Is Cambridge easier than Oxford?
Oxbridge Application Specialists
Is Cambridge easier than Oxford?
In order to determine which of Oxford or Cambridge is the ‘easier’ university to get into, we must look in detail at their admissions statistics and admissions process. Let’s begin with Oxford.
How easy is it to get into Oxford for Medicine?
In 2020, Oxford received just over 2000 applications through UCAS – 2054 to be exact. Of these applicants, 1972 successfully sat the BMAT. 164 applicants were discounted due to not meeting minimum entry requirements (e.g. were too young, not sitting enough A Levels, etc). 20 applicants chose to withdraw from the process prior to shortlisting.
Therefore a total of 1851 eligible applicants were left, who had registered for the BMAT and were still in the process at the time of shortlisting. 62% were female, 75% sat A levels, 21% lived outside the EU and 17 applicants were graduates.
23% of those who made applications would go on to be shortlisted.
Oxford’s process involves the creation of a numerical ranking that combines GCSE and BMAT equally. More weighting was given to sections 1 and 2 (40% each) than section 3. The GCSE measured involved looking at the proportion and number of A* grades, as well as area and school performance data to contextualise individual results.
The exact formula used at Oxford is 0.74 * normalised BMAT score + 0.74 * contextualised GCSE score.
Candidates who do not make the initial shortlist are reviewed by tutors in order to see if GCSE or BMAT scores could be providing an inaccurate assessment of their potential. This leads to some applicants being newly added to the shortlist – in 2020, 41 new applicants were added. Therefore don’t be too worried about the process being entirely arbitrary or automated – there is a human level to this first shortlisting step as well.
In 2020, 149 quota offers were made alongside 8 open offers. This means the overall success rate for male applicants was 9.2% and for female applicants 8%. In 2019, these values were 11% and 9.3% respectively.
For offer holders, the mean BMAT score was 68.9%. The mean number of A*s at GCSE was 10.7 and the proportion of A* at GCSE was 0.96. No graduate applicant received a place. 36.3^ of offers were made by colleges that were not the college of initial preference.
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How do interviews at Oxford run?
Each applicant to Oxford for Medicine will be seen at two colleges – the one that they have chosen themselves (or one that they are assigned to if an open application is made) and one other randomly assigned to them.
There will normally be 425 applicants invited to interview, or 2.5 applicants per place.
How easy is it to get into Cambridge for Medicine?
Looking at Cambridge Medicine as a whole rather than any specific college, 2019 saw 1584 applications made, which led to 323 offers and 280 places being awarded. That’s almost an 18% likelihood of receiving a place, or almost one in five applicants being awarded a place.
However, you should note that average BMAT scores for all applicants were higher than the national average at 5.5 for section 1, 6.1 for section 2 and 3.5 for section 3. The majority – around ⅔ of applicants – will be predicted A*A*A* at A Level.
The average applicant will have 7A* GCSE grades and the average offer holder have 9A* GCSEs.
Unlike Oxford, Cambridge will invite the majority of its applicants to interview. In general, 80% of any given course’s applicants will be invited. This is in stark contrast to somewhere between 20% and 25% only of Oxford applicants.
However, just because a higher proportion of students are given an interview does not make the application process any easier.
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Is Cambridge Easier for Medicine than Oxford?
One could argue that it is, as 18% of Cambridge applicants will receive a place versus 9% of Oxford applicants. However, in reality the students accepted look very similar – 9A* GCSEs at Cambridge being average and 10 or 11A* GCSEs at Oxford.
Due to the high number of applicants, lesser chance of being invited to interview and marginally higher GCSE score it’s fair to argue that Oxford is in fact harder to get into than Cambridge for Medicine – however, such an outlook should be cautioned against. You should reflect on what kind of student you are, the kind of course that you are interested in, and where your greatest chance to shine lies (be it your BMAT, interviews or existing grades) in order to choose which university is right for you.
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