Summary of the Admissions Process for Mathematics, Mathematics & Computer Science, Mathematics & Statistics and Mathematics & Philosophy at Oxford University in 2019/2020
Overall Application Statistics
In all 2682 (last year 2445) applications were received in 2019 for the above four degrees. Of these, 2628 successfully registered for and sat the MAT (2391 in 2018).
All applicants are expected to sit the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT), or must seek permission in exceptional circumstances from the subject Admissions Coordinator to be exempted from the test. In 2019 the test date was 30 October. Any applicant who failed to register for the test (including those who registered late) or who did not sit the test – and did not have exceptional circumstances – was notified that their application was no longer under consideration.
- 17.5% of applications made were open applications (18.2% in 2018).
- 15 applicants applied for deferred entry (17 in 2018). Of these, 3 were interviewed, and fewer than 3 were offered places.
- 32.8% of applicants were female (35.5% in 2018) and 27.1% of offer holders are female (26.3% in 2018).
- 1427 applicants were studying A-levels in the UK (1356 in 2018). Of these, 95% were taking Further Mathematics as a full A-level. Of the 74 applicants who weren’t taking Further Maths as a full A-level, 10 were short-listed for interview, and fewer than 3 were offered places.
- In 2019 there were 994 international fee-paying applicants (843 in 2018).
Of the 2682 total applications made, 765 or 29% (828 or 34%) were short-listed. In all 287 (288) offers, including open offers, were made. Broken down by degree subject:
- Mathematics: 1828 (1653) applications; 559 (617) short-listed; 206 (211) offers.
- Mathematics and Statistics: 230 (224) applications; 33 (46) short-listed; 12 (12) offers.
- Mathematics and Philosophy: 119 (138) applications; 55 (57) short-listed; 20 (16) offers.
- Mathematics and Computer Science: 505 (430) applications; 118 (108) short-listed; 49 (45) offers.
In light of the competition for places, the purpose of short-listing is to provide time, during the December interview window in Oxford, to guarantee all short-listed applicants receive interviews from at least two different colleges while they are in Oxford.
Details relating to the MAT, including several past and specimen papers, can be found at: www.maths.ox.ac.uk/study-here/undergraduate-study/maths-admissions-test
In 2019 the average score on questions 1-5 was:
- 44.9 (50.8) amongst all applicants;
- 63.6 (67.1) amongst short-listed applicants;
- 69.3 (72.9) amongst successful applicants.
The average score on questions 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 was:
- 46.6 (51.6) amongst all applicants;
- 71.7 (72.2) amongst short-listed applicants;
- 76.2 (76.5) amongst successful applicants.
Short-listing is performed in accordance with the stated admissions criteria on the basis of all currently available and relevant data: in particular these data include an applicant’s score from the MAT, all aspects of the applicant’s UCAS form and any further relevant contextual data specific to the application.
As guidance, and on the basis of a validated weighted combination of the test score and proportion of A* at GCSE (where applicable), the Admissions Coordinator advises college tutors as to a calculated upper threshold score and a calculated lower threshold score. All candidates above the upper threshold were recommended to be short-listed, and candidates below the lower threshold were recommended not to be short-listed, except in the case of exceptional circumstances. Around two-thirds of the candidates between the two thresholds were shortlisted for interview, resulting in around 3 applicants per place.
Throughout the process all UCAS forms, all test scores, all contextual information, comments and interview grades, are easily accessible to all college tutors involved with admissions via a web-based database.
College tutors review the UCAS forms, and any other information relevant to individual applications, and in light of all information enter their provisional short-listing decisions in the web-based admissions database. In light of further information a college may reverse the default short-listing decision, making known the reasons for their decision to the Admissions Coordinator. Provisional short-listing decisions will become final by an agreed deadline unless appealed by another college or the Admissions Coordinator.
Letters and/or emails are then sent to candidates informing them of the outcome of the short-listing exercise.
All short-listed candidates are invited to Oxford for interview in mid-December. The interview dates by subject is readily available on an Admissions Office webpage well in advance.
Each applicant has a first-assigned college, which is either the college to which they applied or – in the case of open applications – a college randomly assigned by the Admissions Office in such a way as to even out the competition for places across colleges. Each applicant is also randomly assigned a second college by an algorithm so as to equalise across colleges the interview load per place ratio.
In cases where a college is particularly over-subscribed (more than four applicants per place), a college must reallocate a fraction of their candidates. These candidates are then assigned at random to other colleges. In 2019, 32 candidates were reallocated to a different first-choice college.
During their time in Oxford, applicants are guaranteed interviews by at least two different colleges (their first- and second-assigned colleges) and may also be interviewed by other colleges. Applicants to joint degrees typically have separate interviews in the two disciplines.
Interviews are academic in nature. An applicant’s performance will be judged according to the admissions criteria. The interviews will be graded on a scale of 1-9 against agreed descriptors and a report of the interview will be made on a standardised form.
One or more interviews by phone or video-conference facilities, are typically arranged for any short-listed applicant who is unable to attend interviews in Oxford. These interviews commonly take place in the week before the interviews in Oxford.
The Admissions Group operates various procedures in a coordinated effort to ensure that the strongest applicants are admitted to the University irrespective of college choice; these include transparency of all test results, interview grades, and UCAS forms amongst all tutors involved with admissions, and a final meeting of tutors at which the strongest unplaced applicants are collectively discussed and open offers are made by the Admissions Group. Around 30% of offers (27% in 2018) are either open offers or made by a college other than the first college considering the applicant.
Colleges may make offers conditional on the Opportunity Oxford bridging programme to eligible students who would not otherwise have been admitted. In 2019, 11 such offers were made for Mathematics, including joint honours courses. More information on this programme is available at: www.ox.ac.uk/opportunityoxford.
Decisions are deemed to be official at the end of the Group’s final meeting and the short-listed applications are assigned a final overall grade. These decisions are then conveyed by tutors to their respective college offices for dissemination to short-listed applicants. The Admissions Group has standard offers for those taking A-levels, the International Baccalaureate or Advanced Highers; college tutors will seek advice from admissions tutors or the Admissions Office in making other offers.
All candidates who took the MAT will have their MAT score sent to them automatically by the Admissions Coordinator at the end of the admissions process.
Other feedback will not automatically be sent out, but applicants may seek feedback from their first-assigned colleges about any aspect of the admissions process. Feedback will not usually be sent out until the new year, once the admissions process is complete.