Keystone Tutors Blog

Is it getting harder to win a place at the best universities in the UK? In 2020 ... Oxford received more than 23,000 undergraduate applications for 3,300 places. Cambridge received more than 20,000 undergraduate applications for around 4,500 places.

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Oxford has 39 colleges, Cambridge 31. You can leave it to chance and make an open application, but most people expect to direct their application to one of them. In some ways, it seems an unnecessary distraction. After all, no one presents Formula One drivers on the starting grid with a wine list expecting them to choose which champagne they want to be sprayed with on the podium.

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UK universities are incredibly popular with students from Hong Kong, and Keystone Tutors has extensive experience in helping these students to gain admission to their desired university. This invaluable guide covers key facts and tips about the application process, how to choose the right university and course, and the costs and fees involved.

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Last week The Spectator produced a fascinating table listing the various figures showing which schools achieved the most Oxbridge offers last year. Over the years, both Oxford and Cambridge have roughly doubled the proportion of pupils from state schools: it now stands at 60 per cent, up from 50 per cent in 2000. This is reflective of which schools get the best A-level results.

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Keystone's Head of Consultancy, Harriet Blomefield, was joined by US university specialists, ESM Prep, to compare the US and UK university application processes. ESM College Coach, Rachel Edgell, joined the dicussion to identify key differences between the timelines and requirements, discussing the best way to balance both processes with limited stress and maximum effect.

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Keystone Tutor Tom read History at Christ Church College, Oxford, graduating in 2015. In the interview below Tom covers his inside experience of the application process, the best ways to prepare, and some insights into his work as a tutor helping students gain entry to some of the UK’s top academic institutions.

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Securing a place to study, or ‘read’ English at Cambridge University is a challenging task. Extremely able candidates from around the world compete for a limited number of places, and it is essential to prepare for this competitive process effectively. In the article below, Keystone Tutors provide an overview of the best approach to take, some top tips, and even an inside view on the application process from a tutor who read English at Cambridge.

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In the article below, Lincoln College Oxford alumni and Keystone Tutor Rory outlines the best approach to take when applying to study English at Oxford, with plenty of hard-won insights from his own successful application process thrown in! .

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Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) is one of the most popular, and best-known, courses that you can read at Oxford. It has been offered since 1921, and it’s rooted in the view that it’s helpful to approach problems in society from the perspectives of several complementary disciplines and frameworks.

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What is HSPS at Cambridge? Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS) at Cambridge is a three-year BA Hons degree in politics, international relations, social anthropology and sociology. Although students can focus on one of these areas from the start, HSPS is also the broadest and most flexible political and/or social science degree at Oxbridge.

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What is the TSA? The Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) is a form of assessment used to measure aptitude in critical thinking and problem solving. The TSA can be a requirement for gaining entry to top universities (including Oxford, Cambridge and UCL), as well as a handful of independent schools, who produce their own modified version of the exam (sometimes called a Critical Thinking test) for 16+. Download our Guide to the Thinking Skills Assessment.

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Interviewing for a Place to Study at Cambridge University Cambridge University, founded over 800 years ago, supposedly by scholars fleeing from irate townsfolk in Oxford, is one of the world's greatest universities and a historic seat of learning. Graced by the stunning architecture of its colleges, and filled with keen minds from around the world, Cambridge is an amazing place to study your chosen subject.

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Interviews are often considered to be the most intimidating and mysterious elements of the Oxford admissions process. This guide is designed to demystify the Oxford interview process so that you can approach your interview as confidently as possible.

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And it had all seemed so simple. For the past several years, from 2016 to 2019, Cambridge had joined Oxford in setting all the candidates who applied to the university to read history, or joint honours degrees involving history, a written assessment that was taken at the same time as the Oxford HAT – about a month before the interview stage. This exam, known as the History Admissions Assessment (HAA), consisted of two one-hour papers.

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Places to study at medical schools in the UK are highly sought after, by both domestic and international students, and require a great degree of commitment from prospective applicants. Understanding just what medical school involves can really help you decide whether it’s right for you and, once you’re sure it is, give you the very best chance of securing a place at the school of your choice.

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For this webinar Keystone Consultant Harriet Blomefield is joined by former Westminster School Head of Sixth Form, David Hargreaves and Keystone Director of Asia, Jenny McGowan. They share their insights on applying to Oxford and Cambridge.

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Keystone's Director of Education, Ed Richardson and senior tutor Jon Gale discuss UK Engineering Degrees.

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The National Admissions Test for Law, or LNAT, can seem like a formidable hurdle for many students applying to read law at university; this is particularly the case when one considers the historically low average scores (usually around 50%) and the fact that many students do not know what to expect.

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This guide is for anyone applying to sit Classics or any combination involving Classics at the University of Oxford. In the sections below you can find out if you need to sit the test and how you go about doing that. There is also some advice on how best to prepare for the test and how important the test will be to your application to study at Oxford.

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What is the MAT? The Maths Admissions Test (MAT) is the admissions test used by Oxford for degrees in Mathematics. If you’re applying for a Maths or Computer Science degree at Oxford or a Maths degree at Imperial College London, you must sit the MAT just after beginning year 13 in late October/early November.

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Any candidate applying to study Modern Languages at Oxford or Cambridge will have to sit a written paper as part of the admissions process: The Modern Languages Aptitude Test (MLAT) at Oxford and the Modern and Medieval Languages Admissions Assessment (MMLAA) at Cambridge. There are big differences between the two tests, from the structure and what they are testing to when they are sat. This blog covers the Oxford MLAT. You can read our blog on the Cambridge MMLAA here.

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Any candidate applying to study Modern Languages at Oxford or Cambridge will have to sit a written paper as part of the admissions process: The Modern Languages Aptitude Test (MLAT) at Oxford and the Modern and Medieval Languages Admissions Assessment (MMLAA) at Cambridge. There are big differences between the two tests, from the structure and what they are testing to when they are sat. This blog covers the Cambridge MMLAA. You can read our blog on the Oxford MLAT here.

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All candidates for Oxford degree courses involving History must sit the History Aptitude Test (HAT).  Students can often feel a little uneasy about the test at first, because its format has changed over time, and it is very different from A-level exams.  To help make the test a less daunting prospect, I have created an introductory guide to what it entails and how best to prepare.

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The English Literature Admissions Test needn’t be terrifying. In fact, it is simply testing a couple of skills that you’ve been cultivating since at least your GCSEs, and probably well before that: the skill of reading slowly, closely, and creatively, and the skill of writing with clarity, purpose, and insight. The ELAT is designed so that you can do well in it regardless of your prior knowledge. This isn’t an exam where you’ll show off how much you know.

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In the press

Knight Frank
Ed Richardson
Times Educational Supplement
The West Journal