Oxford or Cambridge for Medicine?

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15mohsinfa
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Which university is better in terms of medicine and acceptance rate?
Also which one doesn't mind bad GCSE's more than the other and general grades and the whole process which is easier to get into(i know they are very hard)? Also how the university feels in general? any tips for applying?
Easiest colleges to get into for medicine?
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ashtolga23
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So I'm not exactly clued up on medicine, but I've recently applied for Oxbridge and I was between the two until the literal minute before I sent off my application, so I might know some useful stuff.

GCSE-wise, Oxford is generally known for considering them more, especially for medicine. There's some debate around Cambridge; personally I don't think they mind that much as when I went to a virtual open day they mentioned people having many reasons for underperforming at GCSE, from personal issues to boredom with their subjects, surprisingly. However, I've spoken with others who firmly believe that Cambridge do care about GCSEs, but will look at them in context. For medicine, the latter is admittedly likely to be more accurate.

I must admit I'm slightly concerned with you mentioning "bad GCSEs" though. Medicine is highly competitive, and so these grades probably matter more than they would in quite literally any other course I can think of (law is probably a close second but still not on that level I believe). Are you meaning 'TSR bad', ie. you may have gotten a 6 among a mixture of top grades? I'm not sure because, like I say, I really don't look too much into medicine, but it's notoriously demanding.
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15mohsinfa
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(Original post by ashtolga23)
So I'm not exactly clued up on medicine, but I've recently applied for Oxbridge and I was between the two until the literal minute before I sent off my application, so I might know some useful stuff.

GCSE-wise, Oxford is generally known for considering them more, especially for medicine. There's some debate around Cambridge; personally I don't think they mind that much as when I went to a virtual open day they mentioned people having many reasons for underperforming at GCSE, from personal issues to boredom with their subjects, surprisingly. However, I've spoken with others who firmly believe that Cambridge do care about GCSEs, but will look at them in context.
Thank you so much for your insight! But lol I kinda liked oxford more and have bad GCSE's but not terrible like all above 6's except for one heehee.. And I have been hearing that oxford care more about GCSE's so that makes a bit sad... but how can you make your application stand out and do they care about personal statement?
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ashtolga23
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(Original post by 15mohsinfa)
Thank you so much for your insight! But lol I kinda liked oxford more and have bad GCSE's but not terrible like all above 6's except for one heehee.. And I have been hearing that oxford care more about GCSE's so that makes a bit sad... but how can you make your application stand out and do they care about personal statement?
My heart was set on Oxford since I was about 5 years old until summer of this year, at which point I decided on Cambridge because I preferred their psychology course. There was then a big mess in September when I decided to do English instead lol, as I felt like I should go back to my dream university, but I stuck with Cambridge. I thought I'd regret the decision a lot tbh but I actually couldn't be happier with it. I've grown quite fond of that place for various reasons (if you want me to share then I will). Sorry to go on this little tangent, but I guess I'm just saying you might want to give Cambridge a chance if you haven't already. If you truly prefer Oxford then it sounds like your GCSEs aren't actually as bad as you think, but please do get a second opinion on whether they're Oxford-standard for medicine. I believe they'll look at your application holistically, so if you excel in other areas then they may give you a shot from what I know. Again though just to reinforce this, the standards for medicine are different so you may want a second opinion.

They definitely do care about a personal statement, yes. One of my teachers actually believes they're two of the only universities to really look at them in detail, although I can't verify that.

I can almost guarantee that the main piece of advice you'll come across in making yourself stand out to Oxbridge is to focus on the "super-curricular" rather than the "extracurricular". I've had the talk from various teachers, in various meetings, from various representatives of the universities doing talks, from their online open day, and probably more that I'm forgetting. Essentially, they're all saying the same thing. Oxbridge, quite frankly, don't really care about things that aren't relevant to your subject (extracurricular). Whether you're a grade 5 in the flute or you play cricket on weekends, it really doesn't matter. You can develop a personality when you're there, but in the applications process they want to see "nerds" (this term is used a lot, it's not just me). They want to see that you go above and beyond to explore your subject, and they want to see that your passion and dedication reaches beyond the A-Level syllabus. They want to see what they call "super-curricular" activities, ie. activities you've done or do that show an interest in your chosen field. This may involve going to seminars, reading academic journals, doing MOOCs or research, or any number of things you can think of really. My RS teacher, who attended Cambridge, always said "read, read, read", but I'm very much into the humanities and arts, so I'm not sure if this will be best for medicine. If you show that you've engaged with the super-curricular, then you're doing well.
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15mohsinfa
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(Original post by ashtolga23)
My heart was set on Oxford since I was about 5 years old until summer of this year, at which point I decided on Cambridge because I preferred their psychology course. There was then a big mess in September when I decided to do English instead lol, as I felt like I should go back to my dream university, but I stuck with Cambridge. I thought I'd regret the decision a lot tbh but I actually couldn't be happier with it. I've grown quite fond of that place for various reasons (if you want me to share then I will). Sorry to go on this little tangent, but I guess I'm just saying you might want to give Cambridge a chance if you haven't already. If you truly prefer Oxford then it sounds like your GCSEs aren't actually as bad as you think, but please do get a second opinion on whether they're Oxford-standard for medicine. I believe they'll look at your application holistically, so if you excel in other areas then they may give you a shot from what I know. Again though just to reinforce this, the standards for medicine are different so you may want a second opinion.

They definitely do care about a personal statement, yes. One of my teachers actually believes they're two of the only universities to really look at them in detail, although I can't verify that.

I can almost guarantee that the main piece of advice you'll come across in making yourself stand out to Oxbridge is to focus on the "super-curricular" rather than the "extracurricular". I've had the talk from various teachers, in various meetings, from various representatives of the universities doing talks, from their online open day, and probably more that I'm forgetting. Essentially, they're all saying the same thing. Oxbridge, quite frankly, don't really care about things that aren't relevant to your subject (extracurricular). Whether you're a grade 5 in the flute or you play cricket on weekends, it really doesn't matter. You can develop a personality when you're there, but in the applications process they want to see "nerds" (this term is used a lot, it's not just me). They want to see that you go above and beyond to explore your subject, and they want to see that your passion and dedication reaches beyond the A-Level syllabus. They want to see what they call "super-curricular" activities, ie. activities you've done or do that show an interest in your chosen field. This may involve going to seminars, reading academic journals, doing MOOCs or research, or any number of things you can think of really. My RS teacher, who attended Cambridge, always said "read, read, read", but I'm very much into the humanities and arts, so I'm not sure if this will be best for medicine. If you show that you've engaged with the super-curricular, then you're doing well.
No please do share why you grew fond of the place and I literally love when people go on tangents especially when it's something I am interested about, which I am very much of it's either medicine or Oxbridge.

I think I ever really envisioned myself in oxford much like yourself from a really young age, and never thought about Cambridge even though it's is a privilege to even go there. So yes I definitely get a second opinion and look into Cambridge more. As I have to strategic and not about what I like, as there is not much difference in anything. I am beyond happy that you enjoyed your decision about going to Cambridge instead of oxford! But any tips on how to apply would be much appreciated : )
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ashtolga23
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(Original post by 15mohsinfa)
No please do share why you grew fond of the place and I literally love when people go on tangents especially when it's something I am interested about, which I am very much of it's either medicine or Oxbridge.

I think I ever really envisioned myself in oxford much like yourself from a really young age, and never thought about Cambridge even though it's is a privilege to even go there. So yes I definitely get a second opinion and look into Cambridge more. As I have to strategic and not about what I like, as there is not much difference in anything. I am beyond happy that you enjoyed your decision about going to Cambridge instead of oxford! But any tips on how to apply would be much appreciated : )
Thank you so much for your interest and your kind words. I'll put my weird little story in italics so anyone can skip over it if they wish, and get back to the more general stuff afterwards.

I originally considered it because it would put me closer to my boyfriend, and when I looked into the PBS course I thought it was brilliant, so I decided to go. While I have changed to English now, a lot of research went into the decision during the summer. I actually got the opportunity to visit Cambridge (thanks, Tolgs!) and I found it a really charming place. Admittedly I loved the vibe at Oxford as well, and I began to question my decision after visiting it because I loved the city feel, but I think Cambridge feels more dedicated to being a university. Perhaps I'll go to Oxford for a postgraduate, or live there one day in the future, but you'll often hear that Oxford is more like a city that happens to have a university, whereas Cambridge is more like a university that happens to have a city, which felt like it would be easier to settle into. I also looked at the English courses in September and was very torn, as both had pros and cons, but I really loved Cambridge as Shakespeare is out of the way in the first year and they have a wonderful-looking tragedy paper in the third year. Aside from that it was really just very superficial factors, but I think if you're stuck they're pretty much as good as anything.

Some of these factors included looking at discussions about "Oxford VS Cambridge" on websites like Quora, and while I took in the information that was being shared, I also took note of the attitudes. There was an admittedly limited sample size, but the Oxonians seemed to poke fun at the Cantabs a lot more than the other way round. Obviously there's a friendly rivalry, and some of it was funny (eg. Oxford grads joking that Cambridge don't know what the colour blue looks like, which is kinda true if you look at the university colours lol) but other parts just seemed mean. Another useless little thing that drew me closer to Cambridge is seeing someone quote "Oxford is for learning, Cambridge is for wit…"; this sounds so silly, and I'll fully own up to that, but I realised many comedians I like come from Cambridge. I'm quite a fan of comedy, and so the thought of studying at the same place as the greats appealed to me a lot. I even realised today that Stephen Fry did English at Queens', which is the college I've applied to. I also think I like this as it feeds into this idea of Cambridge being more progressive and light-hearted, while Oxford is perhaps a little more serious; whether that's a benefit or drawback will really depend on the person I suppose. I know how ridiculous it sounds, but considering how torn I was between the two, things like this just made Cambridge feel a bit more homely. Though the Oxford spires are beautiful, Cambridge has such pretty scenery, and I can see myself enjoying life there.

Bully me all you want for this, but I'm telling you it worked! My dreams of the Bodelian Library have been replaced by those of the Mathematical Bridge

As for applications, like I say you really want super-curricular stuff. Also remember that an Oxbridge PS should not look like a regular PS. Many teachers advise an 80/20 split between academic information and other interests, while some actually advocate 100% academic. You want to be focused and show your dedication. It's easier to start this process as soon as possible because you've got more opportunity to find relevant experiences and read etc., and you can let it simmer for a while rather than rushing to do different things a month before you send off your statement. Not to say it's the end of the world if you do the latter, but you're making it more difficult than it needs to be. I believe work experience is very helpful with medicine, so see what you can so there; it's a discipline that requires a mix of academia and hospitality, so even volunteering to help out in a ward giving out drinks may help (again, you know what I'll say, just double-check this). It's difficult to find this during COVID, but I'm sure if you search into it there'll be something you can do.

Once you've sent off your PS there's obviously a whole separate process for Oxbridge too. For Cambridge I had to fill in the SAQ, but I don't believe Oxford have this. There will also be interviews and admissions tests, and your college may want samples of your work. Familiarise yourself with this so that you're prepared and it doesn't come as a shock to you.
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15mohsinfa
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(Original post by ashtolga23)
Thank you so much for your interest and your kind words. I'll put my weird little story in italics so anyone can skip over it if they wish, and get back to the more general stuff afterwards.

I originally considered it because it would put me closer to my boyfriend, and when I looked into the PBS course I thought it was brilliant, so I decided to go. While I have changed to English now, a lot of research went into the decision during the summer. I actually got the opportunity to visit Cambridge (thanks, Tolgs!) and I found it a really charming place. Admittedly I loved the vibe at Oxford as well, and I began to question my decision after visiting it because I loved the city feel, but I think Cambridge feels more dedicated to being a university. Perhaps I'll go to Oxford for a postgraduate, or live there one day in the future, but you'll often hear that Oxford is more like a city that happens to have a university, whereas Cambridge is more like a university that happens to have a city, which felt like it would be easier to settle into. I also looked at the English courses in September and was very torn, as both had pros and cons, but I really loved Cambridge as Shakespeare is out of the way in the first year and they have a wonderful-looking tragedy paper in the third year. Aside from that it was really just very superficial factors, but I think if you're stuck they're pretty much as good as anything.

Some of these factors included looking at discussions about "Oxford VS Cambridge" on websites like Quora, and while I took in the information that was being shared, I also took note of the attitudes. There was an admittedly limited sample size, but the Oxonians seemed to poke fun at the Cantabs a lot more than the other way round. Obviously there's a friendly rivalry, and some of it was funny (eg. Oxford grads joking that Cambridge don't know what the colour blue looks like, which is kinda true if you look at the university colours lol) but other parts just seemed mean. Another useless little thing that drew me closer to Cambridge is seeing someone quote "Oxford is for learning, Cambridge is for wit…"; this sounds so silly, and I'll fully own up to that, but I realised many comedians I like come from Cambridge. I'm quite a fan of comedy, and so the thought of studying at the same place as the greats appealed to me a lot. I even realised today that Stephen Fry did English at Queens', which is the college I've applied to. I also think I like this as it feeds into this idea of Cambridge being more progressive and light-hearted, while Oxford is perhaps a little more serious; whether that's a benefit or drawback will really depend on the person I suppose. I know how ridiculous it sounds, but considering how torn I was between the two, things like this just made Cambridge feel a bit more homely. Though the Oxford spires are beautiful, Cambridge has such pretty scenery, and I can see myself enjoying life there.

Bully me all you want for this, but I'm telling you it worked! My dreams of the Bodelian Library have been replaced by those of the Mathematical Bridge

As for applications, like I say you really want super-curricular stuff. Also remember that an Oxbridge PS should not look like a regular PS. Many teachers advise an 80/20 split between academic information and other interests, while some actually advocate 100% academic. You want to be focused and show your dedication. It's easier to start this process as soon as possible because you've got more opportunity to find relevant experiences and read etc., and you can let it simmer for a while rather than rushing to do different things a month before you send off your statement. Not to say it's the end of the world if you do the latter, but you're making it more difficult than it needs to be. I believe work experience is very helpful with medicine, so see what you can so there; it's a discipline that requires a mix of academia and hospitality, so even volunteering to help out in a ward giving out drinks may help (again, you know what I'll say, just double-check this). It's difficult to find this during COVID, but I'm sure if you search into it there'll be something you can do.

Once you've sent off your PS there's obviously a whole separate process for Oxbridge too. For Cambridge I had to fill in the SAQ, but I don't believe Oxford have this. There will also be interviews and admissions tests, and your college may want samples of your work. Familiarise yourself with this so that you're prepared and it doesn't come as a shock to you.
Thank you so much this really helped a lot! I appreciate you taking the time out to tell your little story and answer my question!
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ashtolga23
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(Original post by 15mohsinfa)
Thank you so much this really helped a lot! I appreciate you taking the time out to tell your little story and answer my question!
It's no problem! If you want any more Oxbridge-specific advice then I'll try my best. I'm just very wary of giving advice for medicine because it's a very tough process, but I can reel off information about the differences between the universities and super-curricular activities all day long haha.

Hope you have a good night.
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(Original post by 15mohsinfa)
But lol I kinda liked oxford more and have bad GCSE's but not terrible like all above 6's except for one heehee..
Average acceptance at Oxford has 10.8A*s, and success rates drop way off below 8A*s. If you have genuinely exceptional circumstances though that counts for a lot. https://www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/study/me...cal/statistics

Cambridge is less GSCE focused and just gets far fewer applicants per place in general. However, its typical offer is A*A*A.

You have to do lots of research when applying to medicine, as entry requirements are so high and so incredibly varied. The courses are also very very varied. Being properly prepared takes a very long time. Good luck.
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