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. Your application may 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 preference?

Deciding which college to make your preference 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?

Departments oversee the application process for their subject(s) to ensure that the best candidates have the best possible chance of obtaining a place. This is why your application may 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 especially 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 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.

Please note that you will need to complete the full application process again, including sitting any admissions test(s) and submitting any written work required for your chosen course. For full details of how to apply, please see the guide for applicants.

Can I apply for an undergraduate degree course if I am already studying at another UK university?

Oxford University does not accept transfer students. If you wish to follow an undergraduate course here, then you would need to start the course from the beginning. However, this option is not available if you are currently enrolled on a Medicine course elsewhere and wish to apply to study Medicine at Oxford. 

If you are currently studying at a UK university and are thinking of applying to Oxford to start the first year of an undergraduate course, please note that normally we will only consider such applications in exceptional circumstances and you should make very clear in your application why you do not wish to continue on your current course. Please note we are not able to give examples of these exceptional circumstances as applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If you do decide to apply whilst at another university and you do not have A-level or equivalent qualifications at the grades required for the standard offer for the course you are interested in applying for, you will need to demonstrate how your subsequent study has prepared you for studying at Oxford, including any evidence of your performance on your current course, as well as a reference from your current tutor or equivalent. You must declare on your UCAS form whether you are currently studying at another university, and that failure to do so could result in Oxford withdrawing any offer made to you.

Please also remember that not only will you incur a year of additional costs but your eligibility for government support or loans may be affected by any study you have already undertaken, whether or not you have completed your course.

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

We consider GCSE grades, but we where possible we look at these in the context of your school. This means that your grades should show whether 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), if this has been declared on your application, we will take this into account when considering your application. 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?

There is a strict UCAS submission deadline of 6pm (UK time) on 16 October 2023 (normally 15 October, except where this date falls on a weekend). 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 register for and take an admissions 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 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 important information like predicted grades, but we do not accept these directly from candidates and this information will need to be sent to the Admissions Manager from a teacher. 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 the Admissions Manager for further instructions.

I forgot to send my UCAS application before the mid-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. The best place for this to be included is by your UCAS referee in their academic 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. 

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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?

For most tests, applicants need to register between 1-29 September, though test centres may set their own deadline in advance for accepting registrations, so please make sure you speak to them as early as possible. 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 details of all important test dates see Admissions tests

For the LNAT, you must register by 15 September and take the LNAT before 16 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 the deadline, 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.

There was an issue with the test whilst I sat it. How do I tell you?

If you experienced problems whilst sitting the test please tell us via this form:

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

Please contact the Admissions Manager at St Hilda’s College.

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

The process is different depending on the test. Please see Admissions Tests for further information.


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When do I have to send in my written work?

By 10 November. Please note that the deadline for submitting written work has now passed. We will not be accepting further written work. 

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 ideally 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 still send in your written work. The work you submit should still be work written for school, not written for your Oxford application. If your school uses an unusual marking system, please ask your teacher to indicate or explain 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 only suitablework 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. The college will normally contact you in advance regarding their preferred format for the submission of written work. 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 should 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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See 'What to Expect' on the Oxford Interviews pages for frequently asked questions regarding Oxford interviews.