The Student Room Group

what are my chances of getting into oxford with no work experience?

Hi, I’m currently in college and i’m predicted A*AA and i can maintain AAA with minimum effort however I do essay based subjects so my grades are based off of individual essay questions rather than full tests so i’m not sure how accurate this is. I want to study law at oxford however i do not have any work experience in law firms or much law related supercurriculars. The most I have going for me is i’ve read some books but i don’t see that getting me very far. I’m in debate club and that’s it, i don’t have any significant roles in my college like head girl or anything like that. I’m pretty average in every aspect besides my grades, what things can i do to higher my chances of getting into oxford? I’d love to hear from people in oxbridge if i can. I’m also debating whether I should do a philosophy course because i’d enjoy it more and it would be easier to get into however i want to be a barrister so it would be more straightforward to do a law degree and one from oxford would be favoured. Also i’m concerned with the prices of a conversion course. Thanks in advance!

edit: I think i’ve decided on philosophy at Cambridge for now, any ideas on supercurriculars or thing so i can do outside of college related to philosophy?
(edited 2 years ago)
You dont need 'experience' for Law.
Especially for Oxford.

Its an academic degree. You need evidence that you understand what studying Law involves and that you can discuss some topics that interest you, both for your PS and at interview.

Start by looking at some of the resources listed under Law here - its equally relevant for Oxford btw - https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/sites/www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/files/publications/super-curricular_suggestions.pdf

And these Radio 4 podcasts are useful for current issues in the Law - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006tgy1/episodes/downloads
(edited 2 years ago)
Original post by cornerstone2250
Hi, I’m currently in college and i’m predicted A*AA and i can maintain AAA with minimum effort however I do essay based subjects so my grades are based off of individual essay questions rather than full tests so i’m not sure how accurate this is. I want to study law at oxford however i do not have any work experience in law firms or much law related supercurriculars. The most I have going for me is i’ve read some books but i don’t see that getting me very far. I’m in debate club and that’s it, i don’t have any significant roles in my college like head girl or anything like that. I’m pretty average in every aspect besides my grades, what things can i do to higher my chances of getting into oxford? I’d love to hear from people in oxbridge if i can. I’m also debating whether I should do a philosophy course because i’d enjoy it more and it would be easier to get into however i want to be a barrister so it would be more straightforward to do a law degree and one from oxford would be favoured. Also i’m concerned with the prices of a conversion course. Thanks in advance!

If I'm brutally honest, there are a few 'red flags' in this post. Firstly, Oxford is not a place for minimum effort. If you can get AAA with minimum effort, why aren't you getting/predicted A*A*A*? It's not necessarily about the grades since theoretically you can get in with AAA, but you cannot afford to slack when applying to or studying at Oxford. Secondly, if you're interested in law why haven't you done supercurriculars? I would guess you could get away with no work experience, but Oxford is very supercurricular-focused, so sign up to some MOOCs and Webinars etc, start a LawSoc in school, write a blog, anything that shows you're interested and can take the initiative. Oxford students have to demonstrate love for their subject, so a lack of law-related activities will reduce your chances significantly. Thirdly, Oxford is not a place for 'pretty average' students. Oxford students show exceptional potential in their field so average unfortunately won't cut it. Please consider the fact that law is a very competitive course, and so it's probably not worth applying if you're not very interested and don't have any supercurriculars. Law at Oxford is even more competitive, so do you really want to risk wasting a UCAS choice on Oxbridge with a 'pretty average' application? It's worth reflecting on the reasons you want to apply for law and Oxford, it's not worth it if you're doing it for reputation, money etc. Getting into any university fro law is an achievement, and at the end of the day you can be a barrister whether your degree is from Oxford or not, so don't feel pressured to go to the 'best' unis. If you would prefer a philosophy course, do that. If you really want to study law, by all means, do that. If you think the course and teaching style at Oxford would suit you and you'd excel in the environment, go for it. The good news is, if you're still in lower sixth, there's plenty of time to get together a competitive application if you decide you want to study law and you think Oxford would be the best place for you to do it. Do some supercurriculars, get some work experience if you can, start putting full effort into your academics to achieve the best grades you possibly can, apply for some leadership roles at school, and revise lots for the LNAT so you can absolutely smash it. Sorry for the largely negative response, I don't want to discourage you, but I really recommend you consider it carefully. It's completely possible to make a successful application even if it's not that strong currently, it will just require a lot of hard work between now and the end of year 13. Best of luck!
Original post by bea_murray0
If I'm brutally honest, there are a few 'red flags' in this post. Firstly, Oxford is not a place for minimum effort. If you can get AAA with minimum effort, why aren't you getting/predicted A*A*A*? It's not necessarily about the grades since theoretically you can get in with AAA, but you cannot afford to slack when applying to or studying at Oxford. Secondly, if you're interested in law why haven't you done supercurriculars? I would guess you could get away with no work experience, but Oxford is very supercurricular-focused, so sign up to some MOOCs and Webinars etc, start a LawSoc in school, write a blog, anything that shows you're interested and can take the initiative. Oxford students have to demonstrate love for their subject, so a lack of law-related activities will reduce your chances significantly. Thirdly, Oxford is not a place for 'pretty average' students. Oxford students show exceptional potential in their field so average unfortunately won't cut it. Please consider the fact that law is a very competitive course, and so it's probably not worth applying if you're not very interested and don't have any supercurriculars. Law at Oxford is even more competitive, so do you really want to risk wasting a UCAS choice on Oxbridge with a 'pretty average' application? It's worth reflecting on the reasons you want to apply for law and Oxford, it's not worth it if you're doing it for reputation, money etc. Getting into any university fro law is an achievement, and at the end of the day you can be a barrister whether your degree is from Oxford or not, so don't feel pressured to go to the 'best' unis. If you would prefer a philosophy course, do that. If you really want to study law, by all means, do that. If you think the course and teaching style at Oxford would suit you and you'd excel in the environment, go for it. The good news is, if you're still in lower sixth, there's plenty of time to get together a competitive application if you decide you want to study law and you think Oxford would be the best place for you to do it. Do some supercurriculars, get some work experience if you can, start putting full effort into your academics to achieve the best grades you possibly can, apply for some leadership roles at school, and revise lots for the LNAT so you can absolutely smash it. Sorry for the largely negative response, I don't want to discourage you, but I really recommend you consider it carefully. It's completely possible to make a successful application even if it's not that strong currently, it will just require a lot of hard work between now and the end of year 13. Best of luck!

Hi! Thank you for your response, if anything I prefer a more harsh response which is why i’ve come on here. I think my point with the AAA with minimum effort was that i can easily get two A stars which i’m doing now. I think i’d enjoy philosophy more so i’m leaning towards that at Cambridge since oxford don’t do the subject, you’re right I shouldn’t go through the extra competitive nature for a course I probably wouldn’t enjoy as much. I just don’t know how to get supercurriculars, especially with philosophy. It’s funny you say I have I have a lot of time, I feel like i’m the only one in my year thinking I have basically no time left before i need to figure everything out lol. Your response has been a big help, thanks!!
Original post by cornerstone2250
Hi! Thank you for your response, if anything I prefer a more harsh response which is why i’ve come on here. I think my point with the AAA with minimum effort was that i can easily get two A stars which i’m doing now. I think i’d enjoy philosophy more so i’m leaning towards that at Cambridge since oxford don’t do the subject, you’re right I shouldn’t go through the extra competitive nature for a course I probably wouldn’t enjoy as much. I just don’t know how to get supercurriculars, especially with philosophy. It’s funny you say I have I have a lot of time, I feel like i’m the only one in my year thinking I have basically no time left before i need to figure everything out lol. Your response has been a big help, thanks!!

Glad I could help, philosophy is tricky for extracurriculars but again it's worth looking at MOOCs, webinars, you can start a blog or write articles for magazines (school magazines or online ones), the debate club is a good start though. It might feel like everyone else has it sorted, and application deadlines do come around quick, but really you've got time to build your application, and you can do lots in holidays/over summer if schoolwork is a lot.
Original post by cornerstone2250
Hi, I’m currently in college and i’m predicted A*AA and i can maintain AAA with minimum effort however I do essay based subjects so my grades are based off of individual essay questions rather than full tests so i’m not sure how accurate this is. I want to study law at oxford however i do not have any work experience in law firms or much law related supercurriculars. The most I have going for me is i’ve read some books but i don’t see that getting me very far. I’m in debate club and that’s it, i don’t have any significant roles in my college like head girl or anything like that. I’m pretty average in every aspect besides my grades, what things can i do to higher my chances of getting into oxford? I’d love to hear from people in oxbridge if i can. I’m also debating whether I should do a philosophy course because i’d enjoy it more and it would be easier to get into however i want to be a barrister so it would be more straightforward to do a law degree and one from oxford would be favoured. Also i’m concerned with the prices of a conversion course. Thanks in advance!

edit: I think i’ve decided on philosophy at Cambridge for now, any ideas on supercurriculars or thing so i can do outside of college related to philosophy?

What A levels do you do?

It's difficult securing a place in philosophy without a maths a level + a strong maths background.
Original post by EternalKnight_02
What A levels do you do?

It's difficult securing a place in philosophy without a maths a level + a strong maths background.

I do philosophy, law and politics, do you really need maths? I got a 7 in maths which is the worst gcse i received, I’m not exactly the best at maths. I didn’t really think it was too important since i’m not doing PPE just philosophy by itself
(edited 2 years ago)
Original post by cornerstone2250
I do philosophy, law and politics, do you really need maths? I got a 7 in maths which is the worst gcse i received, I’m not exactly the best at maths. I didn’t really think it was too important since i’m not doing PPE just philosophy by itself

Hi! Don't stress too much about not doing maths, i've applied for philosophy this year and have an offer from Cambridge without maths.Maths is for sure helpful in the course in terms of formal logic modules from what i've seen but an a-level in it is definitely not required (though Cambridge does say it can help in preparation for the course).
Congratulations on the offer! Can I just ask what sorts of things did you do during college to create a stronger personal statement? I’m struggling to find philosophy related things to do besides reading books
Hey, I'm a Cambridge student. I'm a natsci but I think I can give some general advice. I read a few biology books and entered some essay writing competitions (I actually won one of them). If I remember correctly most of my personal statement was about 2 of those books and that essay competition I won. I did a few practical things like a pathology summer school (which ended up being online) but things like that probably aren't as relevant to a philosophy degree. I also listened to science podcasts but didn't put that in my personal statement in the end because it was far too long lol. You don't have to go buying a bunch of books if you don't want to, just pick a few books on philosophy from your college library, or if there's not much there you could try public libraries. Search online for competitions you can enter. There might be a few relevant short courses on futurelearn.com. Cambridge does not give a damn if you are head girl: they want evidence that you're passionate about your chosen subject and that you've taken the effort to explore it outside the A level curriculum.
(edited 2 years ago)
Reply 10
I’m an offer holder for PPE from Oxford starting in the autumn. Obviously I don’t know as much about the Cambridge admissions process as Oxford’s, but I imagine it’s broadly pretty similar.

I think there’s a real tendency to overexaggerate how important supercurriculars are for getting into Oxbridge. I mentioned several bits of wider riding I’d done on my personal statement, but honestly it was pretty bland and generic and probably one of the relatively weakest parts of my application. Far more important are your GCSE/predicted A level grades, but, above all, any admissions test where relevant and your performance at interview. I got in because my TSA score was very high, and presumably because my interview went well. I was asked one question about something on my personal statement in one interview only (my economics one) the very first warm-up question to kind of ease me in, so make you sure you’re not BSing about anything you wrote on your PS and can actually talk about it, but other than that, I doubt the admissions tutors so much as read it.

It’s true that passion for your subject is important, and you ought to read a bit around your subject (though nothing too much or demanding certainly your wider reading should never take precedence over your A level studies), but this is so you can perform well at interview, rather than because they particularly care about what wider reading/supercurriculars you’ve done on and of themselves. The most important thing to cultivate, so that you can perform well if you’re invited to interview, are critical thinking/logic skills, especially for philosophy, (so in that respect you might find a debating society or something similar useful but again, to develop skills, not as something to brag about to the university in and of itself), and generally being an interesting and lively person to have an academic conversation with.

Hope that helps; best of luck.
(edited 2 years ago)
Original post by cornerstone2250
Congratulations on the offer! Can I just ask what sorts of things did you do during college to create a stronger personal statement? I’m struggling to find philosophy related things to do besides reading books


2022 PPE applicant here. Would fervently recommend BBC In Our Time Philosophy podcast, there are some really interesting discussions on there. I also did an online course on edX (lhttps://www.edx.org/course/justice-2 or google Harvard Justice) which I loved.
To contrast sfp04 (which by the way, congratulations! what college?) just to give you a different perspective since each situation is different:
I'm also an Oxford PPE offer holder and I feel my PS was important in my admission. It's not a deciding factor on its own but the application is viewed holistically so it does count. GCSE and A-Level predicted are important to a certain degree, but unless you have a particularly exceptional record (read: more than the usual number of GCSE/A-Levels) they will not distinguish you significantly from other applicants as most Oxbridge applicants have very similar high grades anyway. I would say admissions tests are important but in combination with your PS: my TSA score was good but by no means as high as some of the others I've seen on TSR, however I think my PS was fairly strong which probably helped me get an interview.

I was told by the Outreach Officer for my area that interviews were not a pass/fail thing ie. if you get an interview and not an offer it doesn't necessarily mean it was because you did badly on the interview, there are other factors still at play, and whilst I don't think the interview is decisive by itself I would be very surprised if it did not play a bigger role in the selection process than any of the other parts of the application. Interviews are meant to mimic the teaching style at Oxford so it's a great way for tutors to see if you would thrive under their system. That being said, tutors are generally understanding about nerves so being a bit flustered at times is not something to stress about, its unlikely it will affect what they think of your capacity to do well at Oxford.

Final note on personal statement: quality over quantity EVERY TIME. I by no means did a ridiculous amount of super curricular stuff and wider reading, its more about knowing how to use specific things well and link everything together. I only mentioned 3 books (ALSO NEVER MENTION A BOOK YOU HAVEN'T READ) and a philosopher because what you're trying to do is show your passion and ability for the subject with subtlety– bragging about all the books you have read and things you have done is unlikely to get you anywhere. For me, it helped to think of the PS as an argument or a journey of thought: I had initial idea X, which prompted me to consider Y, which I researched in Z, which made me question X, which then led me to consult A. Basically respond to the reading, show your thought process a little (hence the journey of thought) and be critical both of the reading and your initial idea (by initial idea, I mean a kind of theme: for instance, mine was freedom). Also maybe briefly address what it is about the subject that made you want to study it, and whichever aspect you choose can then be shown in the 'argument' body of the PS.

For Oxbridge especially though, I think this is basically what it comes down to:
Original post by sfp04
generally being an interesting and lively person to have an academic conversation with.

since that's essentially what tutorials will be like, and hence why the interviews are in all likelihood the most important part of the application. My mum used an analogy that I quite liked: she said they don't want a smoothly polished and cut gem, they want a diamond in the rough that they can shape themselves. You don't have to be perfect by any means, you just have to show them you have potential.

Also I did not get asked about my PS at all at interview but it varies college by college, both at Oxford and at Cambridge so make sure you can talk about it if asked.

Best of luck!!
(edited 2 years ago)
Reply 13
Original post by dippedinfolly
To contrast sfp04 (which by the way, congratulations! what college?) just to give you a different perspective since each situation is different:


Thanks! :smile: New College. Wbu?

Very interesting to read your experience, and I guess it just goes to show that the process is different for everyone, and there are lots of different ways and paths to take to ultimately get an offer. Fwiw, in addition to my personal experience, I’m also partially basing what I said off a conversation I had with a former PPE admissions tutor for economics (he moved to a postgrad only college a few years ago, but I doubt the admissions process has changed that much since), who said that for shortlisting for interview, your TSA score was the key factor, but after that, they don’t care as much about your TSA and your performance at interview is far more important. Interestingly, he also said that if you flunk an interview in one subject but do well in the other two, you can still get in owing to the fact that most PPEists drop one of the subjects after the first year.

And yeah, very much agreed that ultimately it comes down to how intellectual interesting you are. They’re looking for that raw spark, not necessarily a polished resumé.
Original post by sfp04
Thanks! :smile: New College. Wbu?

Very interesting to read your experience, and I guess it just goes to show that the process is different for everyone, and there are lots of different ways and paths to take to ultimately get an offer. Fwiw, in addition to my personal experience, I’m also partially basing what I said off a conversation I had with a former PPE admissions tutor for economics (he moved to a postgrad only college a few years ago, but I doubt the admissions process has changed that much since), who said that for shortlisting for interview, your TSA score was the key factor, but after that, they don’t care as much about your TSA and your performance at interview is far more important. Interestingly, he also said that if you flunk an interview in one subject but do well in the other two, you can still get in owing to the fact that most PPEists drop one of the subjects after the first year.

And yeah, very much agreed that ultimately it comes down to how intellectual interesting you are. They’re looking for that raw spark, not necessarily a polished resumé.

Oriel :smile:. That's a really interesting perspective actually, I'd read somewhere that colleges sometimes try to see if they can guess what subject will be dropped when shortlisting/making offers (I think so that they don't end up with a cohort where everyone ends up dropping the same one) and I wasn't sure if the info was genuine, but it would make sense if the principle applies to the interview process as well.

Quick Reply

Latest

Trending

Trending