NB: Correct at time of writing. Details may be subject to change.
One scheme Oxford and Cambridge use to weed out weaker candidates is their complicated application process! If you don’t want to fall at the first fence, have a read of the below which outlines the most important steps.
The UCAS deadline for Oxford and Cambridge is the 15th October, three months earlier than other universities.
At Oxford, the next stage of application for almost all courses is the aptitude test. You will need to register separately for any tests by 15th October and you can usually sit these in your school or college. Please see details of all Oxford subject tests at the following links: http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/applying-to-oxford/tests.
Cambridge, on the other hand, only tests applicants for medicine, vetinary sciences and law before the interview. See more details here: http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying/admissions-tests
The tests are intended to reveal aptitude rather than knowledge, but if you haven’t immersed yourself in your selected subject then it is likely that the questions will catch you out.
For many courses, you will need to send in written work as part of your application. This should be something that you have produced as part of your normal school work. You may well be asked to talk about it an interview, so it is worth researching around the subject of your work beforehand. Oxford asks that this is submitted on the 10th November.
You will usually be asked for an interview about a week before the scheduled date in December.
The best preparation is to read around your subject and if possible talk to friends or family who have been through the process. Don’t panic if you aren’t sure of something; they are looking to see how your brain works rather than what you know.
If you are looking for some more comprehensive help, we are lucky to have a pool of Oxbridge tutors with experience across a wide range of subjects. Remember that if you want someone to help you with interview preparation, you need to organise this in advance of receiving your invitation.
You will hear back from either Oxford or Cambridge in early January. Best of luck!