Keystone Tutors Blog
Keystone’s Director of Education, Ed Richardson will be joined by Jenny McGowan, Keystone's Director of Asia, and Florence Curtis, one of our professional tutors and a former research fellow at Queen’s College, Oxford, to discuss Oxbridge Interviews.
In a world full of distractions, there are few more satisfying ways to spend your time than immersed in a good book. But studying literature at university is about more than wiling away your days in the company of great authors; it’s a rigorous and exacting discipline that will stretch the way you think about language and about art.
Is it getting harder to win a place at the best universities in the UK? In 2022:Oxford received 23,819 undergraduate applications for 3,271 places.Cambridge received 22,470 undergraduate applications for 4,238 places.
What are super curricular activities? Every student that applies to university will know something about psychology. They may have seen a true crime documentary about a serial killer, read an article about attachment styles, or even studied the subject at GCSE or A-level. But in order to convince universities to give you an offer for undergraduate study, you will need to go above and beyond this level, exploring the subject to a greater extent.
The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is a medical and dental course admissions test used and created by multiple universities across the UK, Australia and New Zealand. It is used to assess candidates in conjunction with your UCAS application and is an important part of your application. Make sure to check the entry criteria for your desired course to see if the test is a requirement. The importance of your UCAT score varies across universities.
The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is an alternative to the UCAT created by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing for a handful of medical, dental, biomedical, and veterinary degree programmes. There are six UK medical schools that require the BMAT; Brighton and Sussex, Imperial, Lancaster, UCL, Cambridge and Oxford. Check your course page to see if it a requirement, as the BMAT is not just for medicine! Some international universities require you to take the test too.
In this webinar Keystone's Managing Director, Ed Richardson, was joined by Jenny McGowan, our Director in Asia, to discuss the sorts of preparation students can complete over the Summer Holidays of Year 12 to ensure they submit a strong UCAS application. The discussion covers how to prepare effectively with particular reference to the importance of super-curricular learning, admissions tests and the personal statement.
Postgraduate or graduate education refers to the courses and qualifications beyond undergraduate level. This can include further degrees, certificates, diplomas or professional qualifications. Postgraduate study doesn’t need to be directly connected to the course you graduated in at undergraduate level, though it is often the case, and a strong performance in your undergraduate degree can certainly help strengthen your application.
What are ‘Super curriculars’? Super curricular activities are essentially extracurricular learning activities that are specifically related to your chosen course of study at university. They can include many different things, including experiences and academic research. Incorporating these in your personal statement, and using these experiences in your interviews, can really help improve your chances of being accepted onto your chosen law course.
How do Super-curricular Activities help applicants to top Universities? Anybody can say that they have a passion for history and many people do. Most of us are interested in some aspect of the past, whether we are keen students of local history or the traditions associated with our favourite sport, or fascinated by a particular figure whom we have encountered in a book or historical drama on TV.
This guide is for anyone applying to sit Physics or a number of STEM courses 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.
A webinar for school leaders.
Keystone's Head of Consultancy, Harriet Brook, was joined by Jenny McGowan, our Director in Asia, to discuss the Oxbridge application process. Their discussion covers the differences between Oxford and Cambridge, course choice, the importance of super-curricular learning, admissions tests, interviews and how to prepare effectively.
What is the PBSAA? PBSAA stands for the Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Admissions Assessment.It is a Cambridge College registered assessment that was introduced by Cambridge University in recent years, in order to help them test some of the core skills necessary to thrive there. It is designed to be challenging, so that it can help them determine who should be invited to interview. Therefore it is an integral part of the application process.
Which is ‘best’, Oxford or Cambridge University? It should be clear that the ‘best’ of these two historic institutions is going to be the one which has the most to offer you. This decision should be based on careful and thorough research. Knowing exactly why you want to go to Oxford over Cambridge won’t just help improve your application, it will be the reason behind it, as you cannot apply for both.
The Spectator produced a fascinating table listing the various figures showing which schools achieved the most Oxbridge offers last year. Over the years, both universities have increased the proportion of acceptances from state schools: 69 per cent, up from 52 per cent in 2000. Of the 80 schools, 35 are independent, 21 grammar, ten sixth-form colleges, seven selective sixth-form colleges, six comprehensives or academies, and one is a further education college.
In this joint discussion hosted by ESM Prep and Keystone Tutors, ESM College Coach Josh Davis and Keystone's Head of Consultancy, Harriet Brook, meet to compare the US and UK university application processes. They identify key differences between the timelines and requirements, discussing the best way to balance both processes with limited stress and maximum effect.
Below you will find the recordings of our five-part webinar for school leaders on Oxbridge applications.
What is STEP Maths? STEP stands for Sixth Term Examination Paper and is a collection of three exams (STEP 1, 2 and 3) which traditionally are used in conditional offers by Cambridge to determine if you get accepted for Maths or Maths-related degrees. Other universities, like Warwick and Imperial, use STEP in some of their Maths offers. You sit these papers in the Summer alongside your other exams like A-Levels, IB and Pre-U.
Cambridge’s History Admissions Assessment, or HAA, is still a relatively new exam. It launched only in 2016, when the abolition of AS-levels deprived the university of a favoured metric which its colleges had used, up to that point, to help determine admissions decisions in history in place of a written exam in the style of Oxford’s well-established HAT.
What is the Philosophy Test? The Philosophy Test is unique to Oxford and sat solely by applicants for the joint course of Philosophy and Theology; those applying for Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) or Philosophy, Psychology and Linguistics (PPL) instead sit the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA). A 60-minute written paper, it is designed to test prospective students’ skills of analysis, inference, and argumentation.
This guide is for anyone applying to sit Oriental Languages courses 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 advice on how best to prepare for the OLAT and how important the test will be to your application to study at Oxford.
This guide is for anyone applying to a university programme where applicants must first complete the Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA). 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 mathematics at university.
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.
Students often feel a little uneasy about the Oxford HAT at first, because its format has changed over time, and because it is very different from A-level exams. To make the test a less daunting prospect, I have created an introductory guide for candidates as to what it entails and how best to prepare.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Keystone's Director of Education, Ed Richardson and senior tutor Jon Gale discuss UK Engineering Degrees.
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.
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.