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Oxbridge admission
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Sejal22 · 17/05/2021 19:09

I am looking for a good tutor who will help with the preparation for Oxbridge admission for my daughter. I am planning to use Oxbridge Admissions consultant firm to prepare her for entrance test, personal statement and with interview however they are really expensive. Does anyone use this firm? All reviews will be helpful to get a decision.

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SarahAndQuack · 17/05/2021 23:19

Do you mind me asking why you think she needs paid-for preparation?

If she has had unexpected issues (illness; teaching significantly worse than that you'd expect for her peer group), it'd be better to explain it in her statement (and everyone knows this year is going to be odd because of covid).

Often, IME, candidates who have been 'prepared' for interview are a bit rigid. There are some companies out there that are, basically, scammers, who will drill your child in techniques and learned phrases that they promise will help. The actual effect is often to make the candidate panic in interview, because there are no techniques and 'correct' phrases, and interviewers will tend to push at anyone who seems to be working from a script.

If it's more the sort of service where someone knowledgeable will chat to your DD about her subject, that might work.

I am trying to be even-handed writing this, because I really do know that sometimes candidates who might be excellent, struggle in interview because they feel very shy, or they've not had much experience talking about their subject. And it absolutely can be an issue of educational/social privilege, and I would never want to pretend otherwise with some pollyanna 'oh OP, don't worry, Oxbridge interviewers are all psychic and never get it wrong'.

But it is also really frustrating - and sad - when you interview someone and they have been taught that the interview is about this strategy they've learned. Or they expect certain questions (often very pretentious or unlikely questions) and are stumped by the questions they actually get.

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Thedogisdrivingmemad · 17/05/2021 23:38

Unless there is a very specific reason they need extra support, frankly if they require a tutor at this age and stage they'll probably flounder at Oxbridge anyway.
Plus I bet admissions tutors would spot it a mile off anyway so you might be doing more harm than good.
When are you going to stop holding your dc's hand with tutoring OP and let them find their natural level for themselves. They are 17/18 now - mummy and daddy can't pay for tutors forever...or has someone invented a 'work tutor' for graduates in their first job?

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MarchingFrogs · 18/05/2021 01:02

I am looking for a good tutor who will help with the preparation for Oxbridge admission for my daughter.

application, possibly... If you really mean admission, it sounds as if you think that is something that can be bought? What, exactly, are you hoping that the company will actually do for your money, that your DD couldn't do for herself?

Both the Oxford and Cambridge websites seem to offer plenty of helpful information and advice on their admissions processes and requirements, for free.

Does your DD herself actually want to go, to either Oxford or Cambridge? Which does she think would be the better fit for her, in terms of the subject(s) that she wants to study at university? Apologies if I have completely misunderstood, but it does sound rather like she is passively 'being got into Oxbridge', rather than actively pursuing an application to one of those two universities.

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Finesterre · 18/05/2021 13:00

In the nicest possible way - tutoring is not really necessary for Oxbridge admissions - you have had some sensible advice upthread.
The most important things for Oxford (I can't speak about Cambridge as DC is at Oxford) is to:
-have a strong PS that shows real passions for the subject and a lot of independent study outside the A level syllabus. The admissions tutors will spot a PS that has been heavily 'prepped' and polished, so I would advise against anyone else getting too involved. My DC showed it to a couple of teachers who made some grammatical tweaks and that was it.

  • do really well on the admissions test. There is plenty of advice and past papers on line. A good score here will make securing an interview more likely. For STEM subjects (again, DC is a STEM student so I don't know about humanities) there was no need for additional tutoring for my DC -they simply familiarised themselves with the syllabus then practiced all possible past papers.
  • at interview the ONLY questions asked will be about the subject - so for STEM it was all about problem solving equations and graphs. DC had 3 interviews' and literally got no questions other than 'solve this' 'complete this' what does this graph say'. My DC does not have the best of social skills but found that after all, that was not what was needed. He did manage to stutter out a ;thank you' and 'goodbye' at the end of the interview.
    A word about workload once there - it is insane! MY DC is super organised, taught themselves 1.5 A levels, plus computer coding alongside their 6 form work and they still need to work 10 hrs + per day to stay on top of all assignments and problem sheets. So dc will need to be very focussed and passionate about their subject to survive.
    I know it's a 'thing' in the USA to have tutors who prep for undegrad admissions but it really is not a UK thing.
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chesirecat99 · 18/05/2021 14:39

But it is also really frustrating - and sad - when you interview someone and they have been taught that the interview is about this strategy they've learned. Or they expect certain questions (often very pretentious or unlikely questions) and are stumped by the questions they actually get.

FWIW one of the questions I was asked at interview many decades ago is still used at interview. I got the answer wrong (and to several other questions). I could teach a candidate the correct answer but that isn't what the interviewers are interested in, in fact, the whole point was to ask something that candidates wouldn't have been taught and see how they deal with it. What they wanted to see was that I could apply knowledge, come up with a hypothesis then critique it and come up with a new hypothesis, whether I could argue my case.

My eldest actually did an afternoon seminar for an aptitude test. He said there were a few good tips on exam technique but the main benefit was that it gave him confidence that his own preparation had set him in good stead and he was on the right track. Now, every year, the same company contacts him to see if he wants to teach the same seminar. A lot of the tutors are postgraduate students who have done a day's training and are regurgitating the notes they have been given.

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DahliaMacNamara · 18/05/2021 16:27

It's quite common to think there is some esoteric code to unlock regarding Oxbridge admissions. I know for example that I worried DD was wasting a space on her UCAS form in applying, as she had no access to any special help, and didn't have any out of the ordinary life experiences to make her stand out.
After she'd actually applied, I read what they were looking for, and decided they'd be idiotic to turn her down. They didn't turn her down. They're looking for teachable students with an excellent grasp of their subject and the ability to demonstrate that. There are many applicants from all over the world, and lots of amazing people get turned down because they can't fit them all in. They don't get rejected because they didn't know the form, though they might well get put on the no pile if it looks as if someone else is pulling the strings.

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aurea · 18/05/2021 16:36

I think this may disadvantage your daughter as the interviewing tutor will spot your daughter's coaching a mile off. They are looking for potential, not polish.

(I have a DC studying law at Oxford).

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Malbecfan · 18/05/2021 17:51

I agree with everyone else. We couldn't afford tutoring or coaching. DD1 is passionate about her subject and had done relevant work experience and reading which were included on her personal statement. She was asked things in her interview that she could not possibly have prepared for - think Fermi-type questions. They are not necessarily interested in the answer but the thought-process.

From a mental health perspective, tutoring solely for Oxbridge is a dangerous strategy. What if your DC doesn't get an interview there? Would they perceive themselves as a failure? By all means be aspirational but please do not think you can buy your way in. There are lots of other fantastic universities and courses out there; my younger daughter is at one.

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Sejal22 · 18/05/2021 19:41

@Finesterre

In the nicest possible way - tutoring is not really necessary for Oxbridge admissions - you have had some sensible advice upthread.
The most important things for Oxford (I can't speak about Cambridge as DC is at Oxford) is to:
-have a strong PS that shows real passions for the subject and a lot of independent study outside the A level syllabus. The admissions tutors will spot a PS that has been heavily 'prepped' and polished, so I would advise against anyone else getting too involved. My DC showed it to a couple of teachers who made some grammatical tweaks and that was it.
- do really well on the admissions test. There is plenty of advice and past papers on line. A good score here will make securing an interview more likely. For STEM subjects (again, DC is a STEM student so I don't know about humanities) there was no need for additional tutoring for my DC -they simply familiarised themselves with the syllabus then practiced all possible past papers.
- at interview the ONLY questions asked will be about the subject - so for STEM it was all about problem solving equations and graphs. DC had 3 interviews' and literally got no questions other than 'solve this' 'complete this' what does this graph say'. My DC does not have the best of social skills but found that after all, that was not what was needed. He did manage to stutter out a ;thank you' and 'goodbye' at the end of the interview.
A word about workload once there - it is insane! MY DC is super organised, taught themselves 1.5 A levels, plus computer coding alongside their 6 form work and they still need to work 10 hrs + per day to stay on top of all assignments and problem sheets. So dc will need to be very focussed and passionate about their subject to survive.
I know it's a 'thing' in the USA to have tutors who prep for undegrad admissions but it really is not a UK thing.

Good evening

Your reply is very informative, thank you. My daughter is planning to study computer science in university. She is doing A level in Maths, Further Maths and Computer Science. She is very bright student however I felt that If she have someone's guidance on application process then it could be useful to her.
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SeasonFinale · 18/05/2021 19:57

Her school should be giving her the guidance she requires.

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SarahAndQuack · 18/05/2021 20:57

@Sejal22, she should get in touch with admissions. It's very much encouraged, and will obviously be much more accurate than a tutor can give (or her school, for that matter).

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Finesterre · 18/05/2021 21:25

She will need to take the MAT for Oxford, so get her practicing past papers. Don't know if Cambridge use STEP is have a different test. As SeasonFinale says, her school should be helping her. As a pp said upthread, everything she needs is on the websites. FWIW my DC had no help whatsoever other than their own determination and school pointing them in the right direction

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Shadedog · 18/05/2021 22:31

The Student Room has threads for applicants for most subjects with lots of advice. There is LOADS of advice on applications available from both the universities including what to expect in an interview and how to write a personal statement. Ds’s subject (humanities) has online taster days etc at both unis. Also YouTube is awash with advice, lots of which is subject specific. The test for ds subject is specifically designed to be about something candidates are unlikely to know and they are penalised if they bring in outside info. The past papers and examiners reports are online and are worth doing but it’s technique rather than knowledge. Obv it may be very different for STEM subjects

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HuaShan · 19/05/2021 08:48

Dahlia has it spot on - I think Oxford are looking for 'teachable' students. My DS is a Maths first year. In one of his interviews he got lost trying to solve on of the set problems and got stuck. The interviewer asked him to talk through his reasoning for taking a particular strategy. He then saw where he had gone wrong and corrected himself.
DS's preparation consisted of practicing talking through Maths problems out loud with his Further Maths teacher and doing all the past MAT papers.

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TeaAlwaysTea · 19/05/2021 09:10

I can only tell you about Cambridge. They use CTMUA which is basically the TMUA (maths) exam except you don't pay for it and the results go directly to Cambridge. You can only sit CTMUA if you are applying for CompSci at Cambridge. There are very few past papers online for this so Ds used MAT papers to "prepare."

Even with 95%+ in maths and FM exams in school Ds found the TMUA papers a challenge because they work on you sort of making the next step yourself, ie it isn't something you have necessarily been taught but can you make the next logical step. It is multiple choice with 8 answers per question I think. I have no idea about this in detail as maths is not my forte.

Re the process it is the same as any other uni except you choose a college beforehand, like Durham and the deadline is earlier so 15th October rather than 15th Jan. There are stats on how many students for each course are in which colleges, so Churchill will take a much higher number of CompSci students than say Clare. So there is an element of weighing up the odds of getting in. Personal statement has to show why she loves it, what has she done outside of A levels and most importantly what has she learned and where did this lead to?

Students with 4 x A*s don't get in, as Cambridge themselves will say the competition is high. Everyone applying has similar grades, similar outside pursuits that show their love of their subjects. Sadly it is a sheer volume of applicants outnumber the number of places. Ds was interviewed by 4 people, 2 in each session. It was maths and nothing else.

Cambridge will tell you all the information on the application process is online freely available to all and it is. There is no magic formula, who they accept and who they reject is still a mystery to everyone.

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Blastaghast · 19/05/2021 17:24

It's a bit disingenuous to tell the OP that "the school should be preparing" her DD because many schools don't or, even if they do, they are not experienced or particularly knowledgeable at doing so. My eldest moved to a grammar for sixth form and is getting a fair amount of prep - weekly coaching for the entrance tests, bookable 1-1 chats with a teacher who went to Oxbridge themselves, proofreading of the personal statement and a practice interview session. If he'd stayed at his old school (a good comp) they would have done their best to replicate a lot of that, but with much less experience and no track record of having got anybody onto an Oxbridge maths course. If he'd gone to another local school (an outstanding and very over-subscribed comp, which boasts of getting students into Oxbridge) he would have got no STEP/MAT coaching at all - what they don't say on the website is that none of those Oxbridge transfers were for maths.

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Shadedog · 20/05/2021 10:52

I agree. Schools vary wildly and widely in their “prep”. We live in an area with very low participation in higher education, most kids don’t go to university at all, let alone academic courses at competitive and prestigious universities. Lots of people who do go will be studying more vocational degrees such as nursing with very obvious jobs at the end of them which require a different approach to applications. Ds is in a 6th form with 2000 kids. They have around 10 applying to oxbridge. Compare to a grammar school or a private school in the Home Counties, or Brampton Manor in London. Ds is very lucky to be on a widening participation scheme but the idea that school will prep him, and that prep will be equal to the prep in a school where oxbridge applications are commonplace is laughable.

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HuaShan · 20/05/2021 12:58

I think we need to differentiate though between 'prep' and coaching/tutoring for admissions tests. Oxford already look at the context in which GCSE's are taken and use this information to give a contextual score prior to decisions about interview. They also flag schools with historic low admission rates. DS did not have any coaching for the MAT but the teachers supported him by allowing him to work through papers in school time and marking them. He attended a large state school with variable Oxbridge success rates and the 6th form did ensure that everyone who wanted to apply had all the information they needed, including signposting to some of the widening participation schemes. FWIW DS said no amount of coaching or prep would have been of use in the actual interviews. He did not have MAT prep but still managed to score in the top 10% by his own diligence.

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Blastaghast · 20/05/2021 13:17

Yes HuaShan, that distinction can be made, but nobody.bothered to ask the OP about what sort of 'tutoring' she felt her DS needed. Everyone just dived in with Mumsnet-typical pre-judged dismissiveness. Smile

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goodbyestranger · 20/05/2021 20:44

Op what sort of school is your DD at? Is it an independent?

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whiteroseredrose · 21/05/2021 20:34

Hi OP

If your DD is looking at Computer Science for Oxford she will need to do the MAT so I'd initially focus on that. Without a good enough MAT she won't get an interview.

DS had to do the PAT for physics so we paid for a few sessions with a tutor to plug some of the gaps. DS loved the sessions with the tutor and came out absolutely buzzing. It was well worth the money even if he hadn’t got in.

Also Google Oxbridge Launchpad. They have a free mentoring service. DD heard about it through school. She was allocated a mentor in her chosen subject (Earth Science) - a current student who gave her personal statement a read through and then a couple of practice interviews. That was all we did for DD and she has an offer. All she needs now is to get the grades...

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SeasonFinale · 22/05/2021 15:11

If the OP is prepared to pay the silly money for the Oxbridge Admissions consultancy she mentions onenwoukd reasonably assume her DC is at the type of school where they would indeed offer some form of preparation.

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KaptainKaveman · 22/05/2021 15:35

OP is she interested in Ox or C ?

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goodbyestranger · 22/05/2021 22:05

Yes exactly SeasonFinale.

It's an utterly pointless company, other than for the purpose of enriching its owners.

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goodbyestranger · 22/05/2021 22:05

None of this bodes well for the DD.

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