How to Be Accepted to Oxford University

Written by K Fisher on February 13, 2022

9 min read
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If anyone has said that it was easy being accepted by Oxford University, they are probably lying. Why? Oxford has such a high competive rate that even Harvard and Yale Universities don’t compare to the grueling and incredibly hardcore acceptance rates that Oxford holds to the minimum wait-list average.

First off, let’s see what Oxford University’s background story contains, shall we?

By all accounts, Oxford University is thee oldest teaching college in the world. And that’s not taken lightly… see their is actual evidence that Oxford was already in use in the 1000s. Which was still part of the Byzantine era, or the 2nd Millennium. And Oxford has kept to it’s original founding title as a research public college. Nevertheless, typically, students have to have prior family members that were alumni to approach the idea that attending their is an absolute possibility.

How Does A Student Apply to Oxford?

To apply to Oxford, students would need to have completed, or be studying for, at least 120 points at stage 1 or above, in appropriate subjects. We would expect students to be performing at the highest level, with at least pass grade 2. This is solely United Kingdom qualifications where the 120 points for a stage 1 or above is accepted. Now if students from a different country want to apply or wish to see if they qualify for a submissions opening to Oxford… what would that be?

Step 1. What Does An International Student Need to Qualify for Oxford

Applicants should know that they need to meet every exam requirement possible. From ACTs, SATs, top grade point average (United States equivalent would be a 4.0), and all AP exams. An applicant would need to pass each with incredible high scores.

The reason applicants need to such high exam scores is because Oxford’s acceptance rate can be under 15% of the thousands upon thousands of applications that flow in per year. Only 15% is accepted. That is such a strict amount that most students who apply may not even receive any notification that they have not been accepted.

If you think that’s low, better think again. The 15% acceptance rate applies to only United Kingdom residents. The number drops to 7% for international students, including the United States of America. However, half of the student population at Oxford consists of students from over 150 different countries. This is because Oxford receives many transfer students who have already completed 2+ years at a different college. This way, students would have been able to build the best academic profile to where Oxford would accept the transfer.

Step 2. Where Is the Oxford Application Online?

Well, it’s no where online since it’s such a highly respective higher learning education institution. This means for example, United States residents who wish to apply, they need to check out Colleges Admissions Services, because this is phyiscally used to apply to Oxford from the United States. This is the only way to ensure (with no scamming) that an applicant receives to real Oxford admissions application. The UCAS application would have to be accessed through the actual undergradute section.

The first steps a student would need to take when “applying to Oxford” would need to choose a course or program that is available at the university. And that list of programs involves:

  • Archaeology and Anthropology
  • Fine Art
  • Geography
  • Oriental Studies
  • Law (Jurisprudence)
  • Chemistry
  • Classical Archaeology and Ancient History
  • Classics
  • Classics and English
  • Classics and Modern Languages
  • Classics and Oriental Studies
  • Computer Science
  • Computer Science and Philosophy
  • Philosophy and Modern Languages
  • Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)
  • Philosophy and Theology
  • Earth Sciences (Geology)
  • Engineering Science
  • History (Ancient and Modern)
  • History and Politics
  • History and Modern Languages
  • History and Economics
  • Theology and Religion
  • Medicine (graduate entry)
  • Materials Science
  • Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Modern Languages and Linguistics
  • Music
  • And many more programs are available on the Oxford University website

After a student picks a program, they would need to address the UCAS (for example if the applicant is a United States citizen) this is the steps they would need to take to fill out the UCAS:

  • Personal details
  • Additional information
  • Student finance
  • Course choices
  • Educational history
  • Employment history
  • Personal statement and reference

Step 3. Follow Deadlines and Fill-Out Everything

The more a student fills out the UCAS the better of an understanding they will have, when it comes to applying for a prestigious public college. This means students should address all projects that have been previously deemed academically excellent. As well as, showing a 4.0 grade point average (through the United States GPA scale, 4.0. is the highest) would be beneficial.

There is a section of the submission application about employement history. Students should not lie if they have not had prior work experience. First off, this is the college application that should not be exaggerated on or where lies have been made up. The council does go through each application and checks references and the individuals who have written the letters of recommendations that have been sent in separately from the applicant.

Step 4. A Personal Statement Will Be Needed and Part of the Application

  • The personal statement gives every applicant the ultimate opportunity to tell the admissions officers at the University of Oxford why they are the applicant that would make for an excellent addition to the school’s student body.
  • The complete length of an individual’s personal statement should be between 1,000 characters to 4,000 characters. It is best to never go too much beyond that amount or coming in way under the 1,000 characters. This amount of characters will only be about one side of an A4-size paper.
  • A student can choose up to five courses, however, a student can only submit one personal statement. This means to make a personal statement that is eye-catching, riveting, and worth the application.
  • Always spell check before submitting a personal statement because there will be no editing after a personal statement along with the admissions application is submitted.
  • It is specificed that anyone applying should have a guidance counsel or professor proof-read if the student is unsure about their grammar and puncuation.

Step 5. The Standard Grade Point Average is 3.7

However, a 3.7 may not be enough to get into Oxford. A 4.0 is more of the equivalent to an upper-second class honors in the United Kingdom, where Oxford originally holds it’s honors system.

When it comes to standardized testing, the minimum SAT score required is 1480. On the other hand, the minimum ACT score required is 33.

This is crucial because, students may not care too much about their ACT scores and worry more about scoring high on their SATs. Yes, the SATs are important, but so is scoring high on the ACTs… which tends to be forgotten about and students tend to let up on the studying when it comes to the ACTs. All in all, students should put the time in for their exams since this is the prime point that Oxford will look at.

Step 6. AP Classes Matter

Oxford University requires applicants from the United States of America to have at least four Advanced Placement exam scores of five. This is the AP college classes students can take in high schoool. This depends on the subjects required for the course students are applying to and their standardized test scores. If a student actually scored very low on their AP classes, then Oxford most likely will not accept that student in the following admissions year.

This is not uncommon for prestigious institutions in the United States to have a penchant for students who have taken challenging AP college classes and passed difficult AP exams.

Why? It’s because Oxford is looking for college ready students. And high AP exams demonstrates college readiness. However, applicants from high schools that do not offer college-level courses will not be disadvantaged in the admissions process.

It is crucial that students understand that they must be college-ready and that’s how students are really chosen by Oxford.

The good news is that the UK school finds AP exams more than enough — it doesn’t require applicants to complete AP courses, too, since it’s possible to take AP exams without taking AP courses beforehand.

When it comes to AP classes the highest score to have is a five. This means in reality a student should have 5 out of 4 AP classes. These top high scores show that they student performs incredible under pressure and shows presistance in higher education learning.

Step 7. Apply and then Apply for a Scholarship

Sometimes this is the route to take to ensure admission. There are many opportunities for students at Oxford to receive financial help during their studies. The Oxford Opportunity Bursaries, introduced in 2006, are university-wide means-based bursaries available to any British undergraduate, with a total possible grant of £10,235 over a 3-year degree.

In 2016, Oxford University announced that it is to run its first free online economics course as part of a massive open online program, in partnership with a United States of America online university network. The program is titled the ‘From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development’.

Available Scholarships:

  • £27,500 Crankstart Scholarships for UK students
  • Oxford Bursaries for students with Home fee status
  • Oxford Travel Supplement for UK bursary holders 
  • UK care experienced and UK estranged undergraduates studying without family support
  • UK students requiring financial assistance to meet funding shortfalls
  • Hill Foundation Scholarship
  • Ahmet Ertegun Memorial Scholarship
  • Palgrave Brown Scholarship
  • Palgrave Brown UK Scholarship
  • Reach Oxford Scholarship
  • Simon and June Li Undergraduate Scholarship
  • Oxford-Arlan Hamilton & Earline Butler Sims Scholarship
  • Dr. Ateh Jewel Foundation Awards 
  • Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS) Undergraduate Scholarship
  • Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) Scholarships
  • Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) Scholarships
  • British Council Mexico Scholarships
  • Canadian Bureau for International Education Scholarships
  • The Charles Wallace Trusts Scholarships
  • Google Europe Scholarship for Students with Disabilities
  • Indian Department of Higher Education Scholarships
  • King Abdullah Scholarships Program
  • Kwok Scholarships
  • Lanekassen Scholarship
  • The Leathersellers’ Company Scholarships
  • Open Society Foundations Scholarships
  • The Oxford and Cambridge Society of India Scholarships
  • The Oxford & Cambridge Society, Karachi Educational Trust (OCSKET) Scholarships
  • Public Service Commission Scholarships
  • Royal Television Society Bursary Program
  • Sleeknote Scholarship
  • US Department of Veterans Affairs Scholarship
  • Vincent’s Club Scholarships and Bursaries
  • The Westheimer Scholarships

There are more scholarships but students should go through their own countries governement website or actual university websites that talk about working in collaboration with the University of Oxford.

Why do students want to even apply to the University of Oxford in the first place? Is it even worth applying if the acceptance rate is so low?

First, if you are a student that has a destined career field in literature or English… Oxford should be one of the top universities you apply to. With over 100 libraries available through Oxford, only the best of the best when it comes to literature at least took one to two years to study at Oxford.

Another reason being that Oxford allows their students to use the institutions network connections to connect bright students with internships at some of the world’d best companies. Along with having some of the best science programs in the world, literally no one could do better than attending Oxford and being part of their S.T.E.M. program which is connected to over 100 different companies on the planet.

Another reason is that students should never accept the possibility of a “no acceptance letter.” Even if the acceptance rate is one of the hardest to break through, this just means students need to work harder to achieve their higher education dream. And the potential is their with attending Oxford. Multiple students who received “rejection letters” as incoming college freshmen, where able to attend two years at a different college just to transfer to Oxford to finish out their remaining college years, along with being able to nab a scholarship or two.

Essentially students need to have a backup plan when sending in their submission of acceptance to Oxford. And that, even if that student is not accepted within the first round, there are ways to build up one’s academic portfolio with other college programs to ensure a spot within the graduting class at one of the 39 colleges that makes up the prestigious Oxford University.

Oxford is Connected to Well Over 400 Other Universities

One of the many myths about Oxford is that there is no time to have fun. Alongside your college community you will be able to develop your interests, old or new, through over 400 clubs and societies, many of them University-wide. Taking part in extra-curricular activities is not only lots of fun and great for your social life but will help you build skills which will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life and help with your career goals.

For instance, let’s take the journalism route at Oxford. Did you know that Oxford’s student newspapers and radio stations have long been the training ground for some of Britain’s most successful journalists and broadcasters. Even if you don’t want to be a professional journalist, you can develop your skills and CV by honing your writing, publishing articles, or broadcasting across the airwaves.

Student’s can choose from this list:

  • Cherwell: Oxford’s independent student newspaper
  • Oxford Student
  • Isis Magazine: (2015 Guardian Student Best Website Media Awards)
  • The Oxford Scientist
  • ONYX: Showcases the voices of British students with African and Caribbean heritage
  • The Oxford Blue
  • Students can start their own Oxford blog
  • Students can also sign up to work with the University’s social media channels

Even the Art section of Oxford has incredible ways to allow students to particpate, the amount of clubs that students can join is astounding, but here are a handful:

  • Oxford Uni Arts Hub – Consists of art, poetry and drama events across the University. It features dozens of events, and opportunities are shared every week, especially calls for participation in zines, poetry and art competitions.
  • Oxford University Fine Arts Society – Events happen every week and a well organized and practical workshops are available. Such as oil painting sessions, watercolour, digital art and sketching outside.
  • Edgar Wind Society – The Edgar Wind Society is the Oxford History of Art society. They host guest artists or art historian lectures, organise visits to museums and hold art events.
  • Oxford University Photography Society – OUPS organises photography events every week, including socials, beginner-friendly sessions, tutored lessons, and photography sharing sessions.

As a matter of fact, most students can join these clubs even if they do not attend Oxford itself. Instead, these clubs are part of the 400 universities collection where collaboartion is a main part of campus life.

Nevertheless, any student can apply to Oxford University, just as long as they know what it takes. This means doing the research, creating an outstanding personal statement, having the academic grades to back up the 4.0 graed point average and high exam scores. Or try another route with attending Oxford after a student already has two years of a separate unviersity under their belt. Instead opt to be a transfer student who wishes to finish out their field study on a scholarship.

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