Hope you find our Oxbridge admissions feature helpful and our Oxbridge interview tips useful.
Oxbridge admissions tests – Thinking Skills Assessment
- Thinking Skills Assessment Cambridge (TSA Cambridge)
- TSA Oxford (TSA Oxford)
- Thinking Skills Assessment University College London (TSA UCL)
- Thinking Skills Assessment Cambridge also termed TSA Cambridge
- Cambridge Law Test which is to be taken by law students
- Finally, there are other courses that are specific to the subject students are studying
University of Oxford Admissions
If someone is interested in applying for the University of Oxford, then there is a massive chance that they will need to sit for an admission test as almost all the education courses there have admission tests as the entrance criteria. One will need to register separately for sitting on an exam and the deadline for the registration are to be kept in mind.
Other interview tips
Preparing for your Oxbridge interview
Most parents know how to deal with 11 Plus exams. There’s a wealth of information online, past papers to study and of course hundreds of tutors to choose from. But when it comes to the big interview, information is much scanter. Probably deliberately so.
For example, Latymer Upper School simply says in its guidelines: “We do not encourage children to prepare for an interview but we do expect those we call back to be able to answer the academic questions with ease.”
Some even have group interviews – like mini-lessons – in addition to individual interviews. This makes it even more difficult to prepare.
Cambridge Assessment Test
Cambridge is one of the toughest universities in the UK to get into and compared to other top institutes all over the world, it offers some of the best educational courses that one can ask for.
Almost every academically skilled student in their life has once at least thought about getting into this amazing institute offering top-class faculty and study material in the field of arts, science, mathematics, etc.
For getting into this university, an assessment test is mandatory and that is common for whichever course students choose to study. For example, if you are studying a mathematics course at Cambridge.
In which case, you will also have to appear for an assessment test alongside someone who is looking forward to getting their English honours degree from here.
Preparing for the Cambridge Assessment Test?
There are a lot of aspirants who look forward to getting their degree in a particular course and for that reason, they look for the top tuitions and educational centres to get involved in all sorts of mock tests.
However, that is not required in all cases, since anyone will easily get free information and resources on the college website itself as a specimen and past papers and test qualifications will come in handy to make a decision.
Getting familiar with the Cambridge Assessment Test
The students will be able to familiarize themselves with different test contents and certain levels and formats that have been followed in the past and as per that they can come to a decision about preparing themselves for the examination.
Students can investigate and work on different types of questions that have been asked in the past 4-5 years of the assessments and also learn in brief about the questions that have been asked.
Furthermore, the students can work under different time conditions for solving the questions. During the live examination, the students will have to answer the questions within a specified time limit and working towards achieving that goal within a certain limit will surely come in handy for them.
Finally, the students should be reviewing the answers that they are providing. This final step is extremely important for anyone and everyone who is appearing for the examination, whether that student is a smart one and whether that student is a newbie.
Which are the best Cambridge Assessment Test Study materials?
Students should be looking for all kinds of study materials involving BMAT, ELAT, STEP, TMUA, etc. and all of them will be available on the company website itself.
If the students are going for admission to Oxford university or even to the University of Cambridge, the pre-interview assessment will be important but the interview that students will partake in will be equally important as well.
Certain tips can be found on the college websites and students can follow that only without consulting any third-party websites. There are experts who emphasize using the official college websites for such information rather than the other ones, as the former has the most updated information and tips about the exams and how to prepare. The information from outside sources might not be relevant and may harm the preparation structure of the applicants.
As per the university websites, if someone is offering paid assistance to applicants for getting them ahead for the examination do not know any more than the students who are thoroughly following the official website of the colleges.
If students are honest towards going through all the past papers and following all the data provided on the college sites, then they will always remain ahead and that will be showcased on the assessment answers.
Common Cambridge Admissions Test Questions
One should get their test candidate entry number from their own school or a test centre that will act as proof of entry. The usual timeline of entries is before 6 PM and the dates are usually the 15th of October.
All the information regarding the timeline and test entry number allotment will be available on the official website of the colleges, so one should keep checking for getting better information.
If the test numbers are not taken correctly, then it is not the fault of the schools or the college applicants who are giving the test. It is the sole responsibility of the student to get these things updated on their end.
The answer to most common questions that students ask:
- If a student is not able to find a test centre on the official website of the college, they should contact the CAAT for getting further assistance in locating the test centres. Sometimes, students are provided with an alternative test centre from where they can appear for the examination.
- If a student has a clash with the assessment dates of the college and any other examination, then they should let their test centre be aware of the situation first and then they are liable to request a timetable variation. The test centres usually make the timetable variation request but it is the responsibility of the student to get an update on that information.
- If a student wants to request extra time to access any access arrangement for the admission test, then they will have to apply for access arrangements from the test centres only.
Application Oxbridge tips for interview
Whether for undergraduate or postgraduate courses, if you’re applying to highly selective universities in the UK, including Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Imperial and LSE, you will be in competition with many other excellent applicants.
Work out what you love
Working out what you want to study is the most important part of the process. Academics care deeply about their subjects, and they want to see a similar passion from applicants.
There will be some things you are really good at, and some things you are really interested in. If you’re lucky, these things will overlap, giving you a clear idea of what to study at degree level. It’s important to remember that your degree will take three (and in some cases four) years of your life, and so it’s worth taking time to make sure you’re committed to studying a single subject for that period.
It’s worth researching ‘cognate’ disciplines. Are you interested in religion? Have a look at anthropology, sociology, or philosophy. There are also lots of joint honours courses that might combine two disciplines you would like to study, for example, History and French, or Computer Science and Philosophy (both of which are courses at Oxford).
Lots of university courses won’t correspond directly to your A-Level subjects–so look at the subjects available. Disciplines like Law, Linguistics, and Architecture are rarely subjects applicants will have encountered in school, and yet can be fantastic options.
Test which courses might work for you. This takes effort from you. After you have a shortlist of courses, assess each one by engaging with the course material. Pretend you are an undergraduate student in each prospective course and spend some time researching exactly what it would involve.
2. Know your targets
Do your research: different universities and different courses have different entry requirements. This sounds obvious, but it’s also something that it’s important to be clear-sighted about. Courses at top universities are almost always significantly oversubscribed, and in many cases, the typical offer-holder will have been predicted or achieved significantly higher grades than the standard, advertised offer: for successful applicants to Churchill College, Cambridge in STEM subjects in the 2019 cycle, the average number of A*s at A-Level was 3.4, and 44 for IB. You can find a little more information about your chances here.
Choosing traditional, core, academic subjects for your A-Levels will also tend to be the safest option. Clare College Cambridge has noted that ‘most of our successful applicants over the last couple of years have offered facilitating subjects for most or all of their A-levels.
application Oxbridge tips for interview
3. Follow lines of interest
Top universities will always look for a demonstration of sustained interest that goes beyond the school curriculum. It tends not to be enough to be fantastic at your A-Level (or IB) subjects, and so the aim should always be to show super curricular development, e.g. an Economics applicant who has encountered game theory in class and has then gone on to read articles and research papers, and begun to think independently about its applications, or an English applicant who has used Shakespeare as a springboard to discover other Early Modern playwrights.
Be as specific in discussing this as possible in your application: in your statement, in your interview. Use examples and evidence to demonstrate your knowledge, understanding, and ability to construct a powerful and coherent argument.
4. Tread the unbeaten path
Admissions tutors for oversubscribed courses read hundreds of statements for the same course, many of which are extremely similar to each other, mentioning the same topics and texts.
Don’t bury yourself among them by relying upon A-Level material: try to give them an idea of independent reading and research you’ve done (things like the EPQ can be a good starting point for discussion).
Equally, don’t be deliberately or needlessly obscure. You’re selling yourself as an engaged, informed and intelligent prospective undergraduate, not someone who already has an encyclopaedic knowledge of your subject. To learn a little more about optimising your statement.
5. Build skills as well as interests
Many university applications feature assessments – admissions tests, submitted work, and interviews. These are generally designed to test skills rather than knowledge. For example, the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) tests problem-solving and critical thinking skills. If your course doesn’t have a pre-interview test, look out for at-interview and college-specific tests, particularly at Cambridge. If the test you are sitting has past papers available, try to save at least some for the weeks leading up to the test. Get creative with how you practice these skills; you can ask a teacher to give you more essay titles or source texts to practice with or use different tests that have similar questions to your test as extra practice.
6. Optimise your school reference
In the competitive marketplace of Oxford and Cambridge applications, UCAS references are increasingly useful to admissions tutors as an insight into whether a student truly excels in their field. As one Cambridge college put it this year, “adjectives like exceptional, extra ordinary, and outstanding were commonplace”. Particularly if you come from a school where it isn’t unusual to get straight 9s and 8s at GCSE, and where A-level predictions are high, admissions tutors are looking to spot the truly unusual students – those who stand out even among their high-achieving cohort.
Whilst you can’t control the content of your reference, you can do your best to make sure that you’re not just meeting but excelling your teacher’s expectations so they have plenty of concrete, quantitative things to say about you. Every student is praised in their reference, but not every student is named as the best in their subject, year group, etc. Be that student and you’re bound to be noticed!
Private School Interview tips
How to prepare for your private school interview
This is arguably the most important part of the process: where you come face-to-face with the admissions tutors who decide the fate of your application. It’s also the most difficult thing to prepare for: your personal statement might be discussed in depth, or not at all; areas you know about might be the subject of multiple questions, or none; you might be faced with really friendly, engaging interviewers, or more intimidating ones.
Get some private school interview coaching
- As with job interviews, there are several companies that offer both one-to-one coaching and group coaching for 11 Plus interviews.
- That said there are certain questions that nearly always come up.
- These include ‘why do want to come to this school?’ and ‘what are your interest outside of school?’ So it is worth preparing them.
private school interview tips
Top private school interview tips
1.Watch the news and read the papers
Most schools will be looking for well-rounded individuals so make sure you have a grasp of what’s going on in the world. Read a paper (it doesn’t have to be The Times or The Telegraph, a free paper will do). Also, watch the news for at least a few days before the interview.
2. Ask your parents and siblings questions about themselves!
Interviewers will be curious to find out more about your background.
3. Cultivate hobbies and interests
Schools like candidates who have plenty of interests outside of the classroom.
Before the interview Two
4. Rehearse standard questions
What is your favourite subject at school and why?
Who is your favourite author?
If you had unlimited money what would you do with it and why?
5. Conduct a mock interview
You don’t need to go to a professional to brush up your interview technique. Once you’ve prepared answers for some of the questions above, it’s a good idea to go through them in a mock interview with your parents to practise your interview technique.
On the interview day One
6. Dress appropriately
Many schools will encourage you to wear your own clothes for an interview, rather than school uniform. However, do check beforehand if you are unsure. As with a job interview, it is best to look too smart, rather than too scruffy.
7. Shake hands
Remember it is ostensibly a formal interview so ‘fist-bumping’ or any other kind of informal greeting is a definite no-no!