to Oxford and Cambridge

Oxford and Cambridge ( sometimes collectively known as ‘Oxbridge’) attract a large number of Concord applicants each year.

It is only possible to apply to one of these universities, so careful consideration should be given to which one is best for the individual: this should focus on the course offered, the nature of the city, the college and the details of the application process for that subject (in the context of the student’s personal strengths and interests).

Concord offers considerable support to students applying to Oxford or Cambridge as the process is so demanding. A very strong foundation at IGCSE level (or equivalent) is essential, with the most competitive applicants having at least 8 subjects at grade 9. A set of A grades at AS Level, with impressive raw scores that can be highlighted in the college reference, are also needed to help secure an interview. Teachers also need to be confident that the applicant will achieve at the highest level in the final A Level examinations, in order provide A* predicted grades for the student’s Oxford or Cambridge application.

Since 2016, almost all Cambridge and Oxford undergraduate degrees have an admissions test as part of the application process. These include the BMAT for medicine, the PAT for Physics, the MAT for Mathematics, the LNAT for Law and the TSA for a range of courses. Some are taken before interview in late October and used for shortlisting, while others are taken at interview in December. These tests are becoming increasingly important in the application process and in recognition of this, Concord offers specific guidance on how to prepare and a series of mock admissions test opportunities through the year. Concord is also a pre-test centre for the TSA exam, giving students more chances to try out questions for this particular test.

Some students may also be asked to submit pieces of written work or to prepare a portfolio (for Architecture or Fine Art). Concord puts considerable support in place to support students through this process and to ensure they select the most appropriate examples of their work.

All offers from Oxford or Cambridge are made after the student has attended for interview.  It is likely that a student could face at least two interviews (and we have known one or two face as many as seven!).  Such interviews test the candidate’s ability to communicate and to ‘think on their feet’.  This is a very different skill-set to traditional academic study.  A successful interview requires the student to communicate confidently, intelligently and with intellectual accuracy.  This is not an easy skill, and considerable support is given to encourage students to be self-critical of their communication skills.  This includes interview workshops, mock interview practice and the opportunity to attend specialist bespoke interview training days. There is also an opportunity to participate in an online mentoring programme involving top Concord alumni known as ‘Concord Online’. Furthermore, students who will face the challenge of interviews are encouraged to get involved in specific opportunities that will cultivate this skill, including public speaking and academic discussion groups.