nvb123
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#1
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I am very interested in studying at Oxford, but I am not very familiar with the process of applying as an American.

How do I apply, and how hard is it to get in from the US?

Thanks!
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artful_lounger
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No harder than it is from within the UK. You apply through UCAS (which is somewhat similar to the CommonApp), which has plenty of information on how to access and fill in the application on their website and is a good first point of reference (along with the university in question's admissions pages).

I believe the average success rate is ~18% across the university, but the ranges widely between subjects (Economics & Management was something around 6% last year I believe, while Classics for students with Greek and/or Latin to A-level was around 50%). It also varies somewhat between the colleges (technically you apply to one of the constituent colleges of the university for undergraduate degrees), however there are pooling mechanisms in place so you aren't better or worse off applying to a more or less popular college.

However you should be aware that in the UK you apply to a specific degree subject (per the above), rather than to the university "in general". They will mainly be looking for your background for and commitment to your particular subject; they won't really care about ECs generally unless they're specifically related (e.g. Mathematical Olympiads for maths degrees). To this end, typically degrees in the UK will expect certain subjects to be taken to A-level or equivalent (e.g. IB HL or AP) as prerequisite to the degree. For example, engineering and physics courses (in general and at Oxford specifically) will expect you to have taken physics and mathematics (calculus) to that level. Also you can only apply to one out of Oxford and Cambridge.

Following from this though, there is no "pooling" between subjects in general (at Oxford anyway; some other universities in the UK may make offers for other courses), if you are a strong candidate for one course but applied to another, or applied to an oversubscribed course but are qualified for another. They will expect you to be fully committed and prepared for the subject you have applied to (and there is often limited flexibility to move between different courses once you start, although it depends on the courses in question). There is some exception to this at Oxford for certain joint honours degrees, for example Physics/Mathematics/Computer Science and Philosophy (if they consider you not qualified for the philosophy element they may make an offer for the single honours version of the main course).

You should look on the university's admissions pages for requirements in terms of US qualifications, as they have these (and many other countries) listed on there. I imagine they'll expect you take at least 3 AP subjects and get a 5 in each of them, as a minimum. They may expect more (I believe Cambridge requires 5 APs, all with a 5 in them). They make take account of your GPA and SAT scores when deciding whether to invite you for interview, although I imagine the actual offer will be based on achieving a given result in your AP (or A-level or IB HL) exams.
Last edited by artful_lounger; 2 years ago
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DCDude
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To add to the above: look at the description of the subject you want to study on the website and you will see what the usual offer is, and if there are any pre-requisite exams and / or an entrance exam you have to take. For example, for PPE you have to take the TSA exam and it is strongly recommended that you take / have taken AP Calc BC.

Oxford won't care about your GPA (at all), but it cares a LOT about entrance exams and APs / SAT subject tests. You have to have at least 3 in relevant(ish) subjects, so if you are applying for Bio, Bio and Maths are required, and they like Chem and/or Physics. You have to put ALL your tests (taken and planned to take) on the UCAS form, and a teacher has to 'predict' your mark. After your application is complete (including the entrance exam, if any) they review your app and hopefully you get an invitation to an interview.

About 1/3 of people who get interviews get offers. The interview (in early Dec) is all about the subject you are going to study, and you get problems to do or unseen readings, etc. In January you get an offer (conditional or unconditional) or a rejection. If you get an unconditional offer, hurrah! you are going to Oxford.

If you get a conditional offer (which is what most people get), it will say exactly what you have to do to meet the offer. It might just be to provide proof of the scores for tests you have already taken (easy). But it might also say you have to get certain scores on certain tests- they get to pick which tests, but it will never be more than 3, and they will only specify the predicted score. For example, for HisPol the offer was "5 on AP Euro and AP US History, and a score of 5 on either Comp Gov or Latin". So, yeah! that's an offer, but drag, your AP scores really matter, and you have to have a plan B, because if you don't make your offer you lose your place. Most US students either 'firm' another UK uni where they have an unconditional offer or put a deposit on a US uni just in case.

The biggest thing is being really, really sure that you love your subject. You really cannot imagine how intense the terms are - it's all your subject, all the time- on steroids, super fast and with super high standards and you are right there with your tutor so there is no place to hide- you have to deliver. If you love your subject it can be a real high- but it is still completely exhausting. If you don't love your subject it is excruciating.
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nexttime
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#4
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(Original post by nvb123)
I am very interested in studying at Oxford, but I am not very familiar with the process of applying as an American.

How do I apply, and how hard is it to get in from the US?

Thanks!
(Original post by artful_lounger)
No harder than it is from within the UK.
The success rate for non-EU students is about half that of home students (9.9% vs 20.5%). The success rate for american students is slightly lower again at 8.2%.


https://www.ox.ac.uk/about/facts-and...numbers?wssl=1

Anecdotally, the main reasons for this are a) a lack of familiarity with the application process, including cultural aspects of what to put in e.g. personal statement or interview. For example, UK unis really don't overly care that a maths applicant is also an international level football player or whatever - they're a university, they teach maths, not football! and b) Americans specifically might struggle with the narrowness of subjects here vs there. Most UK students will have only been studying 3 subjects in the run up to applications, meaning they tend to attain a far higher level in each versus the US where you're still doing 12 or something. If you were going to apply to Oxford you would need to make sure you are very, very knowledgeable about your intended subject relative to American peers.
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DCDude
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Oxford tutors say 'we want you to love our subject as much as we do', and (except possibly Organists and Olympic level rowers!) that they really aren't interested in anything else. The corollary is that if you love something you spend as much time as possible with it- and you probably have over a long period of time.
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RogerOxon
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#6
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(Original post by nvb123)
I am very interested in studying at Oxford, but I am not very familiar with the process of applying as an American.

How do I apply, and how hard is it to get in from the US?
Which subject? I assume that this is at undergraduate level.

Entry requirements can be found on their website, as can any admission tests. You need to apply, via UCAS, by the 15th October of the year prior to your start date (or a year before that - this can be interesting). You will need APs or SAT subject tests and an SAT / ACT score (the requirements are on their website). However, most are just a minimum requirement - it's the admission tests (or submitted written work) where you get a real chance to shine, and then potential interviews. These are difficult to judge - I argued with a future tutor. Note that you only have to plan to take the required exams, not already have results - offers conditional on future results are the norm.

The UK system is very different from the US one. You do not submit your High School transcript, or a (long) list of extra-curicular activities that are not related to your chosen subject(s). All that matters is public (externally moderated) exam results, admission test results and their assessment of your academic ability and potential. Understanding of, and passion for, your chosen subject(s) is key.

Good luck!
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