Getting into Oxbridge for History

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ewpfs
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I’m in Yr12 and I’m aiming to apply for Oxbridge this October. I was hoping someone has suggests on what I can do to create a strong application?

I’ve started doing further reading (books and History Today articles) as well as doing courses online on sites like future learn/coursera.

Is this enough? I know that Oxbridge isn’t just focused on your personal statement, and it’s completely u predictable, but I want to make sure I’ve done what I can to make my application as strong as possible.
Thanks
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artful_lounger
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Generally neither Oxford nor Cambridge put a huge amount of emphasis on the personal statement, as it isn't a quantifiable metric they can use to compare applicants and also they can't know to what extent the personal statement is the applicant's own work beyond the UCAS plagiarism check - which won't detect if their parent/teacher/privately contracted "admissions coach" wrote it for them but it is otherwise "original". However what you do write in it might be discussed at interview, so make sure you write about things you would be confident (and comfortable) to discuss in person.

Oxford places more emphasis on GCSEs and they form part of the formal shortlising process for most courses, although HAT performance will probably be a bigger factor pre-interview. If you have weaker GCSEs it may be better to aim for Cambridge, although do bear in mind they have a different pre-interview assessment and that is likely to also be considered as they determine who to invite to interview. Cambridge also has a higher standard offer, and each will expect you to be predicted at least the standard offer. So if you are predicted AAA instead of A*AA, then you may well be less likely to be invited to interview if your academic reference doesn't explain the lack of an A* prediction (e.g. if your school doesn't normally predict A*s). That said, bear in mind both courses are rather different in structure to each other and so you should make sure you apply to the one you would want to actually study on, absent the Oxbridge name.

Other than preparing for the pre-interview assessment, your best bet is probably just exploring historical topics of interest to you. This could be wider reading of historical writing, or visiting historical sites/artefacts and considering that nature of objects/sites as historical "texts" themselves, etc. Just follow your interests, as that will be what will come across in interview (probably following from what you've written in your personal statement, although that in of itself is probably not going to unduly influence your being invited to interview or being given an offer).
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Mijiiiiiiii
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(Original post by ewpfs)
I’m in Yr12 and I’m aiming to apply for Oxbridge this October. I was hoping someone has suggests on what I can do to create a strong application?

I’ve started doing further reading (books and History Today articles) as well as doing courses online on sites like future learn/coursera.

Is this enough? I know that Oxbridge isn’t just focused on your personal statement, and it’s completely u predictable, but I want to make sure I’ve done what I can to make my application as strong as possible.
Thanks
I got a Cambridge offer for History this year and did a few things that helped my application.

I entered the Robson History prize which is an essay writing competition hosted by Trinity College Cambridge (talked a bit about this in my interview).
I also went on the Arts and Humanities Residential at Pembroke College in July Year 12 - completely free, made great friends I still see and helped me realise that I definitely wanted to study History/apply to Cambridge (if you can apply definitely go for it!)
I also listened to podcasts and read academic articles on topics I found interesting - didn’t link any of these to my personal statement but really enjoyed reading and listening to them for my own pleasure. However, these did help with the way I looked at History and historiography more generally and allowed me to have a more critical and analytical view of opinions, sources and approaches which DEFINITELY helped during my interviews.
I went to multiple lectures and talks given by professors - granted I live in inner London and so have many RG unis near me (many talks & lectures can be widely found online though) which were also useful in that I could widen my knowledge.
I also didn’t mention any specific history books in my personal statement because I read WAY too many that sounded quite similar or had the same books and ideas in them that I didn’t find interesting - Carr’s ‘What is History?’ automatically springs to mind. I would also say that you should ensure that your personal statement actually reflects you and your interests and is not just the amalgamation of cut up bits and pieces of other people’s statements - the interview can really highlight this. I would say that looking at other personal statements can help with structure or just general inspiration.

Anything that you wish to do is ‘enough’ and don’t feel like you need to read 173892+ books to have a strong application. Many other factors are also incredibly relevant such as written work, interviews, predicted grades and references.

Pm me of you have any questions or to clarify anything I said!
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sosubiyaa
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(Original post by Mijiiiiiiii)
I got a Cambridge offer for History this year and did a few things that helped my application.

I entered the Robson History prize which is an essay writing competition hosted by Trinity College Cambridge (talked a bit about this in my interview).
I also went on the Arts and Humanities Residential at Pembroke College in July Year 12 - completely free, made great friends I still see and helped me realise that I definitely wanted to study History/apply to Cambridge (if you can apply definitely go for it!)
I also listened to podcasts and read academic articles on topics I found interesting - didn’t link any of these to my personal statement but really enjoyed reading and listening to them for my own pleasure. However, these did help with the way I looked at History and historiography more generally and allowed me to have a more critical and analytical view of opinions, sources and approaches which DEFINITELY helped during my interviews.
I went to multiple lectures and talks given by professors - granted I live in inner London and so have many RG unis near me (many talks & lectures can be widely found online though) which were also useful in that I could widen my knowledge.
I also didn’t mention any specific history books in my personal statement because I read WAY too many that sounded quite similar or had the same books and ideas in them that I didn’t find interesting - Carr’s ‘What is History?’ automatically springs to mind. I would also say that you should ensure that your personal statement actually reflects you and your interests and is not just the amalgamation of cut up bits and pieces of other people’s statements - the interview can really highlight this. I would say that looking at other personal statements can help with structure or just general inspiration.

Anything that you wish to do is ‘enough’ and don’t feel like you need to read 173892+ books to have a strong application. Many other factors are also incredibly relevant such as written work, interviews, predicted grades and references.

Pm me of you have any questions or to clarify anything I said!
Just out of curiosity, what unis (or other places) did you find held history lectures in London? I’d love to go to some but I don’t know where to find out about them
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Mijiiiiiiii
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(Original post by sosubiyaa)
Just out of curiosity, what unis (or other places) did you find held history lectures in London? I’d love to go to some but I don’t know where to find out about them
At the time, Goldsmiths, SOAS, Kings and LSE had some lectures that I went to - not sure they’ll have them this year though.
I also went to a history Masterclass at Cambridge.
A google search should show you some public lectures and quite a few are available online too.
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sosubiyaa
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(Original post by Mijiiiiiiii)
At the time, Goldsmiths, SOAS, Kings and LSE had some lectures that I went to - not sure they’ll have them this year though.
I also went to a history Masterclass at Cambridge.
A google search should show you some public lectures and quite a few are available online too.
Thanks, that’s super helpful!
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