How to get in to Oxford University

 Oxford University

If you have set your sights on being a student at Oxford University, you will undoubtedly be aware of how competitive it is to be accepted onto a course. Each year over 20,000 students apply to Oxford with hopes of gaining a place on their course of choice.

As a world-renowned establishment offering some of the finest education available, along with a rich history and impressive facilities, it’s little wonder the university is incredibly desirable for prospective students. For many highly talented academics, it is understandably top of their list when applying to university.

The University of Oxford is the third hardest university in the UK to get into due to its exceptionally high standards and the competitive application process. The most competitive course is Economics & Management which has 16.9 applicants per place available.

So how do you get into Oxford University? In this article, we will cover entry requirements, how to increase your chances of getting into Oxford, and the application process along with key deadlines.

How to get into Oxford University

Preparation is key so before you start your application journey, use the university website to do as much research as possible including course options, entry requirements, key deadlines and even academic support. These will provide you with a solid understanding of what the University of Oxford is looking for in potential students, and help you in your decision making.

What qualifications do I need to get into Oxford University?

get into Oxford University

The exact qualifications you need to be eligible to apply for a place at Oxford University will depend on your chosen subject. The entry requirements are available on each course page on the university’s website.

What GCSEs grades do I need?

Although there are no specific grade requirements for GCSEs, they are taken into account and higher results will help give you a competitive edge when applying for a course. To make it fair, your GCSE grades will be looked at in context, based on your socio-economic background.

If your grades were not as high as you feel they should have been, you may feel it necessary and beneficial to explain any extenuating circumstances that may have been the cause in your personal statement.

What A-Level grades do I need?

To be eligible to apply for undergraduate courses at the University of Oxford, you are required to have a minimum of three As at A-Level, however depending on the course you may require results up to A*A*A*. Conditional offers can be made if your predicted grades meet the entry requirements.

For many courses it is also essential that you have studied specific A-Level subjects – International students will be expected to have the equivalent qualifications.

How can I increase my chances of getting into Oxford University?

Despite the highly competitive nature of applying to the University of Oxford, there are ways to help set yourself apart from other candidates and bolster your application for your chosen course at the university.

  • Apply for a subject you are passionate about. You will stand out if you show genuine enthusiasm and passion for your subject whilst being able to provide examples of your commitment.
  • Know your subject inside out as you will be expected to have gone above and beyond your A-level syllabus for the subject you are applying for.
  • Tactically choose your college. There are over 30 colleges that make up the university and each Oxford college is different in size, age, and subject specialties. Some also have higher acceptance rates for specific courses making them more preferable choices.
  • Practice mock interviews beforehand. This being said it is important to not over-rehearse and heavily script what you are going to say – you want to come across as natural.
  • Take part in extracurricular activities. Aside from your studies, having interesting activities or hobbies to talk about in your personal statement or interview will set you apart from other applicants. For example, opportunities such as attending summer school at Oxford will not only give you a taste of university life but also show your interest in the University of Oxford itself.

What is the admissions process for Oxford University?

The application process for prospective Oxford students applying for an undergraduate degree starts the year before courses commence. For postgraduate students, the deadlines and application process are slightly different so it is important to check the details on the specific course pages.

For those applying for undergraduate degrees, once you have chosen your course and decided on your college, you will need to complete the following stages:

Complete your UCAS application

It is advisable to start working on your UCAS application in June, before your course start date. Within the application, you will need to specify which course you are applying for, along with your choice of college (if you do not have a college preference you can opt for an open application). This stage is where you submit your academic references – these can take some time to complete so make allowances for this.

The deadline for UCAS applications is the 15th of October.

Write your Personal Statement

Personal statements provide you with the chance to explain why you are applying for your course along with any other topics you would like to discuss to show your knowledge and passion for your subject.

Whether you are applying for Bachelor’s Degree programs or higher, tutors at the university are looking for academic potential and self-motivation to explore material above and beyond the syllabus. It may also be worth highlighting any extracurricular activities that support your application at this point.

Admissions Exams

For the majority of the courses at Oxford University, you will be required to sit aptitude tests as part of the admissions process. These are a fundamental part of the selection criteria that identify the academic potential to succeed in your chosen course. The tests are very course-specific, for example, history-based courses require you to sit a History Aptitude Test. Your performance in the admissions exams determines whether you pass through to the interview stage of the admissions process.

Registration for admissions tests closes on the 15th of October.

Add writing samples of your academic work

You will not always be required to supply examples of written work, however courses such as English Literature and History will ask for pieces that will need to be submitted by the 10th of November.


Around half of the students who apply to Oxford are shortlisted for an interview, with the most competitive courses potentially requiring more than one.

University interviews can be daunting, but rest assured they are not designed to trick you. The purpose is to ascertain how you respond to a problem and your capacity for independent thinking when presented with a piece of content relevant to your chosen course.

After completing each stage of the admissions process, you will find out whether you have been successful by the end of January.