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Written work for Oxford uni

I have been looking through my work in year 12 recently, and I'm looking to apply for History at Oxford Uni in October. This requires a piece of written work as part of my application under 2000 words. I've realised that I'm in no way concise, and none of my standalone responses (contained essays, and not shorter ones between two factors, for example) are under the 2000 word limit. Would anyone recommend writing a new response as part of my revision next year in part of the course I'm interested in, or sticking to an exam answer from a different type of question from year 12? I do OCR, and this would be the type of question to choose between 2 factors, a 10 mark question, instead of a longer more traditional essay. The new essay I would write would be in this style and marked, and not entirely for my application.

Thank you in advance for any advice.
(edited 6 months ago)
Original post by goodfish
I have been looking through my work in year 12 recently, and I'm looking to apply for History at Oxford Uni in October. This requires a piece of written work as part of my application under 2000 words. I've realised that I'm in no way concise, and none of my standalone responses (contained essays, and not shorter ones between two factors, for example) are under the 2000 word limit. Would anyone recommend writing a new response as part of my revision next year in part of the course I'm interested in, or sticking to an exam answer from a different type of question from year 12? I do OCR, and this would be the type of question to choose between 2 factors, a 10 mark question, instead of a longer more traditional essay. The new essay I would write would be in this style and marked, and not entirely for my application.

Thank you in advance for any advice.

It's probably best to just write some more concise essays as revision, get them marked, and pick one you're happy to send off to Oxford. It's good practice anyway, making a clear and concise argument is important in essay-writing.
If you think one of your existing answers is good enough, you could rewrite it to be more concise or edit the question so the essay doesn't have to be as long? Also it doesn't matter what sort of question you're answering as long as the essay is a good example of your work. Conciseness would however be a good skill to be able to show - make sure that even in the shorter answers you're not being too tautological or 'wordy'. Writing a new essay is also a good idea if you think it can be the same standard in fewer words.

Before writing or rewriting however, it might be good to check with both your teacher and with the History department at Oxford. Ask the department what they are looking for in the essay (in terms of type of question) and how liberal they are with word counts. Ask your teacher if there is any piece of your work they think stands out that you could rework/rewrite.
Reply 3
They will not be at all liberal with the wordcount.
Original post by gjd800
They will not be at all liberal with the wordcount.

Yeah, they aren't. Tutorial essays will have word counts, and you're expected to be able to write a good essay without going over them. It's an important skill, and even if you got special permission to go over slightly, it doesn't look good on you as an applicant.

As for the type of work they're looking for, they're quite flexible. They can't be super specific while also asking for normal school work. My advice is to try and write a more traditional, longer essay, with a strong focus on analysis. This is what you'll be doing at Oxford, and it's good to show that you're prepared for it.
Original post by emilyalexandria
Yeah, they aren't. Tutorial essays will have word counts, and you're expected to be able to write a good essay without going over them. It's an important skill, and even if you got special permission to go over slightly, it doesn't look good on you as an applicant.

As for the type of work they're looking for, they're quite flexible. They can't be super specific while also asking for normal school work. My advice is to try and write a more traditional, longer essay, with a strong focus on analysis. This is what you'll be doing at Oxford, and it's good to show that you're prepared for it.


I've always been quite concise so it sometimes went the other way for me, but for both the application and tutorials I recall there being a slight over-and under-allowance for the wordcount? I don't remember the percentage but for longer essays it was a few hundred words either side. Either way I didn't do history specifically, so it could be different for different departments
Original post by Anonymous
I've always been quite concise so it sometimes went the other way for me, but for both the application and tutorials I recall there being a slight over-and under-allowance for the wordcount? I don't remember the percentage but for longer essays it was a few hundred words either side. Either way I didn't do history specifically, so it could be different for different departments

Yeah you're right, but they usually specify the percentage in advance. So you're not really going over the word count, you're just within the acceptable range. Here, they're giving you a strict upper limit.
Reply 7
Thank you for your replies- I'm definitely working on being more concise for exams next year and in general. I will probably write another question based on your advice- kiling two birds with one stone with revision and as part of my written work. I have no intention of going over the 2000 words, this would definitely not be good for the long term, but I was more wondering about this piece of work specifically.

Thank you!

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