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Oxbridge/Cambridge talk

My school didn't have any Oxbridge / Cambridge talks or preparation, I tried to search online for these talks but some of them require me to pay or be invited (which I have emailed them but haven't received any reply).
Any tips that you remember from your talks?
Original post by Omniben
My school didn't have any Oxbridge / Cambridge talks or preparation, I tried to search online for these talks but some of them require me to pay or be invited (which I have emailed them but haven't received any reply).
Any tips that you remember from your talks?


What kind of info are you looking for? I attended a few Cambridge talks (by Churchill college I believe) and have a few notes on various topics, so if there's any questions you have specifically I can try and answer (although my knowledge is limited, I'm a prospective applicant applying for 2023 entry this year) :smile:
You mean Oxford or Cambridge, rather than Oxbridge or Cambridge? :wink: Oxbridge is a portmanteau of Oxford and Cambridge. Saying "Oxbridge and Cambridge" makes it sound like there's another university and city called "Oxbridge"!

That said you don't need to go to a talk to apply to either Oxford or Cambridge, they just might give you more insight into how their courses are structured, what's available, and how the application process works. There's lots of information online about these things already though, and you can certainly ask questions about specific aspects of the application process or a course on TSR here! There are even several Cambridge (and one Oxford, I think) admissions tutors with official rep accounts that can provide a lot of insight :smile:
For the personal statement, you'll probably want to demonstrate that you have done supercurricular activities related to the course you're applying for. This could include stuff like papers/books you've read, podcasts you've listened to, investigations you have done etc.
https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/super-curricular-activities
https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/files/publications/super-curricular_suggestions_2.pdf

Interview
Hmm if you are doing a sciencey course, then you will be asked a few hard questions, which wouldn't require extra knowledge beyond A-Level (but if you do enough supercurricular learning, you might be more comfortable with the new ideas which these questions introduced). Anyway, show that enjoy doing these questions, to demonstrate that you like solving challenging problems.
Reply 4
Original post by artful_lounger
You mean Oxford or Cambridge, rather than Oxbridge or Cambridge? :wink: Oxbridge is a portmanteau of Oxford and Cambridge. Saying "Oxbridge and Cambridge" makes it sound like there's another university and city called "Oxbridge"!

That said you don't need to go to a talk to apply to either Oxford or Cambridge, they just might give you more insight into how their courses are structured, what's available, and how the application process works. There's lots of information online about these things already though, and you can certainly ask questions about specific aspects of the application process or a course on TSR here! There are even several Cambridge (and one Oxford, I think) admissions tutors with official rep accounts that can provide a lot of insight :smile:


Whoops! I'll say Oxbridge next time!
I have tried to find some online, however each website varies, some talk about doing extra curricular activities. Some even talk about needing job experiences so I was just confused with that.
Reply 5
Original post by RubberKeyboard
For the personal statement, you'll probably want to demonstrate that you have done supercurricular activities related to the course you're applying for. This could include stuff like papers/books you've read, podcasts you've listened to, investigations you have done etc.
https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/super-curricular-activities
https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/files/publications/super-curricular_suggestions_2.pdf

Interview
Hmm if you are doing a sciencey course, then you will be asked a few hard questions, which wouldn't require extra knowledge beyond A-Level (but if you do enough supercurricular learning, you might be more comfortable with the new ideas which these questions introduced). Anyway, show that enjoy doing these questions, to demonstrate that you like solving challenging problems.

I was planning to do Aerospace engineering, (Which is under engineering), as a degree. Just asking, how would you saying you've read books or listened to podcasts give you more of an competitive edge on your PS. Surely everyone can lie about these generic points.
Original post by Omniben
Whoops! I'll say Oxbridge next time!
I have tried to find some online, however each website varies, some talk about doing extra curricular activities. Some even talk about needing job experiences so I was just confused with that.


Which degree are you considering?
Reply 7
Original post by aabbiinn
What kind of info are you looking for? I attended a few Cambridge talks (by Churchill college I believe) and have a few notes on various topics, so if there's any questions you have specifically I can try and answer (although my knowledge is limited, I'm a prospective applicant applying for 2023 entry this year) :smile:

Things regarding what the facilities are like for engineering students, what kind of exposure you need to get in (I.E do you need job experience, have extra-curricular activities regarding the degree, have a particular interest in a like a podcast or an author which is specialised in aerospace or any engineering course). Thank you means a lot!
Original post by Omniben
Whoops! I'll say Oxbridge next time!
I have tried to find some online, however each website varies, some talk about doing extra curricular activities. Some even talk about needing job experiences so I was just confused with that.


Well it does vary between courses, and the two unis themselves do actually have somewhat different approaches to things.

Generally speaking, work experience is only required for healthcare professions courses, which at Oxbridge is medicine and, at Cambridge only, vet med.

Beyond that, general, unrelated "extracurricular activities" tend to not count for much. What they want to see is extracurricular activities specifically related to your planned subject, to see that you do have more than just a passing interest in it. For example, having grade 8 flute is impressive, but won't be considered really by either uni except for music. However if you're applying for maths and have done UKMT competitions, that would be relevant and of interest to them. These tend to be called "supercurriculars" to distinguish them from more generic activities.

Note though that other unis may be more interested in those so it's usually worth writing a little about them in your PS, just don't focus on them a lot!
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 9
Original post by Muttley79
Which degree are you considering?


Engineering, after 2 years you can choose a desired engineering course like Aerospace. Something like that.
Reply 10
Original post by artful_lounger
Well it does vary between courses, and the two unis themselves do actually have somewhat different approaches to things.

Generally speaking, work experience is only required for healthcare professions courses, which at Oxbridge is medicine and, at Cambridge only, vet med.

Beyond that, general, unrelated "extracurricular activities" tend to not count for much. What they want to see is extracurricular activities specifically related to your planned subject, to see that you do have more than just a passing interest in it. For example, having grade 8 flute is impressive, but won't be considered really by either uni except for music. However if you're applying for maths and have done UKMT competitions, that would be relevant and of interest to them. These tend to be called "supercurriculars" to distinguish them from more generic activities.

Makes more sense, greatly appreciated.
Original post by Omniben
My school didn't have any Oxbridge / Cambridge talks or preparation, I tried to search online for these talks but some of them require me to pay or be invited (which I have emailed them but haven't received any reply).
Any tips that you remember from your talks?


Youtube its free

For engineering their is tonnes of open source professional magazines and journals covering all sorts of content.
Original post by Omniben
I was planning to do Aerospace engineering, (Which is under engineering), as a degree. Just asking, how would you saying you've read books or listened to podcasts give you more of an competitive edge on your PS. Surely everyone can lie about these generic points.


In this case wider reading, participating in scientific activities (e.g. science fairs like the Big Bang fair), mathematical activities like UKMT, and perhaps related things like robotics competitions or hackathons would all be relevant. However, it's important to bear in mind they don't expect you to have done all or even any of those (other than wider reading of course) as they know that not all applicants have equal opportunity to partake in such things. So if there's anything of interest available to you, dive in! If not, don't worry about it, just focus on doing wider reading - you'll be on the same footing :smile:

In any case the point of doing the activities is also not to just list them in your PS, but to write reflectively and critically about the experience of doing them. How did doing that cause you to learn more about subject X? If something went wrong, how did you resolve that using your existing (academic) knowledge? In general (not just for Oxbridge), the PS shouldn't just be a list of things you did, but a reflection on those and how that relates to your interests.

Also they can ask you about things you read or did in interview and it would probably not look too good if you appeared to have obviously lied about it then :redface:

That said, equally the PS is generally less important for Oxbridge as they are aware that it's quite easy for someone else to write an applicants PS - which is why they put more emphasis on the pre-interivew admissions assessment (PAT/ENGAA) and the interview, I understand.
Original post by Omniben
Engineering, after 2 years you can choose a desired engineering course like Aerospace. Something like that.


I wouldn't go to Cambridge for Engineering - better options out there.

No FM either ...
Original post by Omniben
Things regarding what the facilities are like for engineering students, what kind of exposure you need to get in (I.E do you need job experience, have extra-curricular activities regarding the degree, have a particular interest in a like a podcast or an author which is specialised in aerospace or any engineering course). Thank you means a lot!


I'm not sure specifically what the facilities/requirements are like for engineering (I'm applying for architecture) but if you are going to apply, as other people have said doing any wider reading or research in your field is almost a must I'd say. They want you to have mentioned things in your personal statement that you've done and can connect to what you're applying for (what Oxbridge call supercurriculars - extracurriculars that link to your subject).

I don't think you need work experience, that's more important for subjects like medicine where there's a clear career path, just because they want you to know what you're signing up for basically. Obviously if you can get some work experience go for it, it'd be a great for your application, and to confirm that you really want to study in that subject area, but the unis do understand it's not accessible for everyone.

So yeah, maybe start by doing some reading or research into a particular area in the subject and go from there, it's also been mentioned that it's good in your personal statement to be able to link things that you've done - for example you read X and this lead to an interest in Y, which encouraged you to do something else. Your personal statement should be (apparently) around 80% supercurricular and no more than around 20% extracurricular.

Sorry I can't be of more help in terms of the specifics for engineering, but for your application basically just try and show enthusiasm for your subject and a drive to learn more about it! Also in terms of needing to be interested in specific authors/podcasts, I don't think that's necessary, the only thing I would say is if you get an interview (for Cambridge at least) I've heard you get the names of your interviewer(s) beforehand and can do some research into their area of expertise, since they might ask questions about that.

Hope this helps a bit :smile:
I disagree with Artful longer about grade 8 flute - it shows great time management and hard work alongside other studies, If that person also plays in orchestras and bands then there's team work etc. Admissions staff are looking for people who take take the intensity of Oxbridge and grade 8 in any instrument is impressive.
Original post by Muttley79
I disagree with Artful longer about grade 8 flute - it shows great time management and hard work alongside other studies, If that person also plays in orchestras and bands then there's team work etc. Admissions staff are looking for people who take take the intensity of Oxbridge and grade 8 in any instrument is impressive.


I'm sorry to disagree with you on this, but we really don't look at these things. I can only speak for Cambridge here and may very well be different at other universities, but we don't take this stuff into account. While doing something like playing the flute to Grade 8 standard does show time management and hard work, so would having a part time job to save up for uni or being a young carer. Both part time jobs and being a young carer tend to go under the radar a bit more - neither are things that tend to get mentioned in personal statements (and tend not to be considered as worthy of inclusion in the same way - possibly because you can't get qualfications/certificates in them? Just my two cents) so it would be unfair to value one above the others. Not to mention the disparity in access to musical tuition by wealth and geographical location.
Original post by Peterhouse Admissions
I'm sorry to disagree with you on this, but we really don't look at these things. I can only speak for Cambridge here and may very well be different at other universities, but we don't take this stuff into account. While doing something like playing the flute to Grade 8 standard does show time management and hard work, so would having a part time job to save up for uni or being a young carer. Both part time jobs and being a young carer tend to go under the radar a bit more - neither are things that tend to get mentioned in personal statements (and tend not to be considered as worthy of inclusion in the same way - possibly because you can't get qualfications/certificates in them? Just my two cents) so it would be unfair to value one above the others. Not to mention the disparity in access to musical tuition by wealth and geographical location.

People aren't writing their PS for one university though and I can assure you a grade 8 on an instrument is something to add. Cambridge may ignore it [rather silly imho as it's effectively an A level]. There does not need to be an access problem as tution can come from PP and instruments supplied free.

You should ignore people pretending they cannot access FMaths if they are in an English state school.
Original post by Omniben
My school didn't have any Oxbridge / Cambridge talks or preparation, I tried to search online for these talks but some of them require me to pay or be invited (which I have emailed them but haven't received any reply).
Any tips that you remember from your talks?

Heya! Have you considered going to the Open day at either Oxford and/or Cambridge? :smile: Think I saw them being advertised not too long ago! You can ask tons of questions to the profs directly about the course!

regarding application process, I would recommend checking out this Oxbridge UCAS Guide full of detailed and useful tips about any stage of your application :smile: There's also free past papers for admissions tests and free college comparison tool to help you out if you are confused about which college to choose! For personal statement, they always look to see something you have done that you can relate to the course you do! I would recommend googling examples of engineering personal statements online to get some idea about how to write yours! You don't need a full on working experience, perhaps volunteering somewhere engineering related for a month or two would be more suitable!

Hope this helps and good luck with your application!
Milena G.
Oxbridge Mind

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