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Oxford degree = hard work, self-motivation and success in exams.

It's not, therefore, surprising that these are the attributes tutors look for in your application.

So how can they tell that you have these qualities?
  • The first and most obvious area they look at is your exam results.

  • These show them not only your academic ability but also your capability to work in a high pressured environment.

  • If you consistently achieve high grades throughout school, it's highly likely that you are both hard working and motivated.

What grades do you need to apply?

Oxford, being one of the top University in the world are, of course, looking for academic excellence. They'll be looking not only at your AS levels but also your GCSEs. You might think you took them back in the days when you were young and carefree but for Oxford, they are a good indication of your work ethic.

Grade wise, straight As and A*s are obviously beneficial but if you do have a little blip along the way and say get a B in an AS level, all is not lost!

I've heard so many stories of schools telling students they can't apply with a B but the reality is there are students at Oxford who have been offered a place because of their otherwise perfect record.

It's also not true that you need over 5 A*s at GCSE to apply. Of course more A*s help but I also know people who got in with fewer than that.

Top Tips
  • If your dream is to go to Oxford, work hard to consistently achieve high grades throughout school.

  • If you have one little blip along the way, don't panic!

  • If you have consistently achieved high grades at school but your school is putting you off by saying you need more A*s, think of Oxford as an extra. You have 5 places on your UCAS form, so why not just go for it! So long as you've got good back up options, what have to got to lose by applying?

  • Organisation is key; write lists of all the reading, work and preparation you need to do and tick them off as you go along.

  • Your school can only do so much. Whilst exam results are a good filter for deciding who comes to interview, the rest is up to you. You need to show the tutors that you are capable of thinking independently, don't just rely on the school syllabus (more on this in a future post!)


UCAS – The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. A UK-based organisation whose main role is to operate the application process for British universities. All students must submit their personal statements through the UCAS website:

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