How to Apply: Cambridge vs. Oxford

Trying your luck and submitting your application to Oxford or Cambridge is definitely one of the highlights of your final year at school. Read on to see how the application process to these universities is different in terms of deadlines and choices.

Cambridge vs. Oxford: These high-tier universities are commonly referred to as “Oxbridge”. And those students who apply to either one of them are called Oxbridge candidates.

How to apply

Just like other universities in the UK, Cambridge and Oxford receive their applications via a website called UCAS.

Once the applicant created an account, they can proceed and add desired universities to the list of their university choices.

How many universities can you choose?

When deciding on universities, bear in mind that you can only choose courses at five universities.

There is an exception to that. If you are applying to read veterinary sciences, medicine or dentistry, you can only choose four universities.

This rule only applies to courses in those fields.

Typically what happens is that if you, for example, want to do medicine, you can apply to up to four universities to read medicine and choose a neighboring field, e.g. pharmacology, as your fifth option.

When to apply

Applying to Oxford and Cambridge requires a slightly different process which results in admissions deadline being earlier than regular one.

Just like for medicine, dentistry, and veterinary sciences, the deadline for UCAS applications to Oxbridge is on the 15 October 2019 18:00 (UK time).

Therefore, keep in mind that you should have all the required documents, including your personal statement and references by this date.

Cambridge vs Oxford – choose one

Another revelation on this journey is that students can only choose ONE of the two universities.

That’s right. Applicants can only choose either Oxford or Cambridge when adding university choices on UCAS in the same year.

The decision to choose one of the universities boils down to the courses provided.

So one should take great care when comparing courses offered and teaching methods established.

Courses Offered

Just because both universities are world-renowned, don’t assume they provide the same courses.

Each university has courses which the other one doesn’t offer.

An advice here would be to go of official university websites and see which subject are offered for courses of your interest.

As a rule of thumb, it is worth comparing the curricula of the course at different universities even though they might have the same name.


Another difference from most of other UK universities is that Oxbridge applicants have live interviews which they need to attend in order to be further considered.

During these interviews, university representatives try to understand the way each applicant thinks and how they are able to act in an unknown context. Interviews are based on the course that you are intending to study at the university.

Beside immaculate soft skills such as self-presentation, enunciation, and the ability to break down tasks into steps, make sure to do extra reading on the subject.

Interviews tend to be held in December which means that you still have half a year worth of material for all the subjects.

So to feel more confident when hearing new vocabulary and to impress the interviewers, read a few chapters ahead in your textbooks.

Applying to Oxbridge is an event that will push you to work to the best of your ability under so many deadlines and stress.

But time-management and timely preparation will massively increase the chances of success.

Whom would you choose in the battle, Cambridge vs. Oxford?

Photos: Shutterstock / Graphic Design: Martina Advaney

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