Oxbridge application tips

Friday 20 December 2019, UCAS advice


Oxbridge application tips

The early UCAS deadline for Oxbridge applications is fast approaching. For those of you who are considering applying to these universities, work will now be well underway regarding your personal statements, academic portfolio and finding suitable references. Representing yourself through so few words is one of the biggest challenges you will have faced throughout your sixth form experience so far, hence it is natural to feel overwhelmed and a little stressed by it all. Fear not – whilst the deadline is approaching, there is still more than enough time for you to complete everything necessary. It’s all in your approach.

As far as your personal statement goes, make sure that you have a clear structure as you read over everything. If someone were skim reading this, would they be able to pick out your key ideas from the topic sentences at the beginning of paragraphs? Is there an interesting range and evident fluency to your writing? Do you stand out from the words on the page? These are all questions you should be asking in the process of editing to ensure that information is as concise and communicative as possible. Whilst it is challenging to achieve in such a limited number of words and characters, that challenge does not have to be a negative one. After you have completed the initial drafts, all consequent work you do is only going to better this representation you have built around yourself. Think of it as a Sudoku puzzle; You’re just looking for the right words to slot into place.

On the other hand, you also have your academic essays and/or work process examples. Most likely you have again, already completed these at this stage. However, make sure that you do keep glancing over and making minor edits for the entirety of the period you have left before submission. You never know, you might develop a slightly different idea on how to represent one particular section of your essay which could make it sound far more evidenced overall than it did previously. If you are writing on the subject you are most passionate about, this should be the easy part which proves a welcome break from talking about yourself in the personal statement. Turn to your zoological/musical/literary/historical/mathematical thesis ideas whenever things are starting to slog, and it will remind you why this is all worth it.
Finally, make sure you are keeping organised. Keep a list of things to do every day and work your way through the most important tasks first. It’s not only super useful, it’s also a great way to put into practice personal scheduling as will be required when you reach university. Plan things out in advance to avoid the stress in the long run. Small bouts of stress now will prevent a build-up of it later, meaning that you will be able to avoid the insomnia and work to a better standard now. Remember to breathe, keep thinking positive and working hard, and before you know it it’ll be half term – time for a well-earned rest. Best of luck!
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