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How to get into Oxford or Cambridge?

This may seem slightly ambitious but one day I want to get accepted into Oxford or Cambridge because I know I'm capable and they both offer the course I want to take (or at least I currently have my heart set on).
I want to know what sort of little things they look for on applications. E.g. Dose a weekend job class as work experience and what other opportunities are available?
I'm thinking of joining my local youth council because that's something I'm interested and I want to join my local hockey club because I want to play a sport.
Also what GCSE grades do you think are necessary/ preferred?
(Btw I have a LOT of time on my hands ( like today I went on 4 walks) so I do need some productive pass times so nothings to much.)
Thanks so much in advance. :smile:
Original post by sunset_101
This may seem slightly ambitious but one day I want to get accepted into Oxford or Cambridge because I know I'm capable and they both offer the course I want to take (or at least I currently have my heart set on).
I want to know what sort of little things they look for on applications. E.g. Dose a weekend job class as work experience and what other opportunities are available?
I'm thinking of joining my local youth council because that's something I'm interested and I want to join my local hockey club because I want to play a sport.
Also what GCSE grades do you think are necessary/ preferred?
(Btw I have a LOT of time on my hands ( like today I went on 4 walks) so I do need some productive pass times so nothings to much.)
Thanks so much in advance. :smile:


Which degree?
Work experience is not important unless it is medicine, and neither are extracurriculars. Oxbridge want you to focus on academics and supercurriculars in your personal statement when you apply.

There isn't any hard rule about GCSEs. Oxford are known to be more picky about them than Cambridge. I got into Cambridge with 2A*s, 4As and 4Bs. Far more important are your A Level predicted grades, performance on any applicable tests, and interview performance.
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 3
Original post by Muttley79
Which degree?

I'm thinking History and Politics
Original post by sunset_101
This may seem slightly ambitious but one day I want to get accepted into Oxford or Cambridge because I know I'm capable and they both offer the course I want to take (or at least I currently have my heart set on).
I want to know what sort of little things they look for on applications. E.g. Dose a weekend job class as work experience and what other opportunities are available?
I'm thinking of joining my local youth council because that's something I'm interested and I want to join my local hockey club because I want to play a sport.
Also what GCSE grades do you think are necessary/ preferred?
(Btw I have a LOT of time on my hands ( like today I went on 4 walks) so I do need some productive pass times so nothings to much.)
Thanks so much in advance. :smile:

They don't really care about most of that stuff.

Work experience is not needed for any course except medicine or vet med, and they require specific relevant work experience in those cases.

They don't really care about "generic" extracurricular activities - they're primarily (perhaps even exclusively) interested in what you have done specifically related to the subject you are applying to. For example, grade 15 Violin doesn't mean anything unless you're applying to music; it's just not relevant to other courses. GCSEs are variable, Cambridge tend to not put much weight on them, Oxford tend to put some more weight on them. It varies between courses though anyway.

They really, truly, almost only care about your academics and what you do outside of those of specific relevance to them (so called "supercurriculars"). Also, anything you do before 6th form other than potentially your GCSEs is not going to be relevant. Any extracurricular activity you do in this time will not be "current" by the time you apply and isn't going to really mean much for an application (even if it is specifically relevant).

Your best bet is to just do as well as you can in your GCSEs for now, and take advantage of any relevant history or politics (as an academic subject area - not as a profession) related activities you end up coming across. When you're in 6th form essay competitions would probably be worth looking into, but aren't essential.

Really the only actual necessary thing you have to do is to get good grades and then engage deeply and reflectively with your subject area beyond the confines of the school curriculum. There are a lot of areas of history not taught in the A-level; many topical issues in political science and international relations likewise not covered. Engaging with these at a high level outside of your studies is what they are ultimately looking for - which can be illustrated just as well by wider reading, as any other "supercurricular" activity.
Original post by sunset_101
I'm thinking History and Politics


Check the degree content - is it the period of History you are interested in? Oxford look at GCSE grades so focus on those. Start reading a quality daily paper - school libraries usually have one. Listen to the news - be informed about current issues.

Talk to your History teacher and see what they recommend in the way of reading.

If your school does MUN get involved.

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