Admissions Feedback

In the 2021-22 admissions round, the University of Oxford received 23,802 applications, and 3,625 offers were made. Christ Church received 970 applications, and 146 offers were made.

The Oxford admissions process is very competitive and unfortunately we are unable to offer many strong applicants a place. Many of the candidates who applied this year made very good applications and, as every year, many difficult decisions had to be made.

We have put together a series of useful resources to support students and teachers in their applications to Oxford, including a guide to interviews, tips on writing a personal statement, and how to explore beyond school.

We are also able to provide subject-specific feedback from the latest admissions cycle which we hope will help prospective students and teachers better understand the process.

Please see below for subject-specific feedback for the 2021-22 admissions cycle.

 

Individual Feedback 

Individual feedback for the 2021-22 admissions cycle will be provided to all candidates who have requested it before the 15 February 2022 deadline.

Admissions Feedback 2021-22 - concertina

Biochemistry

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Biochemistry. Many of the candidates who applied made very good applications and, as every year, many difficult decisions had to be made. This year there were 795 applicants across the University for direct entry (an increase of 67 on the previous year) and 12 for deferred entry to study Biochemistry.

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: www.ox.ac.uk/context.   

Not every applicant can be interviewed. Decisions about which candidates to shortlist were based on exam results and predictions, and the UCAS academic reference and personal statement. As in previous years the UCAS forms of all applicants were read and graded centrally, by the Biochemistry Department, prior to short-listing (we aim to shortlist approximately 3 applicants per place).

All short-listed applicants were interviewed by two colleges (remotely this year). Given the number of shortlisted applicants and their uneven distribution between colleges, a number of shortlisted candidates were reallocated from oversubscribed colleges to colleges with a lower ratio of candidates to places. Applicants’ interviews were scored by the interviewing tutors.

Interviews were assessed on the basis of the following criteria: your interest in/enthusiasm for biochemistry; your ability to describe/discuss a topic of mutual interest; your ability to describe/analyse and extrapolate from novel information; and your reasoning and problem solving ability. Please click here for the Biochemistry selection criteria.

The applicants were ranked according to their UCAS and both interview grades, and the final decisions were made at a meeting of all College tutors. Of the 807 applicants, 353 applicants were short-listed, and 107 offers were made, including 10 open offers.

Biology

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Biology: 684, of whom 321 were invited to interviews. In all 123 offers were made for 2022 entry, and 1 offer was made for 2023 entry. There were 6.3 applications per available place. Many of the candidates who applied made very good applications and, as every year, many difficult decisions had to be made.

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: www.ox.ac.uk/context.  

Not every applicant can be interviewed. Decisions about which candidates to shortlist were based on exam results and predictions, and the UCAS academic reference and personal statement.

 

Prior to shortlisting, a team of Biology tutors reviewed the applications as a gathered field and made interview recommendations to all other Biology tutors involved in admissions. As part of this assessment, performance at GCSE and equivalent or other qualifications that had already been attained were evaluated, plus various measures and indicators on the UCAS forms were taken into account. The first choice application college also assessed all applications to their college and made recommendations. All recommendations were then taken to a meeting attended by representatives from all colleges that admit Biologists, and shortlisting decisions were discussed and agreed.

 

The average number of GCSEs taken by Biology applicants was 9.8, and the average of those shortlisted was 10.0. The average number of 9s, 8s and A*s at GCSE by Biology applicants was 8.0. The average number of 9/8/A*s for shortlisted applicants was 8.8, and for those receiving an offer it was 8.9. All of these numbers include only applicants taking more than 5 GCSEs. The graph below shows the distribution of 9s, 8s and A*s achieved by applicants.

After shortlisting had taken place, some applicants were redistributed to a new college 1 so that all colleges had approximately 3 candidates per available place. All shortlisted candidates were then allocated a second college and again each college had approximately the same number of applicants to consider per available place. All shortlisted applicants were then invited to attend online interviews with each of the two colleges.

Although the content of interviews varies between interviewing panels, all interviewers asked detailed questions about subjects, objects, data or written/graphic material that the interviewees are not expected to recognise or have studied before. Questions arising from the candidate’s Personal Statement were also often posed. In interviews, Biology tutors were looking for your interest in Biology; your ability to engage in conversation about biology related subjects; how you respond when you are given additional pieces of information; and how you respond when you are confronted with things that you don’t immediately know the answer to. Read more about Biology interviews here.

After Biology interviews finished, Biology representatives for all colleges met as a group – at this meeting all decisions relating to interview candidates were agreed and confirmed, including which candidates would receive a Biology Open Offer.

Chemistry

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Chemistry, 893, of whom 606 were shortlisted for interviews. In all 202 received offers, including open offers.

To even out the chances of admission between Colleges 62 shortlisted applicants had their first-assigned Colleges reallocated and 45 shortlisted applicants had their second-assigned Colleges reallocated. A further 58 candidates had their second-assigned colleges reallocated after the first interviews.

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: www.ox.ac.uk/context. Candidates’ individual and extenuating circumstances were also considered.

Shortlisting was performed by the Chemistry Admissions Coordinators and the College tutors in accordance with the stated admissions criteria, based on all available and relevant data: in particular these data include all aspects of the applicant's UCAS form and any further relevant contextual data specific to the application. Each application was graded against agreed descriptors. Read the full Chemistry admissions criteria here.

All shortlisted candidates were invited for interview, which this year all took place remotely. Each applicant had a first-assigned College. This was either the College to which they applied or a College assigned by the Admissions Office or by the Admissions Coordinator in such a way as to even out the competition for places across Colleges. Each applicant was also assigned a second College by an algorithm in order to equalise across Colleges the interview load per place ratio.

Interviews were assessed on the basis of the stated admissions criteria.

The Chemistry Department operates various procedures in a coordinated effort to ensure that the strongest applicants are admitted to the University irrespective of College choice. These include transparency of all application grades, interview grades, and UCAS forms amongst all tutors involved with admissions, and a final meeting of tutors at which the strongest unplaced applicants are collectively discussed and final offers, including open offers, are made.

Classical Archaeology and Ancient History

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Classical Archaeology and Ancient History: 134, of whom 2 applied for deferred entry in 2022.

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: www.ox.ac.uk/context.

Candidates’ applications were assessed in line with the published admissions criteria for Classical Archaeology and Ancient History. Read the full admissions criteria for the course here. At the shortlisting stage, thirteen candidates were reallocated from their first-choice college; in each case, the ‘exporting’ college had a shortlisted applicant:place ratio of 7:1 or greater and the ‘importing’ college had a shortlisted applicant: place ratio of 4:1 or less.

Tutors took into consideration all the information on the UCAS form, including the personal statement, reference, GCSE grades, predicted A-Level (or equivalent) grades, as well as written work.

All 124 shortlisted applicants received two online interviews at their first-choice college on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 December. A total of 42 applicants received a further central faculty interview on either Friday 10 December or Tuesday 14 December.

The interview is aimed primarily at assessing the candidate’s potential for independent thinking, ability to follow an argument, skill in communication, and adaptability for tutorial teaching. It is not a test of knowledge in isolation from context; nor is it a test of verbal facility or personality. Interviewers looked for evidence of ability to respond in a thoughtful way to unpredictable questions and ideas, that the candidate’s interest goes beyond a mere formal submission to their academic training, and that they are able to deploy their knowledge in ways that show initiative.

Of the 124 interviewed candidates, 27 offers were made on the basis of the published admissions criteria. One received an Open Offer, assigned at the final admissions meeting on Thursday 16 December. The ratio of applicants to offers was roughly 5:1.

Classics

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Classics and Joint Schools (349). Of these, 326 were shortlisted and 147 were offered places. 

 

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: www.ox.ac.uk/context. Candidates’ individual and extenuating circumstances were also considered.

Not every applicant was interviewed. Candidates sat an admissions test, and were invited to submit written work. They were then divided into bands on the basis – this year – of the admissions tests alone.

 

Find more information about the Classics Aptitude Tests here. The average score for shortlisted candidates for Classics I was 55.1. The average for placed candidates was 65.7.

 

Written work was marked by Oxford Classics tutors based on the following criteria: signs of good basic knowledge, powers of analysis, powers of expression, ability to construct a coherent train of thought, and to shape an argument. Find the full Classics admissions criteria here.

 

Given the number of shortlisted applicants and their uneven distribution between colleges, a number of shortlisted candidates are reallocated from oversubscribed colleges to colleges with a lower ratio of candidates to places. All shortlisted candidates were invited for interview, which this year took place remotely. After first-college interviews, some additional interviews were arranged at second colleges, to give candidates the best chance of receiving a place.

 

Interviews aimed to assess candidate's potential for independent thinking, ability to follow an argument, skill in communication, and adaptability for tutorial teaching. Interviewers were looking for evidence of ability to respond in a thoughtful way to unpredictable questions and ideas. They were also looking for evidence that the candidate's interest goes beyond schoolwork, and that they are able to deploy their knowledge in ways that show initiative. Read more about Classics interviews here.

Computer Science

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Computer Science and its joint schools (1627 in total). Of these 324 applicants were shortlisted and 128 were offered places for entry in 2022 or deferred entry.

 

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/context.

Unfortunately, not every applicant can be interviewed. The purpose of shortlisting for interview is to identify those applicants who are most likely to succeed in the rest of the selection process and give interviewers time to consider each shortlisted candidate carefully. This year, tutors were guided by the MAT score only, due to GCSE scores being potentially affected by the pandemic. They took into account all information from the UCAS form and any relevant contextual information such as educational background or extenuating circumstances. Shortlisting decisions were reviewed by the subject coordinator in order to ensure consistency between colleges. Read the Computer Science admissions criteria here

 

Further information about the MAT can be found here. Please see below for graphs of outcomes by MAT score:

 

 

Among this year’s shortlisted applicants, 179 candidates (55.2%) had taken five or more GCSEs. Among those candidates, the mean number of GCSEs at grades 9/8/A* was 8.6.

This year, due to Covid-19, all interviews took place remotely by video call or telephone, often using a shared virtual whiteboard. Each applicant is associated with a first college, either of their choosing, or selected for them in a way that aims to even out the competition for places across the colleges. Each applicant is also associated with a second college chosen randomly with the same aim.

Applicants were interviewed by both their first and second colleges, and a small number were invited to further interviews at a third college. Applicants for joint degrees are typically given separate interviews in the two subjects. In December 2021 most applicants were interviewed twice by their first college and once or more by their second college.

Interviews are academic and subject-focused in nature. The applicant’s performance in each interview is judged according to the admissions criteria, codified on a numeric scale against agreed descriptors, and shared among all tutors involved in admissions, together with the applicants’ UCAS forms and their test results.

The colleges use various procedures in a coordinated effort to ensure that the strongest applicants are admitted across the University irrespective of the college considering their application. These include complete transparency of all information gained about each applicant, supported by an online information system, and a final meeting where the strongest unplaced applicants are identified and open offers are agreed. This year, 25.8% of offers made came from a college other than the applicant’s application college, or are open offers (meaning that the applicant is offered a place at Oxford at a college that will be determined in August).

Economics and Management

This year the University of Oxford had a very high number of applicants for Economics and Management: 1,709 candidates, for 94 places offered.

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. Find more information about contextual data here.

Not every applicant can be interviewed. Decisions about which candidates to shortlist were based on exam results and predictions, the UCAS academic reference and personal statement, and TSA (Thinking Skills Assessment) results. The TSA, GCSEs (if available), and predicted or achieved A Levels (or equivalent) are weighted highly; the UCAS reference is given medium weight; and the UCAS personal statement is given low weight.

The average overall TSA score of shortlisted applicants was approximately 73.82. The average overall TSA score of successful applicants was approximately 76.4. Find more information about the TSA here.
 

Given the number of shortlisted applicants and their uneven distribution between colleges, a number of shortlisted candidates are reallocated from oversubscribed colleges to colleges with a lower ratio of candidates to places. All shortlisted candidates were invited for interview, which this year took place online. Only 17.03% of applicants were invited for interviews. After first-college interviews, some additional interviews were arranged at second colleges, to give each candidates the best chance of receiving a place.

Interviews, and all other aspects of applications, were assessed on the basis of the following selection criteria: (i) an interest in and a motivation for studying the organisation of businesses and the economy; (ii) independence and flexibility of mind; (iii) an ability to analyse and solve problems logically and critically; (iv) a capacity to construct and critically assess arguments; and (v) a willingness and an ability to express ideas clearly and effectively both on paper and orally.

Engineering

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Engineering: 1103, 390 of whom were shortlisted, and 199 were offered places. 

 

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: www.ox.ac.uk/context.

Unfortunately, not every applicant can be interviewed. The purpose of shortlisting for interview is to identify those applicants who are most likely to succeed in the rest of the selection process and give interviewers time to consider each shortlisted candidate carefully. Decisions about which candidates to shortlist were based on exam results and predictions, the UCAS form, and the PAT results. All applications were assessed independently by tutors from two colleges. The scores from these assessments were then combined with the PAT scores and contextual data to create a shortlist.

 

UCAS forms were marked by Oxford Engineering tutors based on previous examination results, qualifications predicted, the school or other institutional reference, and the personal statement. For the whole cohort the mean UCAS grade was 7.7. For shortlisted candidates the average UCAS grade was 8.17, and 8.25 for candidates who were made an offer.

 

The mean mark for the PAT was 41.4% and the standard deviation was 17%. For shortlisted candidates, the mean PAT mark was 53.1%, and 56.6% for candidates who were made an offer. Find more information about the PAT here. 

 

All shortlisted candidates were interviewed online by two colleges independently. Once the interviews were completed the tutors met again twice and made offers to 199 applicants.

English

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for English Language and Literature: 917. Of these, 609 were invited for interviews, and 227 offers were made. The approximate ratio of applicants to offers was 4:1.

 

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: www.ox.ac.uk/context.

Not every applicant can be interviewed. Decisions about which candidates to shortlist were based on exam results and predictions, the UCAS academic reference and personal statement, submitted written work, and ELAT (English Literature Admissions Test) results, all considered in context. Find out more about how we shortlist applicants for English here.

 

The ELAT is a 90-minute test in which candidates wrote an essay responding to passages of literary material on a given theme. The results were released on 11 January 2022. Find more information about the ELAT here.

 

UCAS forms were marked by Oxford English tutors based on previous examination results, qualifications predicted, the school or other institutional reference, and the personal statement.

 

Written work was marked by at least two Oxford English tutors based on the following criteria: attention to the literary aspects of texts; sensitivity to the creative use of language; evidence of careful and critical reading; an analytical approach; coherence of argument and articulacy of expression; precision, in the handling of concepts and in the evidence presented to support points; relevance to the question; and independence of thought.

 

Given the number of shortlisted applicants and their uneven distribution between colleges, a number of shortlisted candidates are reallocated from oversubscribed colleges to colleges with a lower ratio of candidates to places. All shortlisted candidates were invited for interview, which this year took place online. After first college interviews, around 60 candidates had additional interviews at a second college, to give them the best chance of receiving an offer.

 

Interviews were assessed on the basis of the following selection criteria: evidence of independent reading, capacity to exchange and build on ideas, clarity of thought and expression, analytical ability, flexibility of thought, evidence of independent thinking about literature, and readiness and commitment to read widely with discrimination. Find more details about English interviews here.

 

We know how disappointing it is for applicants, their families, and their schools when despite being well-qualified and submitting a strong application, you don’t receive an offer from us. As you can see, the standard is very high, and each year we are conscious that we do not have room for all applicants with exceptional academic records, and who have excellent potential as students of English Literature.

Experimental Psychology and Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Experimental Psychology (400) and Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (272). Across both subjects, 243 applicants were shortlisted, and 104 offers were made.

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/context.
Unfortunately, not every applicant could be interviewed. Decisions about which candidates to shortlist were based on exam results and predictions, the UCAS academic reference and personal statement, and TSA results. All elements are assessed against the published selection criteria. Read the selection criteria here.

We took into consideration all special circumstances surrounding TSA test sitting where these were reported to us via CAAT, the central university admissions team and college communications. The disruptions were graded for severity; these disruptions were taken into account at shortlisting stage, where in some cases the TSA was fully disregarded, and in other cases leniency was applied. The average overall TSA score for shortlisted candidates was 69.07, and 70.10 for those who received offers. The distribution of TSA scores was as follows:

Please see below for GCSE statistics by offer status:

 

Once shortlisting decisions are made a centralised reallocation process ensures that a consistent number of candidates per place are interviewed at each college. The number of applicants we are able to invite for an interview is approximately 3 applicants per place.

The interview is aimed at assessing a candidate’s potential for future development and how well they will cope with the academic course. All applicants who are interviewed in Oxford are interviewed at two separate colleges, i.e. their “college of preference” and a second college. This is to ensure that we have two independent interview assessments of every candidate we have interviewed. Tutors are looking for the following qualities at interview: Clarity of analysis and presentation of ideas; ability to generate own ideas and proposals; ability to listen and respond to ideas put forward during discussion, and to draw inferences from them; ability to put forward coherent and well thought out proposals and responses. Interviews are scored by interviewers on a scale of 0-5.

Below is a distribution of interview scores for those who were offered places and those who were not.

An overall assessment of all candidates is made at a meeting in the Department of Experimental Psychology. All College Tutors are asked to rank the candidates that they have seen, using the full range of indicators. These are: 1) GCSEs or equivalent; 2) predicted or obtained A-levels or equivalent; 3) the reference from the school; 4) the admissions test; 5) the interview; 6) and other relevant information. Final offers are based upon all these factors.

Fine Art

 This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Fine Art. Many of the candidates who applied made very good applications and, as every year, many difficult decisions had to be made.

 

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: www.ox.ac.uk/context.

Not every applicant can be interviewed. Decisions about which candidates to shortlist were based on the UCAS application and portfolio submissions.

 

All candidates’ UCAS applications were reviewed by a Fine Art admissions panel in conjunction with portfolios submitted on SlideRoom for the purposes of shortlisting for interview. Portfolios were reviewed by Fine Art department admissions panel members and scored from 0 to 10 (10 being the best). A score of 7 was the threshold for consideration for an interview. Marks took into account any contextual data which may have been relevant to a portfolio’s assessment.

 

When assessing portfolios, tutors were searching for highly motivated activity, and for a breadth of engagement, a sense of purpose and a strength of opinion in the way the portfolio is edited. They expected a high degree of competence in the use of specific media, but this is not in itself sufficient. The portfolios of candidates called for interview tended to exhibit curiosity and creativity beyond the expectations of the A Level or equivalent, and an awareness of contemporary art practice. It is important for the Fine Art tutors to be able to discover a sense of the temperament underlying the work, and to sense the deeper interests that inform the portfolio.  They are not interested in finding a particular formula or a specific style, but in signs of energy, ambition, critical reflection, and creativity. Your portfolio should show that you have: an independent and creative mind, an ability to go beyond the requirements of the school curriculum, visual curiosity and imagination, and an informed awareness of contemporary art. Read more about the portfolio here.

 

Shortlisted candidates were invited to send by email further examples of additional and more recent work, which were added to their previously submitted portfolio on SlideRoom; this larger portfolio formed the basis for discussion in interviews.

 

Candidates were assessed on:

  • the additional work they submitted (in addition to their initial portfolio) – marked on the same scale as portfolios;
  • their interview – marked on a scale of 0 to 10 (10 being the best), with 7 as the minimum score to be considered for an offer

 

In the interviews, tutors expected to hear from the candidates to demonstrate:

  • the ideas and processes informing their work;
  • their willingness and ability to communicate these;
  • their ability to listen and give considered responses within the discussion;
  • their motivation and commitment to the study and practice of Fine Art (including the History and Theory of Visual Culture)
  • their awareness of and critical engagement with contemporary art

 

The Ruskin School of Art panels met with the Admissions Coordinator to discuss and scrutinise decisions and the selection of candidates, using the above criteria. We received over 240 applications for 30 places, so competition was very high this year.

Geography

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Geography: 333, 237 of whom were shortlisted, and 85 were offered places.

 

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: www.ox.ac.uk/context

 

The departmental admissions panel drew up an initial shortlist based primarily on overall TSA score, but also including all post qualification applicants who had already achieved the level of standard offer in A-levels. All applicants that had been identified as the most disadvantaged based on contextual information were automatically shortlisted irrespective of their TSA score. Read more about the TSA here.

 

College tutors were then asked to nominate applicants for rescue paying particular attention to:

 

  1. Mitigating circumstances
  2. Applicants who did not have a TSA score
  3. GCSE scores in the context of the school
  4. Evidence of disadvantage through contextual postcode and school measures, or a care background.

 

The final centrally agreed shortlist was 237 applicants on the basis of 3 applicants per place available. Colleges retained two applicants per place and the remaining applicants were reallocated across Colleges so that each college interviewed three applicants per place available at that college.

All applicants received two interviews at the college to which they had applied or been allocated. A centralised list was created of all highly ranked applicants who were not receiving an offer from their interview college. All colleges were able to review these applicants.

Interviews, along with all other aspects of the application, were assessed according to the stated admissions criteria. Please click here to read the full criteria. Tutors were looking for potential for independent thinking, ability to follow an argument, and problem-solving skills. Applicants needed to display evidence of a strong academic record and an ability to deploy their knowledge in ways that show initiative. Interviews are not a test of knowledge but give candidates the opportunity to respond in a thoughtful way to unpredictable questions and ideas.

History

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for History (861), of whom 647 were shortlisted, and 242 were offered places.

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: www.ox.ac.uk/context. Candidates’ individual and extenuating circumstances were also considered.

Candidates were given scores and ranks at three different stages in the application process: at the shortlisting stage, immediately before the interviews, and after the interviews at the first college. 

The weightings of the different components used in Admissions 2021 to score the applicants at each stage are outlined below:

Application Stage Contextualised GCSE score HAT Written Work Interview
Shortlisting N/A 100%

 

 
Pre-interview N/A 70% 30%  
Post-interview N/A 40% 20% 40%

 

This year, the average HAT score for all applicants was 58.5. For shortlisted candidates, the average score was 65.5, and 68.8 for placed applicants.

Given the number of shortlisted applicants and their uneven distribution between colleges, a number of shortlisted candidates are reallocated from oversubscribed colleges to colleges with a lower ratio of candidates to places.

Following shortlisting, written work is marked by History tutors and is used as a prompt in some interviews. Written work is assessed against the History selection criteria which is as follows: intellectual curiosity, conceptual clarity, flexibility (the capacity to engage with alternative perspectives and/or new information), accuracy and attention to detail, critical engagement, capacity for hard work, enthusiasm for History, and evidence of historical imagination and understanding, in particular, the ability to speculate and compare, alongside the possession of appropriate historical knowledge and the capacity to deploy it.

Interviews aimed to assess candidate’s intellectual potential. They aimed to test the candidates’ ability to think historically, your intellectual flexibility, conceptual skills, and the precision of your thinking. As with written work, interviews are assessed against the History selection criteria. The average interview grade for shortlisted applicants was 6.4 out of 10 and the average for placed applicants was 7.7. Places were awarded based on applications assessed as a whole and in context.

History of Art

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for History of Art (122, which represents 7.2 candidates per place). 49 candidates were invited for interview, and 17 candidates were offered places.

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/context. Candidates’ individual and extenuating circumstances were also taken into account.

Unfortunately, not every applicant could be interviewed. Decisions about which candidates to shortlist were based on exam results and predictions, the UCAS academic reference and personal statement, and submitted written work. Each application was assessed by an Admissions Panel comprising representatives from all participating colleges together with members of the department of History of Art. 

Each candidate’s UCAS form and written work were assessed against the subject’s published selection criteria by two members of the panel. Read the full list of criteria here. For every candidate one assessor was the college representative of the candidate’s first choice college.  At the short-listing meeting, attended by all members of the Admissions Panel and held virtually due to the COVID pandemic, each applicant was considered on their own merits and also as part of the gathered field of all applicants.  Contextual data and any special circumstances were taken into consideration as appropriate.  Very careful consideration was given to all aspects of each application, including academic record (achieved results and predicted marks), the school reference, the personal statement, and the two required pieces of written work (a marked school essay, or equivalent, and a 750-word response to a piece of art, architecture or design).  Shortlisting decisions were not based on any single aspect of an application, but on the combined evidence presented to and very carefully considered by the Panel as a whole.

Each shortlisted candidate had two pre-scheduled interviews, each with a pair of interviewers from the Admissions Panel.  For each candidate one of the four interviewers was the college representative of the candidate’s first choice college.  In their first interview, candidates were asked to discuss their application materials and written work; in their second interview, candidates were asked to discuss images with which they were unfamiliar.

During the Final Selection Meeting, held on MS Teams and attended by all members of the Admissions Panel, all interviewed candidates were assessed against the subject’s published selection criteria.  The Panel’s discussions were extensive.  Decisions were once again not based on a single element of an application or on interview performance alone, but rather took account of each applicant on his/her own individual merits and also in the context of the gathered field as a whole.  Contextual data and any special circumstances were again taken into consideration as appropriate.  The Panel had to make many difficult decisions based on candidates’ past and predicted achievements, performance at interview, written work (including the personal statement), and future potential.  After very careful consideration of all the available evidence, the Panel was unanimous in its final recommendations.

Law

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Law and Law with Law Studies in Europe. We received 2046 applications for 228 places, and there were approximately 8.9 applications per place. 

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/context. Candidates’ individual and extenuating circumstances were also taken into account.

Unfortunately, not all candidates can be interviewed. As part of the university-wide Common Framework for Admissions, introduced a few years ago,the Law Faculty shortlists candidates (college-blind) in consultation with a Faculty Selection Committee (FSC) consisting of representatives from 15 Colleges. Once college blinding is removed, Colleges also have the opportunity to add candidates who were not selected by the FSC to their shortlists. Some candidates are shortlisted to their college of application, and some are reallocated to other colleges for interview. FSC collectively shortlisted approximately 2.6 applicants per place available on the Law course. As a result of this process, each college can interview between 2.5 and 3 applicants per available place. The point of this system is to minimise the extent to which applicants may be prejudiced by their choice of college and to make sure, as far as possible, that all those applicants who are strong enough to merit an interview are in fact interviewed.

 

Applications are assessed against our criteria for selection. Further details are published here on the Law Faculty website. An initial shortlist is drawn up by taking into account three factors, of equal weighting: contextualized GCSE score, score on the LNAT Multiple Choice Test, and score on the LNAT essay. LNAT essays are marked college-blind by a pool of markers drawn from all colleges to ensure consistency. Please see here for more information about the LNAT.

 

Of those shortlisted, the average LNAT multiple choice score was 27.03, and the average LNAT essay score was 63.52. Among offer holders, the average LNAT multiple choice was 28.25, and the average essay score was 64.05.

 

Interviews aimed to assess candidates against three criteria: 1) Application: motivation and capacity for sustained and intense work; 2) Reasoning ability: ability to analyse and solve problems using logical and critical approaches, ability to draw fine distinctions, ability to separate the relevant from the irrelevant, capacity for accurate and critical observation, capacity for sustained and cogent argument, creativity and flexibility of thought and lateral thinking; and 3) Communication: willingness and ability to express ideas clearly and effectively; ability to listen; ability to give considered responses.

 

Places were awarded based on applications as a whole and in context, taking into account any relevant extenuating circumstances. 

Mathematics

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Maths and its joint schools (2869 in total). Of these 787 were shortlisted and 279 offers were made.

 

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/context. Candidates’ individual and extenuating circumstances were also considered.

Unfortunately, not every applicant can be interviewed. Decisions about which candidates to shortlist were based on exam results and predictions, the UCAS form, and the MAT results. These decisions were made based on the stated admissions criteria. Read the full selection criteria here on the Maths Faculty website.

All applicants are expected to sit the Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT), or must seek permission in exceptional circumstances from the subject Admissions Coordinator to be exempted from the test. In 2021 the test date was 03 November. In this cycle, 2816 applicants successfully registered for and sat the MAT (2808).

Please click here for details relating to the MAT, including several past and specimen papers.

The average score for Oxford applicants answering questions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 was:

• 51.1 (57.9) amongst all applicants;

• 69.5 (75.2) amongst shortlisted applicants;

• 73.5 (81.7) amongst successful applicants.

The average score for Oxford applicants answering questions 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 was:

• 46.9 (60.0) amongst all applicants;

• 69.9 (82.3) amongst shortlisted applicants;

• 74.3 (87.5) amongst successful applicants.

The below graph illustrates the distribution of MAT scores and shortlisting and offer decisions.

In light of the competition for places, the purpose of shortlisting is to provide time during the December interview window to interview all shortlisted applicants.

Shortlisting is performed in accordance with the stated admissions criteria on the basis of all currently available and relevant data: in particular these data include an applicant’s score from the MAT, all aspects of the applicant’s UCAS form and any further relevant contextual data specific to the application.

As guidance, the Admissions Coordinator advises college tutors as to an upper threshold score and a lower threshold score. All candidates above the upper threshold were recommended to be shortlisted, and candidates below the lower threshold were recommended not to be shortlisted, except in the case of exceptional circumstances. Around half of the candidates between the two thresholds were shortlisted for interview, resulting in around 3 applicants per place.

In December 2021 all interviews were carried out remotely. Most applicants were given interviews by at least two different colleges (their first- and second-assigned colleges). Applicants may also have been interviewed by other colleges. Applicants to joint degrees typically have separate interviews in the two disciplines. Interviews are academic in nature. An applicant’s performance is judged according to the admissions criteria and graded on a scale of 1-9 against agreed descriptors.

The Admissions Group operates various procedures in a coordinated effort to ensure that the strongest applicants are admitted to the University irrespective of college choice; these include transparency of all test results, interview grades, and UCAS forms amongst all tutors involved with admissions, and a final meeting of tutors at which the strongest unplaced applicants are collectively discussed and open offers are made by the Admissions Group. Around 24% of offers (28%) made in this cycle were either open offers or made by a college other than the first college considering the applicant.

Medicine

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Medicine (1864). Approximately 25.7% of applicants who made complete applications were shortlisted for interviews.

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/context. Candidates’ individual and extenuating circumstances were also considered.

The first stage of our shortlisting process has in previous years used a combination of contextualised GCSE performance (for those candidates with GCSE grades) and BMAT score, whereas this year we used a contextualised measure of BMAT performance. Contextual data were used to assess whether an applicant’s BMAT score likely reflected an under- or over-performance within the context of the candidate’s socio-economic and school environment.

BMAT is the only element of an application that is common to all applicants for Medicine and giving as it does a snapshot of ability and aptitude, it is an important selection tool when assessing a large number of extremely well qualified applicants.

We do not ascribe equal weighting to all sections of BMAT. In 2021, weightings were: section 1=40%, section 2=40%, and section 3=20%. In calculating the section 3 score, double weight was ascribed to the ‘Quality of content’ score and single weight given to the ‘Quality of English’ score (with A=5, B=4, C=3, D=2, E=1, and X=0).

For those shortlisted the mean adjusted BMAT score was 65.8% (68% in 2020) and 68.3% for applicants receiving offers. The following graph shows adjusted BMAT scores for the 2021 cohort.

Each shortlisted applicant was interviewed by two colleges: the college of preference, or allocation if an open application was made, and one other randomly assigned by computer so as to equalise as far as possible the strength of the applicant field at each college (as measured by the numerical ranking produced by the shortlisting algorithm). The number of applicants called for interview is usually fixed at around 425, in other words about 2.5 applicants per place available.

Interviewers assessed each candidate against our explicit list of selection criteria. To find out more, read the Medicine selection criteria. The composition of interview panels was arranged such that every candidate was interviewed by at least one practising clinician.

Following interviews, colleges ranked all the candidates they had seen, on the basis of all information available to them at that time. After disclosure of the candidate rank from the second college, BMAT score and BMAT essays, colleges reviewed their ranking and submitted a final version. On the basis of this final ranking, candidates were provisionally assigned offers at a particular college, with the college the applicant had chosen (or had been allocated to) having first decision. Admissions decisions were confirmed by correspondence between colleges and the Medical Sciences Office.

Modern Languages

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Modern Languages and joint schools: 778. Of these, 699 were interviewed and 290 places were offered for 2022 entry (plus 6 for 2023 entry). The ratio of applications to offers was 2.62. 

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/context. Candidates’ individual and extenuating circumstances were also taken into account.

Unfortunately, not every applicant can be interviewed. Decisions about which candidates to shortlist were based on exam results and predictions, the UCAS academic reference and personal statement, submitted written work, and admissions tests (Modern Languages Admissions Test (MLAT)) results.

 

Given the number of shortlisted applicants and their uneven distribution between colleges, a number of shortlisted candidates are reallocated from oversubscribed colleges to colleges with a lower ratio of candidates to places. All shortlisted candidates were invited for interviews, which this year took place remotely. After first-college interviews, additional interviews were arranged at second colleges, to give each candidate the best chance of receiving a place.

The admissions process as a whole is designed to identify which candidates possess the following admission criteria in the greatest measure:

 • Motivation and commitment along with capacity for sustained study of language and literature.

• Communication: willingness and ability to express ideas clearly and effectively both in writing and orally; ability to listen and to give considered responses.

• Proven competence in the language(s) as established by schoolwork written in the language(s), by the language test and (in some cases) by oral competence at interview. In the case of beginners, clear evidence of aptitude and potential for language study.

 • While there is no requirement that candidates will have read any literature in the language(s), successful candidates will demonstrate an aptitude and commitment to the study of literature by evidence of their readiness to discuss their reading in English or in the relevant language(s) or by their response to a reading-passage at interview. Assessors will look for evidence of intellectual curiosity and critical engagement.

Please see here for more information on the MLAT.

Interviews took place on Teams in the second week of December. During the interviews, candidates were given the opportunity to demonstrate their motivation and commitment, and their capacity for the sustained study of language and literature. They were assessed against the published criteria on their overall communication skills and, where appropriate, on their oral competence in the relevant language(s). Read the admissions criteria here on the Modern Languages Faculty website.

We know that it is disappointing to candidates and their schools that we are not able to offer places to all of the very able young people we see, but the competition for places was very high this year and unfortunately many well-qualified candidates were unsuccessful.

 

Music

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Music (174). In total 90 offers were made for entry in 2022.

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/context. Candidates’ individual and extenuating circumstances were also considered.

 

Given the number of shortlisted applicants and their uneven distribution between colleges, a number of shortlisted candidates are reallocated from oversubscribed colleges to colleges with a lower ratio of candidates to places. All shortlisted candidates were invited for remote interviews in Oxford. All shortlisted candidates had at least two interviews, one at their first college (which invited them) and one at an assigned second college, with additional interviews being arranged. This aimed to give each candidate the best chance of receiving a place.

 

The Music Admissions Panel comprised representatives from all participating colleges. Every UCAS application was reviewed by the Admissions Coordinator against the subject’s published selection criteria. Please follow this link for the full selection criteria for Music. Contextual data and any special circumstances were taken into consideration as appropriate. Candidates were only deselected where they had not achieved or were not predicted to achieve the entry requirements, where there were no special considerations. Written work was marked centrally by a team of postgraduate students who were trained by the Admissions Coordinator to ensure consistency. This did not form part of the selection for interview process but was considered by tutors as part of the decision-making process alongside personal statement, academic record, school reference, and performance at interview and audition. In Music, a few colleges receive the bulk of applications, therefore candidates are reallocated via an algorithm to undersubscribed colleges based on the number of places they have available. This enables all candidates to have the best possible opportunity to be assessed fairly, and not to be disadvantaged by applying to an oversubscribed college.

 

Essays, harmony and counterpoints, and compositions were marked on the basis of the published selection criteria. Shortlisted candidates were also asked to submit a 5-minute audition video recording of a musical performance on their principle instrument or voice. 

 

Interviews focused on interests mentioned in personal statements, written work, compositions (where applicable) and usually included a prose and/or musical excerpt given to the student to examine for a specified time before the interview. Following completion of first and second interviews, college interviewers were required to rank all their interviewed candidates and grade them.  

The Faculty then held an Initial Selection meeting. This involved discussing every candidate in detail and with great care against the published selection criteria and initially determining those candidates on whom the interviewing colleges had reached a consensus (offer/not offer) and those still under consideration. Those candidates still under consideration who might be either taken by a college still considering or given an Open Offer place were given a third interview on Monday of Week 10. These interviews were coordinated centrally, with each interview panel made up of two interviewers (usually University postholders) from different colleges.

 

The Final Selection Meeting considered the results of these interviews and involved further discussion and decision-making on candidates still under consideration, including Open Offers. When considering the allocation of Open Offer places, the Faculty took into account not only candidates’ interview performances but also their strength on paper, with the intention of trying to ensure that these underwritten candidates who would be reallocated to colleges where first-choice candidates had failed to meet the offer requirements would not themselves fail to make their grades.

 

Ultimately, the Faculty made 90 offers (44 female, 46 male), including 7 open offers, making a 52% success rate.

Oriental Studies

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Oriental Studies and Joint Schools. We received 179 applications; 160 candidates were invited for interviews and 78 offers were made.

 

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: www.ox.ac.uk/context. Candidates’ individual and extenuating circumstances were also considered.

Not every applicant was interviewed. Decisions about which candidates to shortlist were based on exam scores (achieved and predicted), and the UCAS academic reference and personal statement (in particular, evidence relating to academic potential in Oriental Studies). Each aspect of a candidate’s application is assessed based on the selection criteria for Oriental Studies, which are:

  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Conceptual clarity
  • Flexibility - the capacity to engage with alternative perspectives and/or new information
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Critical engagement
  • Capacity for hard work
  • Enthusiasm for their chosen subject.

Please click here for further information from the Faculty website.
 

At various points of the admissions process candidates will be assessed against these criteria on the basis of information derived from a variety of sources:

  • UCAS forms, including, in particular, personal statements, school reports, qualifications achieved and qualifications predicted
  • Performance at GCSE
  • Performance in the Oriental Languages Aptitude Test (OLAT) for those applying to study Arabic, Persian, Turkish or Hebrew as part of their course
  • Performance in interviews
  • Comparison, in all these areas, with other candidates

Applicants who fail to meet the published selection criteria above to a high standard are not called for interview. The standard offer for Oriental Studies is AAA at A-level (or equivalent qualifications). Please click here for a list of equivalent qualifications. College and Faculty tutors work together to reallocate strong candidates from oversubscribed to undersubscribed colleges.

 

Please note that the OLAT is not marked at this stage, and OLAT marks are not used for shortlisting.

Candidates selected for interview were invited to an interview conducted by Faculty academics.  Candidates were scored out of ten against the selection criteria.  Candidates were also interviewed by tutors at the college that they applied to, or to which they may have been re-allocated. Where strong candidates outnumber the number of places at a particular college, college and Faculty Interviewers work together to find another college where such candidates may be given an additional interview.

The OLAT is a 30-minute test of candidates’ ability to learn a new language quickly. It assesses their ability to analyse how languages work, in a way which that does not depend on their knowledge of any particular language. It is scored out of 100. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a small number of candidates were unable to take the OLAT. Their applications were nonetheless fully and carefully considered on the basis of the remaining sources of evidence.

The average OLAT score (where taken) for all applicants was 61.98. For shortlisted candidates, the average OLAT score was 62.5, and this rose to 69.78 for those who were offered places.

The decision to offer a place to a candidate is made by colleges on the basis of all sources of evidence listed above, including the OLAT where applicable, and including the advice of Faculty tutors. In total 78 offers were made across Oriental Studies and its joint schools.

Philosophy, Politics and Economics

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Philosophy, Politics and Economics (1994). Of these, 733 applicants were shortlisted and 264 were offered places. The number of applicants per place was 8.3.

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/context. Candidates’ individual and extenuating circumstances were also taken into account.

Unfortunately, not every applicant could be interviewed. Decisions about which candidates to shortlist were based on the selection criteria for PPE. The shortlisting criteria are described on the course website as follows: “We only interview those who have a realistic chance of getting in, when judged by past and predicted exam results, school reports, personal statements and the pre-interview test. Applicants who do not take the pre-interview test will not normally be shortlisted for interview.” Read the full selection criteria for PPE here.

 

Colleges are set deselection targets so that across all colleges at least 2.75 applicants per place are shortlisted. When making shortlisting decisions, the pre-interview admissions test, GCSE profile, and predicted or actual performance at A-Level (or equivalent) are weighted highly. The UCAS teacher’s reference is of medium weight. AS-Level module grades and the personal statement are of low weight.  admissions tutors give the following weighting to the various elements of each application.

 

After colleges have deselected their target number of applicants, some shortlisted applicants are reallocated. They are sent to the available college where they will have the best theoretical chance of success, based on TSA section 1 scores. After the reallocation has taken place colleges can choose to rescue deselectedadd additional applicants to the shortlist.

The average TSA overall score for all PPE candidates was 66.76; the average for shortlisted candidates was 73.33; and the average for offer holders was 76.06. The range of results can be seen in the charts below. Read more information about the TSA here.

 

 

 

The interview is described on the course website as follows: “The interview is not primarily a test of existing knowledge. It is aimed primarily at assessing the candidate’s potential for future development. Interviewers will be looking for evidence of the candidate’s potential for development in the following four areas: 

Understanding: this can be shown in (for example) a candidate’s ability to listen carefully, to analyse problems, to identify the premises and conclusions of arguments, and to express in their own words someone else’s ideas.

Intellectual flexibility: this can be demonstrated by (for example) a candidate’s willingness to consider alternative views, and readiness to respond to problems and criticisms. 

Critical thinking and problem-solving: this can be shown in (for example) a candidate’s ability to adopt logical and critical approaches to problems, to critically assess arguments, to identify good and bad reasons for believing a particular claim, to assess relevance, and to think independently.

Communication: this can be shown in (for example) a candidate’s ability to express ideas clearly, to give considered responses to questions, and to address the point under discussion instead of veering off topic." Read more about PPE interviews here.

 

After colleges have entered their first interview scores and decisions, candidates are ranked according to a post-first interviews score which is based on interview scores and TSA scores. Colleges then select second interviews using all information available for each candidate. This year 24 candidates were selected for second interviews. After second interviews have taken place, colleges make their final decisions based on all information available for each candidate at this stage.

Physics

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Physics (1785). Of these 200 places were available for 2022 admission. There were approximately 9.0 applicants per place, with 26 applicants seeking deferred places.

 

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: http://www.ox.ac.uk/context. Candidates’ individual and extenuating circumstances were also taken into account.

Unfortunately, not every applicant can be interviewed. The purpose of shortlisting for interview is to identify those applicants who are most likely to succeed in the rest of the selection process and give interviewers time to consider each shortlisted candidate carefully.

Across the collegiate university, Physics aims to interview around 2.5 applicants per place. For this short-listing, we used the results of the Physics Aptitude Test (PAT) as well as all other contextual information to reduce the number of applicants to around 2.5 per place.

The PAT has been run for many years, and it is a consistent predictor of future performance at Oxford. The test is set to a defined syllabus and both the content and draft questions are checked by school teachers to ensure that the level is appropriate. Maths and physics elements are mixed together into a single two-hour paper. Each question is separately double blind-marked (markers focus on individual questions to ensure consistency of approach). Further details, including the admissions criteria and sample papers, can be found on the Oxford Physics Admissions website. Read the Physics admissions criteria here.

When the PAT is written, it is intended to be at a broadly similar difficulty level from year to year, although the actual difficulty of a paper is never known until the exam has been taken. In terms of marks, this year’s PAT was on the harder side, with a mean mark of 43.1% (similar to the 2019 paper with its mean of 41%).

Please see below for a graph showing the distribution of PAT scores in 2021:

 

The marks applicants achieved on the main PAT test ranged from 4% to 100%, with a mean mark of 43.1% (49.5% in 2020 and 41.5 % in 2019) and a standard deviation of 17.7% (15.9% in 2020 and 16.8 % in 2019). More details are shown in the graph above. The spike at ‘0’ includes applicants who withdrew, applicants who did not register for the PAT test, applicants who had Covid or other special circumstances on the date of the PAT test, and applicants who have to do compulsory military service for whom acceptance is carried over from a previous admissions round.

The 260 applicants with PAT scores equal or higher than 63% were automatically shortlisted for interview, with a further 38 applicants with slightly lower scores also automatically shortlisted after the inclusion of contextual data, giving a total of 298 automatically shortlisted applicants (400 in 2020 and 457 in 2019). Reflecting the huge disruption to normal educational patterns since March 2020, a further 202 applicants (compared to 83 in 2020 and 40 in 2019) were also shortlisted, who were below the automatic thresholds but whose application forms showed other evidence of excellence or mitigating circumstances.

A total of 500 applicants were shortlisted and invited for (remote) interviews this year. A key goal of the Oxford admissions process is that the probability of admission should not depend on the applicant's choice of college. Short-listing is therefore followed by a reallocation process, in which applicants are transferred from first-choice colleges with a large ratio of applicants per place, to colleges with a smaller ratio of applicants per place. This aims to ensure that, for each college, the ratio of interviewed first-choice applicants to places is as close as possible to 2.5 to 1. This year 60 applicants were reallocated. Reallocation has been practised by the University for many years, assuring that all strong applicants have the same chance of obtaining places at Oxford, although possibly not at their first-choice college. Reallocation is not an indicator of the strength or weakness of an applicant – this year reallocated applicants had PAT scores varying from around 40% to 89%.

Every short-listed applicant has two interviews given by a first-choice college and one given by a randomly allocated second-choice college. Interviews were assessed on the basis of the selection criteria. Each interview is marked out of 10 based on the academic judgement of the interviewing tutors.  The scale is such that a mark of 6 broadly corresponds to ‘acceptable’; 7 corresponds to ‘good’; and an average interview mark of 8 or higher will almost certainly result in an offer. Approximately 1% of interviews are scored as ‘10’. For applicants offered a place, the average interview mark this year was 7.95 (7.92 in 2020).

Applicants are assessed based on the totality of information about the applicant with no one interview, by itself, decisive. While the majority of accepted applicants have three good interviews (at least as viewed by the interviewers), around 70 accepted applicants had one interview which scored less than a 7, while several accepted applicants had one interview scored below 6. It is very hard for applicants to assess their own interview performance and extremely common for applicants to think good interviews have gone badly.

After the interviews, the three interview marks are combined into a single score (out of 100). To guide admitting tutors, an overall ranking was produced based on the post-interview Cscore: Post-Interview C-score = (PAT mark out of 100) + 2 x (Interviews out of 100). This ranking is for guidance only; all applicants are assessed individually based on their C-scores, PAT scores, interview results, and all information on the UCAS form, including contextual information, and then compared centrally against all applicants applying to Oxford Physics. It is extremely rare for applicants ranked in the top 100 not to receive an offer and there are typically around ten offers made each year to applicants ranked below 250.

To ensure that the strongest applicants obtain places, all colleges have access to information on all applicants through a central database, and colleges are actively encouraged to flag up strong applicants they will be unable to offer a place to themselves. As a result, 24 applicants were offered a place at a college that had not interviewed them at all, either as first or second college.

Theology

This year the University of Oxford had a high number of applicants for Philosophy & Theology (172, of whom 60 were shortlisted, and 29 places were offered), and for Theology and Religion (90, of whom 66 were shortlisted, and 37 places were offered).

 

Throughout the process, contextual data for UK candidates, including school performance and postcode data, was used when assessing applications. You can find more information about contextual data on the Oxford University website here: www.ox.ac.uk/context. The candidates’ individual and extenuating circumstances were also considered.

 
Not every applicant can be interviewed. Decisions about which candidates to shortlist were based on exam results and predictions, written work, the Philosophy written test (where applicable), the UCAS academic reference and personal statement.

The Faculty does not apply specific weighting measures to the various components of an application but the whole of each application is assessed on its relative merit in relation to the following published criteria. For any BA degree in the Faculty of Theology and Religion, candidates must:

  • submit a strong UCAS form, including a supportive reference, excellent past examination results, and[/or] the predicted 3 ‘A’ grades at A-level or equivalent.
  • submit written work which demonstrates: 1) the ability to think clearly and to reason coherently, 2) evidence of independence of thought, 3) the ability to structure work and arguments in a logical way, 4) the ability to write clearly (and grammatically), with clear expression of thought.

Additionally, for applications to Philosophy and Theology, tutors will take into account each candidate’s performance in the Philosophy Test. The average score of shortlisted applicants was 65.5 and the average score of applicants who were made offers was 66.1.

Applications to Philosophy and Theology which would not be shortlisted for that course were further considered for shortlisting for Theology and Religion. The most usual reasons for course transfer are because (i) Theology and Religion tutors are confident of an applicant’s aptitude in Theology independent of Philosophy and consider that candidate’s application to be competitive in the Theology and Religion field and (ii) there is greater capacity for interviewing and places on the Theology and Religion course. Read the admissions FAQs on the Theology Faculty website here.

Every shortlisted candidate was interviewed by the college which called them to interview and by one other college. Second colleges are allocated according to college capacity by an automated process and then adjusted to eliminate procedural difficulties, e.g. ensuring that non-mature applicants have not been allocated to mature-only colleges.

At interview, Theology and Religion tutors assess candidates according to the following published criteria:

  • an ability to think clearly, including understanding complex concepts, forming sound arguments, and listening and responding to counterarguments.
  • an openness to learning.
  • an ability at close textual reading and interpretation.
  • evidence of enthusiasm and/or motivation, including dedication and diligence in work, and evidence of independent thought and reading.
  • an ability to develop ideas presented in their submitted written work.
  • oral communications skills.

Tutors are encouraged to represent and record their assessment of interview performance as a numerical mark with reference to the above criteria and on the following scale:

  • 70-80 Outstanding interview
  • 60-69 Competent to very impressive interview
  • 51–59 Poor interview
  • 40–50 Very poor interview

It is worth noting, however, that assessment of interview performance is a qualitative academic judgement and only one element of tutors’ evaluation of a candidate. Places are offered based on applications assessed as a whole and in context.