Application - how to apply
Applying to Oxford
Application for an undergraduate course at the University of Oxford takes place between 1 September and 15 October each year, for places beginning the following Autumn. To apply you must complete a UCAS form. Most subjects will also require you to sit a test in November.
Merton is one of Oxford’s 30 undergraduate colleges - all student members of the University are also members of a college. You can select a preferred college on your application forms, or make an ‘open’ application, where a college is selected for you.
Advice for prospective applicants
Before you apply to Oxford remember:
- To make a successful application you need to demonstrate a passion for and genuine academic interest in your subject. Make sure that the course we offer is right for you.
- Check you meet the entrance requirements for your course.
- Check the selection criteria for your course.
- Check which colleges offer your course.
- Check the admissions deadline.
- If you are an international applicant check the additional information about qualifications, language requirements and application arrangements.
- Entry is competitive, and every year there are not enough places for the number of qualified candidates who apply. On average around 1 in every 5 applicants is offered a place.
We welcome applications from students with additional needs and encourage early disclosure on the UCAS application form. Such a declaration will in no way disadvantage or prejudice your application. It will instead enable us to ensure that we are able to put in place any necessary adjustments should you be shortlisted for interview.
Around 80% of the UCAS personal statement should be related to the course you wish to study.
- The personal statement should provide evidence of your enthusiasm for and interest in the course you have applied for.
- It should show how your independent wider reading or further study has informed your thinking about the subject. It is vital that you evaluate what you have learned from this.
Around 20% should be about extra-curricular activities and/or work experience.
- At Oxford no one is admitted because of their extra-curricular activities. However, other universities have different policies.
- If you have taken part in activities that are relevant to your course do mention them, and evaluate how they have informed your thinking. For non-relevant activities evaluate the skills that would be useful to university study.
- For most courses, work experience is not necessary, but it is particularly valuable for Medicine applicants.
More advice on writing your personal statement.
- Most courses require you to take a test before you are invited to interview; it is essential that you make arrangements for these in good time because your application is unlikely to be shortlisted if you do not take the required test.
- If you are applying to study Law you must take the Law National Aptitude Test, please note this is taken earlier than the other tests and you have to register for a particular time slot in advance. The test has a charge but a bursary is available to candidates in receipt of certain state benefits.
- If you are applying to study Medicine or Biomedical Sciences you must take the BioMedical Admissions Test in November (Oxford does not accept the September sitting). The test has different charges depending on when you register for it; a bursary is available to candidates in receipt of certain state benefits.
- All other tests are organised by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT) and are free of charge. Check the registration and test dates carefully.
- It is a very good idea to download past papers and mark schemes from the CAAT website and department/faculty pages to familiarise yourself with the test format and question style. Completing a few past papers is good preparation but you do not need to learn new material for these tests.
- Some courses require you to send in examples of your written work as part of your application; check to find out if this applies to your course.
- It is very important that you are aware of the written work requirements for your course so that you can submit this by the deadline in November.
- Your work needs to have been marked by a teacher and each piece needs a cover sheet that has been signed by that teacher and stamped with the school stamp. Do not leave it to the last minute to arrange this!
Before the interview
- Wear whatever you feel comfortable in – there is no dress code.
- Take copies of and re-read your personal statement and any written work you may have been asked to submit – it might come up in discussion. It’s a good idea to revise the topic the submitted work was on, or any work you mention in your personal statement, so that you can talk about it knowledgeably.
- Don’t let rumours, horror stories or even boasting by other candidates put you off, just focus on doing your personal best.
- Use the team of student helpers to answer any questions, alleviate your nerves, and to entertain you!
- There will be a lot of time waiting around, so bring something to do as well as making the most of the social events put on by the student team.
In the interview
- Be ready to be given unfamiliar material – this may involve an extract of text, a picture, graph, diagram, table of figures, or even a physical object.
- Interviews are not a test of taught subject material, but a chance to explore how you think independently about your subject.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, make an informed guess or make suggestions for a starting point.
- Always vocalise your thoughts—that way the interviewer can see how you come to your conclusions.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer to repeat or clarify a question, or define a word or concept you are unfamiliar with.
- Interviews are not a test of a smooth performance – take your time to consider your responses.
- Finally, if you are asked if you have any questions at the end of your interview, it’s perfectly fine to say no unless you have a question about the course that you haven’t been able to find out elsewhere.
After the interview
- Don’t worry about whether or not you are asked to attend additional interviews, it doesn’t reflect how well the first interview went.
- Try not to get stressed out doing post-mortems of your interviews: it’s over now! Whatever the outcome having an interview at Oxford is something to be very proud of.
These resources are all available free of charge:
The ‘Home of Big Questions’ aims to engage students from 11-18 with debates and complex ideas, drawing on the latest research undertaken at the University of Oxford.
- Suggested reading from Oxford departments
This can be a useful starting point but it’s definitely not a list of books you must read or buy!
- Outreach events calendar
This calendar is updated with events throughout the year from subject-specific study days to conferences designed to appeal to students who have not yet made their course choice.
- Academic competitions
These competitions can be a great way to undertake wider reading and research for a specific purpose and there are often exciting prizes to be won!
- University of Oxford podcasts
More than 5,360 hours of material available freely online to all, updated regularly.
- Oxford Arts and Science Blogs
Provide regular updates on the University’s cutting-edge research.
This site will introduce you to some of the most important ideas in computer programming in an interactive, visual way through a guided activity.
- Great Writers Inspire
A collection of literary resources including lectures, eBooks and contextual essays. Aimed at students from sixth-form and beyond.
- Galaxy Zoo
A collection of web-based Citizen Science projects from astronomy, climatology, biology, humanities that use volunteers to help researchers.
A wide range of challenging mathematical games, problems and articles and a safe online space where you can share your solutions and meet others with similar interests.
- +plus magazine
An internet magazine which aims to introduce readers to the beauty and the practical applications of mathematics.
- Discover Downing
A great collection of resources for prospective university students that can be filtered for different subjects.
- Staircase 12
Contains a huge reading bank of reviews written by Oxford students and some tutors, as well as a collection of online resources. Both can be filtered for different subjects.