The Application Process
The University of Oxford aims to attract applications from the most academically able individuals, regardless of their socio-economic, ethnic, or national origin, on the basis that they are well-qualified and have the most potential to excel in their chosen course of study. Selection is based on academic criteria, and not on an applicant’s background or the kind of school they attended. We look for those who have a genuine academic interest, who are prepared to work hard and aim high.
Applications to Oxford are made through UCAS, and will be assessed holistically by tutors who are specialists in their subject. An application to Oxford will include:
o GCSE and predicted A Level grades (or equivalent)
o A personal statement
o A teacher’s reference
o Contextual data
o Admissions test results (if required)
o Submitted written work (if required)
o Interview performance
STEP 1. Picking a course & checking the requirements
Choosing a course is the most important part of the application process, and the University’s course pages are an excellent place for candidates to find out more about the subjects we offer. Once a course has been chosen, these pages also provide key information about the level and subject requirements of the course’s standard offer (e.g. A Level: AAA or A*A*A), along with more details about its structure and key topics. Candidates should consider that courses vary in length, structure, and teaching methods, and this may have an impact on the choice they make (for example, our Modern Languages courses include a compulsory year abroad).
STEP 2. Choosing a college
An integral part of the collegiate University, colleges are interdisciplinary academic communities made up of students, staff, and academics. While most applicants do choose a college, it is not necessary to do so; it is possible to make an open application, which means that a candidate’s application will be allocated to a college which has received relatively fewer applications for the chosen course of study in the year of application. Oxford also operates an reallocation process to ensure that the most academically qualified candidates are not disadvantaged by applying to an oversubscribed college; when such applications are made, that application will be reallocated to another college which offers the course, and which has received relatively fewer applications in that year.
STEP 3. Written work & admissions tests
Many of the courses we offer require candidates to sit an admissions test, organised through Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT). Such tests can usually be taken at school, if it is registered as a test centre, and candidates must ensure they are registered for the appropriate admissions test by the deadline. It remains the candidate’s responsibility to check whether their chosen course of study requires them to sit an admissions test, and to ensure that they are correctly registered by the deadline.
Some courses also ask candidates to submit written work, which should demonstrate analytical, reasoning, language and writing skills. It must be original school or college work no longer than 2,000 words in length, marked by a teacher, and not re-written or corrected in any way. Upon receipt of their application, St Hugh’s College will contact candidates with instructions on how to submit any necessary written work towards the end of October.
STEP 4. UCAS application
All applications must be submitted through UCAS by 6pm GMT on 15th October; applications will not be accepted after this date.
STEP 5. Interviews
Candidates who are shortlisted will be invited to Oxford for interviews in December. Interviews at St Hugh’s will be conducted by tutors in the relevant subject, and there are likely to be additional interviews at other colleges. With the exception of those applying for Medicine, candidates who live outside the EU, and are unable to travel to Oxford for interview, may be offered a remote interview. Interviews for Medicine must take place in Oxford.
Please see below for the University’s guide to interviews at Oxford.
STEP 6. Decisions
Decisions will be communicated to candidates by post and through UCAS in January.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Should I make an open application?
In general, colleges are more similar than they are different and choosing a course is far more important. However, we do know that choosing a college at Oxford is often part of the excitement of applying. There are a number of things to consider when choosing a college, like their location or facilities, but these are a matter of personal preference.
If you feel that you cannot easily choose between colleges, an open application may be best for you. If you make an open application, you will be allocated a college (usually one that, for that year, has a slightly lower than average number of applicants per place). Once an open application has been allocated a college, it is treated in the same way as that of a candidate who has applied directly.
It is worth bearing in mind that many successful applicants who receive an offer do so from a college other than the one to which they applied. College choice should therefore not be a major priority.
What is an interview like?
The interview is an essential part of the Oxford application process, allowing students to have a detailed and in-depth discussion about their chosen subject with Oxford tutors. We interview all shortlisted candidates who are allocated to St Hugh’s and would encourage all candidates to arrange practice discussing their academic interests before coming up to Oxford for the real thing.
Interviews at St Hugh’s are normally 20-30 minutes long and are usually conducted by two or more tutors at a time, each an expert in some aspect of the degree course to which you are applying. Interviews tend to begin with straightforward questions, prompted by your personal statement, designed to put you at your ease. They often conclude with an opportunity for you to ask questions of the interviewer(s).
St Hugh’s will provide free accommodation and food while you are here and arrange for a group of current Undergraduate students to stay on as helpers. The helpers organise social events to help you relax and meet other candidates.
For further information about the interview process, please see the University’s guide below.
Can I apply post A-level or gap year (deferred entry)?
We welcome applications from candidates who are both working towards, and have already achieved, their qualifications; as general rule we also support gap year plans which would not have an adverse effect on the standard of the applicant’s academic work.
Applicants who apply for deferred entry will be assessed against the same assessment criteria as those applying for direct entry. Generally speaking however, deferred entry is seen as more competitive because it involves the tutors having to reserve a place against as yet unseen candidates.
Tutors may want to see a proposed plan for your gap year which will allow you to maintain academic engagement with your chosen subject. Examples could include an internship, work placement or a structured reading plan.
Can I apply if I have Scottish, European or international qualifications?
We welcome applications from those with Scottish, European or other international qualifications, and are proud that those who apply to us come from all over the world. The University provides guidance on international qualifications on its website, and applicants with specific queries should contact the Admissions Coordinator.
What happens if I am an applicant with access requirements or special educational needs?
We welcome applications from all eligible candidates regardless of their particular physical and/or special educational needs. We endeavour to make reasonable adjustments both at interview and after students have been admitted. Any queries or concerns are best directed towards the Admissions Coordinator.
- What if I have further questions?