Applying to Oxbridge 

This is a post made by an UNSUCCESSFUL applicant to the University of Cambridge! But don’t go just yet, this post will be helpful to you in summarizing several details on the things to expect during the application (as a SG student) and the level of competitiveness in applying! Hope it helps!

So I just received my application results from the University of Cambridge today, and I wasn’t accepted! Definitely feel quite disappointed, but kinda expected for it to happen! (given the level of competition involved)

Besides good grades for your A level examinations, here are 4 Things you need to complete/ do well in when applying to Cambridge:

1. UCAS, which is the main application portal used for applying to UK Universities. You have to complete a Personal Statement on the Course of study, which I have posted in my previous article on Applying to LSE. (on the Economics Course) Writing a good Personal Statement is critical when applying to any UK university as it could make or break your application. I spent months on mine! So keep improving and working on it!

UK universities also don’t really give a damn about your extra curricular activities unless its like Math Olympiad, or relevant to the course you are applying to. Play sports or some musical instrument? Nah they don’t need to know that! (Unless you’re applying to Music or you use some complex mathematical algorithm to excel in your sport) Oxbridge is looking for stellar grades, good results, excellent academic marks! So study hard before applying and do well for A levels! Don’t waste your limited word count in your PS on those mentioned above.
You can apply up to 5 Universities in your UCAS application!

Note: you can only pick either oxford OR cambridge and not both!

Applying to 1 university – £13

Applying to 2 or more universities – £24

2. COPA, Cambridge Online Preliminary Application. This is basically an additional application form to fill up, which is unfortunately compulsory when applying to Cambridge. It includes personal details and blanks for more Personal Statements, on top of your UCAS application. This adds an extra £30 cost to your application. (I didn’t write any additional Personal Statements cause I felt it was quite unnecessary and time-consuming)
3. Your Admissions Interview – For Sg students, they only cater 30 short minutes for you to showcase your potential for the course. This is unlike Oxbridge interviews in the UK where you are given the luxury of time. From what I’ve heard, if you are interviewed at Cambridge itself, you would be interviewed and asked many questions on your Personal Statements, knowledge in the subject, additional reading you have done and Interests in the subject. But in Singapore, once the 30 Minutes are up, it’s time for you to leave.

Anyway, for the Economics Interview, it was alot on applying mathematical concepts to Economics (the one I got was on deriving the K-multiplier from a graph), no Economics knowledge required at all, mainly maths! (Restudying qualitative aspects A levels Economics is of no use) And yeah the interview is very technical, no questions asking about what interests you in the subject, what you did during the holidays like work, internships. The interview will cost you approx £140.

4. Your Admissions Test – You need to prepare for this hard if you want a good chance of entering Oxbridge! Look for online copies/ mock tests of this! For me I was mainly busy with National Service so I didn’t prepare fully for it! For Economics, the admissions test is ECAA, it’s really quite difficult, feels like an IQ test or primary school math without calculators! Haven’t done mental sums in years? Better practice! Oh yeah and you’ll have to pay another $150 dollars as the admin fee.

TOTAL COST: ~SGD 500 (thats really quite expensive if ya ask me)
In short, the level of competitiveness when applying to Oxbridge is Very Very High. I did a rough analysis for admissions to St. Edmunds college, the mature college I applied to, and calculated approximately less than an 8% chance of entering after the University interviewed all potential candidates. Many RI and HCI students with good grades are rejected. I had 7 distinctions for my A levels, no H3 though. So yeah, its pretty, pretty competitive considering that many people with good grades and a passion in Economics were rejected.

Hope this post helps! Do comment below if you have any questions! All the best for your application!! 😀😀 GOOD LUCK And prepare WELL!


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