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优易国际教育-谢涛老师

XIE TAO

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Apply to Oxford Physics and Cambridge Natural Sciences: A Complete Guide

Table of Contents
Apply to Oxbridge Physics - A Complete Guide
Table of Contents

I. Common Knowledge to Oxford Physics and Cambridge Natural Sciences Admissions

1. Choose Either Oxford or Cambridge

You can only apply to only one course of either Oxford or Cambridge in a same academic year, rather than applying to both the two universities.

2. Apply Through the UCAS

II. Timeline for Oxford Physics and Cambridge Natural Sciences Courses

Timeline for 2025 Entry

2024

June
|
September
Preparing for the Application

Choosing Your Course

  • Oxford Physics
  • Oxford Physics and Philosophy
  • Cambridge Natural Sciences

Writing Your Oxford Physics and Cambridge Natural Sciences Personal Statement

Preparing Your Academic Reference

Choosing Your College

August
1
Registration for ESAT Exam Begins
Cambridge Natural Sciences applicants
September
3
UCAS Application Opens
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UE International Education Ltd.
UCAS Registration Center Code: 42757
September
T.B.D.
PAT Exam Registration Deadline

Oxford Physics, Physics and Philosophy applicants

September
16
ESAT Exam Registration Deadline
Cambridge Natural Sciences applicants
October
15
UCAS Application Submission Deadline

For all applicants to Oxford physics and Cambridge natural sciences

October
15 or 16
Cambridge ESAT Exam Day

Cambridge Natural Sciences applicants

October
T.B.D.
Oxford PAT Exam Day

Oxford Physics, Physics and Philosophy applicants

October
22
Deadline for Submitting My Cambridge Application and Transcripts

Students applying for Cambridge

November
|
December
Receive interview invitations
December
first three weeks
Oxbridge Interview

2025

January
14
Release of Oxford University Admission Offers
January
Mid
Release of Cambridge University Admission Offers
August
31
Deadline for Meeting Conditional Offer Requirements
October
Official Commencement of the Academic Year

III. How to Choose an Oxford Physics and Cambridge Natural Sciences Course?

There are two physics courses available at the University of Oxford:

CoursesUCAS code
PhysicsF303

Physics and Philosophy

VF53

The University of Cambridge does not offer separate courses in physics, chemistry, and biology. But you’ll have the option to study a wide range of physical and biological science subjects from 16 different departments in the natural sciences course.

CoursesUCAS code
Natural SciencesBCF0

16 different departments in Cambridge Natural Sciences course:

  • Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics
  • Astronomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology (faculty)
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Sciences
  • Genetics
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Materials Science and Metallurgy
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physics
  • Physiology, Development and Neuroscience
  • Plant Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Zoology

 

IV. What Are the Oxford Physics and Cambridge Natural Sciences Admission Requirements?

1. General Admission Requirements

The general admission requirements for Oxford physics and Cambridge natural sciences courses are outlined in the table below:

Course
Oxford Physics
Cambridge Natural Sciences
Language Proficiency:
  • IELTS: 7.5 (with a minimum of 7.0 in each component)
  • TOEFL: 110 (Listening 22, Speaking 25, Reading 24, Writing 24)
  • Cambridge English (C1 Advanced): 191 (minimum 185 per component)
  • Cambridge English (C2 Proficiency): 191 (minimum 185 per component)
  • English Language GCSE: Grade B/6, plus Merit in the separate Speaking endorsement
  • IELTS: 7.5 (with 7.0 or above in each element)
  • TOEFL: 110 (with a minimum of 25 in each element)
  • Cambridge English (C2 Proficiency): 200 (with a minimum of 185 in each element)
  • Cambridge English (C1 Advanced): 193 (with a minimum of 185 in each element, alongside other evidence of competence in English)
A-Level
A*AA
(with the A* in Physics, Maths or Further Maths)
A*A*A
IB Scores:
39 (including core points) with 766 at HL (the 7 should be in either Physics or Mathematics)41-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level
SAT/AP
score
Requirements vary and are based on conditional offers.
Requirements vary and are based on conditional offers.
High School Exam (e.g., Gaokao):
Not accepted.Ranked in the top 0.1% of college entrance examination candidates in their province.
University Entrance Exam:
PATESAT
Interview
YesYes

2. Oxford’s Official Statement on Reference Criteria for Admission

Expectations of the Oxford Physics Department

The Department is looking for students who can demonstrate:

  • motivation: a real interest and strong desire to learn physics;
  • ability to express physical ideas using mathematics: mathematical ability;
  • reasoning ability: ability to analyse and solve problems using logical and critical approaches;
  • physical intuition: an ability to see how one part of a physical system connects with another; and to predict what will happen in a given physical situation;
  • communication: ability to give precise explanations both orally and numerically.

This statement can be understood as follows:

  1. Students have a keen interest in physics and are curious about it.
  2. They possess a solid foundation in mathematics and can express physical ideas using mathematical methods.
  3. They have the ability to reason logically and can analyze and solve problems using logical and critical methods.
  4. They have a physical intuition, which is essential for physics courses and can connect, reason, and predict different physical systems.

Key Focus of the Interview for Physics and Philosophy Course

The interview is aimed primarily at assessing the candidate’s potential for future development. Interviewers will be looking for evidence of independent thinking, ability to follow argument and to construct an argument, and a readiness to think effectively on novel topics. The interview is not primarily a test of existing knowledge. Interviewers will also be looking for evidence that the candidate has a genuine interest in their chosen course, and motivation to work hard at it. They will pay little attention to achievements that have no connection with the proposed course (e.g. achievements in sport, drama, and so on).

In conclusion, interviewers prefer students with enormous potential, ability to think independently, and enthusiasm for the course. Therefore, students with unique insights on the course and who provide empirical support are more likely to stand out.

3. Cambridge’s Official Statement on Reference Criteria for Admission

Key Statistics Provided by the Cambridge Natural Sciences Department

Typical Natural Sciences entrants
(A Level and IB)
Natural Sciences (Biological)
For 2017, 2018 and 2019 entry, the majority of entrants from an A Level background achieved at least grades A*A*A* (76% of entrants). These successful applicants typically took Mathematics (99%), Further Mathematics (37%), Biology (98%), Chemistry (96%) and Physics (26%). In addition to Mathematics A Levels, the percentage of entrants taking all three of Biology, Chemistry and Physics was 22%, two of the sciences 75% and only one of the sciences was 3%. For the same period, the majority of IB entrants achieved at least 43 points overall and/or grades 777 at Higher Level.
Natural Sciences (Physical)
For 2017, 2018 and 2019 entry, the majority of entrants from an A Level background achieved at least grades A*A*A* (91% of entrants). All of these successful applicants took Mathematics, 90% took Further Mathematics, 8% took Biology, 89% took Chemistry and 96% took Physics. In addition to Mathematics A Levels, the percentage of entrants taking all three of Biology, Chemistry and Physics was 6%, two of the sciences 81% and only one of the sciences 13%. For the same period, the majority of IB entrants achieved at least 43 points overall and/or grades 777 at Higher Level.
This information is intended to give you a sense of the academic standard of our typical A Level entrants. We welcome applicants from a range of qualification backgrounds.

The conclusion of the above data is as follows:

Natural Sciences (Biological direction): 76% of students studying A Levels achieved grades of A*A*A* or above. What’s more, the percentage of students taking respective courses is: Mathematics 99%, Further Mathematics 37%, Biology 98%, Chemistry 96%, Physics 26%. Apart from A Level Mathematics, 22% of students took all three subjects of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, 75% took two of the subjects, and 3% took only one of the subjects. Meanwhile, the majority of IB students scored at least 43 points (HL 777) or above.

Natural Sciences (Physical direction): 91% of students studying A Levels achieved grades of A*A*A* or above. What’s more, the percentage of students taking respective courses is: Mathematics 100%, Further Mathematics 90%, Biology 8%, Chemistry 89%, Physics 96%. Apart from A Level Mathematics, 6% of students took all three subjects of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, 81% took two of the subjects, and 13% took only one of the subjects. Meanwhile, the majority of IB students scored at least 43 points (HL 777) or above.

Therefore, it is recommended and important to look at the statistics and information provided by the Univerisity of Cambridge rather than relying on general admission requirements.

4. Summary of the Admission Requirements and Reference Criteria

The admission requirements for Oxford physics and Cambridge natural sciences courses can be summarized as follows:

  1. Students should show their strong interest in physics or particular branches of natural sciences through interaction with interviewers and their personal statements.
  2. Whether future studies are in Physics, Biology, or Chemistry, students should have a solid foundation in mathematics, the ability to think independently, and logical reasoning skills.
  3. Scores in the PAT or ESAT exams greatly determine the chances of receiving an offer. A high score and comprehensive development in physics-related fields will help you stand out from other applicants.
  4. Students also need to show their self-motivation and sense of responsibility, which can be demonstrated through extracurricular activities and competitions.

Which is easier to apply for, Physics at Oxford or Natural Sciences at Cambridge? Let’s analyze the admission statistics from previous years.

Physics at Oxford vs Natural Sciences at Cambridge - Which is easier to get into

V. Application Process and Required Materials

The application process of applying to Oxbridge is not complicated. There are some important details you need to know and materials to prepare before applying.

1. Materials Required for UCAS Application

When applying to Oxford physics and Cambridge natural sciences courses through UCAS, you must confirm or submit the following information:

  • The specific course and its UCAS code at either Oxford or Cambridge.
  • Choose a particular college or open application.
  • Your personal information, including your email address.
  • Your educational history and your academic achievements to date.
  • Your physics or natural sciences personal statement.
  • Your academic reference.

2. Differences between the Application Processes for Oxford, Cambridge, and Other UK Universities

The application process of applying to Oxford and Cambridge through UCAS is similar to other universities in the UK, with the exception of certain courses and circumstances. However, there are a few important points to know:

  • Early Application Deadline: The application deadline for Oxford and Cambridge is October 15th, earlier than most other universities.
  • Selection of College or Open Application: Unlike many other universities, applicants to Oxford and Cambridge must choose a particular college or opt for an open application.
  • Single Course Application: Unless under extremely rare circumstances, Oxford and Cambridge allow applicants to apply for only one course.
  • Transcript Requirement: Cambridge University may request transcripts from some applicants covering their secondary school academic records.

3. Official Undergraduate Application Process for the University of Cambridge

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4. Official Undergraduate Application Process for the University of Oxford

Part 1: What Oxford is Like

Play Video

 Part 2: How to Apply

Play Video

Part 3: Preparing

Play Video

5. Language Proficiency and High School Grades

Language proficiency does not need to meet the admissions requirements before the UCAS application deadline of October 15, 2024, but only the admissions requirements of the relevant courses before August 31, 2025.

What’s more, predicted high school grades need to be submitted before October 15th. This score is one of the critical factors for Oxbridge admissions reference.

6. Open Application (Choosing a College)

It can be difficult for you to choose a college from the pool of 30 colleges at both Oxford and Cambridge. If you are not that confident or do not care which college to apply to, you can choose an open application on UCAS.

  • After the application deadline, students who choose an open application will be randomly assigned to a college via a computer program.
  • The random allocation aims to balance the number of applicants across various colleges and courses.
  • Once assigned to a college, the application process proceeds like other students.
  • For students who meet all the application requirements, the likelihood of being admitted is the same whether they choose a specific college or opt for an open application.

Click the link below to view our blogs about Oxbridge colleges and how to choose a college in Oxbridge.

How to Choose Colleges at Oxford University
How to Choose Colleges at Cambridge University

7. Personal Statements

As a part of the UCAS application process, every student is required to submit an application essay, also known as a personal statement (PS). The Oxford physics and Cambridge natural sciences personal statement serves as a tool for universities to better understand students’ interests in the subject and course. On the other hand, it also allows students to better understand their academic interests and motivations.

Typically, the personal statement should encompass the following aspects:

  • Explain the reasons for wanting to study the relevant course at the university.
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm and dedication to the chosen course.
  • Express specific interests within the relevant field of study.
  • Articulate how one is committed to researching the subjects of interest.

Click on the link below for more guidance on composing an Oxford physics and Cambridge natural sciences personal statement and official suggestions from Oxford, Cambridge, and UCAS.

8. Academic References

Academic references (academic references at Oxford and school/college references at Cambridge) provide universities with a better understanding of a student’s abilities and potential. Also, admissions officers use these references to assess whether a student’s academic capabilities are suited for the chosen course and if they can adapt to the university’s learning environment.

As a crucial component of the UCAS application, universities typically prefer academic references submitted by school teachers or individuals who can provide authoritative insights into a student’s academic background.

Please note that academic references must also be submitted before the application deadline on October 15th.

9. Transcripts

To find out if you need to submit the transcript when applying to the University of Cambridge, you should check the official Cambridge guidelines in the section “Completing My Cambridge Application“.

VI. What Preparation is Needed for Applying to Oxford Physics and Cambridge Natural Sciences?

1. Preparing for the Oxford PAT

Students applying for physics-related majors at Oxford must take the PAT exam. Before 2019, the PAT score was not only a crucial basis for issuing interview invitations but also an important reference for conditional offers.

Since 2019, the PAT score combined with the weighted cGCSE scores to form the R-score. The likelihood of receiving an interview invitation largely depends on the R-score. Due to the pandemic, the 2021 PAT score significantly impacted the chances of progressing to the interview stage. After the interview, the student’s PAT score and weighted interview score are combined to form the C-score, which is one of the important factors affecting admission. Oxford officials point out that typically students who are ranked in the top 100 by C-score are admitted. According to the PAT report given by Oxford officials at the end of 2022, Oxford hopes to continue using the R-score as a basis for pre-interview screening of candidates. If all goes as expected, the R-score will be an important basis for whether applicants for entry in 2024 will receive an interview invitation.

Please refer to the blog for comprehensive understanding and preparation suggestions for Oxford PAT exams.

Oxford PAT Exam - A Comprehensive Guide

2. Preparing for the Cambridge ESAT

The ESAT is a computer-based assessment, and it’s made up of individual multiple-choice assessments that last 40 minutes each. Students will sit these back-to-back on the day of the test.

Mathematics 1 is compulsory for all candidates. And the remaining assessments will depend on the Cambridge course students are applying to. When applying for Natural Sciences, you will complete Mathematics 1 and two additional multiple-choice assessments from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Mathematics 2, making the test 120 minutes in total.

The final scores are based on the number of correct answers you give, and you do not lose marks for wrong answers, so there is no pass or fail for ESAT. It would help if you aimed to do the best you can.

Please refer to the blog for comprehensive understanding and preparation suggestions for Cambridge ESAT exams.

ESAT Exam - A Comprehensive Guide

3. Interview Preparation

It is advisable to start a mock interview before receiving the invitation. Conduct at least six mock interviews covering various possible question types, scenarios, and topics, which will help improve your on-the-spot response speed and achieve the best interview results.

Check our blog about Oxbridge interview preparation.

4. Academic Research Projects

More and more students have been participating in university academic research projects in recent years. Experience engaging in academic research and excellent academic achievements can significantly enhance your personal statement and boost your competitiveness when applying to Oxford physics and Cambridge natural sciences courses.

Online research project topics are continuously updated. For more details, please refer to the following page.

5. Extracurricular Reading

While preparing for exams and personal statement can take up a significant amount of time, it is still advisable for you to engage in extracurricular reading. Typically, you are encouraged to read two deeply and broadly read more than ten books related to your chosen field. Extracurricular reading can enrich the material for writing your Oxford physics and Cambridge natural sciences personal statement, making it more appealing.

6. Oxford and Cambridge Summer Schools

Many summer schools have unique selling points, but not all are worth it, especially regarding teaching staff. Therefore, it is recommended for students to attend summer school with reasonable fees because the purpose is to enhance and get a taste of learning methods at Oxbridge.

You can refer to our blog about the summer school of Brasenose College from Oxford.

7. Oxford and Cambridge Open Days

Both Oxford and Cambridge Universities have open days for students to learn about and visit their preferred universities and colleges in advance.

For Oxford University, 2024 undergraduate Open Days will be held on 26 and 27 June and 20 September. And for Cambridge University, currently published undergraduate Open Days will take place on Thursday 4 July and Friday 5 July 2024.

For more about the open days and other related events, please check the official websites of Oxford and Cambridge for detailed information.

Please refer to the following resources for more information on applying to maths courses at Oxford and Cambridge.

Attached: Recommended Readings for Oxford Physics and Cambridge Natural Sciences Courses

Oxford University officially recommends a list of readings for students applying for Physics courses before formally entering the university. Among them, the Feynman Lectures on Physics is a must-read and a set of classic physics texts that is very worth collecting. The official list of recommended readings is extensive; below, only a portion is listed that is related to physics and mathematics, which will help lay the foundation for university coursework.

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