Oxbridge Applications

(154 Posts)
Bibibayliss Sun 24-Feb-19 14:26:59

Dear Mums

My daughter is planning to apply to Cambridge next year. She will be taking her entrance tests this October. A company called Oxbridge Applications, ( not endorsed by Oxford or Cambridge) provide consultancy services on entrance tests, interviews etc. Has anybody used them or has any feedback about the company.
Thank you in advance

OP’s posts: |
TrainSong Sun 24-Feb-19 14:50:33

I'm not sure why you'd need this service.

I just looked at their site, which claims:

We have a proven, decade-long track record of significantly increasing the success rates of our applicants. Those making use of our Premier personalised support programme are almost three times as successful as the average Oxbridge applicant.

How on earth do they gauge that? What is an 'average' Oxbridge candidate? I'd ask for clear explanations of how they arrive at these figures.

It may depend how clued-up your school is. If they are not, they can harm an application. A good school will understand what is needed. Perhaps a company like that would give good guidance to someone from a school with no track record of applications.

What sort of school is she at? What's their Oxbridge policy?

There's loads you can do as a parent to support her.
Encourage wide reading or practise around her subject.
Ensure she's on target for A*s in all subjects.
Take her to visit Cambridge to look aorund colleges, departments, to open days and master classes etc so she feels comfortable with the town and knows her way around.
Make sure she has done her research on what papers to expect for the entrance exam, and that she has done practise papers or similar and is scoring well on them.
Above all she needs to know that an active, self-driven passion for her subject, demonstrated through wide knowledge beyond the A level/Bac/Highers syllabus is what they most want, along with aptitude.

ErrolTheDragon Sun 24-Feb-19 16:46:48

My DD is at Cambridge, I've been participating on threads re application since she was doing it till now, and I don't think I've come across anyone using this sort of 'service'.

What subject is she planning on applying for? The Cambridge aptitude tests seem to be designed explicitly to not require any special preparation, other than doing the available sample and past papers, having a good grasp of relevant gcse and yr 12 A level content, and the ability to think....

Sadusername3 Sun 24-Feb-19 17:42:14

Here’s a thread on student room. I haven’t read it and it’s 3 years old but may be helpful.

milienhaus Sun 24-Feb-19 17:44:22

When I was applying to Cambridge 10 years ago they were widely assumed to be crooks - no one I know used them.

SarahAndQuack Sun 24-Feb-19 18:49:59

I've done Cambridge admissions for two colleges in recent years. I think there's a reason these companies aren't endorsed.

Like @trainsong, I'd love to know how they arrive at their figures.

shockthemonkey Mon 25-Feb-19 10:04:53

I know nine people who have used them. The thing is about this type of service is that they come into their own if you are applying from a school that gives ZERO support for Oxbridge candidates.

Have heard no complaints about their services by the way, and of the nine cases I am familiar with, four were successful. I can only guess how much Oxbridge Applications contributed to that success, yet as others have pointed out, neither Oxford nor Cambridge endorse any of these types of services. I say that's all very well, but the students I know are seriously disadvantaged when it comes to applying to Oxbridge as they are at schools that give very little to no support (there was even one case where the school's willful incompetence made it impossible for a stellar student to get an interview -- but that's a long and very bitter story).

PM me if you need more info!


Stickerrocks Mon 25-Feb-19 11:46:05

I recently attended a Parent's Session held by Cambridge Admissions. Their message was that no company can tutor you through the admissions process, as the students almost always come a cropper in the flesh. They strongly advised us not to waste our money and to use their admissions website instead.

shockthemonkey Mon 25-Feb-19 14:06:18

PS, I don't see how Oxbridge Applications can state by how much they increase your chances of success. They are using the admissions stats across each university by subject, and are comparing them to the stats of their own clients in order to come to this figure. But their own clients happen to belong to the happy subset of Oxbridge applicants whose parents have the money, contacts and ambition, and willingly put everything they have into boosting their children's chances of success. So they should not be compared to the "average" Oxbridge applicant.

IrmaFayLear Mon 25-Feb-19 15:01:53

I suppose they may be useful for foreign applicants (ie applicants applying from abroad), who have absolutely no clue as to the process and need a guiding hand.

Anyone else with a bit of nouse can use the internet for help. And there is a lot of it out there. Almost too much, really! Ds had absolutely no help from school and I just looked at The Student Room and MN. When all's said (or read) and done, however, there is no magic formula: the candidate needs to be excellent. There are endless discussions (and threads on here) where people claim that if only they'd been spoonfed by a posh public school their dc would have got in/if only they'd had positive state school discrimination they'd have got in, yada yada.

SarahAndQuack Mon 25-Feb-19 15:32:42

I think it is fair to say that people's experiences do make a difference, irma. At the end of the day, if you interview someone who has the potential to be excellent but simply does not have a level of knowledge that would allow them to catch up, let alone keep up, with their peers, you can't admit them. I don't believe any tutoring company can do much about that quickly, though.

What I think are bigger problems are when someone might be excellent but there's something happening that stops them showing that at interview. It could be they're horribly, horribly nervous and simply can't communicate (and possibly a bit of interview practice would help, though it can also hinder, if the interview practice person has no clue what they're doing). Or it could be that they've been rigorously trained never to contradict a teacher, and so they really struggle to start interrogating ideas (again, you could tutor for this, but you might just as easily end up giving someone a superficial veneer of bolshy arrogance, which would be counterproductive).

I really hate it when you interview someone and you can see they've been coached a certain way, and they are clearly puzzled that you're pushing them to respond in a way they don't expect. It's much harder to get past that than to get someone who's a little unsure of the whole situation to open up.

But that's just my view.

Dropthedeaddonkey Fri 01-Mar-19 18:36:59

Some schools are more geared up to support pupils applying than others but there are free / cheap options eg locally we have an inter school partnership between state and private schools who offer lots of taster courses and advice, many private schools run uni talks and fairs which are open to all. Private schools have to do outreach to keep charitable status and we went to an oxbridge talk recently where the private school invited state school parents to get in contact if they wanted any support with applications. Sutton Trust offer support and mentoring to disadvantaged groups and summer schools. Lots of unis do taster days / lectures. Also places like Villiers Park do residential taster courses and offer bursaries and again advice on uni applications. There are charities that are trying to widen participation and support children applying that you shouldn’t have to pay for the help.

MariaNovella Mon 04-Mar-19 13:00:07

This year, Cambridge University is launching its own pre-university summer school for international applicants to UK universities. I can only hypothesise that this is in response to the burgeoning university counseling market which grows to meet endless demand but which is entirely unregulated and extremely hard to navigate.

MariaNovella Mon 04-Mar-19 14:13:29

SarahandQuack - your posts are interesting. I think that, in common with many academics, you haven’t understood that many would be applicants to Oxford and Cambridge are hindered by schools (or their university counsellors) that act as gatekeepers to higher education and either actively do not support applications to Oxford/Cambridge or are beyond incompetent when attempting to guide the process. The underlying assumption among academics seems to betharb there could not possibly be a situation in which a school with a brilliant student would refuse that student a reference, or reasonable grade predictions, towards an Oxbridge application. Unfortunately that is far from the case and applicants rely on external advisors to help them navigate the admissions process including very difficult negotiations with schools. It’s not all about mock interviews!

Cocopops2010 Tue 05-Mar-19 07:42:52

@marianovella schools have to be aspirational but honest in their grade predictions. At both schools I have worked at an outside counsellor would have made zero difference to grade predictions.
@bibibayliss what subject? I have lots of HE experience can give some advice.
Avoid Oxbridge applications. They do sell some good mock exam papers though.

MariaNovella Tue 05-Mar-19 08:10:09

@Cocopops - I think you are missing my point.

MarchingFrogs Tue 05-Mar-19 13:05:59

Here’s a thread on student room. I haven’t read it and it’s 3 years old but may be helpful.

The Cambridge 'Master List' might be a useful place to start over there:

PCohle Tue 05-Mar-19 13:13:06

I think your DD would be far better served spending the time and money reading widely around her subject and practicing writing about it and, if possible, discussing it intelligently with adults.

The internet offers a wealth of information and Oxbridge hosts many taster sessions, courses, conferences etc for prospective students.

I too query how much assistance a consultant could be in terms of predicted grades or school references.

MariaNovella Tue 05-Mar-19 13:23:27

I too query how much assistance a consultant could be in terms of predicted grades or school references.

Do you realise that there are schools that have literally no idea where to begin on these two aspects of the application!

PCohle Tue 05-Mar-19 13:30:54

Why on earth would a school, even one with "no idea where to begin" base a pupil's predicted grades on advice from an outside consultant paid for by the pupil?

Research shows predicted grades are more or less nonsense anyway (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-38223432). I'd be very surprised if Oxbridge give them much weight.

MariaNovella Tue 05-Mar-19 13:38:36

They wouldn’t. The consultant is there to explain what is required.

PCohle Tue 05-Mar-19 13:46:14

Why would you need to pay a consultant to tell you that what is required to get in Oxbridge is the highest predicted grades possible?

ErrolTheDragon Tue 05-Mar-19 14:04:53

* Do you realise that there are schools that have literally no idea where to begin on these two aspects of the application!*

I'd have thought they could get advice from colleagues at schools and sixth form colleges which have a good track record of encouraging their students to aim high.

MariaNovella Tue 05-Mar-19 14:48:01

PCohle - because the school doesn’t support the Oxbridge application and wants to sabotage it?

MariaNovella Tue 05-Mar-19 14:48:56

Errol - you are naive if you think schools readily share university application info with other schools.

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