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Admissions Feedback 2022-23

Most of these reports have been prepared by the College but they incorporate or refer to departmental and faculty reports where these are available. They are intended to inform those planning applications in the future and also to provide to unsuccessful candidates, their referees, schools and families with an indication as to the most likely reasons they were not selected in this round. The vast majority of our applicants are very talented, with exemplary academic backgrounds. The most common reason for non-selection is simply that it is an exceptionally competitive process. Some more specific indications of what tutors in particular subjects are seeking, and the processes and competition in each area, can be found under each subject header. It is important to remember both that Oxford makes its selection on academic criteria alone, and that interview performance is only one of the elements which tutors take into account when evaluating an application. 

If you have been a referee for an unsuccessful candidate, we encourage you to continue to send your students to us, taking into account the comments here regarding any of the subject areas in which they may be interested. You may also wish to consult the pages on specific subjects. Merton's Schools Liaison and Access Officer will be pleased to provide any advice on supporting applications or you may wish to contact the Oxford college linked to your area under the University's Regional Outreach Scheme

Merton received 630 applications in this admissions round. 103 candidates have been made an offer by the College for 2023 entry, including ten open offers. Six offers were made to applicants under the recently launched Opportunity Oxford scheme. Four offers were also made for deferred 2024 entry. 


This year there were 867 applicants across the University for direct entry (an increase of 72 on the previous year) and 8 for deferred entry to study Biochemistry. We had 105 places available for entry next year and made 105 college offers, 8 open offers (where a University place is guaranteed if the conditions are achieved but the College place will be allocated in August) and 2 offers for deferred entry. The Departmental policy is that conditional offers should normally be set at A*AA at A-level with the A* in a science or maths, or the equivalent. As in previous years the UCAS forms of all applicants were read and graded centrally, by the Biochemistry Department, prior to short-listing (we aim to shortlist approximately 3 applicants per place); all short-listed applicants were interviewed by two colleges (remotely this year); the applicants were ranked according to their UCAS and both interview grades; and the final decisions were made at a meeting of all College tutors. Of the 875 applicants, 366 applicants were short-listed. Of these, 357 received an overall grade of 4.5 or better out of 7 (with 4 being “worth careful consideration” and 5 being “worth a place if one is available”) and 334 received an overall grade above 5, so being made an offer of a place is a very considerable achievement. 

Biochemistry admissions round 2022/2023 – some initial statistics

(Table figures exclude applicants who withdrew before interview) 




APR region 












Number of applicants 






























Success rates 





















Number 9/8/A* at GCSE3 






not applicable4 










not applicable 










not applicable 





Number A-levels taken 






not applicable 










not applicable 










not applicable 





Number predicted/achieved A* at A-levels in sciences5 






not applicable 










not applicable 










not applicable 






State school 

Independent school 








Total applicants 






Percentage shortlisted 






Percentage offer 






1 Applicants in the most disadvantaged group according to contextual measures. 
2 Apply Online UK and Apply Online Overseas. 
3 For applicants taking six or more GCSEs. 
4 Too few applicants taking GCSEs or A-levels to give meaningful numbers. 
5 For applicants taking three or more A-levels/pre-U. 


In the 2022/2023 admissions round there were 740 applications for Biology. This included 10 deferred applications for 2024 entry to the course. There were 127 open applications for Biology, which means that 17% of applicants did not choose a college when they applied. There were 114 places available for 2023 entry to the course, meaning there were 6.5 applications per available place. 

After shortlisting, 343 applicants were invited to interview online and after interview, 128 applicants received an offer for 2023 course entry. This included 10 Open Offers, where a place is guaranteed if the offer conditions are achieved but the college place will be allocated before the course commences. In total 17% of applicants to Biology received an offer. 

Four offer holders have been nominated as Opportunity Oxford candidates. 

Total applications 

Female Applicants 

Male Applicants 

Home Applicants 

EU Applicants 

Overseas Applicants 


486 - 66% 

254 - 34% 

416 - 56% 

46 - 6% 

278 - 38% 

Total Applications 

Total Shortlisted Applicants 

Total Offers (2023 course entry) 


343 - 46% 

128 - 17% 

The standard entry requirements for Biology are set out on the University of Oxford website. The standard offer for Biology is A*AA, at A level, including Biology plus Chemistry, Physics or Mathematics and with the A* in a Science or Mathematics (or equivalent). There was variation in the remaining A level subject(s) taken by A level applicants – some shortlisted applicants held Biology plus two or more of Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. For other candidates, the third subject included Economics, English Literature, French, Latin, Music, Sociology, Geography, History, Psychology, Art & Design, Computer Science and Spanish. 

Prior to shortlisting, a team of Biology tutors reviewed the applications as a gathered field and made interview recommendations to all other Biology tutors involved in admissions. As part of this assessment, performance at GCSE and equivalent or other qualifications that had already been attained were evaluated, plus school type and the various measures and indicators on the UCAS forms were taken into account. The application college also assessed all applications to their college and made recommendations. All recommendations were then taken to a meeting attended by representatives from all colleges that admit Biologists, and shortlisting decisions were discussed and agreed. 

After shortlisting had taken place, some applicants were redistributed to a new college 1 so that all colleges had approximately 3 candidates per available place. All shortlisted candidates were then allocated a second college and again each college had approximately the same number of applicants to consider per available place. All shortlisted applicants were then invited to attend online interviews with each of the two colleges. 

Although the content of interviews varies between interviewing panels, all interviewers asked detailed questions about subjects, objects, data or written/graphic material that the interviewees are not expected to recognise or have studied before. Questions arising from the candidate’s Personal Statement were also often posed. 

After Biology interviews finished, Biology representatives for all colleges met as a group – at this meeting all decisions relating to interview candidates were agreed and confirmed, including which candidates would receive a Biology Open Offer. The average number of GCSEs taken by Biology applicants was 9.99, and the average of those shortlisted was 10.0. 

The average number of 9s, 8s and A*s at GCSE by Biology applicants was 8.4. The average number of 9/8/A*s for shortlisted applicants was 9.2, and for those receiving an offer it was 9.4. All of these numbers include only applicants taking more than 5 GCSEs. 



In total 1015 (894 last year) applications were received in 2022 for Chemistry. Of these 658 (607 last year) applicants were shortlisted for interviews. In all 205 (201 last year) offers were made, including open offers. To even out the chances of admission between Colleges 62 shortlisted applicants had their first-assigned Colleges reallocated and 45 shortlisted applicants had their second-assigned Colleges reallocated. A further 58 candidates had their second-assigned colleges reallocated after the first interviews. 

The school backgrounds of those given offers are as follows: 
State school: 103 (50%) 
Independent school: 65 (32%) 
Other (including unknown): 37 (18%) 

The gender breakdown of those given offers is as follows: 
Female: 79 (39%) 
Male: 126 (61%) 

Throughout the process all UCAS forms, contextual information, application and interview grades were easily accessible to all College tutors involved via a web-based database. 


In light of the competition for places, the purpose of shortlisting is to provide time, during the December interview window, to guarantee that all shortlisted applicants receive at least two interviews. There was an increase in applications this year, which meant that some applicants who might have been shortlisted in previous years were not shortlisted this year. Shortlisting was performed by the Chemistry Admissions Coordinators and the College tutors in accordance with the stated admissions criteria, based on all available and relevant data: in particular these data include all aspects of the applicant's UCAS form and any further relevant contextual data specific to the application. Each application was graded against agreed descriptors. All recommendations from College tutors to modify the shortlist were submitted, with reasoning, to the Chemistry Admissions Coordinators for scrutiny. The proposed list of all applicants not to be shortlisted was available to all Colleges for a period of 4 days before the shortlist was finalised. A small number of applicants were brought back into contention at the request of a College. 

The Colleges then sent letters and/or emails to all applicants, informing them of the outcome of the shortlisting exercise. 


Admissions interviews for the University took place remotely via Microsoft Teams. The University Admissions Office produced guidance for remote interviews and corresponding advice on their website for applicants. 

All shortlisted Chemistry applicants were interviewed remotely over a two-week period in December. The timetable of interviews by subject was readily available on the Undergraduate Admissions website well in advance of the dates. 

Each applicant had a first-assigned College. This was either the College to which they applied or a College assigned by the Admissions Office or by the Admissions Coordinator in such a way as to even out the competition for places across Colleges. Each applicant was also assigned a second College by an algorithm in order to equalise across Colleges the interview load per place ratio. 

Applicants had at least two interviews at their first-assigned College, and may have also been interviewed by their second-assigned College and other Colleges. Interviews were academic in nature. Applicant performance was judged according to the admissions criteria. The interviews were graded against agreed descriptors. 


The Chemistry Department 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 application grades, 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 final offers, including open offers, are made. 

Decisions are deemed to be official at the end of the final meeting. These decisions are then communicated to the respective College offices for dissemination to shortlisted applicants. 

Standard offers are stated on the Chemistry course page of the University website for those taking A-levels, the International Baccalaureate or Advanced Highers. College tutors seek advice from Admissions tutors or the Admissions Office in making other offers.

Classical Archaeology and Ancient History

In the 2022-23 admissions round the estimated competition for places across Oxford was 4.75:1. Candidates were selected using standard selection criteria

The majority of candidates who applied were called for interview. Shortlisting decisions are taken by the tutors in each college but any decision to deselect a candidate is checked by tutors in other colleges; the CAAH tutors in all colleges which admit for the subject have access to the application materials of all candidates and are able to call to interview any candidate not called by the first-choice college. 

All candidates summoned for interview received two online interviews by their first-choice college. At Merton (as at many other colleges) one of these interviews was with a pair of ancient historians and the other was with a pair of archaeologists. For the Ancient History interview, all candidates were given a short passage (in English) from an Ancient Historical source to read for 15 minutes in advance of the interview. This passage then formed the basis for a discussion in the main part of the interview: we were assessing what candidates found interesting about the passage, how critically they were able to read it, and to what extent we could develop ideas about the text which might be of historical interest. For the Archaeology interview, candidates were presented with a site plan and an image of an archaeological object during the interview, and part of the interview focused upon that material. In neither case was any prior knowledge of the material expected; the interviews were not tests of knowledge, but of candidates’ powers of observation, analysis and enquiry. After the first interviews the CAAH tutors from all colleges which admit for the subject met to compare the entire field, and candidates were ranked on the basis of interview performance, written work and their UCAS application. All candidates still under consideration after the initial round of interviews were given a further Faculty-organised interview. Candidates received at least one additional interview at this second stage in order to enable tutors to compare candidates fully. 

Final selection was based upon a combination of all the elements available: candidates’ academic record and predicted grades, UCAS statement and reference, written work, and interview performance. Throughout the process, tutors were looking for clear evidence of enthusiasm for the course, combined with an inquiring mind, analytical skills, intellectual ambition, commitment and motivation. 

Admission Statistics for 2022/3 

  1. Number of applicants 


  1. Number of applicants per place awarded 


  1. Breakdown: 

a) Breakdown of applicants by domicile 






b) Breakdown of applicants by gender 





c) Breakdown of applicants by entry year 

Applications for 2023 


Applications for 2024 (deferred) 

  1. Number of applicants shortlisted 


  1. Number of applicants offered places 


Admissions Processes 

Procedure for shortlisting 

2.1.1. Selection criteria: Candidates were assessed against the selection criteria published on the Classics Faculty website at https://www.classics.ox.ac.uk/admissions-criteria-classical-archaeology-ancient-history.  

2.1.2. Selection process: Candidates could be recommended for de-summoning if their first-choice college believed beyond reasonable doubt that candidates are not qualified to undertake a course in Oxford on the basis of one or more of the following specific grounds: poor results in official examinations; poor results predicted for A level or other impending examinations; negative school report; poor quality of written work; failure to demonstrate an interest in, and commitment to Classical Archaeology and Ancient History. In the light of the problems with the assignment of GCSE grades in 2021, and ongoing uncertainty about the ‘rebalancing’ of A-level grade boundaries in 2023, colleagues were advised to be more than usually cautious about desummoning on the basis of ‘poor results in official examinations, especially GCSEs’ or ‘poor results predicted for A level’. All proposals for not summoning to the interview had to be agreed by the first-choice college with the admissions coordinator and the second-choice college and notified to the admissions mailing list. If there were no objections to the first-choice college’s decision not to shortlist the candidate, any other college could ‘rescue’ the candidate. 

2.1.3. Reallocation: In order to maintain the even ration of candidates per place, 15 candidates were reallocated from over-subscribed to under-subscribed colleges prior to the interview stage. 

2.1.4. Statistics: 

i) Written work averages 

All candidates 

Shortlisted candidates 

Placed candidates 




ii) Interview score averages 

Shortlisted candidates 

Placed candidates 



Interview process 

2.2.1. Summoning for interview: All candidates summoned for interview were notified by their colleges by Thursday 25 November. Interviews were conducted remotely via Teams on 5 and 6 December for 1st-choice colleges, and on 9 and 13 December by the faculty interview panels for the second round of interviews. 

2.2.2. Interviews at 1st college: all candidates received two independent interviews of 20 to 25 minutes with separate pairs of interviewers at their first-choice college; at least one of the four interviewers had to be a historian and at least one an archaeologist. Colleges were allowed to enter into consortia (i.e. have the same two pairs of interviewers interviewing for more than one college). 

2.2.3. Procedure for 2nd interviews: All second interviews were organised centrally by the Faculty of Classics; candidates flagged for second interview were assigned to one of the seven faculty interviewing panels, each of which had a historian and an archaeologist on it, who conducted a single interview with the candidate.  

2.2.4. Interview criteria: Interviews were intended to inform the admitting tutors about the following qualities of the candidate: candidate’s potential for independent thinking, ability to follow an argument, skill in communication, and adaptability for tutorial teaching.

2.2.5. Final Declarations Meeting procedure: All offers, including Opportunity Oxford offers, were confirmed by college representatives at the Final Declarations Meeting, which reviewed them against the candidates’ mid-interview ranking. The meeting agreed the number of Open Offers and identified the Open Offer candidates. It also conducted a preliminary review of the admissions process. 

Classics and joint schools

In the 2022-23 admissions round the estimated competition for places across Oxford was 2.4:1 for Classics. 

Candidates were selected using standard selection criteria for Classics (and for Modern Languages in the case of Joint School applicants). The majority of candidates who applied were called for interview. 

Interview process 

Each candidate for Classics had two interviews with Merton, each lasting about 30 minutes. 

In the interview with tutors in Classical Languages and Literature, questions were asked about the texts which candidates had been reading (whether in the context of their taught syllabus or on their own). We were interested in ascertaining how candidates engaged with and thought about the literary texts, rather than in testing factual recall. For candidates with no previous knowledge of Greek or Latin, we asked about their experience of learning other languages (where appropriate) and what prompted them to embark on learning Greek or Latin at degree level. Our questions for all candidates aimed to find out what they found interesting and exciting about the subject and how well they could develop their ideas. 

The other Merton interview was with tutors in Ancient History and Philosophy, and was designed not to probe knowledge in disciplines of which most candidates have no previous experience, but to try to gauge candidates’ aptitude for these subjects. For Ancient History, all candidates were given a short passage (in English) from an Ancient Historical source to read for 15 minutes in advance of the interview. This passage then formed the basis for a discussion: we were assessing what candidates found interesting about the passage, how critically they were able to read it, and to what extent we could develop ideas about the text which might be of historical interest. For Philosophy, all candidates were presented with a very short exercise designed to test their ability to assess, evaluate and criticise arguments, as well as to think through philosophical problems systematically and rigorously. 

Candidates applying for Classics Course II also had a short central interview (15 minutes) at the Classics Faculty with members of the Faculty’s language teaching team, where questions were asked based partly on their Language Aptitude Tests. 

Candidates for Classics and Modern Languages had a Classics interview lasting about 25 minutes. This was the Languages and Literature interview outlined above. In addition to their Classics interview, candidates for the joint school were also interviewed in their chosen Modern Language. (For further information please consult the relevant Modern Languages section.) 

Candidates for Classics from other colleges who received a second interview were seen by a combined panel of tutors for a single interview. 

Additional comments 

All candidates are assessed on a broad range of criteria. As well as the interviews themselves, we consider a candidate’s predicted grading, their academic achievements to date (and subjects covered), the personal statement and reference on the UCAS form, the pre-submitted written work, the results of the test scores, and (where appropriate) the feedback from other colleges where candidates are interviewed. We stress that all of these elements in combination form the basis of our difficult decisions, and that underperformance or an excessively good performance at interview is not on its own a decisive factor in them. Interviewers are well aware of the particularly challenging circumstances applicants this year have faced in light of the pandemic and took this into account when assessing applications. 

Some candidates attend additional interviews at other colleges. This is part of a broader process to ensure that all candidates are assessed equitably across the entire field. It is one consequence of that process that some candidates may receive an offer of a place from another college instead of their first-choice college. Decisions are not completed until the final admissions meeting after all the candidates have left; when additional interviews are set up, this is to make sure that other colleges to whom candidates have been assigned have a chance to consider them in the context of their own admissions process. 

Computer Science

In 2022 a total of 1584 UCAS applications were received across the three undergraduate Computer Science degrees, for entry in 2023 or deferred entry in 2024. 348 applicants were shortlisted, and 135 were offered places for entry in 2023 or deferred entry in 2024. Table 1 shows the breakdown by course applied for at each stage of the admissions process. 

Table 1: Number of applicants, shortlisted applicants, and offers made, by course applied for 





Computer Science 




Computer Science and Philosophy 




Mathematics and Computer Science 




Across the three Computer Science degrees, applications have almost doubled since the 2016/17 admissions cycle, but the number of places has not kept pace with this. As a result, many very able applicants were not offered a place. 

Of those 1584 applicants, 

  • 1559 (98.4%) successfully registered to sit the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) by the registration deadline, which was 30 September 2022. 

  • 21.5% of applicants submitted an open application 

  • 1043 applicants (65.8%) offered A-levels. 

Applications for deferred entry

24 applicants applied for deferred entry in 2024. Of these, 5 were shortlisted and interviewed and a small number were offered places. 


  • 371 applicants were female (23.4% of the total). 

  • Of the 371 female applicants, 77 were shortlisted and invited to interview, comprising 22.1% of the total shortlisted applicants. 

  • 29 shortlisted female applicants were offered places, making up 21.5% of the total offers. 


  • 56.9% of all applicants were domiciled in the UK; 6.5% were domiciled in the EU; 36.6% were domiciled outside the EU. 

  • 62.1% of shortlisted applicants were domiciled in the UK; 5.7% were domiciled in the EU; 32.2% were domiciled outside the EU or UK. 

  • 48.4% of students who were offered places were domiciled in the UK; 11.7% were domiciled in the EU; 39.8% were domiciled outside the EU. 

Admissions Processes

Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT)

All applicants are expected to sit the Mathematics Admissions Test prior to shortlisting. This year the test was taken on Wednesday 2 November 2022. Of the 1559 applicants who successfully registered to sit the test, 1514 sat it on the day. Most applicants sat it in their school or in another registered test centre, with a small number sitting the test via remote invigilation. 

The 45 applicants who successfully registered for the test but were unable to sit it due to unexpected circumstances beyond their control were considered on the basis of their UCAS form. 12 were invited to interview online, and were invited to sit a short MAT-like paper via remote invigilation prior to their interviews. 

The table below gives the mean score by course applied for at each stage of the admissions process. 


All applicants 

Shortlisted applicants 

Offer holders 

Computer Science 




Computer Science and Philosophy 




Mathematics and Computer Science 





In light of the competition for places, the purpose of shortlisting is to identify those applicants who are most likely to succeed in the rest of the selection process, giving interviewers time to consider each shortlisted applicant carefully. The number of shortlisted applicants was therefore restricted to slightly less than 3 for each quota place. 

Shortlisting was performed in accordance with the stated admissions criteria. All applicants are expected to sit the Mathematics Admissions Test prior to shortlisting, including questions designed to assess aptitude for Computer Science. Details of the test and several past papers and specimen papers with solutions can be found online. Tutors are guided by a statistically validated score derived from the MAT and the applicant’s performance at GCSE relative to other students at their pre-16 school; they exercise discretion within thresholds determined for each degree subject by the subject coordinator. They take into account all information from the UCAS form and any relevant contextual information such as educational background, socio-economic background, or extenuating circumstances. Shortlisting decisions are reviewed by the subject coordinator in order to ensure consistency between colleges. 

Among this year’s 348 shortlisted applicants, 

  • 224 (64.4%) had taken five or more GCSEs. Among those candidates, the mean number of GCSEs at grades 9/8 was 8.5. 

  • 238 (68.4%) offered A-levels: 

  • All shortlisted A-level applicants offered A-level Mathematics. 

  • 221 (92.9%) offered A-level Further Mathematics. 

  • 164 (68.9%) offered A-level Computer Science or Computing. 

After shortlisting takes place, if an individual college has an unusually high number of shortlisted applicants per place, that college must reallocate a proportion of those applicants to a college with fewer shortlisted applicants per place (assuming that there exists such a college which is willing to receive the shortlisted applicants). The aim of this process is to increase fairness for applicants by evening out competition across colleges and ensuring that shortlisted applicants’ chances of an offer are not affected by having applied to a heavily oversubscribed college. In December 2022, 31 shortlisted applicants were reallocated via this procedure, and 7 of those applicants were subsequently offered places by the colleges to which they were reallocated. 


All shortlisted applicants were invited for interview in mid-December. This year almost all interviews took place remotely by video call, often using a shared virtual whiteboard. Each applicant is associated with a first college, either of their choosing, or selected for them in a way that aims to even out the competition for places across the colleges. Each applicant is also associated with a second college chosen randomly with the same aim. 

Applicants were interviewed by both their first and second colleges, and a small number were invited to further interviews at a third college. Applicants for joint degrees are typically given separate interviews in the two subjects. In December 2022 most applicants were interviewed twice by their first college and once or more by their second college. 

Interviews are academic and subject-focused in nature. The applicant’s performance in each interview is judged according to the admissions criteria, codified on a numeric scale against agreed descriptors, and shared among all tutors involved in admissions, together with the applicants’ UCAS forms and their test results. 

Making offers

The colleges use various procedures in a coordinated effort to ensure that the strongest applicants are admitted across the University irrespective of the college considering their application. These include complete transparency of all information gained about each applicant, supported by an online information system, and a final meeting where the strongest unplaced applicants are identified and open offers are agreed. This year, 31.9% of offers made came from a college other than the applicant’s application college, or are open offers (meaning that the applicant is offered a place at Oxford at a college that will be determined in August). 

Where an applicant for a joint honours degree has performed strongly in one of their subjects but will not be made an offer for the joint degree, tutors may consider offering them a place for a relevant single honours degree. A small number of applicants for joint honours degrees were offered places for single honours courses. 

Where an applicant is eligible and would benefit from it, tutors may nominate them for the Opportunity Oxford scheme. 6 applicants were offered places through Opportunity Oxford. 

Following the end of the selection process, colleges write to applicants via UCAS with the results of their application. Standard conditions apply to those taking A-levels, the International Baccalaureate or Scottish Highers; for other applicants, tutors will seek advice from the subject coordinator or the college’s admissions tutor in determining a comparable set of conditions. 

MAT results and feedback

MAT scores are not released to applicants until the selection process has concluded and they have received their decision. Scores will be sent to applicants via email by the Department of Computer Science in January, shortly after colleges have communicated application outcomes. 

Economics and Management

In the 2022-23 admissions round the estimated competition for places in Economics and Management across Oxford was 17.4:1. 

Economics and Management tutors worked together across Oxford to ensure the strongest candidates were admitted. Colleges were set a target number of interviewees to nominate, based on the number of places they had to offer and ensuring that the total number of interviews across Oxford would equate to three per place. 

Candidates were selected for shortlisting using the selection criteria for Economics & Management. All possible information was used for shortlisting and admissions offers. For shortlisting, GCSE scores and A-level predictions (or the equivalent), and TSA scores on Critical Thinking and Problem Solving were weighted most heavily, whilst AS-level scores and personal statements were considered, but weighted more lightly. The target of three candidates for every place available meant that many good candidates were not shortlisted. 

After shortlisting, the Degree's Admissions Co-ordinator ran a reallocation exercise across all colleges to ensure that candidates were not disadvantaged by applying to a specific college. 

All shortlisted Merton candidates had two online interviews with the college, one focusing on the Management aspect of the course and the other on the Economics aspect. Candidates were not expected to have studied either subject at A-level, but to have a good general knowledge, and to demonstrate interest in and enthusiasm for studying both business and the economy, to demonstrate logic and critical thinking, and to communicate clearly and effectively. 

For the Economics interview, candidates were asked to use logical reasoning and quantitative skills to work through a problem related to topics in game theory and to broader economic principles. For the Management interview, candidates were set a brief pre-interview reading from a broadsheet that assessed interest in Management and the ability to identify and discuss issues from a general management perspective. 

Most candidates were reasonably well-prepared for the interviews, and were able to discuss both Management and Economics topics knowledgeably and fluently. Good candidates were able to revise their arguments to take account of new information, to provide examples and counter-arguments, and to defend their conclusions. Candidates who were less strong did not display in their interviews an ability to analyse businesses and organisations from a managerial perspective, nor a sufficiently keen interest in doing so, or they performed less well in general quantitative analysis and reasoning. 

Following the first College interviews, the Admissions Co-ordinator allocated three candidates per college for second college interviews. A number of candidates above the three were also interviewed in second colleges. 

TSA results will be available online from early January

English and joint schools

Thank you for applying for a place on BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford. We appreciate the time and effort you put into making an application. We had a high number of applicants for English Language and Literature, with many very good applications, which means that we had to make many difficult decisions. 

Admissions statistics 

There were 970 applications for English Language and Literature in 2022, at a ratio of 4 applicants per available place. 802 applicants registered as Female on UCAS and 168 applicants registered as Male. 787 applicants were from the UK, 43 from the EU, and 140 from overseas. 630 applicants were shortlisted and invited to interview. 248 applicants were made offers to read English Language and Literature, starting in October 2023, conditional upon successfully meeting the required AAA grades. 

Shortlisting procedure 

On the basis of evidence from their UCAS form, contextualised GCSE scores, written work, and performance in the admissions test (the Oxford ELAT), applicants are placed in one of ten decile bands. The top 50% of applicants are automatically shortlisted for interview. College admitting tutors may also shortlist a small number of for interview applicants who are outside the top 50% but who show promise in one of more areas of assessment. It is important to remember that shortlisting takes place in a highly competitive environment; virtually all candidates are predicted 'A' or 'A*' grades in all of their final examinations (or equivalent qualifications), so a strong academic record in itself does not guarantee an interview. Candidates called for interview will have an application which includes: an excellent or promising academic record; a compelling personal statement; a strong reference; good written work; and an Oxford ELAT paper of a high standard. Available contextual information on candidates is also considered at this stage. You can read more about how we shortlist applicants on the English Faculty’s website: 


Reallocation process 

Once shortlisting is complete, the Faculty operates a procedure of reallocation between colleges, moving some candidates to colleges other than the one to which they originally applied. This is undertaken in full consultation with the tutors in each college, and is done in order to make the Admissions process as fair as possible, giving all candidates a balanced chance of gaining a place in the University as a whole.  

This year, shortlisted applicants who were invited to interview, on average, had eight GCSEs at grades 8/9/A*. The most common A-Level subjects studied by interviewees were English Literature, History, and Mathematics. The average score for Written Work submitted by interview candidates was 7.6/10. 

Interview process 

Colleges are responsible for scheduling and conducting online interviews for English Language and Literature. Interview panels are usually comprised of two admitting tutors. It is Faculty policy for shortlisted applicants receive two interviews, each around twenty minutes in length; often these will be arranged to allow candidates to demonstrate different skills. Many interviews will focus on an unseen passage that a candidate receives shortly before the start of the interview. Interviews might also involve questions that emerge from a candidate’s personal statement or an extensive discussion of wider reading beyond what a candidate is studying at school. Candidates may well be invited for a further interview at another college; as with pre-interview reallocation, this is to ensure that the best candidates gain places in the University regardless of the competition in particular colleges. This year, after first college interviews, 51 candidates had additional interviews at a second college, to give them the best chance of receiving an offer. 

Interview performance is judged according to the following criteria: 

  • Evidence of independent reading 

  • Capacity to exchange and build on ideas 

  • Clarity of thought and expression 

  • Analytical ability 

  • Flexibility of thought 

  • Evidence of independent thinking about literature 

  • Readiness and commitment to read widely with discrimination 

In making final decisions, admitting tutors carefully examine all available information at every stage: qualifications achieved and predicted, school or college reports, personal statements, written work, Oxford ELAT results, and performance in interviews. They will also consult with their colleagues across the University, in order to ensure that competition is fair across all colleges. The aim of the whole is to establish each candidate’s potential for effective learning in a tutorial-based system, and for achieving good examination results in the Faculty of English. 

Pre-interview Admissions Tests 

The Oxford ELAT is a 90-minute test in which you wrote an essay responding to passages of literary material on a given theme. The results were released on 10 January 2022 and you can find more information about this at: https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/applying-to-oxford/guide/admissions-tests/elat. This year, the average performance of all applicants in the OxELAT was 44.2/60. For candidates shortlisted for interview, the average score was 46.9. Successful offer holders averaged a result of 49.5. 

History and joint schools

Candidates were selected using standard selection criteria for History and the relevant joint schools

History aimed to interview 2.5 candidates per place. Shortlisting decisions were based on the History Aptitude Test (HAT) results, taking into account other information provided and, where candidates had studied for GCSEs, GCSE scores contextualised against those awarded to other candidates at the same school in the same year. In the History Joint Schools, the same process was used to select candidates for interview, with additional input from non-history subject tutors, who assessed candidates’ non-history written work where this was submitted. 

The number of applicants to particular colleges varies from year to year, so candidates that are judged worthy of an interview are reallocated from the oversubscribed colleges of that year to the undersubscribed colleges. In all colleges, therefore, candidates at interview will have the same chance of being offered a place. Students shortlisted at Merton were interviewed on Teams. One part of each interview centred on their broad historical interests, which had often been indicated in their UCAS personal statements, though the interviews were not restricted to the content of these statements. The longer part of the interview involved more detailed discussion of the historical periods and problems that candidates were currently studying, or had recently studied. Such interviews began by discussing candidates’ submitted written work, but sometimes moved onto related historical questions and topics, or other parts of their syllabus. In both parts, we were looking for evidence of analytical ability, clarity of argument, the ability to support arguments with relevant evidence, intellectual flexibility, and enthusiasm for historical study. 

In addition to their History interviews, candidates in the Joint Schools also received an interview in their other chosen subject. (For further information please consult the relevant subject sections.) 

Final decisions were made after we had carefully taken into account all the information available to us, not just interview performance. This information included school UCAS references, HAT scores, submitted written work, and predicted or achieved school examination results, and, where available, contextual data. 

We were very impressed by the overall calibre of our applicants this year. Candidates highly placed in the cross-college rankings but not certain to be offered a place at their first-choice college were allocated by the Faculty to other colleges for further interviews.  

Law and Law with Law Studies in Europe

In the 2022-23 admissions round the estimated competition for places across Oxford was 9:1 for Law including LSE. 

Candidates were selected using standard selection criteria. Law aims to interview around 2 candidates for every place available. 

Law tutors worked together across Oxford to ensure the strongest candidates in the cohort as a whole were admitted into individual colleges. Colleges were able to nominate up to two of their first-choice applicants per available place for interview and then a Faculty Selection Committee identified further candidates to be reallocated to colleges. 

The assessment of candidates at the pre-interview stage is based on the following six criteria: 

  1. academic performance to date; 

  1. predicted and/or achieved grades; 

  1. reference; 

  1. the LNAT multiple choice test; and 

  1. the LNAT essay. 

It is important to note that weakness in one of these areas may be compensated by exceptional strength elsewhere, as well as by extenuating circumstances (medical conditions, recent bereavements, etc.). Contextual data is taken into account when making our assessment.  

Prior to the online interviews, we held an online pre-interview meeting to allow the applicants to see who would be interviewing them, to explain the interview process, and to answer any questions. Those who notified us that they would be unable to attend this meeting were able to watch a recording before their interviews started. Interviews started shortly afterwards. Each candidate received two interviews with Merton. 

The admissions team at Merton considered the above-mentioned six criteria together with the interview performance when making their final decisions. All decisions are taken carefully and followed strict procedural safeguards to ensure that the best candidates – i.e. those who showed the most potential as a whole – were selected and offered a place. This is a thorough, long and demanding process which – we believe – ensures that those most suited to the particular study approach and system in Oxford are selected. We see many talented and promising candidates each year but are constrained by the number of places we can offer. 

In the end, six candidates were offered a college place at Merton for the academic year 2023-24, and one candidate was made an open offer. 

Departmental feedback 

This year we received 2141 applications for 240 places, there were approximately 8.92 applications per available place. Almost all of our applicants had unblemished school records and very strong and supportive references. 

As part of the university-wide Common Framework for Admissions, introduced a few years ago, the Law Faculty shortlists candidates (college-blind) in consultation with a Faculty Selection Committee (FSC) consisting of representatives from 15 Colleges. Once college blinding is removed, Colleges also have the opportunity to add candidates who were not selected by the FSC to their shortlists. Some candidates are shortlisted to their college of application, and some are reallocated to other colleges for interview. FSC collectively shortlisted approximately 2.5 applicants per place available on the Law course. As a result of this process, each college can interview between 2.5 and 3 applicants per available place. The point of this system is to minimise the extent to which applicants may be prejudiced by their choice of college and to make sure, as far as possible, that all those applicants who are strong enough to merit an interview are in fact interviewed. 

Applications are assessed against our criteria for selection, details of which are published on the Faculty website. The assessment of candidates at the pre-interview stage takes account of all information in the application, including: (1) academic performance to date; (2) predicted grades; (3) reference; (4) the LNAT multiple choice test, and (5) the LNAT essay. LNAT essays are marked college-blind by a pool of markers drawn from all colleges to ensure consistency. Evaluation of shortlisted candidates will also include their performance at interview. Weakness in one of these areas can be compensated by exceptional strength elsewhere, as well as by special circumstances (medical conditions, recent bereavements etc.). Particular attention is paid to any factors identified in the application that may have affected academic performance. The Faculty is also aware that factors such as socio-economic disadvantage and school performance can mean that it is difficult for some students to perform to their full potential before applying to university. Therefore, in accordance with University guidance, we use a range of contextual data to help us to better understand students’ achievements in the context of their individual background. Detailed information on contextualisation is available, published on the University website

Mathematics and joint schools

These data refer to applicants in the “2022/23 cycle” who applied in 2022 for the Oxford course starting in 2023 or in 2024 (deferred entry). All figures in brackets relate to the previous admissions cycle, 2021/22. 

Overall application statistics 


1,805 (1,877) 

546 (658) 

196 (187) 

Mathematics and Statistics 

140 (205) 

22 (37) 

4 (8) 

Mathematics and Philosophy 

161 (151) 

61 (51) 

20 (19) 

Mathematics and Computer Science 

594 (636) 

153 (141) 

68 (65) 


2,700 (2,869) 

782 (787) 

288 (279) 

  • 15.8% of applications made were open applications (19.4%). 

  • 20 applicants applied for deferred entry (33). Of these, 7 were interviewed and 5 were offered places. 

  • 29.9% of applicants were female (29.3%) and 22.9% of those offered a place are female (28.3%). 

  • 1,486 applicants were studying A-levels in the UK (1,494). Of these, 95% were taking Further Mathematics as a full A-level. Of the 74 applicants studying A-levels in the UK who weren’t taking Further Maths as a full A-level, 6 were shortlisted for interview, and fewer than 3 were offered a place. 

  • There were 1,000 non-EU international-fee-paying applicants (1,168). 

The admissions criteria are published on the department’s website at: www.maths.ox.ac.uk/study-here/prospective-undergraduates/how-apply/admissions-criteria 

Mathematics Admissions Test 

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 2022 the test date was 2 November. In this cycle, 2,621 applicants successfully registered for and sat the MAT (2,816). 

36 applicants who, due to exceptional circumstances, either failed to register for the test or could not sit the test, were invited to take a separate mathematics test after shortlisting. Others who failed to register or who did not sit the test – and did not have exceptional circumstances – were notified that their application was no longer under consideration. 

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 

The average score for Oxford applicants answering questions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 was: 

  • 48.3 (51.1) amongst all applicants; 

  • 65.2 (69.5) amongst shortlisted applicants; 

  • 71.5 (73.5) amongst successful applicants. 

The average score for Oxford applicants answering questions 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 was: 

  • 47.3 (46.9) amongst all applicants; 

  • 69.1 (69.9) amongst shortlisted applicants; 

  • 75.8 (74.3) amongst successful applicants. 


In light of the competition for places, the purpose of shortlisting is to provide time during the December interview window to interview all shortlisted applicants (remotely). 

Shortlisting 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, the Admissions Coordinator advises college tutors as to an upper threshold score and a lower threshold score. All candidates above the upper threshold were recommended to be shortlisted, and candidates below the lower threshold were recommended not to be shortlisted, except in the case of exceptional circumstances. Around half of the candidates between the two thresholds were shortlisted for online interview, resulting in around 3 applicants per place. 

Throughout the process all UCAS forms, test scores, 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 shortlisting decisions in the web-based admissions database. In light of further information a college may reverse the default shortlisting decision, making known the reasons for their decision to the Admissions Coordinator. Provisional shortlisting decisions 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 shortlisting exercise. 

Interview stage 

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 University Admissions Office in such a way as to even out the number of applicants per place across colleges. Each shortlisted applicant is also randomly assigned a second college by an algorithm aiming to equalise across colleges the interview load per place ratio. 

In cases where a college is particularly over-subscribed (more than four shortlisted applicants per place), a college must reallocate a fraction of their candidates. These candidates are then assigned at random to other colleges. In this admissions cycle, five candidates were reallocated to a different first college. 

In December 2022 all interviews were carried out remotely. Most applicants were given interviews by at least two different colleges (their first- and second-assigned colleges). Applicants may also have been 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 is judged according to the admissions criteria and graded on a scale of 1-9 against agreed descriptors. The score and any comments are added to the shared web-based database. 


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 28% of offers (24%) made in this cycle were 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 this cycle, 14 such offers were made for Maths or joint honours courses.  

Decisions are deemed to be official at the end of the Group’s final meeting and the shortlisted applications are assigned a final overall grade. These decisions are then conveyed by tutors to their respective college offices for dissemination to shortlisted 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 for Maths, Maths & Statistics, Maths & Philosophy who took the MAT, and who have not withdrawn, will have their MAT score emailed to them automatically by the Admissions Coordinator at the end of the admissions process. Similarly, the Computer Science department will send out MAT scores to Maths & Computer Science applicants. 


In 2022 we received 1,713 UCAS applications (1,864 in 2021). Of these applicants: 

  • 1,637 successfully registered for and sat the BMAT (1,786 in 2021). 

  • 64 did not meet our requirements for entry (most often because they were too young, did not submit explanation through our extenuating circumstances process as to why they were applying on the basis of a resit, were only sitting one or two A-level exams after receiving teacher-assessed grades this summer rather than three, or did not possess suitable academic credentials). (186 in 2021) 

  • 4 withdrew from the application process before shortlisting. 

The data below, unless otherwise stated, refer to the subset of 1,569 applicants (91.6%) who were eligible to apply and had registered for the BMAT (with almost all of these sitting the test) and had not withdrawn their application by the time of shortlisting. 32 eligible applicants applied for deferred entry (31 in 2021). Of these, 9 were shortlisted and interviewed (online), and 1 received an offer of a place for 2024 (compared to 3 last year who were offered deferred places for 2023). 

  • 61.4% of eligible applicants were female (61.8% in 2021). 

  • 78.6% of eligible applicants offered A-levels. 

  • 25.4% of eligible applicants resided outside the UK; of these, 5.7% resided inside the EU and 19.7% outside the EU. 

  • 11 graduates submitted eligible applications (3 of these were international applicants). 

Overall, approximately 27.3% of applicants who made complete applications were shortlisted (25.7% in 2021). 


Before 2021, the first stage of our shortlisting process had used a combination of contextualised GCSE performance (for those candidates with GCSE grades) and BMAT score. As in 2021, we used a contextualised measure of BMAT performance in the first stage of our shortlisting process in the 2022 admissions round. Contextual data were used to assess whether an applicant’s BMAT score likely reflected an under- or over-performance within the context of the candidate’s socio-economic and school environment. 

In 2021, this decision was taken (following advice from the University Admissions and Outreach team) in the best interests of widening participation given the absence of a metric which would allow us to compare GCSE performance between schools fairly. Our modelling of shortlisting on the basis of contextualised BMAT had suggested the constitution of our shortlist would not be altered to any systematic disadvantage of already disadvantaged groups compared to ordinary years, and this proved to be the case in both 2021 and 2022. BMAT is the only element of an application that is common to all applicants for Medicine and giving as it does a snapshot of ability and aptitude, it is an important selection tool when assessing a large number of extremely well qualified applicants. 

We do not ascribe equal weighting to all sections of BMAT. In 2022, weightings were: section 1=40%, section 2=40%, and section 3=20%. In calculating the section 3 score, double weight was ascribed to the ‘Quality of content’ score and single weight given to the ‘Quality of English’ score (with A=5, B=4, C=3, D=2, E=1, and X=0). 

A small number of candidates were unable to take the BMAT due to extenuating circumstances about which we were informed via the CAAT special considerations process.  Where we had received information pertaining to BMAT via the CAAT special considerations process, it was noted at the appropriate stage of shortlisting. A small number of candidates received their results late, or received revised BMAT scores due to a results query, after shortlisting had been completed.  Once these scores were received, affected applications were reviewed accordingly and if warranted, were added to the shortlist for interviews. 

After first-stage shortlisting was completed, all non-shortlisted applicants were reviewed by tutors to identify any candidates whose applications gave them cause to believe that the algorithmic process had underestimated their academic potential; at this stage, special considerations information received from CAAT was available to tutors alongside candidates’ GCSE record and all other information on the UCAS form. The nominations made were scrutinised further along with the 80 applicants just below the cut-off point. As a result of this process, 80 additional applicants were added to the shortlist. 

As a result of revised BMAT scores and fee status queries received after shortlisting had been completed, 3 candidates were added to the shortlist. This brought the shortlist to a total of 428 instead of the usual 425. 

  • For those shortlisted the mean adjusted BMAT score was 65.7% (65.8% in 2021). 

  • 3 graduates were shortlisted. 

  • 36 international fee-status applicants were shortlisted. 

Interviews & Offers 

Each applicant was interviewed online by two colleges: the college of preference, or allocation if an open application was made, and one other randomly assigned by computer so as to equalise as far as possible the strength of the applicant field at each college (as measured by the numerical ranking produced by the shortlisting algorithm). The number of applicants called for interview is usually fixed at around 425, in other words about 2.5 applicants per place available. 

Interviewers assessed each candidate against our explicit list of selection criteria. To find out more, read our selection criteria. The composition of interview panels was arranged such that every candidate was interviewed by at least one practising clinician. To get a sense of what interviews are like, watch our demonstration interview with one of our current students and two college tutors, recorded for the 2020 Virtual Open Days, on YouTube. 

Following online interviews, colleges ranked all the candidates they had seen, on the basis of all information available to them at that time. After disclosure of the candidate rank from the second college, BMAT score and BMAT essays, colleges reviewed their ranking and submitted a final version. On the basis of this final ranking, candidates were provisionally assigned offers at a particular college, with the college the applicant had chosen (or had been allocated to) having first refusal. Admissions decisions were confirmed by correspondence between colleges and the Medical Sciences Office. 

Please note that colleges interviewed blind of college of choice (or allocation) and BMAT score. 

Colleges made 150 quota offers, 1 deferred offer and 11 open offers (which means the applicant is guaranteed a place at Oxford to study Medicine, but will not be assigned to a college until after A-level results are known). 

  • The overall success rate for male applicants was 11.7% (11% in 2021); the overall success rate for female applicants was 8.1% (8.5% in 2021). 

  • For those with an offer of a place, the mean adjusted BMAT score was 68.3%. 

  • 1 graduate applicant received an offer of a place (graduates compete with school-leavers for places; there is no separate quota). 

  • 8 international fee-status applicants received an offer for 2023. 

  • 37.7% of offers were made by colleges other than the college of preference (or allocation). This compares with 41% in 2021. 20.1% of eligible applicants submitted an open application, meaning they did not specify a college of preference on their application and were allocated one. 


In 2022, as in 2021, male applicants did slightly better on BMAT than female applicants (mean 56.9% vs 51.9%). 

The mean BMAT score was 53.3%, which rose to 65.7% for those shortlisted and 68.3% for applicants  

A-levels and equivalent qualifications 

All A-level applicants must take Chemistry. The table below summarises the distribution of other subject choices amongst applicants this year taking A-levels. 


% of applicants 

% of applicants shortlisted 

% of applicants placed 













Further Mathematics  



With regard to 'Other subjects', the most popular subjects were Psychology (9.5%), English Literature (4.1%), History (3.7%), followed by Geography (2.6%), Economics (2.5%), Spanish (2.5%) and French (2.2%). 

12.6% of applicants taking A-levels were studying Chemistry plus just one more science or maths subject. This compares with 9.3% of shortlisted applicants and 8.8% of those offered places. 

11% of applicants taking A-levels were studying Chemistry, Biology, Physics AND Mathematics (compared to 13.5% of shortlisted applicants and 13.5% of applicants offered places). 

NB Despite the fact that most applicants offering A-levels tend to take Biology (or Human Biology), this subject is not required at A2 level (or indeed at AS-level). However, do be aware that not having A-level Biology is associated with a greater risk of having difficulty at the early stages of the course (and other medical courses). 

61.7% of applicants taking A-levels were doing/had done 3 A-levels, 32.2% were doing 4 A-levels and approx. 3.4% were doing 5 or more A-levels (though not necessarily all being completed in one academic year).  

20.7% of applicants offered alternative qualifications, the most popular of which was the IB (10.1%), with US qualifications (SAT subject tests/ AP tests), Canadian qualifications, the Singaporean SIPCAL, and Scottish Advanced Highers representing the next most popular options. 11.7% of applicants who were shortlisted and 8.6% of applicants with an offer studied for qualifications other than A-levels (including the IB). 

School types 

76.2% of applicants attending school in the UK were from state schools (including sixth form and further education colleges), while 23.8% were from independent schools. 

The overall success rate in 2022 was 11.6% for state school applicants and 17.4% for independent school applicants. 

International applicants 

463 applicants identified as international for fee-paying purposes submitted complete applications for 2023 entry. Following shortlisting, which is conducted in line with the quota imposed on the Medical School by the UK Government for the available international places, 36 of these applicants were shortlisted and 8 applicants received an offer for 2023. 

[Prospective candidates are reminded that the Medical School is required by the Higher Education Funding Council to limit the number of international (meaning non-UK/ROI in the most recent admissions round) medical students admitted to a maximum of 7.5% across both the standard (A100) and Graduate Entry (A101) courses - see our advice for international applicants]  

Modern Languages and joint schools

This year, the number of applicants for Modern Languages fell considerably: 685 as against 778 from last year. Overall figures are as follows: 

Total number of applications: 684 
Candidates who withdrew or were not invited for interview: 65 
Candidates interviewed (online): 620 
Places offered for 2023: 308 
Places offered for 2024: 11 
Opportunity Oxford Offers: 19 
Ratio of applications to offers: 2.14 

Applications in 2021 


Number of applicants 

Number interviewed 

Number of offers 


3 (2/1) 

3 (2/1) 

3 (2/1) 


321 (89/232) 

296 (79/217) 

140 (39/101) 

Beginners German 

18 (5/13) 

16 (4/12) 

10 (2/8) 


100 (36/64) 

95 (32/63) 

56 (19/37) 


105 (32/73) 

93 (27/66) 

45 (18/27) 

Modern Greek 

9 (2/7) 

7 (1/6) 

4 (1/3) 


1 (0/1) 

1 (0/1) 

0 (0/0) 


19 (9/10) 

19 (9/10) 

13 (5/8) 

Beginners Russian 

27 (6/21) 

27 (6/21) 

16 (4/12) 


30 (17/13) 

28 (17/11) 

11 (4/7) 


240 (75/165) 

214 (69/145) 

78 (25/53) 

General Admissions Criteria 

Successful candidates for admission displayed the qualities listed below. The admissions process as a whole is designed to identify which candidates possess them in the greatest measure: 

  • Motivation and commitment along with capacity for sustained study of language and literature. 

  • Communication: willingness and ability to express ideas clearly and effectively both in writing and orally; ability to listen and to give considered responses. 

  • Proven competence in the language(s) as established by schoolwork written in the language(s), by the language test and (in some cases) by oral competence at interview. In the case of beginners, clear evidence of aptitude and potential for language study. 

  • While there is no requirement that candidates will have read any literature in the language(s), successful candidates will demonstrate an aptitude and commitment to the study of literature by evidence of their readiness to discuss their reading in English or in the relevant language(s) or by their response to a reading-passage at interview. Assessors will look for evidence of intellectual curiosity and critical engagement. 

Selection is competitive and it may well be that a candidate is able to demonstrate these qualities and nonetheless is edged out of contention by a candidate with stronger all-round claims. In applying these criteria, the main concern is to identify proven competence in the language(s) along with future promise and aptitude in literary and cultural studies. 

Candidates who display one or more of the above shortcomings may nonetheless be invited for interview if the paper application reveals a clear justification for, or explanation of, the shortcomings and clear alternative evidence of the candidate’s potential. 


A decision not to shortlist a candidate conforms to current ML guidelines, according to which candidates will normally be invited to interview unless they display at least one of the following shortcomings: 

  • results in official examinations, especially GCSE, are not at a sufficiently high level; 

  • results predicted for A-level or other impending official examination suggest that the candidate is unlikely to succeed in meeting a conditional offer; 

  • the school report contains clear negative aspects relevant to the general admissions criteria; 

  • the written work submitted is clearly deficient in respect of the general admissions criteria; 

  • test results are a) in the bottom quintile for each of two languages, or b) a test result in the bottom quintile means an application in a single language or joint school or a language with a beginners’ language (except for any language where a LAT score is available) is not viable. 

The purpose of reallocation is to give worthwhile candidates the chance of interview. Reallocation is carried out on the faculty MLAD database. Colleges with a higher ratio of candidates to places than the average across all Colleges will automatically be invited to reallocate candidates. Colleges with a lower ratio than the average will be asked to receive candidates. In addition, this year some Colleges signalled particular shortages in certain languages. The coordinators manually reallocated a few candidates in those languages before running the automated reallocation system. 

Number of Reallocated students: 79 

Interview Process 

Interviews took place on Teams in the second week of December. During the interviews, candidates were given the opportunity to demonstrate their motivation and commitment, and their capacity for the sustained study of language and literature. They were assessed against the published criteria on their overall communication skills and, where appropriate, on their oral competence in the relevant language(s). We know that it is disappointing to candidates and their schools that we are not able to offer places to all of the very able young people we see. 

For detailed FMML Selection and Interview Criteria see: https://www.mod- langs.ox.ac.uk/faqs#faq-12 

All candidates receive at least two online interviews from their First Choice College. All data is shared on the Faculty Admissions Database (MLAD) and Admissions Tutors from other colleges can arrange further interviews, with priority given to colleges on the computer-generated string of ‘lower’ choices. 

107 additional interviews were held. 

Guide Score: 
The Faculty Admissions Database (MLAD) calculates each candidate’s Guide Score by double-weighting the Interview Score and single-weighting all other factors. GCSE score (or its contextualised equivalent) and Composite Score (based on Contextual Data concerning Prior Education, Residential Postcode and Care Status) are then taken into account before Admissions Tutors make a final decision. 

The Mark Scheme (for schoolwork and interviews) is as follows: 

10 outstanding 


9 excellent 


8 very good 


7 good 


6 promising 


5 competent 


4 adequate 


3 poor 


2 weak 


1 very weak 


All decisions to offer places to ML candidates (Joint School included) were confirmed at the ML Admissions Final Decisions meeting on Friday 16th December 2022. All colleges involved were represented by their ML Primary Users together with the Co-ordinators from each Joint Schools and from the Opportunity Oxford scheme. 
We are grateful to colleges for their help in making the selection process run so smoothly. 

Pre-interview admissions tests 

The written language tests last half-an-hour and are taken in schools in November. Some candidates were unable to sit the test in schools, and sat it at home with remote invigilation. The test may vary in format from one language to another. The test is designed to test knowledge of basic structures of the foreign language. It is not primarily a test of vocabulary. Each year, tests are vetted by a committee which involves secondary school teachers so that they reflect current teaching aims and practices. 

Candidates may be informed of the quintile in which the test score fell, but it is Modern Languages practice not to release the actual test scores since the quintile provides more context for the performance, due to the incomparability across the languages (i.e. French vs. Russian). 

Please see below Average Test performance of applicants in 2022: 

Statistics for all candidates 










Beginners German 






Beginners Italian 









Beginners Russian 






Beginners Portuguese 






Modern Languages does not currently produce graphs of test performance as this might enable the identification of individual students in smaller languages such as Czech and Modern Greek. 


In the 2022-23 admissions round the estimated competition for places across Oxford was approximately 1.9:1. 

Candidates were selected using standard selection criteria

The majority of candidates who applied were called for interview. Shortlisting decisions are initially taken by the tutors in each college, but the Music tutors in all colleges which admit for the subject have access to the application materials and are able to call to interview (online) any candidate not called by the first-choice college. Decisions are reviewed by the Faculty Admissions Coordinator in conjunction with the relevant college tutors. Music does not use an aptitude test. However, it does request written work in advance (two essays, one of which should normally be on Music, plus some harmony and counterpoint and/or composition). The written work is double marked centrally within the Faculty and also by the first-choice college tutor. Grades form part of shortlisting discussions and also final decision meetings, alongside a range of other data (including personal statements, references, academic track record and predicted grades where applicable). The Faculty additionally operated a coordinated reallocation procedure, in accordance with the University’s Common Framework for Admissions, designed to ensure that the best candidates stood an equitable chance of being offered an academic place at Oxford, irrespective of their college preference. This meant that candidates from a number of oversubscribed colleges were reallocated to other colleges for interview. 

Merton first-choice candidates had at least two online interviews lasting approximately 20 minutes each, and candidates were given 30 minutes to prepare material before the start of each interview. The materials consisted of a short piece of writing on music, plus two unseen extracts of music. Candidates were asked to summarise the prose extract, and then discuss some of the critical issues within the text. They were also asked to make some salient observations about the music extracts (though they were not expected to recognise the piece or the composer). Questions tended to focus on matters of texture, form, harmonic structure, articulation, style and affect. There was an opportunity for candidates to ask questions at the end of the interview, although this did not form part of the formal assessment process. Merton interviews were conducted by Dr Brianne Dolce and Mr Dylan Price. 

Candidates were also invited to submit a recording of a short recital. These were assessed by Benjamin Nicholas, Dr Brianne Dolce, and Mr Dylan Price. 

Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

This year the number of applicants was 1864. The number of applicants per place was 7.0. There were 334 open applications and 48 deferred entry applications. There were 818 female and 1046 male applicants. There were 970 home, 207 EU and 687 overseas applicants. 718 applicants were shortlisted and 265 were offered places. 

Admissions processes 

The selection criteria for PPE are on the course website. The shortlisting criteria are described on the course website as follows: 

We only interview those who have a realistic chance of getting in, when judged by past and predicted exam results, school reports, personal statements and the pre-interview test. Applicants who do not take the pre-interview test will not normally be shortlisted for interview. 

Colleges are set deselection targets so that across all colleges at least 2.75 applicants per place are shortlisted. When making shortlisting decisions admissions tutors give the following weighting to the various elements of each application. 





Pre-Interview Admissions Test 




GCSE (or equivalent) profile 




Predicted (or actual) performance at 
A-Level (or equivalent) 




UCAS teacher’s reference 




AS-Level module grades 




UCAS personal statement 





After colleges have deselected their target number of applicants, some shortlisted applicants are reallocated. They are sent to the college where they will have the best theoretical chance of success, based on where they will be ranked highest within the existing cohort of the college. They are ranked according to a reallocation score which is based on TSA section 1 results and contextualised GCSE data where available. After the reallocation has taken place colleges can choose to rescue deselected applicants. 

Interview process 

Applicants will normally have at least two online interviews with their first college, although some colleges may have a single longer interview. Most colleges will have a minimum of two interviewers per interview. Colleges normally wish to involve tutors from all three subjects, but since there are no specific subject requirements and the content of the interviews is not subject-specific, this is not necessarily the case. 

The online interview is described on the course website as follows: 

The interview is not primarily a test of existing knowledge. It is aimed primarily at assessing the candidate’s potential for future development. Interviewers will be looking for evidence of the candidate’s potential for development in the following four areas: 

Understanding: this can be shown in (for example) a candidate’s ability to listen carefully, to analyse problems, to identify the premises and conclusions of arguments, and to express in their own words someone else’s ideas. 

Intellectual flexibility: this can be demonstrated by (for example) a candidate’s willingness to consider alternative views, and readiness to respond to problems and criticisms. 

Critical thinking and problem-solving: this can be shown in (for example) a candidate’s ability to adopt logical and critical approaches to problems, to critically assess arguments, to identify good and bad reasons for believing a particular claim, to assess relevance, and to think independently. 

Communication: this can be shown in (for example) a candidate’s ability to express ideas clearly, to give considered responses to questions, and to address the point under discussion instead of veering off topic. 

Colleges assign candidates up to three interview scores. These do not have to be subject-specific. Interviews are marked on a 1-100 scale: 



A mark above 70 is a strong indicator for admission 



Most candidates admitted will have interview scores above 65. 






A candidate with interview and test marks consistently below 60 is in a weak position 

49 or less 

Very poor 

Interview strongly suggests that the candidate is not suitable 

After colleges have entered their first interview scores and decisions candidates are ranked according to a post-first interviews score which is based on interview scores, TSA scores, and contextualised GCSE information where available. Colleges then select second interviews using all information available for each candidate. 

This year 28 candidates were selected for second interviews. After second interviews have taken place, colleges make their final decisions, based on all information available for each candidate at this stage. 

Pre-interview admissions test 

TSA results were released in early January 2023. They can be accessed via Cambridge Assessment’s Results Online system


In the 2022-23 admissions round Merton received 62 applications for Physics and Physics & Philosophy in total, i.e. nearly 8 candidates per place, which was similar to the number of candidates per place for these subjects across Oxford as a whole. Ten candidates who applied to Merton were ultimately offered a place at Oxford – a success rate of 16%, compared to a success rate of 11% across Oxford – reflecting the high standard of applications to Merton. Further details are given below. 

Candidates were selected using standard selection criteria and admissions procedures

The Physics Department’s Report on the Physics Admissions Exercise 2022, available below or as published on the Department’s website, provides details of the shortlisting procedure, including statistics from the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT).  

Test scores are not made available to candidates automatically but can be provided by the College on request.  

After initial shortlisting, two candidates who had applied to Merton were reallocated to different colleges for interview, to ensure that each college had approximately the same number of candidates per place, and hence that an applicant’s chance of obtaining a place was as far as possible independent of the college handling the application.  

All interviews this year were undertaken online. During the interview, candidates and interviewers used a shared electronic whiteboard (Miro) to exchange visual information (e.g. sketches and equations). These systems worked well. In the very few cases in which technical issues did occur, candidates were given additional time or the interview was rescheduled. 

Merton’s shortlisted candidates for Physics were given two interviews by Merton on Physics and Mathematics and at least one other interview by tutors at another college. Candidates for Physics & Philosophy were given an additional interview by Merton on Philosophy.  

Of the 21 first-college candidates interviewed by Merton, five were offered a place at Merton, and four were offered a place at another college. One candidate reallocated prior to interview was offered a place at another college, and one further candidate who had been reallocated to Merton from different college was offered a place at a third college. Three candidates who had applied to a different college were offered a place at Merton. 

Prospective applicants may be interested in the suggestions on how to prepare for the admissions process available on the Physics Department website

Departmental feedback 

In 2022, Oxford Physics received a total of 1633 applicants for places in Physics or Physics and Philosophy, a decrease of 152 (8.5%) on the 2021 figures. Of these, 1605 applicants were contesting the 191 places available for 2023 admission places, or approximately 8.4 applicants per place, with 28 applicants seeking deferred places. Compared to 2021, there was a slight decrease in the number of available places, reflecting capacity pressures in colleges following the Covid years. 

Of all 1633 applicants, 1033 (63.3%) were classified as “UK” applicants (69.1% in 2021), 120 (7.3%) were classified as EU but not UK (7.3% in 2021), and 480 (29.4%) were classified as non-EU (23.6% in 2021). 

Across the collegiate university, Physics aims to interview around 2.5 applicants per place. For this short-listing, we used the results of the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT) as well as all other contextual information to reduce the number of applicants to around 2.5 per place. 

Contextual data is additional information about the background of an applicant, which helps decision-making for all UK-domiciled applicants educated in the UK secondary system, using available information from the government and is disseminated to colleges and departments. The contextual data and flagging policy uses a range of socio-economic and school measures to place individual applicants on a spectrum of disadvantage for more effective identification of under-represented and disadvantaged students. 

In recent years, a contextualised GCSE (cGCSE) score produced by the University has also been used as part of the shortlisting. The cGCSE score was based on the ability to compare GCSE results between applicants from schools that are contextually ‘similar’. However, the circumstances of GCSE grades in summer 2021 (where they were, as in summer 2020, awarded by teacher assessment rather than external exams) made this less reliable as levels of grade inflation differed significantly between schools. We hope to be able to return to including some form of cGCSE score in the December 2023 admissions round. 

The PAT has been run for many years, and it is a consistent predictor of future performance at Oxford. The test is set to a defined syllabus and both the content and draft questions are checked by school teachers to ensure that the level is appropriate. Maths and physics elements are mixed together into a single two-hour paper. Each question is separately double blind-marked (markers focus on individual questions to ensure consistency of approach). Further details, including the admissions criteria and sample papers, can be found on the Oxford Physics Admissions website

When the PAT is written, it is intended to be at a broadly similar difficulty level from year to year, although the actual difficulty of a paper is never known until the PAT paper has been taken. The 2022 PAT ended up a bit easier than the 2021 one, reflected in an improved mean of 51.2% (compare with 43.1% in 2021). However, this may also reflect a return to more normal school conditions compared to those during the pandemic. 

We are extremely grateful to all schools and test centres for hosting applicants for the PAT test. We are also grateful for the yearly advice we receive from schools and teachers on adapting the PAT to changes in school syllabi, and we also expect to continue to make further changes reflecting such advice in subsequent years. 

One significant disruption to the sitting of the PAT this year was a typhoon that led to the cancellation of all admissions tests (including the PAT) in Hong Kong. Along with a small number of UK students forced to miss the PAT due to circumstances beyond their control, all such students were interviewed and given an additional back-up PAT paper during the period. All such applicants were over-quota in terms of interview numbers to ensure they did not displace anyone who had sat the original PAT test. 

There were a significant number of declared special circumstances, medical certificates or letters drawing attention to adversities in applicants’ personal lives that may have affected performance or ability to participate in the test. These were taken into account in making shortlisting and offer decisions. 

The marks achieved by applicants who sat the main PAT test ranged from 3% to 97%, with a mean mark of 51.2% (43.1% in 2021 and 49.5% in 2020) and a standard deviation of 16.9% (17.7% in 2021, 15.9% in 2020). More details are shown in the graph above (this only includes marks on the main PAT test). The spike at ‘0’ includes applicants who withdrew, applicants who did not register for the PAT test, applicants who were unable to sit the main PAT test (including all affected by the Hong Kong typhoon), and applicants who have to do two years compulsory military service for whom acceptance has been carried over from a previous admissions round. 

One notable trend with the PAT continued this year: of the top 100 applicants by PAT mark, only around a quarter of these had all their secondary schooling within the UK educational system (either state or independent sectors). 

As with December 2021, the principal determinant for shortlisting this year was the C-score, which pre-interview equals the PAT mark. 

We hope to be able to return to the R-score, last used in December 2020 as it incorporates a cGCSE component, for the December 2023 admissions round. 

Although the pandemic has now eased, this applying cohort had still been the subject of substantial disruption to their education during the pandemic period. For UK applicants, this involved school closures in summer term 2020 and the spring term of 2021 and, even when schools were open, frequent closures of year groups or classes due to self-isolation requirements. 

Our aim in the admissions process is to take the applicants we judge to have the most ability and potential to benefit from our course and teaching, and to make this decision based on the intrinsic strengths of applicants rather than on temporary effects of school closures. Likewise, in the admissions process we are aiming to project applicants forward to their performance on-course, not just comparing the levels attained at age 17 or 18. 

As with last year it was therefore decided to set a relatively high automatic shortlisting threshold, to allow for a higher fraction of shortlisted applicants with PAT scores below the automatic threshold but where application forms showed other evidence of excellence or mitigating circumstances. This year, the automatic threshold was set at 68%. 

The 281 applicants with PAT scores equal or higher than 68% were automatically shortlisted for interview, with a further 26 applicants with slightly lower scores also automatically shortlisted after the inclusion of contextual data, giving a total of 307 automatically shortlisted applicants (298 in 2021 and 400 in 2020). Reflecting the disruptions to normal educational patterns since March 2020, a further 164 applicants (compared to 202 in 2021 and 83 in 2020) were also shortlisted, who were below the automatic thresholds but whose application forms showed other evidence of excellence or mitigating circumstances.  

An additional 21 applicants unable to take the PAT for good cause (the vast majority from Hong Kong) were interviewed and given a back-up PAT test at the same time of the interviews. 

This represents a total of 492 applicants invited for (remote) interview this year. A key goal of the Oxford admissions process is that the probability of admission should not depend on the applicant's choice of college. Short-listing is therefore followed by a reallocation process, in which applicants are transferred from first-choice colleges with a large ratio of applicants per place, to colleges with a smaller ratio of applicants per place. This aims to ensure that, for each college, the ratio of interviewed first-choice applicants to places is as close as possible to 2.5 to 1. This year 77 applicants were reallocated to a different first choice college at the time of shortlisting. Reallocation has been practised by the University for many years, assuring that all strong applicants have the same chance of obtaining places at Oxford, although possibly not at their first-choice college. It is not an indicator of the strength or weakness of an applicant; applicants can be reallocated with very high PAT scores. 

Every short-listed candidate has two online interviews given by a first-choice college and one given by a randomly allocated second-choice college. Each interview is marked out of 10 based on the academic judgement of the interviewing tutors. The scale is such that a mark of 6 broadly corresponds to ‘acceptable’; 7 corresponds to ‘good’; and an average interview mark of 8 or higher will almost certainly result in an offer. Approximately 1% of interviews are scored as ‘10’.  

Applicants are assessed based on the totality of information about the applicant with no one interview, by itself, decisive. While the majority of accepted applicants have three good interviews (at least as viewed by the interviewers), 62 accepted applicants had one interview which scored less than a 7, while 14 accepted applicants had one interview which scored below 6. It is very hard for applicants to assess their own interview performance and we know from conversations with accepted students that it is extremely common for applicants to think that interviews which have actually gone well – even very well – have gone badly.  

For applicants offered a place, the average interview mark this year was 7.98 (7.95 in 2021). We would like to express our particular gratitude this year for the hard work of both applicants’ parents (for applicants interviewing from home) and teachers and IT staff of applicants’ schools (for those interviewing from school) for their work in facilitating the interviews and making appropriate spaces available. 

After the interviews, the three interview marks are combined into a single score (out of 100). To guide admitting tutors, an overall ranking was produced based on the post-interview C-score: 

Post-Interview C-score = (PAT mark out of 100) + 2 x (Interviews out of 100) 

This ranking is for guidance only; all applicants are assessed individually based on their C-scores, PAT scores, interview results, and all information on the UCAS form, including contextual information, and then compared centrally against all applicants applying to Oxford Physics. 

To ensure that the strongest applicants obtain places, all colleges have access to information on all applicants through a central database, and colleges are actively encouraged to flag up strong applicants they will be unable to offer a place to themselves. As a result, 17 applicants were offered a place at a college that had not interviewed them at all, either as first or second college.  

Ultimately, 200 offers were made for entry in 2023. These include 9 open offers, in which a college is not specified at the time of the offer. These are designed to cover the anticipated withdrawal rate of applicants who are made an offer and subsequently either decline the offer or fail to make the offer conditions. The offers include 15 offers made for Physics and Philosophy. A further 5 deferred offers were made for entry into Physics in 2024. 

Every year, there are applicants who are excellent physicists who underperform on the PAT and so we do not get a chance to see their excellence at interview. There are also applicants whom we interview and we would have liked to have offered places to, but are unable to do so because of the finite capacity of the course. We know that every year we turn down applicants who, in the end, turn out to be stronger physicists than some of the applicants we do offer places to. We wish all applicants enjoyment and understanding in their future pursuits of physics.