Are you ready for your interview?

Do you feel nervous about your Oxford Interview?

Are you worried that your mind will go blank and you won’t know what to say?

Or that the interviewers will ask a question that seems impossible?

It is very clear from our experience that there is a vast discrepancy in the amount of preparation candidates do before their Oxford interview. Some schools are very experienced with applications to Oxford and provide a great amount of support to applicants. However the majority of schools are not familiar with the process, leaving their students at a huge disadvantage.

Every year we hear from students that they are most apprehensive about the interview. We specialise in preparing students for their Oxford interview: improving their confidence, speaking and ability to give strong answers under pressure.

We offer a range of free and premium services to give you the best chance of getting into Oxford; click below for further details.

Subject Interview Guides

General Interview Guide

Personal Statement and Application Review

Interview Preparation Sessions

Mock Subject Interviews

Oxford Interview Questions

Subject Interview Guides

Our Subject Interview Guides help you to prepare and go into your interview with confidence.

OIQ Interview Guides

Each guide discusses Oxford Interview Questions in depth with answers and approaches – along with possible points of discussion to further demonstrate your knowledge. They have been specially edited for applicants for each subject by a team of Oxford and Cambridge graduates.

Download a sample page from our Physics Guide here.

Click below to receive your Oxford Interview Guide right now and you’ll be sent it in PDF format by email the same day so you can begin your preparation right away.

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The Oxford Interview Guide – PPE

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The Oxford Interview Guide – Economics and Management

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The Oxford Interview Guide – Archaeology and Anthropology

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The Oxford Interview Guide – Chemistry

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The Oxford Interview Guide – Biological Sciences

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The Oxford Interview Guide – Physics

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The Oxford Interview Guide – Medicine

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General Interview Guide

Why are you sitting in this chair?

If you were in my position, would you let yourself in?

What would you do with a million pounds?

With so many applicants with great grades, these questions provide the perfect opportunity for you to demonstrate your personality, creativity and thinking ability.

Every year we hear from students trying to prepare who have no idea where to start with these types of questions and what would sound like a strong answer.

In response a team of Oxford and Cambridge graduates have worked to put together “Oxford Interview Guide – The General Interview”. Download a sample page here.

Click the button below to receive your Oxford Interview Guide right now!

3D OIQ General Interview

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This guide is now available to download: The Oxford Interview Guide

Please Note: Other subject interview guides will be available for download soon – please enter your email below to receive a notification when your subject guide is available for download.

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Personal Statement and Application Review

Are you finding it difficult writing a great personal statement? 
Have you run out of ideas of how to telegraph your enthusiasm and passion for your subject?Are you worried that an area of your personal statement might be picked on at interview? 

Getting your Personal Statement right is essential to securing your interview. Our Personal Statement Review will provide an objective and informed opinion of your statement as it currently stands.

Let our Oxford experts review your personal statement for 24 hours before providing constructive feedback and valuable improvements via a 45 minute Skype consultation – allowing you to discuss your application and have your questions answered, as well as a written report.

The written report will provide pointers on areas where you can improve your statement, as well as providing a list of potential Interview questions which could arise based on your personal statement.

Contact us now to schedule your Personal Statement Review and consultation.

Interview Preparation Sessions

Do you feel that you aren’t ready for your interview? Do you have no idea what to expect?

Our Interview Preparation session prepares students to talk about and discuss their subjects with confidence – as well as suggesting questions and readings beyond the syllabus. These sessions work on the skills required for a successful interview.

This service is available both in person and online via Skype.

Contact us now to schedule your Interview Preparation Session.

Mock Interviews

Our Mock Interview service gives you an opportunity to experience what to expect from your subject or general interview, as well as to receive objective feedback.

The session lasts one hour, the first 30 minutes of which takes the form of a one-to-one, subject specific mock interview, followed by a 30 minutes of feedback and discussion.

The feedback will give you a better idea of your strengths. We will discuss your application with you, and how best to prepare for your interview – including reading suggestions. The discussion session also gives you an opportunity to ask any questions about the course and life at Oxford.

The Mock Interview session is available both in person and online via Skype.

Contact us now to schedule your Mock Interview session.

Oxbridge best in the world for seven subjects

The following article recently featured in The Independent discusses “Oxbridge best in the world for seven subjects”.

Budding philosophers, linguists, mathematicians and historians can do no better than head to Oxbridge to study, new research suggests.

Between them, Oxford and Cambridge are the top universities in the world for seven disciplines, according to a new league table.

Oxford – the UK’s best performing institution in the latest QS World University Rankings by subject – took first place for four subjects; philosophy, modern languages, geography and English language and literature, while Cambridge was ranked first in the world for three – maths, linguistics and history.

The rankings also put Imperial College London first for civil engineering.

In total, the third QS Rankings rated universities worldwide in 30 different disciplines, with 65 UK institutions appearing in the lists.

The rankings are based on the opinions of academics and employers.

QS head of research Ben Sowter said the chances of gaining a job are becoming increasingly important to students who are often now paying more to study for a degree.

“As the UK and governments around the world move towards the ‘student pays’ model on higher education funding, employability is increasingly crucial to graduates,” he said.

He insisted that the QS rankings are the only ones that take into account employers’ views of degree courses.

The tables show that in certain subjects, the UK’s top universities saw off competition from some of the world’s most prestigious institutions, including Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Yale.

In English language and literature Oxford and Cambridge took first and second place respectively, the only two UK universities in the top 10 for the subject. The other eight were all US institutions.

Oxford and Cambridge also took the top two places for geography, in a top 10 for the subject that included four other UK universities – the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Durham, University College London (UCL) and Manchester.

In history, Oxford was second behind Cambridge, with both institutions ahead of overseas universities including Princeton, the University of Chicago, Yale and Australian National University (ANU).

For linguistics, Cambridge took first place ahead of MIT and the University of California, Los Angeles, with Oxford in fourth. Edinburgh and Lancaster also made the top 10 for this subject.

Cambridge was also ahead of MIT for maths, with Harvard in third place, University of California, Berkeley fourth and Oxford in fifth place.

Oxford and Cambridge came first and second respectively for modern languages, ahead of Harvard, Berkeley and Yale.

The two UK institutions also took the same two spots for philosophy, with Princeton third, New York University fourth and Berkeley in fifth place.

Record Oxbridge applications as students seek good value

The following article recently featured in The Daily Telegraph discusses “Record Oxbridge applications as students seek good value ”.


Almost 57,000 people had lodged applications by mid-October for university courses starting next year, an increase of more than 1,100 or 2 per cent from last year. Demand among English students, who will pay the highest fees, also rose after a fall at the same point in 2011.

Yesterday’s figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service cover applications to Oxford and Cambridge, which must be submitted by Oct 15. It also includes medicine, dentistry and veterinary science degree courses at all other British universities.

Students starting courses next year will be only the second cohort to pay annual tuition fees of up to £9,000 — almost three times the previous limit. It led to a sharp drop in applications this year but the latest figures suggest that opposition to the higher fees regime is now beginning to soften.

The data is also likely to reflect a “flight to quality” as students target universities and degree subjects that are more likely to lead to a well-paid career.

Mary Curnock Cook, the UCAS chief executive, said the figures were “encouraging”, adding that she was “optimistic about overall demand.” Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said the increase was welcome, but warned that the data were set against the sharp drop in applications last year, when “students rushed to avoid the new pernicious fees regime”.

Demand was also up by 1.8 per cent among European students, who pay the same fees as their British counterparts.

Students from outside Europe are often required to pay far higher fees, but demand was still strong from them, with numbers up by 5.1 per cent to more than 10,000. This appears to contradict claims by universities that foreign students would be put off applying to British universities by tough new visa regulations.

Why Oxford and Cambridge might not be for you

The following article featured in The Daily Telegraph discusses “Why Oxford and Cambridge might not be for you”.

Oxbridge deadline time is upon us. This Monday, parents and pupils around the country will start crossing fingers, collecting rabbits’ feet and drawing hexes on the floor as the final applications are filed.

But our education system fetishises Oxbridge to a blinding extent. Candidates only think about whether they are clever enough to get in. They rarely stop to consider whether the universities are right for them in other ways.

Oxbridge isn’t for everyone. And despite the stereotypes, this isn’t because the universities are posh – they’re not. There might have been a time when they were enormous stables for braying hoorahs. But not any more. This isn’t to say that you won’t see the odd Jack Wills gilet. But its wearer will have qualified, just like you.

Over my three years at Cambridge, it was clear that students were varyingly well suited to the system and the place.

In the first place, it is hard work. Even lazy students can’t help but write at least an essay a week. Usually more. Terms are short but hectic.

And for all the academic rigour, the courses can be more prescriptive than elsewhere. You are not allowed to get on with it on your own, at least not for the first few terms. For English, I had at least five or six contact hours a week – of tuition on my own, in pairs or in small groups. If you fall behind, or go wildly off-piste, you are told about it quickly.

It wasn’t simply to do with cleverness. Some of the brightest were also the most miserable. And some of the least bright had a ball. At least a few students would have been happier elsewhere.

For one thing, the style of teaching favours oral debate. Meeker students, terrifyingly brilliant in writing, could wither in the glare of a more boisterous student.

It’s also true that many of the people who get into Oxbridge will be used to coming top. For some, meeting the competition is inspiring, but others might be disheartened to be dropped into a larger pond.

College life rewards joiners-in. There are myriad clubs, societies, sports and minority interest groups to involve yourself in. If all you want is a library and some quiet, you can find it, but it would be a waste. And you’ll be more irritated when you’re woken up by the Guatemalan Trombone League than you would otherwise.

Remember too that both Cambridge and Oxford, no matter how much the latter will protest, are profoundly uncool. Not in that egalitarian modern sense of “oh it’s so cool that they’re that dedicated to Ancient Greek”, or “he is the only person who can do that sum, how cool”. There is plenty of that.

But in a more traditional, John-Belushi’s-character-in-Animal House sense of rebellious glamour, characterised by a dedication to hard partying and a healthy disregard for “the man”? I didn’t find many of those.

I met confident, charismatic, witty individuals, but on the whole their paroxysms of hard partying would be interrupted by the fact that they had an essay to write. What’s more, far from disregarding him, many of them were at Cambridge in the hope of becoming “the man”, i.e. powerful and wealthy, probably through a well-paid job at a law firm or bank.

There were the usual Trotskyite rebels, but they too spent at least as much time in the library as they did smoking rollies and “sitting in” at various protests.

None of this is meant to sound flippant. For some students, hedonism is an important part of the university experience. If you are planning on a long and successful career afterwards (and most students are not plotting lives in academia), university might be when you plan to go wild. But Oxbridge is a poor place to do this.

This is about geography, as well as demographics. Oxford and Cambridge are both tiny. Oxford is bigger – a town with a university attached – while Cambridge is really a university with some shops. But neither is a heaving metropolis. Big name bands and DJs are exceptions rather than the rule.

Nights out tend to be formalised and on specific days of the week: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Sundays. Everyone goes to the same place (except the architects, who turn wherever they are into East London, like Bedouin with asymmetrical haircuts). Whatever you think of ‘drinking societies’, they are indisputably pervasive, and formal swaps (where a single-gender group meets an opposite single-gender group) are the main way to meet a lot of people quickly.

Some people love it. If you have grown up in a big city, or wanted to move to one, Oxbridge can seem provincial.

Better to decide early and make the right decision, than follow the glistening name to three years of wondering what could have been.

Five things you should know about Oxbridge applications

The following article featured in The Daily Telegraph outlines “5 Things You Should Know about Oxbridge Applications”.

Daily Telegraph – Five things you should know about Oxbridge applications

1. Apply early

The deadline for Oxbridge – as well as medicine, dentistry and veterinary sciences – is October 15. Don’t miss it. Many candidates will have applied already.

2. Pick a college

You apply to a college, not just a university. You can file an open application, but more and more people are applying to a specific college. Pick a place where you will enjoy living and working. Remember, some colleges don’t offer certain subjects. Go to open days if you can, though tutors are often more than happy to see you on an ad hoc basis during informal visits. Consider whether you want a central location, a smaller community, or are interested in a thriving sport or music scene. You can also look at the published statistics to see which are more academic – or competitive – but remember, it’s a very personal choice.

3. Prepare to be tested

Admissions tests are increasingly common for many subjects, and you are more likely to have to take one at Oxbridge than elsewhere. The approach is different between the two universities. Oxford will require you to take a test before offering you an interview, while at Cambridge tests are sat at the same time as interviews by those who have made it that far. Cambridge tests are also less centralised – not all colleges set tests, and those that do (which depends on the staff’s preference, not how competitive or prestigious they are) often set their own.

4. Show your best work

Some subjects and colleges will require you to submit written work along with your application. This should be work produced in the course of your A-levels, and should be your best and most interesting work.

5. Expect to be interviewed

Universities such as Durham and UCL are beginning to interview candidates more again, but at Oxbridge you won’t get an offer without going through two or three interviews. These are not formulaic – they differ massively college to college – but around 75 per cent of candidates will be given unseen material, such as a poem to analyse for English students. At Oxford you may be “pooled” during your interview visit and meet tutors from various colleges, whereas Cambridge will only enter you into the pool after your initial interviews.

Oxbridge applications: a don’s guide

The following article featured in The Daily Telegraph is entitled “Oxbridge applications: a don’s guide”.

Oxbridge dons describe the admissions process as ‘exhaustive and exhausting’. Cambridge admissions tutor Mike Sewell and Oxford college access don Peter Claus take us through it.

Many aspects of your Oxbridge application – not just the notorious interview – will determine whether or not you secure a place at these world-class institutions.

We asked Mike Sewell, the new director of admissions at Cambridge, and Peter Claus, the first full-time access don at an Oxford college, what students need to know to maximise their chances. Here is their step-by-step guide:

Choosing a college

MS: Students need to remember that subject matter and exam regime will be identical across the colleges. Colleges also trade teachers – it’s a myth that needs busting that you will always be taught by teachers from your own college. The academic experience is the same. One-fifth of our applicants submit open applications.

The college is home. Some considerations students should make are whether they want to live next door or half a mile from their department; and whether they want to live in an old, beautiful base but which attracts tourists, or further out from the centre. Those are legitimate considerations. Something like one quarter of students are at colleges they didn’t choose.

One question we forbid all our interviewers from asking is “why did you choose this college?” It would disadvantage open applicants – but also, we’re not sure we could glean any helpful information from the answer. In contrast, motivation for choosing the subject is very important.

Personal statement

PC: Naturally we’re crazy about our subjects as tutors – so we look for people of equal fervour. Demonstrating independent intellectual fervour around your subject is much more important than any Duke of Edinburgh awards. We need to see that students have gone above and beyond, and are aware of the culture of their subject.

Admissions tests

MS: The extra tests give a fuller sense of the type of academic, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills the students will need for the course itself. It’s not a barrier – it allows a reduced emphasis on other aspects of the application process such as the personal statement.

The tests are designed not to be susceptible to higher performance due to preparation. They are not like the SATs in the US, which preparation and extra sittings clearly help. They are designed to work from what students would know from their curriculum and general knowledge, and to test how they solve problems and think critically.

Submitted essays

PC: I would be less impressed by their best mark. I’m not impressed by a big A. They should submit the essay they are most confidant talking about and going further with. If they think “I got a B but I still found it fascinating” I would much rather see that one. It’s more of a discussion point for the interview – it’s not a deal-maker or a deal-breaker. It absolutely won’t prevent you getting an interview.


MS: The most important thing is that the interview is not the be-all and end-all.

One thing that dies very hard is the idea that weird questions are asked. If I took any given question you might ask me outside of the context of our conversation it could be made to seem weird. All these stories usually come from specific questions taken out of their context of a subject-focused discussion.

A history interviewer might conceivably ask a question about burnt cakes – but only in the context of talking about King Alfred! Likewise in a chemical engineering interview, “what happens when I boil an egg” might be a reasonable question. Taken out of its context it sounds crazy.

…even the famous “tell me about a banana?”

That was not an anomaly. The student’s personal statement had mentioned doing some work with plantains. That’s a very good example.


MS: The most important element of the application is what you’ve done in exams, particularly in sixth-form exams. The interview is a piece of the jigsaw – it doesn’t overrule it.


A survivor’s guide to the Oxbridge interview

The following article recently featured in The Daily Telegraph discusses “A survivor’s guide to the Oxbridge interview”.


Twenty-four years after I took the coach up the M40 for my Oxford interview, I can still recall the terror. At Merton College, Thomas Braun, an ancient history fellow who specialised in Herodotus, tied me up in agonisingly tight knots. He asked me to imagine a parallel world where short people went to war with tall people.

I rambled on about the tyranny of small differences, before Braun interrupted.

“But Dr Richardson’s taller than me,” he said, gesturing towards the rangy Homer expert next to him, “And I get on with him very well. Are you saying I hate him?”

A silence descended over the dimly lit, oak-panelled study overlooking Merton’s crenellated, medieval walls; a silence occasionally punctuated by my scrambled attempts to remain in a fantasy shortist world, while not insulting either tutor.

I didn’t get into Merton but I did make it into Magdalen, my first choice. Applicants have two to four interviews and may well be interviewed at other colleges than their first choice. I don’t remember much about the Magdalen interview, except how nice Dr Robin Osborne, an expert in fifth-century Athens, was. You remember the miseries of life better than the good times, don’t you?

These days, the interview really isn’t that scary. Gone are the legendary encounters when dons hurled rugby balls at you to see if you’d make the First XV. Was there really ever an interviewee who, when the don said “Surprise me!”, set fire to his newspaper?

“There are many untrue myths about Oxford interviews,” says Professor David Clary, president of Magdalen College, Oxford. “There are no trick questions and the interviews are arranged to be as fair as possible to all candidates. They aim to assess academic potential and give students the opportunity to demonstrate a genuine interest in the course they have applied for.”

Dr Julia Paolitto, an Oxford University press officer, says: “The interview is a chance for the tutor and prospective student to have a relatively brief but intense academic conversation. Sometimes interviewees think it’s gone badly because they were forced to think so hard, but in fact that’s a useful thing. An interviewee will be taken beyond what they’re expected to know, to their intellectual limits. Quite often, the questions will be out of left field, not to throw the students off, but to probe the way they think.”

Oxford released some of those questions last year: questions such as: “Would it matter if tigers became extinct?” “Why do lions have manes?” and “Ladybirds are red. So are strawberries. Why?” The questions are designed to make you stretch your brain in your subject area. So Stephen Goddard, a French don at St Catherine’s College, asked: “In a world where English is a global language, why learn French?” Steve Roberts, a materials science academic at St Edmund Hall, asked: “How hot does the air have to be in a hot-air balloon if I wanted to use it to lift an elephant?”

The position is much the same at Cambridge.

“Speaking for myself, the basic rule is that I am trying to get the candidate to show me how good they are,” says Mary Beard, professor of classics at Cambridge, fellow of Newnham College and presenter of the BBC series Meet the Romans. “I’m not trying to trip them up. What would be the point?

“What you have to remember, though, is that getting the kids to do their best can sometimes involve surprising them. If someone is just coming out with a long speech on the wonders of Virgil they have learnt in advance, you do sometimes have to throw a googly – the ‘What did the Romans wear under their togas?’ style question – just to rescue them. Unsettling as it might seem, it’s helping them out.”

Interviewers are not necessarily looking for a right answer, but one that shows inquisitive and dynamic on-the-spot thinking. Norman Stone, former professor of modern history at Oxford and a former director of studies at Jesus College, Cambridge, says of successful interviewees: “You could always judge them by the flash of the eyes.”

A popular technique for biological sciences applicants is to give them an unrecognisable animal skeleton. Recent favourites include a porcupine spine and an otter’s skull. You look at the bones for half an hour, before trying to identify them. You are not expected to get it right — but you will be rewarded for, say, working out that the skull belongs to an aquatic mammal, that the porcupine spine is a backbone.

The terror may have now been extracted from the interview. But there is still quite a lot of insider knowledge about the process that you will find worth ingesting.

“Places like Eton and Westminster will tell you the buttons to press but you can learn them elsewhere,” says Woody Webster.

“If you do lots of mock interviews with recent graduates, it insures you against melting down and your brain turning to mush on the day.”

Bear in mind, too, that there is still a big academic difference between the different colleges. The best way to work out the difference at Oxford is to look at the league table of finals results, the Norrington Table. In 2012, Magdalen came top and Lady Margaret Hall bottom of the 30 Oxford colleges.

“If you want to go to a particular university, don’t apply to the hardest college,” says Woody Webster. “It’s easier to fly to the moon than read history at Magdalen.”

Oxbridge interview dos and don’ts

Do arrive in plenty of time and as relaxed as possible. Make sure you know where the college is and, if possible, where your interview will be.

Don’t rely on public transport. Drive there or stay in a hotel the night before if possible.

Do feel confident. You are there because you — specifically you — have been invited for interview.

Don’t let the competition intimidate you. You deserve to be there every bit as much as they do.

Do keep calm and carry on, even if you stumble over an answer. They know you are nervous and make allowances for the odd slip-up.

Don’t admit defeat. Remember that Oxbridge colleges also consider exam results and personal statements. The interview doesn’t account for 100 per cent of the final decision.

Do practice. Ask a teacher or tutor to set up a mock interview.

Don’t worry about your accent or pronunciation — unless of course you’re applying for modern languages.

Do take your time and consider your answers.

Don’t fire out the first thing that comes into your head. Speed of response won’t impress.

Oxbridge myths and urban legends

The following article recently featured in The Daily Telegraph discusses “Oxbridge myths and urban legends”.


There are plenty of myths about Oxbridge, most of which are completely untrue.


Too many applicants worry about the ‘type’ of person who studies at Oxbridge. Tutors are interested in your ability to think, not in your social background. There is absolutely no evidence to support the view that there is discrimination either in favour of, or against, applicants from independent schools. Oxbridge is only exclusive in the sense that it picks the most able students.


Perhaps the most pervasive urban myth is that tutors will make you do bizarre things at interview. Given that tutors want to get the best out of you, they are unlikely to want to spook you with strange requests.


The images of beautiful quads and manicured lawns all suggest that costs will be dramatically high at Oxbridge. In fact, it’s no more expensive to study at Oxbridge than at any other university, and all colleges provide on-site accommodation for at least part of your course, which is usually much cheaper than renting privately. In addition, both universities offer generous financial support packages for students from the lowest-income households.

What it takes to make it to Oxbridge

The following article recently featured in The Daily Telegraph discusses “What it takes to make it to Oxbridge”.
If you have excellent GCSE results and a brace of A grades at AS level, you may be thinking about applying to Oxbridge. For many people, the very word conjures up images of Sebastians and Julias in boaters and gowns, punting and drinking champagne. But as the deadline for applications approaches (October 15) don’t be put off by the Brideshead stereotypes. Oxford and Cambridge are consistently ranked among the top five universities in the world and attract students from any background.

That said, an Oxbridge application should not be taken lightly. If you’re offered an interview you will need to prepare for it, which could detract from your A-level studies. And if you are rejected, either before or after interview, you will have to cope with the disappointment and move on.

But if you have good grades and feel able to take a pragmatic approach to your Oxbridge application, why not give it a go?

Oxford and Cambridge are renowned for their research and high-quality teaching. In the latest QS global survey of universities, the top-ranking universities in the world were Cambridge, Harvard, MIT, Yale and Oxford.

Given the calibre of students that the two universities attract, it is also not surprising that so many of our leading politicians, scientists and businessmen are Oxbridge educated. David Cameron, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher are all Oxford graduates.

Two features of the universities make them especially attractive: the first is that students are primarily taught individually or in small groups (called “tutorials” in Oxford and “supervisions” in Cambridge), rather than through lectures and large seminars. These sessions are conducted by leading experts in their field, rather than by postgraduates, allowing students to discuss their work and ideas with some of the key thinkers in the world today.

The second unusual feature of an Oxbridge education is its “collegiate” nature. Students are members of colleges, which are small communities where friendships are easy to form. Undergraduates can get involved in college-based sport, music or drama.

What profile do you need?

To have a serious chance, you will need to have secured at least six A* grades at GCSE and all As at AS level. Cambridge will also ask to see individual module scores, which should be above 90 per cent on average.

You should also enjoy reading around your subject in your own time and relish the chance to discuss ideas with your peers. If not, Oxbridge probably isn’t for you.

Who applies?

Anyone with a strong academic background, a genuine interest in their subject and a self-motivated and enthusiastic approach should consider applying to Oxbridge. There is no “type” of person who will get in. Oxbridge is the exciting and vibrant option it is precisely because of the diverse nature of its student body.

How do I write an Oxbridge-geared Ucas form – and when do I send it?

As for all other universities, you need to submit a Ucas form (including a personal statement), but by the earlier deadline of October 15. By December students will know whether they have been offered a place (either conditionally or unconditionally depending on whether they’re applying before or after A-levels).

Do not refer directly to Oxbridge in your personal statement, as it will be sent to all the universities to which you are applying.

At least 80 per cent of your personal statement should relate to your academic studies, with only a small paragraph devoted to extra-curricular activities. This isn’t because Oxbridge students do nothing but work; it is because tutors pick their students from a large number of very high-achieving applicants and are concerned with how successfully you will cope with the demanding courses. Use your personal statement with this aim in mind: to impress upon the admissions tutor that you are academically able, intellectually curious, enthusiastic and hardworking.

In recent years, the interview has become just one element in a selection process that includes written assessments and the submission of written work. Oxford will use these tests to decide whom to call for interview, so it’s worth looking at some sample papers to get a sense of what is required. Certain courses at both universities require students to take the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA). Cambridge will also ask you to fill out a Supplementary Application Form, which will include details of your module scores and an “additional information” section. More details about this are available on the universities’ websites.