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Chances of getting into oxford/cambridge?

alicelinkalicelink 24 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
I have a pretty low gpa, around a 3.8 unweighted. I'm a sophmore and I expect around a 1480+ on the SAT, and I'll definitely get at least 3 AP tests with a 5, probably around 5 AP tests with either 4 or a 5. What're my chances of getting into either of the schools? I've heard that cambridge has a lower admission of international students, of which I am one, but how good of a shot do I have at Oxford, and what do I need to do to make my chances better?
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Replies to: Chances of getting into oxford/cambridge?

  • DeadPoolCollegeDeadPoolCollege 24 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Oxford & Cambridge actually have higher acceptance rates for Americans, due to their lack of ability attract top US students.
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  • Conformist1688Conformist1688 1128 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Read around your proposed subject. Make sure your Personal Statement is focussed on your interest in the subject.

    What subject are you planning on studying, and what APs will you have?
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6715 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited March 2018
    @DeadPoolCollege, you are factually wrong about Oxbridge. Americans do not have an advantage.

    OP, spend some time on the Oxbridge sites, especially your subject pages, and get more familiar with how it works and what they value. There are also some good admissions podcasts on iTune. SAT + APs are simply pre-requisites: without those you can't get in, but to get in requires more. Most courses have an admissions test, and your PS has to demonstrate your understanding of (and suitability for) your subject- and that's just to get to the interview (which is like a cross between a lesson and an oral exam), which determines your suitability for both your course and the tutorial/supervision system.
    edited March 2018
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 1591 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You need a reference from your school, including predicted grades for your national exams. Would a teacher say that you are one of their top students in the last 20 years? Will they predict all 5s on your senior year APs? In choosing your APs, it is better to have more 5s and less overall APs than a bunch of 5s and 4s. You will definitely need 5s in your chosen subject (and related ones like math for sciences or english for humanities). And you should try and make sure you only have a single sitting for your SAT (you have to disclose all scores and retakes are disfavored).

    In addition, Oxbridge tutors don't have a high opinion of US high schools. Remember that UK students specialize in just 3 subjects for their last two years of high school, so they have typically gone much more deeply into their chosen subjects than US students. You will need to demonstrate similar depth and commitment. So having nationally or internationally recognized achievements in your subject would definitely help (science competitions, math olympiad, etc.). And ECs should be related to your subject (internships etc.)

    FWIW S18 didn't get an offer after his interview for PPE. He has 4.0UW, 1540 SAT, 10 APs (five 5s and one 3, was predicted four more 5s this year), top 5 in his class of 400, senior class president, political internship and engagement in various organizations. His biggest problem was a lack of knowledge in economics, since his school doesn't offer that. I'd say the level of competition is comparable to HYPSM, but Oxbridge don't care about anything except academics. So no benefit from being an URM, athlete, legacy, etc. That can help or hurt depending on your background.
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  • alicelinkalicelink 24 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks! So you're saying that on top of all the tests, I should 1) have a great personal statement, and 2) demonstrate understanding of the subject? How would I do the latter? In addition, would you happen to know when American students apply for Oxford? I'm not sure whether we apply junior year or senior year for UK schools.
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  • alicelinkalicelink 24 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Also, what're the names of those podcasts? I'm going to look them up.
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  • alicelinkalicelink 24 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @Twoin18 On top of APs and the SAT, would you then recommend that I prove myself by taking part in national competitions and the like?
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 1591 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Yes you should participate in competitions and ECs in your subject. So for example if your subject is math you should do the AMC-10/12 (and you ought to qualify for the AIME to be competitive, getting to the AMO would be better and give you a strong chance of admission). If its archaeology then spend the summer at a dig, do an internship with a professor, etc.

    You have to apply (and have the teacher reference submitted and have registered for any testing) by October 15 of your senior year. Interviews are in early December (if you are shortlisted) and then decisions come out in early January. Most US schools have no clue what they are doing, so you would have to drive the process yourself, including getting the school to register in advance so that you can take the admission test there.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6715 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    2) demonstrate understanding of the subject? How would I do the latter?

    It obviously depends on the subject, but to paraphrase an Oxbridge History tutor, they want you to love their subject as much as they do. If you love something, you tend to spend time with it.

    A little tough love here: if you are a serious candidate for Oxford or Cambridge, you need to be somebody who can research for themselves. I know that, as a Sophomore, you are a little ahead of the curve for college research in the US , but your UK peers are already at it, and planning their classes for the next 2 years to that end. Schools are much more hands-off than the US in general, and they expect you to be able to figure things out, right from day 1.

    So, have you obsessively read the websites, both the general admissions pages and the subject specific pages (all tabs)? Given the info that there are Oxford admissions podcasts on iTunes did you google it or go to iTunes podcasts and search? Have you looked at the aptitude test for your subject yet? Do all those things. Marinate in it for a bit. Learn what you can.

    Then, when you run into parts of the process that are not straightforward, there are a bunch of us here (including @twoinanddone, @HazeGrey, @alcibiade and me) who have been through the process and/or have /had students at one or the other and will be happy to help when you hit a dead end.

    ps, fwiw, PPE is one of the most over-subscribed courses at Oxford, plus the one that most Americans apply to, so admissions are disproportionately difficult.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 12668 replies29 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    So one good piece of advice I read online is that if you are Oxbridge material, you will love your subject(s) (whatever it or they may be) more than Oxbridge. If you aren't as devoted to that subject(s) as that, then Oxbridge probably isn't for you.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6715 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited March 2018
    (*belatedly adds the always useful and knowledgable @PurpleTitan and @MYOS1634 to the list of helpful Oxbridge posters :-)))
    edited March 2018
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 12668 replies29 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited March 2018
    @DeadPoolCollege, Oxbridge are extremely tough for anyone to get in to, but especially for American kids as they typically have not concentrated and gone as deeply in to a subject in HS compared to Brits and kids from other school systems of a similar age.

    On the other hand, Americans have an easier time getting in to St. Andrews and some other UK unis who like the fact that Americans are full-pay Internationals (LSE would still be very tough to enter and Imperial and UCL would be tough as they don't need Americans; they get plenty of academically strong International full-pay applicants from outside the US who are attracted to their reputation in the fields where they are renown).
    edited March 2018
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41883 replies451 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @alicelink you need AP's that relate to the specific subject you want to "read" (study/major in). You must also ask for a basic bibliography and read up on the subject - seminal articles, key controversies between intellectuals in the discipline - or for math work through AoPS.
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  • alicelinkalicelink 24 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @MYOS1634 If I have a wide variety in the APs I'm taking because my school doesn't offer any others, is that okay? I study my topic of interest in my spare time-but are you saying that I should try to dig in further? How would I do that, and how could I showcase my knowledge then when admissions time came up? Thanks so much for the help!
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6715 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The admission tutors won't care (pro or con) about work in unrelated subjects: they only care about your interest and ability in *their* subject.

    There are suggested reading lists on most of the course pages, which are good for an *idea* of the sort of reading expected, but they are neither required nor essential, so don't get hung up on reading that specific list. Look at the standard, and read things that are interesting to you that are of a similar standard.

    If you want specific suggestions, please give your subject.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41883 replies451 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    What specific subject are you thinking of?
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41883 replies451 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    What specific subject are you thinking of?
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  • alicelinkalicelink 24 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @MYOS1634 Currently thinking of economics or philosophy
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6715 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Econ at Oxbridge is *very* mathy- plan to have CalcBC or IB HL. You can only do Econ at Oxbridge as a joint subject- Econ + History / Management / Politics and Philosophy (aka PPE, the one @Twoin18's son applied to). Ditto philosophy- it is always a joint subject (there are a lot of choices). Econ at Cambridge is even mathier than Oxford, but it is a single subject, as is Philosophy. All have admissions tests pre-interview- there are samples on line.
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  • Conformist1688Conformist1688 1128 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Yes, for econ or PPE make sure you have Calc BC - it's technically not absolutely required for PPE but it's highly recommended. Plus some history APs would be useful imo. If you're interested in both econ and philosophy, PPE may be the subject for you - you can drop the politics after the first year. An increasing number of other UK universities also now offer PPE; you can appky to up to four other UK universities on the same UCAS application.

    If you go for straight philosophy at Cambridge no specific subjects are required at AP, but history a=is always a useful preparation.

    Have a look at the Ox and Cam websites, specifically for the departments you're looking at applying to as that will give you a better idea s to the course.
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