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Is it harder to get into Westminster School than Oxbridge?

(51 Posts)
ramennoddles Mon 12-Nov-18 22:21:26

I heard a rumour it is more competitive to get into Westminster than Oxbridge? Is that true?

OP’s posts: |
Ontopofthesunset Mon 12-Nov-18 23:12:09

I suppose there are different ways of measuring competitiveness. Since not everyone from Westminster who applies to Oxbridge gets in there at the end of their Westminster journey, they are clearly measuring different things at different times in students' lives against different competitive sets. So I don't think it matters one way or the other. They are both competitive.

ziggyziggypow Tue 13-Nov-18 15:39:19

Winchester probably more difficult than both?

AbstractNoun Tue 13-Nov-18 20:39:12

St. Andrew's University?

brisklady Wed 14-Nov-18 07:21:30

There is no benchmark of 'how hard it is to get into Oxbridge'. It will vary hugely depending which course you want to study.

QuaterMiss Wed 14-Nov-18 07:35:12

I heard a rumour

But how on earth would you measure this?

All one can say is that you need to be in a pretty fortunate position to be able to apply to either. At the age when a child applies to Westminster most of their influence will have come from their parents. At university level there are more things in play - and the student themselves has a little more autonomy in the process. I don't know about Westminster but Oxbridge entry criteria resist meaningful quantification - so the question is meaningless.

physicskate Wed 14-Nov-18 09:53:01

@AbstractNoun what about the University of St Andrews?

Hothouseorflophouse Wed 14-Nov-18 10:27:25

I remember a parent saying about her three-year-old getting into our local desirable all-through school that 'it's like getting into Oxbridge'. Don't think she was saying that a few years later when the poor child was managed out for not being quite as academic as she appeared at the initial scissor-skills assessment.

It's completely ridiculous to make a comparison. One is an all-boys (at least until 6th form), private school that picks kids aged 11 (or whatever). The other is relatively more democratic/meritocratic and picks children when they are adult or near adult. Oxbridge admissions is undeniably flawed but its intake is far broader than Westminster's which likes to present itself as some sort of mini Ivy League of intellectualism but is at heart as poncy and privileged a public school as Eton.

If you're asking on a numbers:places ratio than neither can compete with state grammars with no catchments. How do you measure the calibre of applicants to any of them? And the lottery element?

Ontopofthesunset Wed 14-Nov-18 11:52:47

And why would it matter anyway? If you're lucky enough to be able to choose, you should choose a school that you think will suit your child and your family values etc, regardless of how competitive or otherwise it is. And presumably when children are old enough, they and the school will decide whether Oxbridge would be worth a shot as the right next step for them.

MrsPatmore Wed 14-Nov-18 11:54:12

We applied for ds for the Under School. It was quite a gruelling process - hordes of children from all over the world for the pre-test then numbers whittled down for the English and Maths tests. These were hard, harder than the other independents he sat for. Analyse a Sylvia Plath poem at 10 and a half! He passed and then went on to have a 1-1 English interview and a 1-1 maths interview where they discussed a maths concept for a few minutes then he was given a problem to solve. Finally he had an interview with the Master of Westminster and the head of the Under School. He was offered a place but unfortunately the bursary level was too tight for us to make things work. I was upset when we had to turn his offer down (although I think ds was secretly relieved!).

Ds is now at a super selective Grammar with other super bright kids but there was something special about Westminster. I can't help thinking that he would probably have been a shoo- in for Oxbridge (if he wanted it) had he gone to WUS/Westminster but it'll be harder from a state school.

HingleMcCringleberry Wed 14-Nov-18 13:01:12

I can't help thinking that he would probably have been a shoo- in for Oxbridge (if he wanted it) had he gone to WUS/Westminster but it'll be harder from a state school.

But still doable MrsPatmore, so don't throw in the towel!

In before the next poster says 'there's no such thing as a shoo-in for Oxbridge' - well obviously, but you know what was meant, no need to get snarky!

NellyBarney Wed 14-Nov-18 14:48:13

Well, it's probably harder to get a place at a traditional naice Oxbridge college to read PPE (Oxford) or Economics (Cantab) than getting into Westminster, but it's probably easier to get a place for Chemistry at St Hildas or theology at a PPH than a place at Westminster.

MrsPatmore Wed 14-Nov-18 15:11:24

Yes, hopefully you all know what I mean but even a super selective Grammar can't hope to replicate what Westminster can offer. I think something like 50% of the cohort move on to Oxford/Cambridge and a sizeable number to the top American universities. It would have been a life changing opportunity for ds. It was annoying that they couldn't be more specific about the bursary amount prior to the offer as we would have withdrawn ds application had we known a ballpark figure.

NellyBarney Wed 14-Nov-18 16:32:51

I genuinely wouldn't worry, Patmore. Westminster surely would have been a lovely learning experience but Oxbridge is desperate for state students. If he can ace the Westminster application system and now keeps his eyes on the ball at a state school, he will have every chance. The thing that makes Westminster, Eton and Winchester score so high is that they encourage independent reading and study way beyond the a level syllabus. It's easy to replicate at home, you just need to tell yourself that there are no limits to what your ds can digest and access.

Needmoresleep Wed 14-Nov-18 17:08:42

You are comparing apples with pears.

Both will be great experiences and both are in a position to select some of the best and the brightest, but:

1. They will each be looking to select those who will benefit most from their education. There will be differences. (Not least because Westminster selects for 7+, 8+, 11+, 13+ and 16+.)

2. When there are high levels of competition a lot will depend on performance on the day, and a certain amount of luck

3. Neither Westminster nor Oxbridge are worth pursuing if the fit is not right. Not everyone is happy at Westminster, and not all DCs friends have been happy at Oxbridge.

Mine both went to Westminster and neither went to Oxbridge. One failed to get a place but did very well in London and is now has full funding to study for a PhD in the US. I believe that the interest in education and the study skills he gained at Westminster were sufficiently valuable that it did not matter that he did not go to Oxbridge. (Plus the London course probably suited him better.)

The other did not apply. For various reasons she did not want to jump the various hoops and for her subject did not see a real advantage
in going to Oxbridge over going elsewhere. She loved Westminster, every minute of it, and misses the intellectual atmosphere, but I tend to agree that she is not a natural Oxbridge type and a more practical course suits her.

And MrsPatmore, don’t worry. It sounds as if your son will do well wherever. Yes Westminster is a super experience, but not everyone made the most of it. By the time your DS arrives at Oxbridge he will be ready to really appreciate it.

AbstractNoun Wed 14-Nov-18 18:05:30

Physicskate, I found the thread so hypothetical, and the question so unanswerable, that I thought I would throw another university into the mix. Someone had already invoked Winchester!

physicskate Wed 14-Nov-18 20:43:41

@AbstractNoun - well done for your choice of random throw in!!

sollyfromsurrey Thu 15-Nov-18 13:12:51

It's like asking 'are oranges harder to peel than grapes'.

HingleMcCringleberry Thu 15-Nov-18 13:48:01

Grapes are considerably harder to peel than oranges... wait, does that mean the OP’s question was valid, or invalid?

JustRichmal Thu 15-Nov-18 22:07:01

Don't the people who sent dcs to Westminster have people to peel fruit for them?

maryso Fri 16-Nov-18 12:07:14

Don't the people who sent dcs to Westminster have people to peel fruit for them?


maryso Fri 16-Nov-18 12:09:27

Grapes are considerably harder to peel than oranges... wait, does that mean the OP’s question was valid, or invalid?

Depends on the type of hands/fingers you have, but mostly invalid

cakeisalwaystheanswer Fri 16-Nov-18 13:22:10

Dont be silly maryso. You cannot peel grapes with your hand, you need a knife, a very sharp one. I also need a knife to peel oranges because I can't do it without. Maybe I need to employ someone to peel my fruit.

maryso Fri 16-Nov-18 15:38:34

I defer to your superior experience of knives, cake.

ramennoddles Mon 19-Nov-18 20:11:18

I'm sorry if my question was invalid but I'm not very familiar with how the application systems for both work. I am little confused as to why they are incomparable: is it because of the age difference or the different range of courses that Oxbridge offer or because Oxbridge is larger?

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