April 8, 2024

5 min read

Diary of an Oxbridge Applicant
In the world of higher education, few institutions rival the prestige and scholarly tradition of Oxford and Cambridge. For aspiring students, navigating the complex and highly competitive application process can be a daunting task. Step into the 'The Diary of an Oxbridge Applicant,' where we chronicle the application journey experience of an aspiring Oxbridge student, expertly guided and supported by an Oxbridge consultant at Carfax Education.

April 2021

First meeting with Carfax! We discuss my plans to apply to an Oxbridge university in autumn 2022, for 2023 entry (when i'm in Year 13). It all seems so far away, but beginning my programme now gives me time to prepare and build my profile, without jeopardising my schoolwork. I sit a profiling test, and we discuss my strengths, and possible courses I might enjoy. I’d heard about PPE, the Oxford course which so many UK political figures study, combining Politics, Philosophy and Economics: the profiling result suggests it would be a good fit for my interests. I’m excited to start preparing for my application!

May-June 2021

I’m busy with my GCSEs, so I don’t have much time to check in with Carfax, but I know they’re there if I have any questions or worries. Lucy keeps in touch with articles, and we arrange a summer course at an elite US university: after some discussion, I decide to do the course online, rather than in person. At the end of June I attend the Oxford Open Day, visiting a few Colleges and the Politics, Philosophy and Economic Departments, to get a better idea of what it would be like to study there. I’m even more determined to apply to Oxford, and I’m glad I have an idea of the work I’ll need to put in to put in my best application!

July/August 2021

Summer holidays! My summer course is really fascinating, but studying online also gives me time to schedule some tutorials with Carfax, including my first TSA Test Prep Session – The Thinking Skills Assessment is the aptitude test you sit for PPE and other subjects, after submitting your UCAS application, but before the interviews, and it’s really important to score highly, so going over a past paper with the Carfax tutor was really useful! I have 6 hours of Test Preparation in my Carfax package, so I’ll spread them out between now and next autumn when the exam takes place. I also book in my first pair of Masterclasses: these are 1 hour tutorials on a university-level topic I’ve decided with a subject specialist – this time, Democracies and Authoritarianism. She gives me a mini lecture for the first Masterclass hour, then sets me reading and an essay to write for the follow up Masterclass a week later. It gave me a taste of what a real Oxford tutorial will be like and has given me lots of ideas for reading further into the subject.

September 2021

I start sixth form and my IB course! It’s going to be a busy 2 years, and I know I’ve got lots of work ahead of me, but it’s worth it to improve my chances of an offer from Oxford!

October/November 2021

First term goes by in a flash! We fit in a course profile review meeting at half-term: we’ve identified PPE at Oxford as my top choice, but on my UCAS application I have 4 other choices to fill. Fiona and I have a Teams meeting to discuss my longlist of universities.

December 2021

I’m ready for the holidays! After a bit of a rest, we schedule Masterclass 3 & 4 on Freedom of Expression, and TSA Test Prep 2.


January 2022

Back to school! Lucy and I have a meeting to discuss summer course and internship options.

February 2022

Another meeting at half term, to decide on my summer activities, and check I’m on course with my extra-/super-curricular activities: Lucy tells me that for an Oxbridge Personal Statement, their admissions teams will expect between 80-90% of the content to relate to super-curricular material, so I book in Masterclasses 5 and 6 on Universal Basic Income.

March 2022

We’ve decided that since I’ve chosen a spring course, it would be better to use the summer holidays to do an internship, so I make sure the details are confirmed and finalised with the company.

April 2022

Spring holidays! I love the Debate Chamber PPE course, and since it’s just a week long I have time to fit in my third TSA prep. We also kickstart work on my UCAS Personal Statement with a brainstorm session to get all my ideas and experience down on paper. It will be much easier to start writing it with all this prepared.

May/June 2022

Summer term of Year 12 is very full on, with mock IB exams, but we find time to meet to plan and book summer university visits. When my results are out, I’m happy to share my predicted grades with Fina and Lucy - 45 out of 45! I’m very happy with that!

July/August 2022

I enjoy my work experience at a merchant bank: it gives me an insight into how economic policies can affect real businesses and people. I spend the rest of my summer holiday attending university and open days, and revising my Year 12 work. I also have several meetings with Carfax: to review various drafts of my Personal Statement; to discuss which College I might apply to; and to open my UCAS account and start filling in what I can.

September 2022

Year 13! Registration opens for the TSA. I check with my school’s universities counsellor, and I can sit it at my school, which is great! I book in for my fourth TSA Prep session, and meet with Fiona and Lucy to finalise my Personal Statement, and confirm my 5 university choices. I’m registered for the TSA, and nearly ready to submit my UCAS form!

October 2022

The UCAS deadline for Oxbridge applications is earlier than for the other universities, on October 15th this year. I meet with Fiona and Lucy to finalise my UCAS form and submit on the 5th. It’s nice to get it done and dusted! Now I need to focus on my TSA prep, so I book in my 5th and 6th Test Prep sessions.

November 2022

On the 2nd, I sit the TSA. It’s difficult to be sure, but I think it went OK! Another box ticked on my application checklist! Mid November I attend the Carfax Oxbridge Interview Day. I was so nervous about it, but end up really enjoying the combination of informative webinars, subject specialist mock interviews, general mock interviews and peer-to-peer sessions, which helped me to understand better what to expect, how to prepare and also to relax a bit and enjoy it as much as possible!

I receive an invitation to interview a week later! Carfax book me in for 4 hours’ additional subject interview prep.

December 2022

I attend 3 half hour online interviews, one for each subject, Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Some I enjoy more than others! I feel pushed to my limits, and I’m not sure if I’ve impressed the interviewers or not. But I try to enjoy the rest of the winter holiday, as well as keeping my studies simmering on.


January 2023

9/1 – I receive an offer from Wadham! I’m so excited, but it’s a high offer, so I know I still have to keep my focus and live up to my predicted grades.

In April my IB exams start, and by May I’ve received offers – and one rejection – from all the universities applied. In June I meet with Fiona to decide on firm and insurance offers.

July 2023

6/7 IB results: I achieved my predicted 45, and I’m going to Oxford!

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