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Your Child’s
Path
To Oxbridge

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The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge (collectively known as “Oxbridge”) are Britain’s most prestigious educational institutions. Globally revered, Oxbridge affords students the opportunity to learn from the world’s leading academics and opens countless doors for its graduates in the global job market, not only through the unparalleled quality of education but also as a result of the networks and connections which can be forged during a student’s time there.

Every year Oxford and Cambridge attract tens of thousands of applicants from across the globe, all hoping to secure a coveted place. With competition so fierce, we asked Josh Chapkin, an Oxbridge Applications Consultant (and Oxbridge graduate himself) to provide some tips to our clients considering the Oxbridge path for their child.  

Josh runs Chapkin Edwards, an elite provider of tuition and educational advice to UK and international families. The company, which is staffed exclusively of Oxbridge-educated tutors and educational advisers, provides in-depth support to students aiming for Oxbridge success.  

Here were his top 10 tips: 

Establish academic foundations early

Strong academic foundations, established at an early age, are key to achieving Oxbridge success in the long-term. Prior to starting GCSEs at age 14, it will help enormously if the child has a high level of competency in English, Maths and a foreign language particularly. Ensuring the student attends an ambitious school and / or has some regular support from a private tutor can prove very helpful in this respect. 

Achieve top grades in school exams

A successful Oxbridge applicant will typically have achieved at least eight 8-9 grades in their GCSES, and will be predicted 3 As-A*s in their A Levels or level 6-7 at Higher Level or International Baccalaureate. Achieving these grades requires a great deal of commitment but is crucial if the student is to have a chance of success as an Oxbridge candidate.    

Foster intellectual curiosity

Oxbridge are searching for students with a thorough knowledge and great passion for their subject. To develop this, it is important that students explore academic interests beyond the limits of the school curriculum, reading new books, listening to lectures and generally developing a critical mindset to the world around them.  

Choose the right course

It is important that any applicant read the course prospectus and speak to a current student on, or a graduate of, their course of interest to obtain a proper understanding. Doing thorough research on, and obtaining a detailed knowledge of, one’s chosen course will also be key in demonstrating commitment to any future interviewer.  

Choose the right college

Unlike most universities, Oxford and Cambridge do not have central campuses; instead each university consists of a collection of separate colleges, each with its own distinct culture. It is important that the applicant chooses the college that they feel they are most likely to thrive at. Feeling comfortable in one’s surroundings is conducive to shining at interview and is fundamental to a positive experience if the student goes to secure a place.  

Write a stellar personal statement

It is important that the student really conveys their passion for their subject in their personal statement. This can be achieved by referencing the books and articles that inspired their interest, the lectures or courses that have advanced their knowledge and any work experience that is subject related.  

Submit a thoughtful essay

Some courses ask applicants to submit an essay as part of their application. This is an opportunity for the student to show how they think and write and often serves as the basis for a discussion at interview. When writing the essay, the student should feel free of constraints imposed by A-Level (or equivalent) writing requirements, and demonstrate a higher-level analysis of their subject. A basic school essay is rarely effective.    

Prepare for entrance exams

Some courses require students to sit additional entrance exams, such as the History Aptitude Test (for history at Oxford). The university’s website will provide guidance on these exams as well as past papers to practice, and it is advisable to complete as many of these practice exams as possible prior to the sitting the real thing.   

Be authentic at interview

Contrary to the myth that Oxbridge interviewers seek only polished candidates delivering eloquent pre-rehearsed answers, the reality is that they look for people that are authentic. The most important thing is to demonstrate a genuine passion for one’s subject and the analytical ability required to excel in an Oxbridge course.  

Listen to the experts

The road to Oxbridge requires many small, sure steps over an extended period of time. Starting preparation early and with a specialist education company can ensure the student is able to obtain the required results to be seriously considered as an Oxbridge candidate and then to prepare an application of the requisite quality to secure a place.  


If you would like to an introduction to Josh at Chapkin Edwards, or to discuss other education specialists, please get in touch.

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