Frequently asked questions
Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

Applying to University can leave you with many questions but don't worry! Many applicants have the same questions as you. Below are some frequently asked questions to help you navigate your way through the admissions process.

 

What is a college and how is it different from a department?

Oxford is a collegiate university. This means that, although it is a large, world-class university, each student is part of a small, supportive college community. At the University of Oxford everyone, from professors to students, belongs to a college. There are over 30 colleges located across the city of Oxford which admit undergraduates, each with between about 250 and 450 students studying a whole range of courses. Your college is where you live, eat, work, and receive the core of your teaching in regular tutorials. You also belong to your subject’s department. Here you meet students on your course from other colleges in lectures, classes, or laboratory work; and it is your department which decides on the content of degree courses, and sets and marks the end of year examinations. The colleges, departments, Bodleian libraries and museums make up the University of Oxford.

Do I have to choose a college?                            

You can’t choose a college, though you can express a preference by entering a college campus code on your UCAS application. It’s quite likely that your application will be passed to another college at some point in the process to make sure that the spread of good applicants per college is fair. You don’t have to express a college preference; instead you can make an open application, which about 20% of candidates do each year. You’ll then be allocated to a college.

What does it mean to make an open application?

When applying to the University of Oxford you can state a preference for a college. If you are unsure what college you’d like to go to, you can make an open application and we will choose for you. Your application is not stronger or weaker by making an open application or choosing a college.

How do I choose a college?

Choosing a college is a personal matter however colleges have more in common than they have differences and, whichever college you go to, your course will be the same because the course content is set by the subject department. When choosing a college to express a preference for in your application, you may like to consider what facilities it has, such as a gym or music practice rooms, as well as the location, for example, would you like to be near the river, near the University Sports Complex, or based away from the busy high street.

Which is the easiest college to get into?

There is no easy to college to get into! As a collegiate university, we all follow the same rules and procedures. If you state a preference on your UCAS form for a particular college you may not even be interviewed there.

Do colleges specialise in different courses?

Not all colleges admit for all courses, however, this does not mean any one college is a specialist in a given subject. To find out which colleges admit which courses, have a look through the university’s prospectus or college websites.

How do I pick a course to study?

There are lots of different courses to study and to choose from. A good place to start is to think about what you really enjoy studying at the moment; remember, you’re going to be studying this subject in depth for three years or more.

Do all colleges have the same entrance requirements?

All colleges follow the same admissions process, and use the same selection criteria and entrance requirements as outlined on the University website.

If I receive an offer will it definitely be from the college I applied to?

If you choose to specify a college preference in your application, other colleges may interview you and any of them may offer you a place.

Does college choice affect my chances of getting a place?

Oxford has systems in place to ensure that the best candidates have the best possible chance of obtaining a place. This is why it is likely that your application will be passed to another college at some point in the application process.

Do you accept mature students?

Mature students can apply to any college or Permanent Private Hall (PPH). One college, Harris Manchester, and one of the PPHs, Wycliffe Hall, take mature students only.

Can I apply for deferred entry?

The College is generally happy to consider applications from students who wish to defer entry for a year, however, we do not consider deferred entry for Medicine. If you apply for deferred entry, you are asking the tutors to compare you with an as-yet-unknown future cohort, and so you will need to be exceptionally competitive. If you choose to wait and apply for direct entry, then you will need to be especially careful to make sure that you keep up your academic interests and reading. Once offered a place for a particular year, you cannot change the start year, unless you have extenuating circumstances which will need to be discussed with the college.

Can I change my course once I have been made an offer?

Each course has their own quotas of places for each year so therefore once you have received your offer, you cannot change your course.

Can I transfer over from another university?

The University of Oxford does not accept credits or transfer students from other universities.

Can I reapply if I am not successful?

Every application to Oxford is treated on its own merits, without regard to any previous applications, so there is no inherent disadvantage in having applied before. If you would like to apply again, you are most welcome to do so, although you may like to apply to a different college. We do first recommend that you ask for feedback from the college which dealt with your application last year and consider the reasons why you were not successful.

Will my GCSEs (or equivalent) be taken into account?

We consider GCSE grades, but we try and look at these in the context of your school. This means that your grades should show that you have done particularly well when compared to others in your school. If there’s a good reason why you didn’t get top grades (e.g. serious illness, difficult family circumstances, or disruption at school), we also take that into account when considering your application. Ideally your teachers should let us know about anything like this via the reference they write for you as part of your UCAS application.

I don’t have any predicted grades, what should I do?

Unfortunately, predicted grades or scores are a crucial part of your application, and we cannot consider your application without them. Candidates without predicted grades available would be advised to apply once they have received their grades.

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All applicants to the University of Oxford must apply through UCAS; the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

 

When is the UCAS deadline?

The UCAS deadline is 6pm on 15 October. Please note, that the University of Oxford has an earlier deadline than a lot of other universities in the UK.

Do I need to submit another application form as well as my UCAS form?

The only application form required for undergraduate study is the UCAS application which is completed online. However, in addition to submitting the UCAS application, some candidates may be required to take a written test or submit written work

I would like to send my university/college/school certificates, transcripts, and CV. How do I do that?

At this stage of the application process, we do not require additional information. Please make sure you complete your UCAS form and include all relevant information in your application. We do not require any certificates, transcripts or other documents. If you are offered a place at the College we will contact you to request these from you.

If you are applying for a second undergraduate degree, please send a copy of the transcript from your first degree to the college that is considering your application, to arrive by 10 November. No other references, transcripts, or certificates are required or accepted.

Do you have any advice for filling in my UCAS form?

There is lots of help and advice online. Please look at the University’s website and the information on how to apply to Oxford.

How important is the personal statement?

Your personal statement is your chance to introduce yourself to the tutors, to show them why you are interested in the particular subject area you would like to study, and to show your passion for the subject. Your application is made up of many different factors; personal statement, referee's statement, predicted grades, admissions test (if applicable), and written work (if applicable). This means that your personal statement is important but it’s not everything: it’s just one part of your overall application.

What’s the College's opinion on EPQs?

Working on an EPQ encourages students to develop research and academic skills relevant to undergraduate study. Therefore, we would recommend anyone completing an EPQ to draw on these skills when writing your UCAS personal statement. Whether you undertake a formal EPQ or not, you will be a more convincing applicant if you can demonstrate breadth of reading and independent research into your chosen subject; if you have pursued study beyond that required by your school syllabus. However, as we do not include the EPQ in our conditional offers we would stress that your final A-level (or equivalent qualification) grades are most important to your application and you should be careful that any additional independent study does not jeopardise these.

Can I update my UCAS personal statement as I did not include something?

No, once you have submitted your UCAS form you cannot make any amendments to your personal statement.

Can I add predicted grades/additional grades to my UCAS form?

Yes, you can send us additional important information like predicted grades, but we do not accept these directly from candidates and this information will need to be sent to us from a teacher. Please email Emma, the Undergraduate Admissions Officer if this happens. However, anything submitted after the UCAS application submission may result in your application being considered without this information. Please complete your UCAS form with all required information before submitting.

Since submitting my UCAS form I have received results for an exam I sat. Who can I send this to?

Please email Emma, the Undergraduate Admissions Officer for further instructions.

I forgot to send my UCAS application before 6pm on 15 October, can I submit a late application?

Sadly, we do not accept any late applications. Please apply next academic year.

I have extenuating circumstances, what should I do?

We are sympathetic to the fact that sometimes candidates under-perform at school or college because of extenuating circumstances. If you feel that your performance has been affected in this way please let us know. Examples would include disruption caused by change of school or system, severe discontinuity of teachers, bereavement, and debilitating illness. We take care to treat each application individually and would always take such mitigating circumstances into account, if they are brought to our attention. You could include this information in your personal statement or your teacher could mention this in their reference. If for any reason this is not possible, then we would advise you to contact the college you applied to (or are assigned to if making an open application) once you have had confirmation that your application has been received. This is likely to be around the end of October.

Can my uncle/aunt/mother/father write my academic reference?

Family members cannot write your reference and we do not accept additional statements outside of the UCAS form. Your reference must be from someone who can write about your academic potential.

Can I change anything on my UCAS form after I submit it?

If you would like to change your UCAS form please note, you can only change factual information in your academic record: corrected or additional exam grades or test scores, or changes of exam board (which will need to be supplied by your teacher, school or college). You can't change your personal statement or reference, or send any additional statements or references. The deadline for this is 30 October.

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Do I have to sit an admissions test?

That depends on the course you'd like to study. All course information is available on the University’s website; there’s lots of information available for admissions tests.

When do I have to register by?

By 6pm on 15 October. It is your responsibility to register for the test and school error will not be taken into consideration if the deadline for registering for the test is missed. 

For the LNAT, you must register by 15 September and take the LNAT before 15 October in the year you apply. You may take the test on any day when there is availability at your chosen test centre between those dates. The earlier you book, the more chance you have of getting an appointment on the day of your choice. You are therefore strongly advised to begin making arrangements as soon as possible.

I don’t live in Oxford or the UK. How do I take the test?

There are lots of different test centres all around the world; you don’t need to be in the UK or in Oxford to sit the test. All students need to register for the admissions test if required. Further information for international students can be found on the test arrangement for international students webpage.

I forgot to register for the test, what can I do?

Unfortunately if you have not registered for the admissions test by 6pm on 15 October, you will not be able to sit the admissions test.

I can’t find a test centre near me, what can I do?

Check the online list for suitable test centres. You may have to travel to visit the nearest test centre.

I didn’t realise I had to sit a test, can I register late?

No. If you miss the registration deadline you can't register late.

I have extenuating circumstances which led to me not being able to register for the test, what can I do?

Please contact Emma, the Undergraduate Admissions Officer at St Hilda’s College.

When will I find out my results from the admissions test?

Further information about how to access BMAT, TSA, ELAT and LNAT results can be found on Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing’s website or on the test webpage

Although tutors will use any test results to help inform their shortlisting decisions, candidates who sat the CAT, MLAT, OLAT, PAT and HAT do not routinely receive their results. After all decisions have been made in mid-January, results can be requested as part of our feedback process.

 

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When do I have to send in my written work?

By 10 November. Please use the online form to send it through to the college.

Do I have to submit written work?

On the University’s webpage you can check the subject requirements for each course. On each course page you will find the 'How to Apply' tab which details what you should send.

What should I send?

The work you send in must be your original school or college work, marked by a teacher, and not re-written or corrected in any way. It may be typed or handwritten – as long as it is legible – and photocopies are acceptable. We would expect each piece of written work to be no more than 2,000 words. You will need to complete a written work cover sheet for each piece of work that you submit.

Can I have my written work back?

No, we can't return written work, so make sure you keep a copy. If your application is shortlisted, we recommend that you re-read your written work before your interview, as tutors may ask you about it. 

My written work is in another language, what should I do?

All written work must be in English (except where required e.g. for Modern Languages). If your work is in another language please submit both the original work and your own translation in English.

What do you mean by saying that the work has to be marked?

When we asked for marked written work, this means that your teacher should have reviewed your work, providing annotations, corrections, comments, and possibly have given the piece of work a grade.

My teachers don’t grade my work, should I still send it?

If your teacher does not usually give a grade or mark for your work (e.g. '7 out of 10' or 'A') please do not worry about that; it is not a problem. If your school uses an unusual marking system, please ask your teacher to indicate this on your work.

All my pieces of work are longer than 2,000 words, what should I do?

Please do not send work that is longer than 2,000 words. This includes everything in the main body of the text, including quotes, but teacher’s notes, comments, and marks are not included in the word count. If your work exceeds 2,000 words, you may instead send an extract from an extended essay, but make it clear in your written work that you have done this.

How do I submit written work?

You will need to submit the work to the college which is considering your application. If you are applying to St Hilda's College, we will inform you in October how to do this. Each piece of work you submit must have a cover sheet attached to it.

Does my work need to be marked by my subject teacher?

Yes, your work will need to be marked by your teacher who usually corrects or grades your work.

Is there a specific size or font that my work needs to be in?

No, as long as the work is legible and easy to read for the tutors.

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When can I expect to hear if I have been called to interview?

Invitations for interviews will be released at least one week prior to the interview start date. Interview times can be found on the University’s webpage. Please only contact us if you have not heard whether you have an interview or not 5 days before the published interview start date.

I live overseas and I can’t come to Oxford for an interview/I need to get a visa. What should I do?

For 2021 entry, all admissions interviews will be online. You are not required to travel and do not need a visa.

I am having a remote interview – when will I know the arrangements for the interview?

We will email you at least one week prior to the interview start date to arrange details of your remote interview. Please only contact us if you have not heard whether you have an interview or not 5 days before the published interview start date.

Will I be told if I have not got an interview?

Yes. We will contact you to let you know if you have been invited to interview or not.

I completed the interview reply form wrong – what should I do?

Please re-enter the form with any updates but please include the word UPDATED after your surname so that we know that you have changed some details.

Can I stay in the college an extra day?

All interviews will be held online for 2021 entry, therefore you will not be invited to college. 

I want to study this particular subject, what will the tutors ask me?

We cannot give you subject-specific advice regarding your interview. However, we strongly encourage you to visit our website and read through the interview tips, as well as the University’s website.

What tips can you give me for the interviews?

There is lots of help available online and on the University's website. St Hilda's also has the following video: 

What is the interview like?

How many interviews will I have?

That depends on the subject. You will have at least two and you may have others at another college.

What should I wear to the interview?

Whatever you feel most comfortable in! If you feel more comfortable in a suit and tie, wear that! If you’re more relaxed in a tracksuit, wear that! You’re not going to be judged on what you wear.

I received an email stating a meeting time; how important is it that I attend this meeting?

Very important! Please arrive promptly for the online meeting.

Can I organise my interviews on a particular day at a particular time?

No. There are lots of people that we will be arranging interviews for. We will try our best to make sure that your interviews are spread out enough to give you a break and a rest.

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