping one will accept them.

    Not sure how many students at top Ivies don't meet the usual academic standards, but it is a significant percentage. For example, recruited athletes need much lower credentials. A former President for example got into Yale with 1200/1600 SATs and a couple of SAT IIs in the high 600s. I don't think he would have met Oxbridge admissions standards.

    I threw out 10%. What do you think, 70% at HYP could get interviews at Oxford? Do they really all have the AP exams and/or SAT IIs for that?
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,207 Senior Member
    edited September 2015
    You have to simulate A-levels without having had A-levels or specialized as much as English students do. A-levels are supposed to be more difficult than AP exams.

    You don't have to simulate A-levels: you substitute APs or SATIIs. It doesn't really matter if A levels are actually harder than those exams or not: Oxbridge accept them in lieu of A levels. The exams students take during their course are much like APs (without the multiple choice parts) and students have two sets of mock exams before taking exams that count, so there is no question of familiarity with the format, structure or expectations. As for specialization, at Oxbridge they look for specialization beyond the classroom, which gives US students something of an advantage, as the idea of doing summer classes or internships or jobs is much more prevalent in the US than the UK.
    If you think that it is so easy to get an Oxbridge interview, is it really that easy to get As or A*s on A-levels?

    I didn't say that it was easy to get an Oxbridge interview, just that for HYPSM level students it is relatively easy to qualify for one. It is not easy to get A/A* on an A-level, or a 5 on an AP or a high 700 on an SATII- but lots of people do it.
    Not sure how many students at top Ivies don't meet the usual academic standards, but it is a significant percentage. For example, recruited athletes need much lower credentials.

    Define significant ;-) The Ivy League deals with this head on:
    Recruited athletes are admitted from a list submitted by coaches and make up roughly 13 percent of each class, but the Academic Index was adopted for the eight institutions in the mid-1980s to make sure that each was making admissions decisions on athletes relatively consistent with its overall admissions requirements.
    (source here)
    A former President for example got into Yale with 1200/1600 SATs and a couple of SAT IIs in the high 600s. I don't think he would have met Oxbridge admissions standards.

    No, he wouldn't meet Oxbridge standards- and tbh he didn't meet Yale's -then or now- either. That was 50 years ago, when Yale had an explicit policy of accepting the kids of famous alums. But things have changed: if Malia Obama applies to one of her parents alma maters this fall with the scores George Bush had she will not be accepted. On the other hand, my guess is that if she gets into those schools you will assume it is because of her parents fame, and not her own hard work, achievements and smarts- and, knowing something about her school and her academic success so far, that would be unfair on your part.
    I threw out 10%. What do you think, 70% at HYP could get interviews at Oxford? Do they really all have the AP exams and/or SAT IIs for that?

    Could? yes would? probably not, for lots of reasons. I'm not sure what your underlying point is. The focus and systems are so different that for 2 equally 'qualified' candidates one is likely to be drawn more to one than the other (says she who has children who have gone both directions).
  • sattutsattut Registered User Posts: 894 Member
    Not sure why you are arguing. My impression from this forum and elsewhere is that US students need to simulate 3 A-levels in related subjects with a score of at least A through AP exams and SAT IIs. I gather you think almost everyone at HYP or whatever has that, such as multiple AP exams with 5s and SAT IIs with 700+?
  • alcibiadealcibiade Registered User Posts: 586 Member
    @sattut, you would do well to carefully read what collegemom is saying, she knows what she is talking about.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 11,685 Senior Member
    edited September 2015
    The private American elites admit through a very different system, and the overwhelming majority of kids who go there aren't even considering Oxbridge (so many don't do what is required to get in to Oxbridge). So you need to differentiate between whether kids at a place like Harvard _did_ do what is required to get an Oxbridge interview or _could_ do it. I'd say that at Harvard, the majority could get one if they had Oxbridge as a goal in HS.

    And yes, there are developmental admits, athletes, and others with talents outside the classroom, but I'd say that the top 15-20 American unis could put together a student body on par with and with the characteristics of Oxbridge's if they had that as a goal.

    Note that the Ivies and equivalents take in roughly 25K a year. Oxbridge takes in about 7K a year (if my calculations are right). Yet the UK has roughly 1/5th the population of the US.

    Let's put it this way: the percentage of the current student body at HYPSM who could get in to Oxbridge if they had that as a goal in HS is greater than the percentage of the current student body at Oxbridge who could get in to HYPSM if they had that as a goal in HS.
  • sattutsattut Registered User Posts: 894 Member
    My point wasn't that US students are inferior. For say Harvard and Yale, you are talking about a much smaller total number of students than Oxbridge and a much bigger country, so they it is natural they would be harder to get into.

    My question was how many US students could get Oxbridge interviews as is. With at most 150 actually getting the interviews, I was wondering how many had the AP and SAT II scores and so on needed.
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 11,685 Senior Member
    Well, most aren't applying to or even considering Oxbridge, so just 150 interviewing now doesn't tell us much (and note that roughly half of those who go to Oxbridge from the US are originally from abroad, while kids from abroad are nowhere near half the students in US high schools, which means Oxbridge isn't even on the radar of the vast majority of the most talented US-raised HS students).

    @collegemom3717 already gave the numbers. Seems like somewhere around 20K would qualify for an interview. Even if its half that, that's 10K.
  • sattutsattut Registered User Posts: 894 Member
    I was only counting the about 30 US students from US high schools are admitted to Oxbridge per year. Assuming a significant number of those accepted don't attend, I estimated 150 got interviews.

    I don't think more than 10K is possible. Don't think there are enough 5s on AP exams and 700+ on SAT II to students in the US for more than that. Practically, they are looking for a lot of high scores, as AP exams cover less material than A-levels.
  • sattutsattut Registered User Posts: 894 Member
    There about 15K Oxbridge interviews for UK students, so about that number qualified for interview makes sense for the US with 5x the population and students not being prepared for A-levels.
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